My take on the Kobayahsi Maru


If you are a Star Trek fan, then you know about The Kobyashi Maru. If you aren’t a Star Trek fan, you can read about it here.


In a nutshell, it was a test designed to test a leader’s character by putting them in a no-win situation. Captain Kirk was the only person ever to defeat the Kobyashi Maru, but he did it by cheating; he reprogrammed the simulator to defeat the test. He was given an award for original thinking, but Spock wanted him to be disciplined for cheating.

Spock had this to say about the test-

“The purpose is to experience fear, fear in the face of certain death, to accept that fear, and maintain control of one’s self and one’s crew. This is a quality expected in every Starfleet captain.”
– Spock, 2258 (Star Trek)

Leadership to me in the COVID era seems like the Kobyashi Maru. At this moment, every day, I am experiencing two dominant emotions sadness and anger. I have to face the fact that outcomes are uncertain and that I don’t have access to the levers of power to create outcomes at a large system-wide level.

So what is the answer? For me, I can only control how I show up and bring myself into frustrating situations that I want to change but have no control over. This is my nod to Spock.
Now my nod to Kirk. I reprogram the simulator by walking away and devoting myself, time, energy, and talents to creating. In my case, writing, podcasting, and playing music.

In another life, long ago, I was a saxophone player. I went to school with the sole focus of being a professional musician. It didn’t happen that way. I became an educator.

After I published my book, I decided that I needed to go back and erase some of my regrets and one huge regret has been giving up playing the Saxophone, so I challenge myself to play the Saxophone every day for the next one hundred days in a workshop I am currently taking called The Creative’s Workshop. I have played 21 days in a row. I plan on playing the full 99, and this time I am not going to stop. My creative life is very important to me. I am working on my second book, my fourth year of podcasting, and daily blogging. One thing was missing. My music. Music was the first creativity activity that I pursued. I felt a sense of urgency that time was slipping away from me, and before I turn 50 next January, I decided that I wanted to close some regret loops.

In the end, in ten years, I will not regret not pushing forward and attempting to change the situations that are out of my control in my career. I do know I would regret not spending the next ten years pursuing my creative life. So that is my version of the reframe. I agree with Kirk that you don’t have to believe in unwinnable scenarios; you can simply choose a new scenario.

To hear more listen to Episode 110 of The Steven Thompson Experience- The World is Yours.


One thought on “My take on the Kobayahsi Maru

  1. Love this Steven.

    And, awesome work on the daily Sax playing. Are you adding a recording of it to your daily post in Creatives?

    “I can only control how I show up” this is so true and you are showing all of us how to show up and choose a new scenario, it is inspiring.

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