Xanatos Gambit!

by Krantcents · 44 comments

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Have you ever heard of the Xanatos Gambit?  “A Xanatos Gambit is a plan whose multiple foreseen outcomes all benefit its creator. It’s a win-win situation for whoever plots it.  At its most basic, the Xanatos Gambit assumes two possible outcomes for the one manipulated — success or failure. The plan is designed in such a way that either outcome will ultimately further the plotter’s goals.”  The planner always wins!

Even when you lose, you are winning!  It doesn’t sound very real, does it?  After all, it is just a game.  It works if all the plausible outcomes benefit the planner.  When I plan I am always thinking about the outcome and it is always plausible.  Why would I plan something that could never happen?  One of the basic elements of SMART goals is setting an attainable goal.  Realistic, attainable goals may be a stretch, but it is your plan that helps you achieve it.

The Xanatos Gambit is different because you may lose and still win.  Samsung’s Galaxy Pad was launched to compete with Apple’s iPad2.  Apple sued Samsung to stop them from selling the Galaxy Pads.  Samsung makes the chip sets for iPads.  I wonder if Samsung was aware of the Xanatos Gambit.  I have gone into interviews for practice and walked out with an offer.  I am not sure if that was the desired outcome, but it was mine to turn down.  I think it is always the outcome you want.

In board games, we see the Xanatos Gambit often.  For example, you may sacrifice a chess piece, a checkers piece to gain position.  Tic Tac Toe is a great example of strategy and using positional advantage.  Typically, if you go first, you can execute a strategy that will win in most cases.  You offer a choice to your opponent which invariably allows you to win.  Playing cards is another game where you could lose hands and ultimately win the game.  Strategy is important in playing games.

I am a lifelong planner although some may call me a control freak!  I prefer to control my future, destiny or outcome.  I am not embarrassed or ashamed of my desire to plan things.  Some may call me boring because I like things planned out.  Is boring the opposite of spontaneous?  I can change my plans at the drop of a hat!  Does that make me spontaneous?  I could buy a Ferrari for cash, but wouldn’t because it doesn’t make sense.  My planning has allowed me to be financially successful.

Success allows me to do what I want, but sticking with my values or plan keeps me from doing frivolous things.  I like to plan my future financially and what I will be doing during retirement.  For example, when I get my haircut, I set my next appointment.  It just makes it simpler.  I do the same with the dentist, dog groomer, dermatologist, neurosurgeon or ophthalmologist.  I plan my day around riding my bike or writing or whatever other interest that is important to me.

I think everybody does that!  I may plan out months or years in advance and then start doing some of the things in preparation.  I don’t think it is that unusual; you go to school to prepare for a career, don’t you?  I knew that I wanted to achieve financial freedom and I put together a plan to achieve it in seven (7) years.  Can you breakdown really big goals into daily/weekly/monthly tasks in order to achieve them?  I think that is what it takes to be successful.  Sometimes plans change!

For example, I never planned for degenerative discs!  It wasn’t something that I wanted to achieve or even experience.  I don’t recall injuring myself or do anything to aggravate it, but I had pain that required treatment.  It certainly interrupted a very active lifestyle for nearly four (4) months.  It changed some of my plans, but it was only temporary.  It has been a year since then and I am free of pain.  My neurosurgeon monitors me every six (6) months, but I would rather have the surgery.  For now, I don’t need it.

We plan our lives and stuff happens!  You could do all the right things such as saving and investing, but you retire at the wrong time. The stock market may make a correction, crash or we go into a bear market!  How do you plan for that?  You should have a strategy just in case of these things happen.  Sometimes life gets in the way too.  Natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy or the Oklahoma Tornado will certainly affect your life!  If you did not have enough insurance coverage, you will have additional debt.

You can be healthy your whole life and stuff happens.  One of my friends retired and within a year he was diagnosed with brain cancer.  He had a good retirement and he is not around to enjoy it.  It is one of the reasons we need insurance to protect ourselves and family from disasters.  You cannot do much about the situation, but you can have the access to the best medical attention possible.  If that is not enough, you at least have life insurance to protect your family.

Final thoughts

Having a plan where you win even when you lose would be great!  I usually make plans to achieve a particular goal.  If I fail, I keep trying until I succeed. Xanatos Gambit is looking at the big picture and using a strategy that allows you to sacrifice to win or have a positive outcome.  There are times I lose battles to win the war.  I am sure you have too.  “Failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” (Benjamin Franklin)  You need to keep planning and stay flexible.  Xanatos Gambit is just another strategy to planning!

