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How to win with persistence

How to win with persistence

We bought a large, 6x6 yoga mat a few weeks ago. The idea was it would be a great place for the baby to play, and a nice option for us to workout at home during quarantine. It’s been both.

But what we didn’t expect, is it’s also been a delightful place for one of the cats to exercise their quarantine-length claws.

I’m talking today about persistence, because we tried to stop the cat from relieving tension by cutting chucks out of the yoga mat, but this weekend we gave up. The cat won. She could do it overnight if we forgot to roll it up. She could do it while we were changing the baby. She could do it while we were working. She also could plausibly argue that she didn’t have the mental capacity to learn better (who can say?).

She took some structural advantages, applied them with persistence and dedication, and beat us. A curvy, 12lbs cat with the approximate intelligence of a two year old.

While I won’t be using this yoga mat for years, I will be applying the lesson. A structural / environmental advantage, persistently applied, is unbeatable - it’s a dominant strategy.

Over and over again in history, people fail to see constraints, and dig them selves deeper into unwinnable wars. When you find yourself facing a dominant strategy, the best options are to change the game (redesign the environment) if you can, or lose on your terms. If you spend your capacity extending the war, you lose optionality, and will end a place of your own choosing. You’re better off recognizing the situation, and choosing your own exit plan.

For us, we acknowledged the yoga mat has a short life expectancy. We acknowledged we won’t buy another one, and we live our days with only a pang of sadness at the sound of scratching, rather than spending energy rallying to teach an unteachable lesson as part of an unwinnable war against scratching.