Dealing With Zugzwang

Sometimes in life you may find yourself in a bad spot. One where you are forced to take action or make some sort of decision. None of your choices leave you with a good outcome. Any path you choose leads to your eventual ruin.

This is what it means to be in zugzwang. It’s a common term used in chess to describe what is essentially a hopeless position. A forced move with no desirable outcome. A feeling of despair that many have no doubt felt at some point.

So what should you do if you find yourself in zugzwang? The very first thing is to carefully analyze and reanalyze each possible decision. There’s a chance you’ll have a new idea or find something that was previously overlooked.

Which is why it’s so important to make use of whatever time you have available. Quick decisions will generally be of lesser quality. Taking more time will allow you to make the most reasonable and rational decision possible.

If nothing new presents itself then it’s time to accept your situation for what it is and move forward. Sometimes cutting your losses and learning from your mistakes is really the best life lesson of all.

It builds character and aids in your maturity and growth as a person. Use these times as opportunities to learn. Your new found experience will help you recognize potentially bad situations before they happen. Perhaps helping you to avoid being in zugzwang altogether.

Millennials And Recruiting

I’ve been reading some HR accounts lately on the latest trends in recruiting millennials. It seems their parents are becoming heavily involved with their careers. My first thought was that this is probably a good thing. Nothing wrong with parents giving their kids a little guidance.

The more I read however the more it became clear it was going beyond simple guidance. It seems some parents have taken to actively attending job interviews with their adult children. Another story was related where a parent tried to fill in for their child during a phone interview. The recruiter apparently was not thrilled.

Also an issue is parents calling their children’s employers. Apparently looking for performance updates and other feedback. Some took things further by wanting to know why their child was disciplined or not promoted.

This sort of thing is completely unheard of in previous generations. At least to my knowledge. I’ve never heard or read of this until recently. So the question then is what to do about it. Should recruiters embrace this behavior? Should they instead admonish parents and would be applicants?

I’m more inclined to encourage certain forms of parental involvement. Things like parents day or employee / parent orientation. Maybe even a separate orientation for parents only. Discussing whatever concerns and questions they may have.

The key is to allow them to be involved but to set limits. Attending interviews with their children might do more harm than good. It sends the message that the applicant lacks experience and confidence. I imagine it also severely reduces their chances of being hired.

So yes, let’s allow parents to be involved. Nothing wrong with that as far as I’m concerned. Once they learn where the boundaries are then it becomes a win-win situation.

I would recommend to anyone involved with recruiting to do some research on the topic. Remember to remain open and approach this proactively. You don’t want to lose potential top talent over something like this. Embrace the possibilities.

The Psychopath’s Game

From Snakes In Suits:  When Psychopaths Go To Work

Written by Paul Babiak, Ph.D., & Robert D. Hare, Ph.D.

Do Not Collude In The Psychopath’s Game

“Once the psychopathic bond is firmly established you will find that your hot buttons and weak spots are used to gain your compliance and to reaffirm the relationship.  Surprisingly, the resultant back and forth may strengthen rather than weaken the relationship.

Criticism (“You’re too fat; nobody else will love you!”), threats (“I’m not putting up with this anymore, I’m leaving!”) or intimidation (“Don’t make me hurt you!”) are effective manipulation and coercive techniques.  This is especially true in relationships in which you find yourself doing what the psychopath asks (even if it is not in your own best interest) in order to maintain the intense bond.

Healthy relationships tend to be balanced, with each person giving and taking.  Psychopathic relationships are one-sided; you give and the psychopath takes (money, a place to live, sex, power, control).”

Make Your Choice

Is happiness really just a choice?  Can you simply will yourself into a good mood?  There are a lot of people who believe in the power of positivity.  Others may find the concept a bit naive.  Two diametrically opposed approaches to life.  But which one is right?

I’m of the mind that both are right.  Reality is an almost completely subjective experience.  What’s true for one person may not be so for another.  Who’s to say who’s right or wrong.

Life is full of shared and unique experiences.  It’s the interpretation of these experiences where we differ so much.  Make your choice.

Failing To Fail

How boring would life be if we never failed?  I can’t imagine anything more mundane than a 100 percent success rate.  Failure is what gives meaning to success.  Without it we’d have no context to judge against.  There is no light without the dark.  Never be afraid to fail.  Cast your fears aside and discover your true potential.

Avoid The Infectious

From The 48 Laws of Power

Written by Robert Greene

Infection:  Avoid the Unlucky & Unhappy

“You can die from someone else’s misery – emotional states are as infectious as diseases.  You may feel you are helping the drowning man but you are only precipitating your own disaster.  The unfortunate sometimes draw misfortune on themselves; they will also draw it on you.  Associate with the happy and fortunate instead.”