I am still reading Robert Greene's The 33 Strategies of War and as I read I want to write short reviews of parts of the book. So right now I am on Strategy #7 so this status is going to be dedicated for Strategies 1 through 6.
Before I begin I want to state 2 things. First, this book is like a walking metaphor for people who go to the gym and their various attitudes towards training. Two, this book is a guide on business and negotiations for money. Three, I LOVE reading this book because I love the historical examples given in the book. Okay so I listed 3 things and not 2. Sorry. Moving on…
Strategy 1 was about identifying the enemy and embracing the purpose and direction of war on that enemy. Your enemy is a form of motivation. It reminded me of guys who get obsessed with working out because they remove their hatred and rage on the bar. I believe that in The Cube Method book Brandyn Lilly says that his approach to strength training is declaring war on the weights. I thought someone would have to have a huge ego to make such a statement and after reading this chapter I definitely stand by my opinion. The flip side of this is that you have to handle each situation where you are faced with adversity and you feel you are being victimized by isolating a cause and making that your enemy. You can't go around whining and complaining about a bunch of problems: identify them and attack them.
Strategy 2: Do not fight the last war. This is a chapter on how humans keep repeating tried and tested methods without taking risks. The best parts of this chapter are the examples from Japan and England. There is a story of Musashi - the great Japanese Samurai and how he employed different tactics of warfare for different opponents. He never fought two battles the same and he armed himself based on the weapons his opponent was wielding. The second story is of how Napoleon's armies defeated Prussia because Prussian generals had become stuck-in-the-mud regarding their war tactics. What can I extrapolate from this? You have to approach each set of each exercise as it's own: you can't bring baggage into this. You should have the guts to try different techniques. Never fall prey to rituals and habits just because they have worked before. You must be reactive to the situation around you. Can be applied in business negotiations as well.
Strategy 3: Keeping a cool mind even in the throes of war. The title itself is self explanatory: you can't hit that damn panic button!
Strategy 4: The Death Ground Strategy: this one has been borrowed from Sun Tzu where he said that if you have an army of soldiers maneuver them in such a way that they have their backs to either a mountain or the abyss or a sea or something threatening so that they feel that fighting with all their might is the only option left for them. They must feel that unless they give it their all the only option left for them is certain death. That is why speeches used to rouse soldiers are pretty useless. We - as the audience, love listening to them because who doesn't love those goosebumps and feeling of self righteousness but this is not an effective war strategy. Creating a sense of urgency in your troops really helps. I don't think this can be applied to business because that would mean constantly threatening your employees jobs based on single sales and that usually ends up falling flat on decision maker's faces. I do think people use this too often in the gym (back to Lilly's example of waging war on the barbell) and create a sense of desperation within themselves and that ends up harming them either via injury of just doing inefficient stuff. I am such a meathead I am bringing this all back to the gym however this is a book on WAR so keep that in mind haha!
Strategy 5: Group think is bad. Enough said
Strategy 6: The Controlled Chaos Strategy. I think this is by far my best chapter so far (Strategy 2 is my 2nd best). Both Napoleon and Genghis Khan won their wars by dissecting their armies into many smaller autonomous arms that worked towards a common goal. This way, from the perspective of an outsider looking in, there was complete chaos which made them highly unpredictable. But, there was and is a pattern to the madness that was responsible for the cohesiveness required to win a war. So from the perspective of a leader of an organization you must delegate tasks and monitor what each individual group is doing - micromanaging is a big no-no. Let each group or department work towards the goal laid out by you on their own terms within a time frame. From the perspective of an organization this is a very good chapter.
Okay this is it for now. I'll probably post the next update once I'm done with Strategy 10.