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Saturday, October 8, 2016

Playing Chicken at the Speed of Life

Most of the time when I sit down to write a post like this one, I kinda have it already written in my mind or at least have some thoughts and concepts that I want to piece together.

In this case, not so much so.... just a title and a few past experiences.

So let's just "flow" and see what happens.

Almost everybody's familiar with the Game of Chicken.

Likely the most well known form of Chicken is when 2 opponents or rivals settle their differences by getting into cars at opposite ends of some roadway and then accelerate towards each other on what seems to be a bi-suicidal collision course.

One way the game is played out is that at some point one of the idiots "chickens out" and averts collision by swerving off the center line.

In the other scenario, well, you know what happens.

A milder form of the Game of Chicken is a Staredown. And let me just say a Staredown is not limited to guys.  I've seen some pretty vicious Staredowns and even more vicious Aftermaths where Women were involved.

In the case of the Staredown Chicken, the first one that blinks, literally or figuratively, is the Loser.

In the arena of Human Behavior, the Game of Chicken is one of the stupidest acts one can participate in, but is an interesting study in the Battle of Wills, Pride and Stubbornness that we oft find ourselves in in everyday life.

As implied, The Game of Chicken can be played out on nearly any Avenue of Life where lines are drawn, principles are set and reasonable discussion has ended.

As explained above, the Rules of Chicken, if that's what you can call them, are pretty simple.

First one that blinks or averts collision is the Loser.

The Winner is the one that Stands Pat, doesn't Compromise their Course and Drives through the Prior Path of their Opponent.

The aftermath of a Session of Chicken depends on how it was decided but here are a few conclusions:

  • If neither participant Chickens Out, there is a devastating collision where Life, Limb, Feelings or Relationships are temporarily or permanently damaged, altered or ended.
  • If one participant Chickens Out, there may be less physical damage and more learning because it reveals something about both participants. For the "loser", maybe they valued their own welfare more than they thought they did or they questioned their conviction or position on the issue that brought them to this point.  For the "winner", it may tell them, that for this particular conflict, the other participant had less invested in the issue than they did.  Or maybe the other participant had more invested or at risk in the issue than they did.
  • In any event, the Game of Chicken, is only played by those who have come to a point of conflict or decision where Discussion and Compromise has ended and a Battle of Wills and Principles has began.
So what are some takeaways from this little discussion on playing the Game of Chicken?

Well, let me just list a few based on my relational experiences at playing Chicken, because that's where all my Chicken playing has occurred:
  • Take every available detour or route of escape to avoid playing the Game of Chicken.  This kind of nose to nose, personality vs personality, Mano y Mano or Womano y Womano  or Man vs Woman conflict really has No Winner.
  • If you are gonna play the Game of Chicken, make sure the Stakes are pretty high, i.e. it's something really important.  It's kinda like a guy I used to work for once told me - If you waste all your time on the penny fights, then you won't have enough energy to fight the Dollar fights.
  • As I said above, there is No Winner in a Game of Chicken, but whatever end you find yourself on following a session of Chicken, be Gracious to the other person.  If it went your way, don't gloat or celebrate. If you were the one that blinked, don't be ashamed or bear any malice.  Either way, accept the outcome, learn from it and move on.
Sometimes, the participants learn something about each other and themselves that makes them better even after the collision....

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