Beginning with a Single Step

Maybe it’s my imagination, but it seems that an unusually large number of sites I visit in my web wanderings reference The Art of War, a short (yet jam-packed) Taoist book on military strategy purportedly written by Chinese General Sun-tzu in the Fifth Century BCE.* As a Googlophile, I’m a sucker for clicking on the jagged blue underlines and following where they lead, and the more I read about The Art of War, the bigger the topic got and the bigger my interest became.

Written as a military strategy, the author supports using ethical behavior and “defeating the enemy without ever fighting”, and takes an analytical approach to learning the enemy’s weaknesses, tricking the enemy – essentially wrenching warfare from the fists of barbarians bent on causing widespread damage to prove superiority of strength, and transforming it into an elegant gentleman’s game where an entire army can be defeated by the mental equivalent of a Five Point Palm Exploding Heart strike.

Used through the centuries by militarists, including Generals we know such as Norman Schwarzkopf, the 20th and 21st Centuries have seen the philosophy and tactics within studied and used by Henry Kissinger, Gordon Gekko, and Tony Soprano. It has morphed into a business strategy text, taught in MBA studies and used all along Wall Street. And conventional wisdom suggests that the strategies can be applied across a universe of verticals.

Which led me to wonder, has The Art of War ever been used for other “horizontals” – can the insights be interpreted not just for the Generals, but also for the troops? Can these same age-old strategies be employed in Cube World?

So that’s my challenge. I bought The Art of War (translation by John Minford) and have started reading the 13 Chapters (with commentary included). My goal is to distill the poetry and philosophy into bits of wisdom directed at the great American workforce.

And so, as stated by another wise Taoist, Lao-tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ** This is my first step.

* I have no interest in debating the dates or spellings – irrelevant to the topic at hand.
** I have no interest in debating the various translations – irrelevant to the topic at hand.

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