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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 March 21, 2019

            11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

            11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

            Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

            You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

            But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

            To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

            It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

            “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

            The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

            In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

            Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

            1. Start Small

            The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

            Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

            Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

            Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

            Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

            Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

            It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

            Do less today to do more in a year.

            2. Stay Small

            There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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            But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

            If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

            When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

            I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

            Why?

            Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

            The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

            Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

            3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

            No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

            There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

            What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

            Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

            This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

            This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

            4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

            When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

            There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

            Peter Drucker said,

            “What you track is what you do.”

            So track it to do it — it really helps.

            But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

            5. Measure Once, Do Twice

            Peter Drucker also said,

            “What you measure is what you improve.”

            So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

            For reading, it’s 20 pages.
            For writing, it’s 500 words.
            For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
            For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

            Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

            6. All Days Make a Difference

            Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

            Will two? They won’t.

            Will three? They won’t.

            Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

            What happened? Which one made you fit?

            The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

            No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

            7. They Are Never Fully Automated

            Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

            But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

            What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

            It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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            The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

            It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

            It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

            8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

            Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

            Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

            When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

            The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

            Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

            9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

            The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

            Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

            You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

            But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

            So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

            If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

            This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

            The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

            Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

            10. Punish Yourself

            Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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            I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

            It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

            You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

            No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

            The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

            But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

            11. Reward Yourself

            When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

            Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

            The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

            After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

            If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

            Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

            If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

            In the End, It Matters

            What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

            When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

            And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

            “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

            Keep going.

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            More Resources to Help You Build Habits

            Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
            [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
            [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
            [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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