Life Coaching, Game Theory and Problem Solving
In my world, I truly believe, that excluding love, spirituality and the creations of art, life is, in fact, a game. With that in mind, most of what I do daily is built around strategic thinking. One of my coaching clients asked what that means in practical terms?
I literally have a play book with a list of various scenarios (some being “Worst-Case Scenarios” and what I would do to address them or solve problems connected to them.
Each page in my play book has a list as such:
Name of Game:
Type of game:
Number of competitors or players: 2
Solution or a Potentially Successful Strategy:
Additional Thoughts about this Strategy:
Let’s map out a real life game strategy. I call this one The Win/Win Game that Lacks Key Information Strategy (WWGLKIS)
Common name for This Strategy in Game Theory: Battle of the Sexes:
Type of game: Win/Win (Coordination game)
Number of competitors or players: 2
The Challenge: Both players (Jeff and jean) seek the same end-game (everyone wins) but all lack the essential information needed to achieve that end result.
Scenario: A couple agreed to meet this evening, but cannot recall if they will be attending the opera or a football game (and the fact that they forgot is common knowledge). The husband would prefer to go to the football game. The wife would rather go to the opera. Both would prefer to go to the same place rather than different ones. If they cannot communicate, where should they go?
No matter how statistics and probabilities are calculated there is no possible way for both players to come out ahead. In fact using mathematical calculation to come to a best choice here is inadequate because this approach does not account for the additional harm that might come from not only going to different locations but going to the wrong one as well (e.g. he goes to the opera while she goes to the football game, satisfying neither).
This presents an interesting case for the game-based thinker since each choice (known as the Nash equilibria*) is deficient in some way. Ultimately the results will be unfair; with one player consistently does better than the other. No matter how much the players use ration thinking to explore different strategies to solve this dilemma ( called “mixed strategy Nash equilibrium*”) it is inefficient. The players will miscoordinate with probability, leaving each player with an expected return of less than the return one would receive from constantly going to one’s less favored event.
Solution or a Potentially Successful Strategy: One possible resolution of the difficulty involves the use of a concept called “correlated equilibrium*”. In this scenario, each player possesses subjective beliefs about what actions their partner might take (possibly including correlation between the actions of different partners or even other players), and each player’s strategy is the best response to those beliefs. So the justification is that correlated equilibrium is exactly the set of things that might happen if everyone forms subjective beliefs about what another player might do, according to any possible procedure (not just correct anticipation of what their opponents will actually do), and then chooses an optimal response.
There’s a big hidden assumption here because the players’ belief systems have to satisfy a common prior assumption, which imposes a strong consistency condition on belief systems across players. Roughly, everyone has to agree on the course of actions that will result by each player’s belief and how they will change or these beliefs.
Clearly, the problem is that there are a number of random choices available, and though all of the players want all of the other players to win, they do not have access to enough information to achieve that result. What are they to do? The best, and simplest solution In its simplest form, if the players of the game have access to a commonly observed is for all the players to decide one, agreed to approach to determine what choice is to be made, a choice that no matter what it may be, will, in the end, be agreeable to all of the players. For example, if the couple could flip a coin before choosing their strategies, they might agree to correlate their strategies based on the coin flip by, say, choosing football in the event of heads and opera in the event of tails. Notice that once the results of the coin flip are revealed neither the husband nor wife have any incentives to alter their proposed actions – that would result in miscoordination and a lower benefit (payoff) than simply adhering to the agreed upon strategies. The result is that everyone wins (perfect coordination) and, prior to the coin flip, all of the players have already agreed that whatever happens, “heads” or “tails” they will happily accept the result.
Additional Thoughts about this Strategy: There are certain changes that might arise in a game space which changes how this strategy will unfold. For instance, one player may allow another player the option of “burning money” – that is, allowing that player to give up some of the benefits they might receive (utility.) Thus one player might, for some reason decide to allow the other player to have a greater benefit in the end game though all players, including the one receiving less, still believe they are a winner.
In some situations involving WWGLKIS a player in the game seems intent on feeling like they have lost even if they have won. There are many reasons for this, that I will not go into here. The key point is that this person can only feel like a winner if they are forced or influenced by the other player (s) to recognize that, in spite of how they feel they are in fact winning. If this cannot be done successfully than all the players lose because in a win/win scenario all players need to believe they have won. Of course, in the game of life, if all players get what they agreed to, they may be happier than in a win/lose scenario but one more than the other. WWGLKIS applies well to diplomatic relations or to coopetition in the marketplace.
The key is to remember what psychological aspect the game is trying to capture, and the emotional needs of the other players.
- Lewis Harrison, director of the “RealUGuru Project” is a pioneering life strategies mentor, seminar leader, radio host, practical philosopher and contemporary spiritual teacher, specializing in human potential and personal development. He speaks about and teaches Applied Game Theory to individuals, colleges, associations and organizations.
- Like him on Facebook at “Ask Lewis”
- Read his daily blogs at RealUGuru.com – a website exploring all aspects of personal development, spirituality, and human potential.
- To study Harrison’s Applied Game Theory with Lewis or to have him speak at your group feel free to contact him at: LewisCoaches@gmail.com.
- For a more detailed exploration please refer to his book Harrison’s Applied Game Theory: How to Solve any Problem Effortlessly – Volume 10 in The Teachings of Lewis Harrison series
- To learn more about the RealUGuru Project and the “Teachings of Lewis Harrison”, Volumes 1 – 27 go to Lewis’ website at: ReaUGuru.com.
- A series of talks by Lewis on winning the Game of Life can be found at his YouTube Channel at AskLewis/LewisHarrison
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Studying at the RealUGuru Project
Many of us have a dream or vision that has never been fulfilled. We are seeking a meaning to our lives. This meaning, dream or vision might be connected to spirituality, money issues, relationships or career… somehow it got lost along the way. All of the books that make up the Teachings of Lewis Harrison as well as Lewis’ three programs:
- The basic coaching and mentoring programMake Choices, Not Excuses: How to Solve Any Problem his
- Spiritual, Not Religious: Sacred Tools for Modern Times,
- The advanced Quantum Realities: Physics, Metaphysics and the Quest for Happiness.
All of these programs can help you make that dream come true and help bring meaning to your life by offering a system of guidelines, tips, strategies and creative exercises. To learn more about these programs go to the RealUGuru Project website at www.RealUGuru.com.
There are aspects of life that require more than just motivation, inspiration, logical-mathematical solutions or flip-simplistic solutions. There are times when you will need to explore deeply below the surface of things and then go even deeper to the very core. If you seek a deeper more complex and intellectually and spiritually rigorous relationship with a teacher feel free to contact me by Email at LewisCoaches@ gmail.com.
Don’t hesitate. You are an extraordinary person and the best of life is waiting for you to show up…..
Find all of Lewis’ Books at RealUGuru.com, Amazon.com, or at Your Local Book Seller.
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Harrison’s Applied Game Theory:
How to Solve any Problem Effortlessly