The Art of War Series – Part II – Move Only When You Have the Advantage

It has been tremendously difficult to choose one topic per week to write about from the Art of War because the book is filled with SO many different topics to choose from that I think are all worth writing about.

One theme from the book that I have been pondering is the strategy of staying in one place and not moving until you have a tactical advantage. As quoted in the book:

“Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless the position is critical. If it is to your advantage, make a move; if not, stay where you are.”

There are so many different situations this applies to us in our lives. For most people, this likely applies to their career or their business. Sometimes in our careers we go through phases where we’re looking for the next ‘bigger’ opportunity, but we don’t know exactly what that next opportunity will be. I remember feeling like this a couple of years ago, but I (and my wife) decided it was best for me to stay put instead of leaving for an opportunity that didn’t provide long-term advantages for my career.

I even think about this now in my current role as we work through the process of raising our next venture fund. One of the challenging aspects of marketing a fund is accurately pinpointing the right prospects. If you’re not careful, you can spend too much energy on the wrong targets, wasting time, money, and human resources in the process. Hence, the key is to ask What Would General Sun Do (WWGSD)? General Sun says it’s best not to do anything until you see an advantage; to not use your troops (human resources) unless there is something to be gained. I think any of us who are in the position of marketing any product or service should remember this.

Next week we’ll discuss General Sun’s philosophy for why it’s important to “ponder and deliberate before you make a decision.” I actually have this on a sticky note on the wall above my desk and it’s now become etched into my psyche. Very basic, but good stuff! Cheers – KM

P.S. I’m about 3/4 of the way through Ray Dalio’s book, Principles. It’s an excellent book filled with great stories on team dynamics, decision-making, etc. At some point in the next several weeks I’d like to share some key takeaways from the book that have really helped me. I encourage you to read it if you haven’t already.

Photo by Crown Agency on Unsplash


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