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The Art of War

By Sun Tzu
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The Art of War by Sun Tzu

Thousands of years old, The Art of War is a Chinese military treatise that is considered the definitive work of military tactics and strategy. It has greatly influenced military tactics as well as business and legal strategy in both the East and West. Leaders such as general Douglas MacArthur and Mao Zedong have drawn inspiration from it.

Key idea 1 of 7

Secure yourself against defeat, and wait for an opportunity for victory.

Successful strategists only enter battles they know they will win, whereas unsuccessful ones enter frays and only then begin to think of how they can win.

A skillful fighter avoids battles he may lose, thus ensuring he is never defeated. But even the most brilliant general cannot say exactly when victory will come, for he must wait for the enemy to make a mistake and provide him the opportunity for victory.

A successful general knows that to seize victory, there are five essential rules:

  1. You must know when to fight and when not to fight.
  2. You must know how to deal with forces both inferior and superior to your own.
  3. Your army must have a strong, uniform fighting spirit and discipline throughout its ranks.
  4. You must fight so that you are prepared and the enemy is unprepared.
  5. You must have the military capacity and freedom to command your troops without interference from a sovereign.

Be cautious. Attack only when you have the advantage. Avoid your enemy where he is strong and attack him where he is weak.

Avoid the enemy’s army when its spirit is keen, its columns and banners are in perfect order or when it has a more advantageous position such as higher ground.

Never enter battle simply out of anger; there must always be something to be won. Your anger will eventually fade, but a kingdom once destroyed can never be brought back to life.

Avoid the traps your enemy will try to draw you into. Do not lead your army into places where your supplies cannot reach you or where you do not know the terrain or your allies well.

Secure yourself against defeat, and wait for an opportunity for victory.

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