Credible Threats

I have been playing online chess as of late and it started to make me think about chess as a metaphor for life. In chess, the majority of the game can be boiled down to whether or not you respond to or can make credible threats. And while threats are appropriate for discussing chess, I mean threat as the attempt to achieve a goal.

For example, you may make a threat to take out your opponent’s queen but if that will leave your king vulnerable, then that threat is not credible and your opponent will make you pay for it. In the same way, if your opponent makes a credible threat on your king, but you deem it unimportant, this decision will put you at a serious disadvantage.

So with this paradigm, let’s explore how the idea of credible threats plays out in our everyday lives. For those of you who are Christians, you know that at least part of your decision to turn your life over to Christ was your believing in the credible threat that if you don’t accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you will spend eternity in hell.

In relationships, if your partner makes a credible threat to leave you if you consider doing the thing that he/she dislikes, not taking them up on this threat will leave you out in the cold.

When you were growing up, many of us would try to duck out of our responsibilities until our parents said they would get the belt or take away some of our privileges.

Right now at General Motors, billionaire shareholder Kirk Kerkorian has made a credible threat to make GM seriously consider merging with another automotive manufacturer. “To bolster its defense, GM has retained two heavyweight investment banking firms… to help prepare for a potential Kerkorian-led proxy fight or other hostile action. The first specific actions were taken Oct. 3, when the GM board changed its bylaws to make it tougher for Kerkorian to elect a slate of directors or put strategic issues to a direct vote of GM shareholders.”

Right now, the Bush administration is trying to threaten North Korea to stop testing nuclear weapons. But with our current engagements in the Middle East, this threat is not exactly credible. The same logic holds true for Iran’s supposed nuclear weapons program.

If you are trying to make a threat to request a loan to start your own business but lack proper preparation and don’t have adequate back-up plans, the bank will not feel compelled to grant you that loan.

When applying to college/grad school, failure to make a credible threat that you are not only prepared but uniquely deserving of admission will make admissions counselors call your bluff.

What I have learned playing chess is that in life, we must always prepare for and respond to credible threats. We also should never make threats that are not credible.

There are so many different angles I could take this but I want to know if you have ever underestimated a credible threat coming your way or failed to make credible threats. What were the consequences?

Stay up fam,

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