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The Art of War

The Art of War

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Chapter 1: Laying Plans

Moral Law – Moral law also known as the mission. It’s a unifying cause that helps armies follow leaders without question. Through moral law, you create common ground with your troops so they remain disciplined and follow you into battle, even if death is imminent.

Heaven and Earth – You know these as weather and terrain. Every successful strategist must prepare for unfavorable circumstances. From packing essential gear to scouting what lies ahead, considering and preparing for tough conditions is critical to ensuring success.

The Commander – The best leaders are benevolent and kind, yet without


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Chapter 1: Laying Plans

cowardice. They embody virtue and courage, marching into hostile territory. They enforce discipline and punish insubordination. Their strictness instills fear and respect. They assign duties fairly.

Method and Discipline – These elements help leaders avoid disorganization in their teams. According to Sun Tzu, proper method and discipline keep highways clear, prevent delays, and lead to victory. The best leaders divide their teams into proper ranks and subdivisions and rule them with iron command.

Sun Tzu also describes the importance of never underestimating your enemy.


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Chapter 2: Waging War

In this chapter, Sun Tzu reminds us that… “There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.”

Sun Tzu valued rapid victories over extended confrontations. Rapid victory is the essence of war.

To apply this concept to your life, think about how much effort it takes you to accomplish a task. Is the trade-off in time, effort, and energy worth the reward?

According to Sun Tzu, we should all take time to consider whether winning is really worth the cost. As he states, “In war, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.”


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Chapter 3: Attack By Strategem

According to Sun Tzu, the five best characteristics of any leader are:

Knowing when and when not to fight

Knowing how to handle superior and inferior forces

Being the person whose entire army rallies behind them with the same fighting spirit in every rank, from the most experienced officer to the newest recruit

Preparing yourself and waiting to take advantage of any sign that the enemy is disorganized and unprepared.

Sun Tzu also reminds us that it’s not enough to know ourselves. We must do all we can to actively learn about our adversaries.


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Chapter 4 Tactical Dispositions

To prepare for victory and war, Sun Tzu recommends:

Measurement of budget, time, effort, the enemy’s soldiers;

Estimation of quantity (supplies, money, soldiers);

Calculation of the your and your enemy’s strength;

Balancing chances – What are the odds of you winning?); and

Victory – Using the above to determine a clear plan of action.

Measure twice and cut once to set yourself up for success.


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Chapter 5: Energy

The lesson? As a leader, you must combine the resources you have and form “variations” to come up with unlimited strategies. Use the “combined energy” of your team to aid in victory.

Sun Tzu also recommends using a combination of direct and indirect attacks to forge a limitless number of war strategies.

Direct attacks involve attacking the enemy during battle.

Indirect attacks include tactics that incorporate hiding and secrecy, starving your enemy, or fooling them into thinking you are weak when you’re strong. Sun Tzu calls this “feigning weakness,” and it is an essential component of any battle


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Chapter 6: Weak Points and Strong

If you must fight, confuse your enemies with unexpected routes or gambits such as suddenly modifying your tactics. This is crucial (and far easier) if attacked in your own territory. In real life, never let those around you know your next move.

Sun Tzu also teaches the importance of caring for your army. He states, “Whoever is first in the field and awaits the coming of the enemy, will be fresh for the fight; whoever is second in the field and has to hasten to battle will arrive exhausted.”

This statement offers a valuable lesson in self-care.


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Chapter 7: Maneuvering

Sun Tzu mentions limiting the ground your army covers to preserve its strength. When your army must cover large distances, take breaks to have enough strength to defend against attacks. A tired army with low morale never wins battles.

Sun Tzu also states, “We are not fit to lead an army on the march unless we are familiar with the face of the country.” He teaches the importance of studying moods, being prepared for the terrain, and maintaining secrecy.

Leaders should also know when to attack an enemy when they are their weakest. They should know how to preserve supplies and boost morale.


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Chapter 8: Variation of Tactics

Dangerous faults in leaders that result in failure include:

Recklessness, which leads to destruction;

Cowardice, which leads to capture;

A hasty temper, which leads to being vulnerable to attacks (so don’t be easily angered by insults from the enemy);

A “delicacy of honor,” which means a leader will be too shameful to quit when necessary; and

Excessive worry over your soldiers, since this can cause a wise sovereign to prioritise the well-being of their team over not on the war at hand (in war, people are expendable).


47 reads



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The Art of War is THE classic guide to military strategy that has inspired soldiers, politicians and business leaders worldwide for millennia. Its timeless (and time-tested) lessons in out thinking and outflanking your adversaries are as valuable in the boardroom as on the battlefield - by Chinese Qi Dynasty military general and master strategist, Sun Tzu

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