Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Art of W.A.R.
Urbanology October 16, 2008

I first became interested in Sun Tzu’s ancient Chinese Classic, The Art of War, in 1968. I was in the United States Army stationed at Foot Hood Texas. This was a time when military intelligence was trying to understand how an army of peasant farmers was defeating the mighty US military forces in Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh’s (the founder of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam) famous answer to that question was: “We are defeating the mighty imperialist forces by using Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.” A whole new generation of Sun Tzu strategists was born in 68’.

For over two thousand years The Art of War has remained one of the most influential books of strategy in the world according to Harvard’s Thomas Cleary who, in my opinion, is the best translator of Chinese classics. The strategic concepts found in Sun Tzu’s work had a major influence on strategic military training and American business community.

I became a great admirer of the strategic concepts of this mysterious Taoist warrior-philosopher. One of its most valuable lessons is the importance of knowing oneself. Sun Tzu states: “If you know others and you know yourself you will win most of your battles. If you do not know others but know yourself you will win some and lose some. If you don’t know yourself and do not know others you will lose most of the time”. Understanding one’s self is not as easy as it sounds.

This my surprise you, but you are not who you think you are. In his book, A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle calls it the “The Illusory Self”. According to Tolle, most of us live in an illusory sense of self, a misperception of who we think we are. Albert Einstein called it “an optical illusion of consciousness”. Most of what you consider reality is only an illusion. Tolle goes on to say, “If you can recognize illusion as illusion it dissolves. Its survival depends on your mistaking it for reality.” My advice for both individual and organizational strategic management is to be clear about who you are, not who you think you are. Only then can you understand your true strengths and weaknesses. Sun Tzu teaches: “Making yourself invincible means knowing yourself; waiting for vulnerability in opponents means knowing others.”

When I was developing Urbanology Systems, my strategic multicultural marketing and management company, my son gave me the idea of using my name, William Anthony Rogers (WAR), as part of my strategic marketing plan, which developed into: Urbanology: The Art of W.A.R. I suggest if you have not had the opportunity to read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, and you are in any type of competitive situation, either personal or organizational, it might be a good idea to pick up a book. I suggest that you look for Thomas Cleary’s translation of the text. If you are in business and you don’t understand this type of strategic thinking you can become very vulnerable to those who do.

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