12 Most Lasting Leadership Lessons from The Art of War
Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War over two thousand years ago and is one of the oldest, most significant military strategy books in history. Today, the lessons from Sun Tzu are applied to war, business and leadership as well with the ideals of character, morals and strategy being relevant in each. While it isn’t possible to summarize an entire treatise here, it is possible to share a few palpable tidbits that will hopefully pique your interest enough to read or re-read the entire book.
One of the aspects that I like about Sun Tzu’s wisdom is that he gives steps to plan strategy full well knowing that what is required is thinking on your feet in the heat of the battle. It is the pre-planning and the activities while engaged that create the whole battle: you can’t have success without one or the other. This is how I operate, I make lists, plan and get everything done well in advance in any tasks. Why? Because there is always an emergency, someone is sick, an accident happens or you get more tasks on top of the already existing list. Being prepared doesn’t preclude emergencies but being prepared means you won’t get caught with your pants down. Don’t make excuses for not being prepared, frankly there are none.
1. ”Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
2. “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”
3. “You have to believe in yourself.”
4. “Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.”
5. “Now the reason the enlightened prince and the wise general conquer the enemy whenever they move and their achievements surpass those of ordinary men is foreknowledge.”
6. “Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.”
7. “Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?”
8. “All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.”
9. “Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.”
10. “Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.”
11. “A skilled commander seeks victory from the situation and does not demand it of his subordinates.”
12.” A leader leads by example not by force.”
風 Swift as the wind
林 Quiet as the forest
火 Conquer like the fire
山 Steady as the mountain
Have you used The Art of War in your life whether for personal or leadership purposes? What ideal resonates with you most strongly?
Featured image courtesy of Jens Dahlin via Creative Commons.
Article by Peg Fitzpatrick