Sun Tzu was a Chinese general. Legend had it that, whichever army Sun Tzu advised never lost.
Once, the King of Wu asked Sun Tzu to prove his theory of managing soldiers on 180 women. Sun Tzu agreed. Sun Tzu asked them to stand in two groups. The Kings favourite concubines were heading the two groups.All the women were given spears to hold in their hand. He told that they would be given certain commands (moving – back, front, left, right) which they should obey. The women agreed. The drums sounded and Sun Tzu loudly commanded “Right turn”. To this the women suddenly burst out laughing. Sun Tzu said aloud, “If the instructions are not clear and not understood, then the General is to blame.” He then continued and repeated the orders carefully. Again the women laughed. Sun Tzu then said, “If the commands are clear, but the orders not followed, then the officers are at fault. Saying this he ordered the officers to be beheaded. The king, who was watching, sent down a message that he was satisfied with the general’s abilities to manage the troops. The king did not desire his favourite concubines to be beheaded.
Sun Tzu said, “Having received the sovereign’s commission to take charge and direct troops, there are certain orders I cannot accept”. Saying this he beheaded the two concubines. Thereafter he again started to command the women. This time the drill was performed in perfect discipline and precision. Then the General turned to the King and said, “Your majesty, your troops are ready for inspection. You may choose to put them through fire and water and they will not disobey”.
When faced with an impossible situation, you may draw inspiration from any of principles used by him. The art of war will teach you how to use organizational ability, teamwork, tactical cunning & strategy to overcome & conquer.
Before the war
“If you know yourself and know your enemy, there is no fear in a hundred battles. If you know yourself but don’t know your enemy, the odds are even. But if you do not know yourself & do not know your enemy, there is fear in a hundred battles”
- Know your Enemy: Understand the problem or the obstacle or the opponent. Gather information about his weakness & strength via research. Comprehend the exact cause of the problem. Understanding the problem gives the solution.
- Know your Self: Know your attributes & handicaps. Gain stock of your resources.
- Win the war without fighting: If you can avoid the battle by negotiation lt’s the best thing to do. Battle should not be based on instinct, anger or envy. Ask not what the enemy shall refuse, but ask what the enemy can give. Be soft yet not yielding, be firm yet not hard.
- Organize your team – Command in Control: A hierarchy of command & reporting should be established. The specific areas of responsibility are allotted to members with aptitude & talents in that area.
During the war
- Attack at the right Angle: Use your best strengths at the opponents or problems weakest point of problem.
- Attack at the right Level: Act at appropriate LEVEL of hierarchy, from above or below, whichever is vulnerable.
- Attack from right Position: Correct your position (Power, finances, status& relations) before attack. Tap you’re resources of power & keep them on standby.
- Attack with Force regulation – i.e use the right amount of Force: Use minimum amount of Force to produce average result.
After the war
- Secure the victory: Make sure that the objective or goal is attained & the loot is secured by your team.
- Share the booty: Each & every team member must gain from the victory, not just the leaders. This shall ensure the fidelity, trust, gratitude of the team for future battles
- Reinforce the victory: Establish a base in the conquered enemy territory. Use the victory to gain superior position or the upper hand in further dealings with the party defeated.
- Use the defeat: In case of defeat, use the defeat as a stepping stone to learn your mistakes & correct your circumstances that led to failure.
These same principles of Sun Tzu for war can also be used for business, management and personal life.