Leadership: The Devastation of Going Desperado
In this issue, I am going to leap beyond the strategies a startup company needs to get off to a good start, that I had planned to address, and instead discuss a different, more draconian topic. Let’s begin by understanding the word tactic. Defined as an opportunity to take advantage of the situation based on the placement of your resources, or chess pieces, tactics occur harmlessly during a game on the chessboard. More importantly, frequently, and devastatingly, there is a tactic happening in daily life. It’s the desperado tactic of “I’m going down and I’m taking you with me.”
In chess, the desperado tactic is often preceded by a tactic called a trapped piece. It’s a piece in a chess position which lacks mobility and is going to be captured. Rather than go away for nothing, it looks around for anything it can capture on its way off the board. If it’s a $3 bishop that can take a $1 pawn, losses are cut down to two. In business, liquidating products, which cost $5 to manufacture for $1 at a dollar store, is better than writing the investment off as a loss.
In life, however, values are higher when someone goes desperado in a situation that no one expects. In chess, the position is visible. Your mind may not see the possibility, but it exists. In life, there may be no awareness of involvement in a desperado tactic.
Below is a picture of the Mandalay Bay Hotel I took from McCarran Airport in Las Vegas the day after someone going desperado gunned down hundreds of concert attendees. I was waiting for my plane to arrive when I caught this view. It’s a surreal perspective of the airport parking garage obscuring the lower floors of the hotel as if to block the carnage found below.
Mandalay Bay Hotel — The Day After October 2, 2017
I was in Las Vegas attending a business acceleration conference at the Hard Rock Hotel. On Sunday night, after our conference was over, I and a number of my fellow attendees were invited to explore a real estate investment opportunity at a penthouse suite at the Mandalay Bay Hotel. I decided to duck out, since I had an appointment with a fellow tennis professional to hit the next morning. I went to bed unaware that the worse mass shooting in modern American history was taking place within a few miles from my Hard Rock bunk.
The next morning, I awoke to multiple texts from my children, “Daddy are you OK? I heard about all the shooting.” Not sure what that was about, I turned on the TV and saw what the rest of the world was watching. I was sickened with horror and disbelief.
Information continues to be compiled as to why an individual felt compelled to go desperado on such a senseless and large scale. Since he chose to complete the “I’m going down,” part by committing suicide, we may never know the motivation behind such meticulous planning. He put all his lethal pieces (guns) on the right squares (a corner suite overlooking the open-air concert venue) to take hundreds of innocent people down who weren’t even playing his game.
We implement social media strategies to help us grow our business. In this incident, social media played a critical role in making us feel the pain of the nightmarish scenario. Who hasn’t seen the cell phone video of “firecrackers” going off before anyone realized what was happening?
My friends were in the Mandalay Bay Hotel when the shooting started. The casino was emptied out into the basement. Their penthouse room of people was commanded by a SWAT team member who entered the room saying to “hit the floor, there’s an active shooter in the building.” For the next eight hours, they stayed hidden.
As the picture shows, the airport was shut down due to its proximity to the Mandalay Bay Hotel. It was, however, shut down for another reason, as the curbside check-in person at the airport told me. “There were bodies on the runway.” They jumped over the barbed wire topped fence that surrounds the airport to get to safety.” Life or death is more menacing than barbed wire. Everyone I knew at the Mandalay Bay Hotel got out safe and sound.
Going Desperado on a Bigger Stage
The grander scale of a potential desperado individual putting his pieces in dangerous places is the trapped leader of North Korea. He’s trapped amongst all his neighboring countries. He possibly eliminated his half-brother to ensure no other candidate was available to assume power. If he gives up his power, the Saddam Hussein resolution would likely be his fate. By continuing to stockpile his weapons of mass destruction, he is ready to go desperado and take millions with him. The media pictures of the North Korean leaders smiling with excitement as they test their weapons are disturbing. Their value of life is different than the majority. Signing your own death certificate hardly seems a reason to celebrate.
Desperado in Chess
In chess, if a tactic exists in the position, is detected, analyzed and played, it can win the game on the spot. The desperado tactic was played against me by grandmaster, Gregory Kaidanov. On the previous move before the diagram below, the grandmaster had a bishop on the square a2. I noticed his rook on a6 was overworked. It had to stay where it was to guard the bishop on a2 and also the rook on c6. I captured his bishop and I was a piece up. If he took either of my rooks, I would take the other rook. In a typical grandmaster decision-making mode, he decided, since his rook was going down, it went desperado.
He captured my pawn on g6 with a very important check to my king getting a pawn for his lost bishop. This extra pawn allowed him to save his game with a draw, even though he was playing a piece down.
A Desperate Conclusion
Whether it is a chess piece; a trapped animal, that by instinct will fight to its death for its survival; thousands of people at a concert; or millions of people in a populous city, the desperado action of “I’m going down and taking you with me” will continue to exist. It is part of surviving to fight (or live) another day. In chess, the tactic could win or lose you the game. In life, if the devastation of playing the desperado tactic happens, everyone loses.
Next Issue: Leadership – Understanding strategies for a business startup. Knowing how to get your business going from the beginning could determine your success or failure. Run your business like a grandmaster – apply proven chess strategies to win the game.
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