Photo by: Flickr


Carnival of MoneyPros at This That and the MBA
Carnival of Financial Planning at Money Soldiers
Carn. of Financial Camaraderie at Master the Art of Saving
Yakezie Carnival at See Debt Run

Xanatos Gambit is just another strategy to planning!

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Your Daily Finance June 13, 2013 at 4:58 am

Never heard of this game before Krantcents. But life would be great if losing still meant I was winning. I too believe in planning. I set what some seem to think are not realistic goals but I have achieve some of them already so I not too far fetched for me to think that that others I have planned want come about. I really like the quote from Benjamin Franklin. I didnt plan to get rear ended and have back and neck problems but that made me realize again that life is short, insurance is important and you need to spend them with the people you love doing the things you enjoy.

Krantcents June 13, 2013 at 8:11 am

It is not a game! It is a strategy to secure an advantage by sacrificing something of lesser value in order to win. An example may be in chess, where you sacrifice a pawn for a better position.

Terry June 14, 2013 at 4:40 am

I too liked the Franklin quote.

Along the same lines, I read that from an early age, Abraham Lincoln had planned to be President. Having a clear goal early on, like Lincoln, greatly increases the probability of it becoming a reality.

In my case, as a child I dreamed of traveling to foreign countries and learning new languages, and as an adult it came to pass.

Krantcents June 14, 2013 at 7:46 am

All a dream or wish needs is a plan and it can happen!

Money Beagle June 13, 2013 at 5:04 am

You seem to have many successes that tie back to the fact that you plan and strategize for the long term, then work toward your desired outcome. So many people these days have lofty goals and set great plans, but they get impatient and end up deviating from their plan….and also their success. How many people these days complete the payoff of a mortgage? Doing so requires long term commitment but too many people get antsy and move, which can give you the short term satisfaction of a new home, but keeps you in debt for the rest of your life.

Krantcents June 13, 2013 at 8:16 am

My wife has pointed out to me that I am very disciplined hence a reason for success. I would like to think I am very determined and that is the motivation for success.I agree that thinking long term is an important element. I remember reading how Asians think in terms of centuries versus Westerners who have trouble thinking more than a quarter at a time. My early career was long range planning which may have influenced a little of my thinking.

Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter June 13, 2013 at 6:16 am

I have never heard of Xanatos Gambit before, but it is an interesting concept. Even when something goes wrong, they say everything happens for a reason, and it’s possible that a door is opening when one closes, right? I like your attitude.

Krantcents June 13, 2013 at 8:19 am

Thanks, it reminds me of losing the battle to win the war. Parenting is little like that!

Mike@WeOnlyDoThisOnce June 13, 2013 at 7:00 am

I’ve been similarly accused of being a control freak, but I do think it’s nice always to have a plan. Interesting term that I didn’t know of before.

Krantcents June 13, 2013 at 8:22 am

I was unfamiliar with the term, but not the concept. When faced with a lot of tasks or goals, you cannot do all of them well, you may sacrifice one for the good of the others. In chess, you sarrifice a less piece for position. I think we do this all the time, but never think about the name of it.

David @mycentopinion June 13, 2013 at 7:45 am

There is a saying that I always really liked:

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you will land among the stars.

Krantcents June 13, 2013 at 8:24 am

I think the basis is to have big goals which will raise your game. If part of your strategy is to make small sacrifices to gain a better position, you are using the Xanatos Gambit!

Andy Hough June 13, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Since I hadn’t heard of this before I did some research on it. The gambit is actually named after a cartoon character. It does seem like a good strategy to use when possible.

Krantcents June 13, 2013 at 1:25 pm

I have used this strategy in playing board and card games since I was a child. I think I have used it often, but never knew the name. I think all of us have used it at one time or another in school, and life.

My Financial Independence Journey June 13, 2013 at 12:20 pm

This basically describes my approach to selling put options. Either the put expires worthless and I keep the money, or the put expires in the money and I buy a great stock at a discounted price.

Sadly, you neglected to mention that the Xanatos Gambit is named after one of my favorite villains, David Xanatos.

Krantcents June 13, 2013 at 1:30 pm

I was not aware of who it was named after. I see it much more as a strategy which can be applied to business, stock market games and much more.

Kyle @ Debt Free Diaries June 13, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Fascinating concept! I’m sure there have been times where this has happened to each of us in real life, with or without our knowing.

Krantcents June 13, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Absolutely! It may starts with board or card games, I believe we apply it to school, life and much more.

