Fight or win?

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

This is a popular line from the book The Art of War by Sun Tzu: a revolutionary military strategist and a general in the Chinese army during the late 16th century BC. The book is a holy grail for military personnel and businessmen, especially in the area of strategy.

The book stands out for its pragmatic approach and the focus on alternatives instead of going into a battle of bloodshed. The content may seem counter-intuitive considering the title of the book is The Art of War. That’s precisely why the techniques in the book reap results.

If the techniques mentioned in the book are put to use, the opponent would most likely end up feeling it nonsensical, since most lack the aggressive flair usually used by the military in combat.

Sun Tzu focused on winning the battle, rather than fighting. According to Tzu, retracting the army or accepting temporary defeat ain’t losing the battle if it helps in course correction, and eventually winning the battle.

This is analogous to the concept of gambit in chess; it involves sacrificing a piece to achieve an advantageous position. Engaging in battle caters to our primitive nature to fight, but it may not necessarily help in achieving the end goal of winning.

For almost 5 years, I tried to pursue my dream of joining the army as an officer. If I trace back some of the reasons that motivated me, the one that stands out is my need to fight. The army seemed like a good fit, but they didn’t see me as one.

In hindsight, I won’t blame them.

Movies make it look like army personnel are constantly rappeling from a helicopter into enemy territory and launching a barrage. At least from what I have gathered from friends who are serving officers, the majority of the work involves arduous man management and administration. Even people in the special forces fraternity don’t go on missions often. Primarily because a good military will always focus on winning battles without fighting. This is not to say that the direct and aggressive approach of fighting won’t fetch results.

But, why fight?

Be it an opponent in the battlefield or a partner in an intimate relationship, what is the end goal most people want to achieve when there is a conflict? Rather, what should be the goal that people should focus on achieving?

It is a no-brainer: win the situation.

Unfortunately, most people don’t have nerves of steel, and the automatic response to a conflict is to go blazing and fight. When the enemy wages war, at a fundamental level, it is nothing but challenging one’s ego. Fighting is a short-sighted move as it is mostly driven by a need to reciprocate for hurting one’s ego.

Since human beings would do anything in their capacity to retaliate for toying with their ego, fighting usually tends to eclipse the whole idea of winning the situation.

Taking the long road of winning the situation may demand sacrifice and patience, but it will certainly help in winning the enemy without much resistance.

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