The Immortal Game was a chess game played by Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky on 21 June 1851 in London, during a break of the first international tournament. The bold sacrifices made by Anderssen to secure victory have made it one of the most famous chess games of all time. Anderssen gave up both rooks and a bishop, then his queen, checkmating his opponent with his three remaining minor pieces. The game has been called an achievement “perhaps unparalleled in chess literature”. – Wikipedia. Animation created by Karophyr for Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

 

When we read about military leaders, there are a few stereotypes that we will generally find:

  1. The smart and shrewd strategist who always thinks many steps ahead of his opponent.
  2. The cold and efficient leader who follows established military doctrine to the letter.
  3. The impulsive, unsystematic leader who seems to be all over the place whose unconventional methods is compensated by his lack of fear.

I very much want to be a person who thinks strategically, who can predict a few steps ahead, and to be able to anticipate and act on problems, rather than react to them.

So it is with this hope that I entered the room for an interview. I thought that I had thought of most of the possibilities and permutations of questions, and how to answer each and every one of them. I thought I had everything covered.

And if things did not go as planned, I thought that, I would then resort to well tested methodologies, falling on the second type as a backup. I would answer the questions according to templates that I have drilled in my head since many hours before.

But it was only five minutes into the interview that I realised: nothing that I had anticipated happened. And the questions I faced were nothing like I would ever imagine. The interviewer threw a curve ball at me. I had no prepared response.

Oh well, looks like I need to resort to the last option then: look the enemy in the eye and charge head on.

At this point, three (probably apocryphal) quotes, on why the American military was so successful in the Second World War, came to my mind:

“One of the serious problems in planning against American doctrine is that the Americans do not read their manuals nor do they feel any obligation to follow their doctrine.” – A Russian document

“The reason that the American Army does so well in wartime, is that war is chaos, and the American Army practices chaos on a daily basis” – A German general

“If we don’t know what we are doing, the enemy certainly can’t anticipate our future actions!” – Anonymous

 

Well, I guess that’s the thing about jobs nowadays. We have to be as unconventional as possible. The repetitive and methodological will soon be automated with computer programmes. Strategic thinking may also be automated soon, with game theory algorithms, risk prediction algorithms etc. that would soon be able to predict the future with an impressive accuracy.

So the one thing left in our human domain that is safe (or at least, safer) from digitisation and automation is the chaos that we are so apt at generating.

So, go ahead. Think wild. Be human.

 

What makes human beings special?

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