Greetings my fellow Barbarians! I hope all of you are living life to your strongest and of meaning. If not, then maybe you should read on… Gentlemen, have you ever dreaded going out the house, going to work or school? Have you ever felt you do not have any clue on what to do about something? I sure did back then, even now I still have bouts with self-doubt and indecisiveness. Often times I feel lost due to the lack of fruition or results from my efforts, thinking if I am pursuing the right things in life. I wanted to be better, so I started educating myself better. I started reading books, lots of books; books that introduced me to a lot of ideas about life and everything in between. Then I came across Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and figured it could be worth writing about so I did and started the first chapter a few weeks ago.
A bit of a recap, I started to write about Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and offer my understanding of each passage on its application on how to be a man. My goal was to correlate the insights offered by the book regarding manhood, or life in general and hopefully help us dominate our lives. Chapter 1 deals with the importance, criteria, considerations, and tools in your approach to life in general.
Today, I want to pick up where I left off Chapter 1 and continue on to the next chapter, Waging War…
“Sun Tzu said: In the operations of war, where there are in the field a thousand swift chariots, as many heavy chariots, and a hundred thousand mail-clad soldiers, with provisions enough to carry them a thousand li, the expenditure at home and at the front, including entertainment of guests, small items such as glue and paint, and sums spent on chariots and armor, will reach the total of a thousand ounces of silver per day. Such is the cost of raising an army of 100,000 men.”
To make something you have to spend something and to spend something you have to have something; that is one of the most basic truths in life. Every minute that passes depletes our resources, that is just the reality of things and it is foolish to think otherwise. Focus on ways to accumulate resources and be wise on how you spend your resources. Remember money is just one of your resources in life, your attention, time, love, etc, they all count as your resource. Choose wisely.
“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.”
Never rush or force things to go your way, never make yourself vulnerable by wearing yourself out in your efforts. Success is measured by how the reward outweighs your efforts, and a losing battle is when your effort outweighs your rewards. Be exact and know your motives, avoid ambiguity and gray areas. Do what you mean and mean what you say, no one benefits in ambiguity and might cause you more problems in the future.
“Bring war material with you from home, but forage on the enemy. Thus the army will have food enough for its needs.”
Preparedness is paramount, but learn to improvise and adapt. Situations often change, make use of what you can gather along the way. Be like McGayver and use whatever you can gather to get out of difficult situations and move forward. Learn the essentials and avoid being overly optimized. It is often that the overly optimized are the very susceptible to change, a slight deviation can topple an overly optimized system. Leave buffers for improvisations.
“Therefore in chariot fighting, when ten or more chariots have been taken, those should be rewarded who took the first. Our own flags should be substituted for those of the enemy, and the chariots mingled and used in conjunction with ours. The captured soldiers should be kindly treated and kept.”
Be generous in your rewards for exceptional effort, generosity goes a long way. Generosity to yourself prevents you from wearing yourself out, and generosity to others inspire them to be better next time. Let your triumphs be known as it builds a reputation, a reputation that must be protected at all cost. Make good use of the resources you acquire, may it be money, new friends, knowledge and etc. Remember to treat everything with kindness, your respect may not apply to all things but your kindness does.
Victory not Campaigns
“In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.”
Focus on quick (not necessarily easy) wins and take stock in those victories. Take action and avoid waiting. Waiting clouds the clarity of your purpose, moments spend waiting are moments lost. Remember that life is volatile, tomorrow might not go as planned. Act now and do not delay.
Chapter 2 of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War mostly deals with what actions one should take towards his own victory. It deals with the conservation and management of resources, managing of efforts, how to improvise, rewarding of exceptional work, and the importance of prompt action. How those insights pave our way to success, ideas that are somewhat overlooked in our modern age. Its focus on generosity and its ideas about improvisation or making the most of what you can gather are highly commendable. While its ideas regarding brevity or exactness much needed in today’s prevalent ambiguity, and a very simple truth about consumption in today’s consumer-oriented society.
To summarize, chapter 2 deals with some basic approach that could be applied to conquer whatever we are dealing with. Having some sort of approach or idea helps when dealing with our day to day lives, especially when life becomes overwhelming. Being an exceptional man means dealing with a lot, it means to give credit when credit is due. It means decisiveness and swift action, and doing best with what you got; is resourceful and wise. Being an exceptional man has substance and has a plan even when he does not look have one.