“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
I got a very great question for everyone! Who among you does not want to win? Who enjoys losing so much? Who wakes up in the morning excited to tell themselves “I want to lose today!”? If my perception of reality is right, I am guessing no one. No one likes losing, no one likes getting his or her ass kicked. While losing is, in fact, a reality of life, it does not mean we have to stop trying and just take pity on ourselves, right? Assholes do that, right? We may lose from time to time but we are not assholes, yes? What I am trying to accomplish here is for us to have a chance at winning, sure I wanted to write about my relationship between life and myself but it is not all there is to it. I am not writing about the bad things that happened to me so that somebody from the other side of the world could take pity on me, I write for a chance to win, I write for those who can relate to whatever it is I am saying a chance to win.
According to Wikipedia, The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military treatise written approximately between 771 and 476 BC. Written by Sun Tzu, an ancient Chinese military strategist; devoted to every aspect of warfare and how it applies to military strategy and tactics. It gained popularity because of Sun Tzu’s insights apply to all conflict great or small, and it is applied in various fields such as politics, business, and sports. Its wisdom is just as applicable for a ten-year-old running for school council president as to a general conquering a war.
In my humble opinion, it is the masculine’s nature to dominate and to live large and free. I want to write about The Art of War based on my own interpretation and experiences, on how to conquer life as a man. So, without much further ado, I would like to present to you the first part of my series about Sun Tzu’s Mythical “The Art of War”.
“Sun Tzu said:
The art of war is of vital importance to the State.
It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin.
Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.”
In life, it is much important to listen; to keep an open heart and an open mind in order to act in a situation. It is often not easy to listen especially when we do not like what we hear, and sometimes it hurts but we must not let those words weaken us but instead strengthen us. It is imperative in life to surround ourselves with people who genuinely want what is best for us, people who share the same goals as us to somehow manage the noise.
Five Constant Factors
“The art of war then is governed by five constant factors, to be taken account in one’s deliberation, when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field.”
- The Moral Law
“The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger.”
Refers to the loyalty of those we surround ourselves with. The loyalty that is born from their own free will, we all know that loyalty that is bought or acquired by fear and intimidation will, later on, lead to sedition. Instead, aim to acquire the loyalty of others by the love and respect we give to them and make ourselves generally useful to them. Be aware that not everyone will reciprocate your efforts but that just gives more meaning to the loyalty given to you by those who do.
“Heaven signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and season.”
Refers to change, that everything in life is a subject of change. Our reality is volatile, always has been and always will be. Life begins and ends in just a matter of seconds, and those who come prepared and those who can adapt will not only survive life but thrive in it. Life is a series of ups and downs, and any man thinking that life will always be favorable or downtrodden will lead to his downfall.
“Earth comprises distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life and death.”
Refers to your surroundings, your current reality. He who is not in touch with his own reality and surrounding is delusional and is a danger to himself and to others. A man must be aware of his footing, if he finds himself at a disadvantage, he must move immediately to a more favorable position on the battlefield and in life.
- The Commander
“The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage, and strictness.”
Refers to the virtues that one stands for. The virtues you strive for yourself will dictate how you respond to the situation at hand; if you strive wisdom then proceed wisely, if you strive for courage then be courageous. No one is actually wise, or kind, or courageous but rather it is our actions that make it as such. It is your virtues that will attract the right people into your life.
- Method and discipline
“By method and discipline are to be understood the marshaling of the army in its proper subdivisions, the graduation of rank among officers, the maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach the army, and the control of military expenditure.”
Refers to one’s management of resources. You must be aware of how you spend your resources such as time and money in order to win at life. Take into account that your love, trust, affection and etc. are also resources in life, though must be given generously, does not grow on trees; so make sure that you replenish them from time to time.
“By means of these seven considerations, I can forecast victory or defeat”
- Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the Moral Law?
Build your social network and surround yourself with quality friends. Use your virtues to guide you; The goal is not to make yourself likable but rather improve yourself so that you attract the right kind of people.
- Which of the two generals has the most ability?
Stop complaining and make yourself useful; be part of the solution, not the problem. Keep on learning new skills that will prove to be useful to yourself and to others. Be of great service to your fellow men.
- With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth?
Practice situational preparedness and awareness. Learn how to observe each situation in order to know how to act. Give deliberate thought about deviations in your conditions in order to make preparations; plan ahead.
- On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced?
Just because you could do something does not mean you should, sure you can drink the water from the ditch but it does not mean you should. Be disciplined.
- Which army is stronger?
In a situation where both sides are devoid of both advantage and disadvantage, the stronger side wins. Make yourself stronger, physically, mentally, emotionally.
- On which side are officers and men more highly trained?
Mastery brings forth confidence, become a master of a few if not many things. Have a breath of knowledge and skills, and have a depth of mastery.
- In which army is there the greater consistency both in reward and punishment?
Be generous in your rewards to establish a good relationship and apply reasonable punishment for discipline. This applies to yourself and to others, aim for a win-win situation, be generous without being a pushover. Be reasonable, avoid too much self- loathing and too much self-indulgence.
“While heeding the profit of my counsel, avail yourself also to any helpful circumstances over and beyond the ordinary rules.”
Do not blindly follow conventional rules, follow what works and discard what does not depending on the situation. Listen closely to those who seek the same thing as you and beware of those who have different intentions than you.
“All warfare is based on deception.”
Make oneself invulnerable, hide weaknesses in front of adversity. Use deception to gain the advantage but avoid meaningless deception. Like it or not, deception is part of our reality and it’s best to think of deception as a tool much like a hammer or a sword. Deception can either build and protect or destroy and hurt.
“Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculations at all!”
Planning is everything, take into account every possible outcome. Calculate your resources, calculate people’s actions, calculate the situation. Make an educated guess of everything according to its probability and make preparations. Bring an umbrella when there is a chance of rain, bring a flashlight when there is a chance of darkness, and bring food and water is there is a chance of heavy traffic. Any sort of contingency is still better than no contingency at all.
The first chapter of The Art of War is pretty much an introduction about what to expect in life, it is very open for interpretation which kind of what makes the book interesting. It is very practical and insightful, depending on your interpretation. As for me, it helps me in my contemplation in regards to life’s intricacies as well as challenge my perception of my reality with topics about readiness, awareness, generosity, strictness, and deception.
The Art of War still remains as one of the influential books in terms of military strategy and in my opinion will continue to be due to the variety of its application. “War” is simply a metaphor to any challenge you wish to conquer.
To summarize, Laying the Plans deals with the importance of being aware of any given situation and the things that had to be taken into consideration in your approach. The Art of War is a good read when you want to win at something or everything, so choose your battles, and choose wisely.
- The Art of War Visualized – Jessica Hagy