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15 Leadership Strategies From Ancient Chinese Wisdom – Sun Tzu’s Art Of War

15 Leadership Strategies From Ancient Chinese Wisdom – Sun Tzu’s Art Of War

Sun Tzu’s Art Of War is believed to have been written in the sixth century or 512 BCE (Before Common Era). The text is considered to be one of the Seven Military Classics in China. The work is considered poetic, in its great wisdom. Now the famed classic may be used to determine leadership qualities, as well as, strategies in business.

1. Never Lead By Force

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    • “The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage, and strictness.”
    • “The consummate leader cultivates the moral law, and strictly adheres to method and discipline; thus it is in his power to control success.”
    • “Hence in the wise leader’s plans, considerations of advantage and of disadvantage will be blended together.”

    2. Know The Competition

    • “Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder and crush him.’
    • “If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.”
    • “So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.

    3. Doing Nothing Is Better Than Acting Out Of Fear

    • “If it is to your advantage, make a forward move; if not, stay where you are.”
    • Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a
      hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer
      a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
    • “The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and
      destroy its victim.”

    4. Always Plan Ahead

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      • “Hence the saying: The enlightened ruler lays his plans well ahead; the good general cultivates his resources.”
      • “By altering his arrangements and changing his plans, he keeps the enemy without definite
        knowledge. By shifting his camp and taking circuitous routes, he prevents the enemy from anticipating
        his purpose.”
      • “According as circumstances are favorable, one should modify one’s plans.”

       5. Refrain From Decision-Making When Angry

      • “No ruler should put troops into the field merely to gratify his own spleen; no general should fight a battle simply out of pique.”
      • “Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence
        consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”
      • “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.”

      6. Study The Competition

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        • “He who knows things, and in fighting puts his knowledge into practice, will win his battles. He who knows them not, nor practices them, will surely be defeated.”
        • Carefully compare the opposing army with your own, so that you may know where strength is superabundant and where it is deficient.”
        • “What enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge.”

        7. Use Your Team Wisely

        • “The clever combatant looks to the effect of combined energy, and does not require too much from individuals. Hence his ability to pick out the right men and utilize combined energy.”
        • “When he utilizes combined energy, his fighting men become as it were like unto rolling logs or stones. For it is the nature of a log or stone to remain motionless on level ground, and to move when on a slope; if four-cornered, to come to a standstill, but if round-shaped to go rolling down.”
        • “If there is disturbance in the camp, the general’s authority is weak. If the banners and flags are shifted about, sedition is afoot. If the officers are angry, it means that the men are weary.”

        8. Act Like A Leader

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          • “It is the business of a general to be quiet and thus ensure secrecy; upright and just, and thus maintain order.”
          • “He must be able to mystify his officers and men by false reports and appearances, and thus keep them in total ignorance.”
          • “Bestow rewards without regard to rule, issue orders without regard to previous arrangements; and you will be able to handle a whole army as though you had to do with but a single man.”

           9. Trust Yourself

          • “He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.”
          • He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.”
          • “He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces.”

          10. Think Strategically

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            • “With his forces intact he will dispute the mastery of the Empire, and thus, without losing a man, his
              triumph will be complete. This is the method of attacking by stratagem.”
            • “It is the rule in war, if our forces are ten to the enemy’s one, to surround him; if five to one, to attack
              him; if twice as numerous, to divide our army into two.”
            • “He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.”

            11. Know Yourself

            • If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
            • “He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.”
            • “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.”

            12. Think Diplomatically

            •  “All warfare is based on deception.”
            • “If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow
              arrogant.”
            • “Thus, though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated
              with long delays.”

            13. Never Lose Sight Of The Goal

            • “In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.”
            • “He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.”
            • “To see victory only when it is within the ken of the common herd is not the acme of excellence.”

            14. Have A Plan

            • “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
            • “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”
            • “When strong, avoid them. If of high morale, depress them. Seem humble to fill them with conceit. If at ease, exhaust them. If united, separate them. Attack their weaknesses. Emerge to their surprise.”

            15. Know When To Quit

            • “When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.”
            • “The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.”
            • “Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.”

             

             

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            Last Updated on November 15, 2019

            How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

            How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

            Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

            However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

            Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

            Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

            Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems, why?

            What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

            To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

            The Biology

            Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

            Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

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            The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

            A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

            Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

            So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

            Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

            Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

            Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

            Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

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            The Psychology

            Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

            Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

            Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

            Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

            What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

            Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

            Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

            1. Identify Your Habits

            As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

            2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

            Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

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            It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

            3. Apply Logic

            You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

            Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

            4. Choose an Alternative

            As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

            Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

            5. Remove Triggers

            Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

            Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

            6. Visualize Change

            Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

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            For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

            7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

            Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

            Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

            Final Thoughts

            Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

            Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

            More About Changing Habits

            Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

            Reference

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