Developing strategies to gain an advantage is a default move in the game of life.
Whether it be in business, war, in school, or even in conversation, we’re always coming up with ways to make sure we come out as ‘winners’ in the end.
If you’re looking for something that will give you that ‘winner’s mentality’, The Art of War is the book for you. It lays out strategies/guidelines for attaining strength, control, and dominance.
This book has a lot of tips and tricks concerning how to engage the enemy (in this case, whatever it is you have in mind that you’re looking to conquer). One of the tips is knowing how to use your resources reasonably. The Art of War says,
“When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men’s weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.
Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain.
Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor damped, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that may ensue.
Thus,” the book continues “though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been associated with long delays.
There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.”
This quote speaks volumes in a couple different ways. If you try too hard to conquer the enemy and act recklessly, you will lose all your strength you had to begin with. That is if you don’t use it wisely in the beginning. More than that, if you back down from the fight or waste time in trying to regroup and regather your thoughts, you will end up giving someone else the advantage in a war you were initially a part of, and had a fair chance of winning.
This is not the path to dominance and control. You must take advantage of your opportunity to win before it’s too late and you’ve exhausted all your energy. By then you only progress backwards.
It’s always best to come up with a strategy or plan for a certain goal in life so that you can avoid backpedaling. Your strategy has to be swift and precise, but it must also expect bad outcomes and figure how to counteract them.
Dominance comes with smarts as well. You want to be smart about how you go about gaining an advantage. One way is to limit waste.
“Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.
The rule is, not to besiege walled cities if it can possibly be avoided.
Therefore the skillful leader subdues the enemy’s troops without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying siege to them; he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field.
With his forces intact he will dispute the mastery of the Empire, and thus, without losing a man, his triumph will be complete.”
Avoiding conflict as much as possible can be a good thing, but even more important is learning how to manage conflict. It goes on to say,
“It is the rule in war, if our forces are ten to the enemy’s one. to surround him; if five to one attack him; if twice as numerous, to divide our army into two.
If equally matched we can offer battle; if sightly inferior in numbers, we can avoid the enemy; if quite unequal in every way, we can flee from him.
Hence though an obstinate fight may be made by a small force, in the end it must be captured by the larger force.”
You want to be the larger force in any given situation. That’s a given. Learn to conquer in numbers and you’ll be secure in any challenging situation.
Another thing you wanna do is make sure you’re ahead of the game. It’s best to be first up with a new project or new idea because you never know if someone else is working on the exact same thing. Sun Tzu says,
“Whoever is first in the field and awaits the coming of the enemy, will be fresh for the fight; whoever is second in the field and has to hasten to battle will arrive exhausted.
Therefore the clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy’s will to be imposed on him.”
You want to be the influence and set the standard for what’s expected in your working life. That way people will ride off your energy and you’re not the one looking to make any crazy game changers, though that could be a good thing. If you change the game, you could set a whole new standard of success, and people will look to you for ideas and motivation.
In war, in business, in social relationships, or in responsibility, you wanna take care of your support system. Sun Tzu says to “Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look upon them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.
Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt; if you know Heaven and know Earth, you may make your victory complete.”
Taking advantage of your support system always gives you the upper hand. Your team is probably the most valuable part of your circle of success. They carry with them the skill, knowledge, and expertise that you might not have alone. “Thus” The Art of War says, “what enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge.”
Maneuvering your way through a project or challenge is never easy. It’s best to have some working knowledge of the field you’re in through the people you offer your time. Not only is this network of knowledge an asset, but knowing the ground you’re playing in for yourself is equally important. The Art of War has extremely helpful guidelines for embracing conflict head on and learning to manage this conflict properly and successfully.