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Who is that Sun Tzu Guy?

“The Art of War”, written more than 2,000 years ago by an infamous Chinese General (Sun Tzu) , is by far one of the most influential books on martial arts. And, oh, by the way, has an interesting parallel to the concept of a globally competitive business success strategy.

For example, Sun Tzu preached that if you want to break your competition without a messy fight (messy competitive struggle); it was to be accomplished through knowledge. Sun Tzu said: “Know your enemy and also know yourself.” The way he saw it, if you really know yourself (strengths and weaknesses) and if you know your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses you have an advantage that will exceed that of your competitor. That level of confidence will foretell the outcome ahead.

He went on to say that knowing yourself, but not knowing your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses exposed you to no better than a 50/5o win vs. lose likelihood. You might win some and lose some, but the predictability of either was beyond your appreciation until after the fact. That’s that 20/20 hindsight thing. (And, depending on your available resources before engaging in battle, you were very susceptible to dying the death of a thousand cuts before it was over. (That last part is from the philosopher Pat Piles, not Sun Tzu.)

And, in those situations where you took no effort in truly appreciating your real strengths and weaknesses nor did you bother to genuinely assess the genuine strengths and weaknesses of your competition….well, you are, in essence, playing the equivalent of Russian roulette. You are likely to succumb. It is only a matter of time.

To my way of thinking, what Sun Tzu was promoting, with his Art of War logic that Knowledge-is-Power; is that it is much to your advantage to understand both sides of the argument before you go to battle. At the very least you live to fight another day. At the very best, you recognize the deck is stacked in your favor and can go forward with confidence. At the very, very best….both sides might avoid conflict…and benefit from mutual understanding. Sort of sounds like there could be room for Win/Win, doesn’t it?

Don’t groan at me….I just understand 2,000-year-old logic. How about you?



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