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Book 322 - A Year of Magical Learning

Reflection Title: What Sun Tzu forgot to say!

Book – The Art of War by Sun Tzu

Book Description:

The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military treatise dating from the Late Spring and Autumn Period (roughly 5th century BC). The work, which is attributed to the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu ("Master Sun"), is composed of 13 chapters. Each one is devoted to a different set of skills or art related to warfare and how it applies to military strategy and tactics. For almost 1,500 years it was the lead text in an anthology that was formalized as the Seven Military Classics by Emperor Shenzong of Song in 1080. The Art of War remains the most influential strategy text in East Asian warfare and has influenced both Far Eastern and Western military thinking, business tactics, legal strategy, politics, sports, lifestyles and beyond.


Sun Tzu said some brilliant things about how to tips the scales in your favor to become victorious in war in this short book. I get now why it has been so often quoted and served as a source of inspiration to many throughout the centuries since its first publishing.

As I was consuming this book, the one thing I was struck by most was not what Sun Tzu said, but what he didn’t say.

Sun Tzu masterfully walked us through 13 chapters of how to win a war. We learned all kinds of strategies to deploy on how to use the land, spies, our people, and weapons to gain a competitive advantage and seize the day. We also learned the most important lesson of war, at least in my opinion, when Sun Tzu said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of 100 battles”.

What we didn’t learn was why we were at war in the first place? Why is Sun Tzu fighting? What is the point of the battle?

The text picks up with the understanding that we are already at war and then walks us through how to win that war.

Sure, if I ever magically find myself transported into a literal war than I will be running to my bookshelf to revisit this text to figure out a way out of this mess. However, we all know that isn’t how wars work. They don’t just manifest out of nowhere and we find ourselves staring at an opponent across the battlefield.

All wars begin for a particular reason. That reason isn’t just an afterthought, it is everything.

Which is why I find it funny that Sun Tzu never mentioned the ultimate weapon in warfare, and that is purpose.

With purpose guiding my actions, if I ever magically found myself staring down an opponent that opposed my purpose and the mission of others that felt the same way I do, than I can guarantee you that we will be willing to do whatever it takes push past any barrier that someone puts in our way to keep moving forward. I don’t care if you have the high ground, I don’t care if you have more people, I don’t care if you have more resources, I don’t care if you have better strategists, and I don’t care if you have more advanced weaponry. A group of people motivated by genuine purpose will always find a way to keep moving forward.

It reminds me of reflection 80 from the book 1776 when I wrote that purpose always prevails in the end. The revolutionary war is the perfect example of this principle in effect. The British didn’t care, we did! We saw how that turned out.

If you ever find someday find yourself in a battle, make sure you are fighting for something that matters deeply to you. If that purpose is true, you need not fear the result of an infinite number of battles that may rise up to challenge you throughout your time on this Earth.

Question: What are you fighting for?



What is The Year of Magical Learning? An Introduction

YOML Podcast Discussion - Coming Soon

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