Life | Motivation

"The Art of War" remains one of the world's most famous military texts, 2,500 years after it was published by Sun Tze (孙子 Sūnzi) an adviser who probably lived during the Spring and Autumn Period (776-471 BCE). However, it is now celebrated by today's business gurus and even sports coaches as guidance for dealing with conflict of all sorts.

When Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel felt threatened by the encroachment of Facebook into Snapchat's market, he gave each of his team members a copy of "The Art of War" in order to have them think in terms of ruthlessness competition.

Whether it is internal or external to an organization or an individual's battles with themselves, competitors, or nature, "The Art of War" gives comprehensive advice on how to approach conflict. Let's take a look at some life lessons that can be taken from this broadly universal work.

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"He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight."

In the same way that Sun Tzu argues armies should only engage when they have a clear advantage, we have to pick our battles in real life. A child may fantasize about becoming a professional sports player, firefighter, a CEO, and the president all at the same time, but as we get older, we realize there are time and resource constraints to what you can achieve. As such, we should know what we can achieve and in which areas we will be most successful to take full advantage of the time and resources that are available.

In your career, if you spread your skills over too many diverse areas, you won't be able to specialize in anything. That is not to saying having diverse skills won't help you get a job, but you have to diversify your skills in a smart way. In business, you have to choose battles all the time, whether it be choosing between project proposals, prioritizing requests for renegotiations, or choosing when to challenge a counterpart. Much of content in "The Art of War" is dedicating to advising how to pick the right time and place for your conflict to occur (it if really needs to occur at all).

Dr. Ujjwal Patni has released a powerful video on this topic. Click below to watch it.


""It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies abut do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.""

Probably the most important point of "The Art of War" tries to make is that information does matter, and an educated guess is better than a gut decision. Sun Tzu thought that generals should be adept at the "military calculus" of taking into account anything and everything that could affect the outcome of a battle. Not only is it vitally important to have insight into what the enemy might be attempting to do in order to take advantage of their weaknesses and know one's own corresponding strengths and weakness, but it is also important to take into account factors such as the environment, weather, and troop morale.

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Recent trends in the use of big data demonstrate just how important in-depth research is to the survival and success of businesses. In business negotiations, knowing something about your counterpart can be vital to improving communication with them.

Overall, what The Art of War tells us is that we need to be aware of ourselves and others. By keeping an open mind to the things that are happening around us, we can make an informed decision that will not only help us in our personal lives but also at work.

Dr. Ujjwal Patni
Motivational Speaker and Top Business Coach

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