Suba @ Wealth Informatics June 13, 2013 at 9:42 pm

Never heard of the term before, but it is such a great concept!

I have come to believe that everything happens for a reason and a good one. So even if it looks like failure now, it is a precursor for some greater success.

My problem, which I am actively trying to overcome, is I am impatient in certain things. If I repeated fail (in my definition), I tend to give up and not stick with it. I am trying to change with the help of my husband. I will have to keep at it to make it a habit.

Krantcents June 14, 2013 at 7:43 am

I learned this strategy playing board and card games when I was young, but never knew the name. I think I use it often, but never think about it. One of my shortcomings is I have trouble accepting failure! I keep trying when I probably should give up.

Buck Inspire June 14, 2013 at 12:08 am

I never knew the name, but I understand your concept. Is the morale of this strategy thinking big picture or thinking one step ahead? Thanks for the knowledge!

Krantcents June 14, 2013 at 7:45 am

I think it is a question of limited resources and you cannot apply all resources to everything. Therefore, the strategy is to sacrifice certain things to win eventually.

DC @ Young Adult Money June 14, 2013 at 6:43 am

I think a good example of this would be taking a job where you are able to make money but also learn or develop new skills. You might not enjoy the job, but at least you are learning something and making money at the same time.

Krantcents June 14, 2013 at 7:49 am

I think this is very important in the beginning of a career to gain the right skills which may not payoff until later. My early experience with a Fortune 100 company taught invaluable skills that I still use 20-30 years later.

AverageJoe June 14, 2013 at 8:03 am

Lose the battle to win the war, right? It’s interesting what success can happen if we just widen our viewpoint.

Krantcents June 14, 2013 at 8:11 am

Absolutely! I think it is a question of limited resources and you cannot win everything or everytime too.

PK June 14, 2013 at 9:02 am

Haven’t heard of it – but it sounds kind of like “Shoot for the stars – even if you fail you can make it to the moon”. To push the analogy further – “Even if you don’t get 20% returns annually, you can still retire with a fat wallet”. How’s that?

Krantcents June 14, 2013 at 9:51 am

Perhaps a different generation, it is I may lose the battle, but win the war!

Greg@Thriftgenuity June 14, 2013 at 12:51 pm

I think it helps to be flexible in the plans as well. As you mention, there are things we don’t plan for, but being able to roll with the punches will still keep us on track of the long term goals. If you keep on gaining experience and collecting knowledge, it will make the ability to stay up on the plan more attainable.

Krantcents June 14, 2013 at 12:57 pm

No doubt! For me , part of planning is a plan B. The Xanatos Gambit though is more of a strategy where you will lose or sacrifice something in order to win.

Kim@Eyesonthedollar June 15, 2013 at 2:27 pm

I’ve never heard that term, but I think it can be a great practice in some situations like taking taking a lesser paying job now to gain experience for something bigger later. I also love words that start with X!

Krantcents June 15, 2013 at 8:31 pm

It is always a good idea to gain skills and experience in your 20s. It can pay off handsomely later!

Untemplater June 16, 2013 at 11:07 pm

First time I’ve heard of this. It certainly is nice to have two potential positive outcomes. You’re right that we just don’t know what life has in store for us, but we can always find a positive way to react and make the best of things.

Krantcents June 17, 2013 at 7:34 am

You’re right and it is up to each individual to turn it positive.

Greg@ClubThrifty June 17, 2013 at 4:54 am

Planning for a good outcome either way is what I call great planning! I don’t think I’ve ever heard the term “xanatos gambit.” Does it come from game theory? It certainly sounds like a game theory concept.

Krantcents June 17, 2013 at 7:36 am

The name itself seems to come from some game, however the gambit has been around since games. Sacrificing a pawn in chess for position or to win is common.

Barbara Friedberg June 17, 2013 at 1:09 pm

This was a fascinating concept! I’m going to remember it. I have learned to accept disappointment and failure and pick myself up as fast as possible.

Krantcents June 17, 2013 at 2:31 pm

The name may be new to you, but I am sure you played chess or cards. It is a strategy routed in those games such as sacrifice a pawn for position or discard a card for a better one.

Levi Blackman June 19, 2013 at 11:51 am

It is kind of like the opposite of a Catch 22.

I use Xanatos Gambit when planning for my websites. My basic goal is to learn about whatever I am creating the website for. So I create the site, write a bunch, and learn all about a certain topic. If people come visit and it becomes a success then I win. Nobody comes and I still learn a bunch on a subject I’m interested in, I win!

Krantcents June 19, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Sounds as though you figured it out! Good for ou.

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