The Five Fundamentals

The Way
Causes men
To be of one mind
With their rulers,
To live or die with them,
And never to waver.

Heaven is
Yin and Yang,
Cold and hot,
The cycle of seasons.

Earth is
Height and depth,
Distance and proximity,
Ease and danger,
Open and confined ground,
Life and death.

Command is

Discipline is
Chain of command,
Control of expenditure.

Every commander is aware
Of these
Five Fundamentals.
He who grasps them
He who fails to grasp them

As we continue Chapter 1 – Making of Plans, it’s important that we try to fully understand The Way. Since my interpretation is targeted for the individual Cube Dweller in the trenches the question is, are you a person who lives by the high moral ground? Are you a good person whose foremost ideal is justice, regardless of where you stand in the equation? This requires honest self-evaluation.

Just as importantly, is your Enemy a good person whose foremost ideal is justice? Which of you would rank highest in this category?

Important in this, as with all Five Fundamentals, that you be brutally honest in your evaluation of yourself, and in comparison of your Enemy with yourself. This is not a time for righteous indignation or idealism, an emotional declaration of being right – if ever there was a time for someone to be a realist, evaluating your character against that of your Enemy is the time.

Heaven for the Cube Dweller is code for Timing, which I believe can be viewed in multiple ways. Is this the time – in your organization, in your market, in your life, in your career – for you to cause conflict? Is it the right time in your Enemy’s life to wage war?

Another way to regard Timing is do you have the intuition, self control and skill to act and react in Yang fashion (quick, sharp, forceful) in attack, and in Yin fashion (hidden, subtle, still) in retreat? Do you have the insight to know when the iron is hot and when you should sound retreat? Can you sense when the tide has turned. Can your Enemy?

Earth is terrain, Corporate Culture. What is espoused top down throughout your organization? No matter what the stated values are, what are the true values in there? Does your issue and vantage point fall within these values? Does your Enemy’s? Regardless of who were to cause this conflict, introduce this issue – would your particular viewpoint pass the muster of your Corporate Culture?

In discussing Command with respect to a General, Sun-tzu lists Wisdom, Integrity, Compassion, Courage and Severity. A commander who possesses all these traits will win in battle and will earn and keep the respect, loyalty and veneration of his troops. For the Individual, Command seems to question, do you possess these traits, or some variation of them, and have they earned you the respect, loyalty and veneration of your peers. Compare your level of esteem, your reputation, with that of your Enemy. Again, this is a tough one, and must be approached with brutal honesty.

Regarding Discipline, an Individual must ask himself if he has what it takes to complete the task, is he ready to go the mile, does he have the intestinal fortitude to fight to the end. Does the Enemy?

“He who grasps them”, I believe, speaks not only of You, the Cube Dweller, understanding the Five Fundamentals, but of You possessing the Five Fundamentals. Possessing them more fully than your Enemy. “He who fails to grasp them loses.”

So, to this point in our journey, we’ve learned that a war, a conflict, must not be undertaken lightly, but must be evaluated honestly and thoroughly. And only if You possess the Five Fundamentals more completely than your Enemy can You hope to win.

Next, our journey through The Art of War Chapter 1 continues.

No comments: