The Art Of War by Sun Tzu is the quintessential text on warfare. People think the book only refers to literal war – and it does! – but there is a deeper level to it than that. War is in essence a competition and all of life is in some ways a competition. And so the principles of warfare are applicable to all domains.
The external world is warlike because we are always competing. We compete in school, we compete in business and we compete when we go on job hunts. We compete in our jobs and in our dating lives. Sports are of course competitive. We compete with rivals in personal conflicts and we compete in popularity games. Capitalism is built on the principles of competition. All ideologies are competitions – as are all tribes and communities. And of course evolution – life itself – is competition.
And we wage war against ourselves. We wage war against our imperfections and flaws when we are trying to develop new habits, trying to achieve mastery of a skill or complete hard tasks.
So it’s crucial that you don’t lose all the time.
Youtube Video: Sun Tzu | The Art Of War
In A Sentence: An explanation of the philosophy of Sun Tzu and The Art Of War in a short, concise and thought-provoking video.
Favourite Quote: “Ultimate excellence lies not in winning every battle, but in defeating the enemy without ever fighting.”
Previous, Related Recommendations: 9 Principles I Learned From The Art Of War
The Deep Dive: Coming soon.
Einzelgänger is a fantastic youtuber who makes videos about philosophical approaches to life. He mostly focuses on Taoism and Stoicism but also has great videos about other topics. This video is a good introduction into the philosophical side of The Art Of War.
Strategy and discipline are incredibly deadly weapons and the beauty is that they are within the reach of everyone. Sun Tzu is lays down universal strategies that always work such as:
- He who knows himself and knows the enemy will never lose.
- Winning without fighting is the highest level of good.
- Never wander recklessly into war – pick your battles carefully.
- Always be prepared for war – never get complacent.
- Use spies to gather information about the enemy – information is gold.
- Self-awareness is the key to victory – know your strengths and weaknesses.
- Warfare is based on deception – appear weak when you are strong and appear strong when you are weak.
- Use your energy efficiently – delegate where you can.