Mastering The Art Of Strategic Thinking And Mental Warfare

“Being endowed with teeth and mounting horns, having claws in front and spurs in back, coming together when happy, fighting when angry, this is the way of Heaven, it cannot be stopped.
Thus those that lack Heavenly weapons provide them themselves.”

Sun Bin

These days – the world has become a tougher and tougher place to live, and the competition for ever scarcer resources is only going to increase.

In fact, I predict that the economies, quality of life and social conditions of developed countries is only going to GET WORSE for the next 10-20 years…

“Success Anorexia” Strikes 70-95 Million Americans Every Year, but –

      You can protect yourself…

            You can outrun the herd…

                  You can BECOME A LION!

The U.S. economy may supposedly be recovering, but Americans aren’t getting any happier: Only one in three Americans say they’re very happy, according to a recent Harris Poll.

The online poll of 2,345 U.S. adults used a series of questions to determine Americans’ levels of contentment and life satisfaction.

Overall, just 33 percent of Americans said that they were very happy, remaining consistent with happiness levels in 2011 but dropping from the 35 percent who reported being very happy in 2008 and 2009.

And it’s no surprise as to why people are feeling less of a sense of well-being, and instead – feeling more distressed than ever.

The Great Recession officially ended three years ago, but most middle-class Americans are still feeling pinched.

About six-in-ten (62%) say they had to reduce household spending in the past year because money was tight, compared with 53% who said so in 2008.

The downbeat short-term perspective is not surprising in light of the heavy economic blows delivered by the Great Recession of 2007-2009 and the sluggish recovery since.

About four-in-ten (42%) middle-class adults say their household’s financial situation is worse now than it was before the recession.

That’s nearly half!

Make no mistake about it:  Times ARE tough and getting tougher…

Violent crime is getting more violent…

Well-paying jobs are harder and harder to find…

And people are experiencing less and less happiness, fulfillment and freedom…

Times like these are like a fiery crucible – which consumes and destroys the weak but turns the strong and the strategic minded into un-bendable, un-breakable steel.

In fact during the last great depression in the 1930’s – while millions of people were wandering the countryside looking for work, or lined up in the city streets looking for a handout just to get a hot meal in their bellies – More millionaires were created than at any other time in American history!

The world is changing.

The gap between the extremely rich and desperately poor is widening, and the middle class is in the process of being completely decimated throughout the world.

You’re going to have to learn how to outmaneuver, outwit, and out play your most formidable competitors – and even competitors you can’t see… Before they know what hits them!

To achieve personal success, you should first know what you want.

You should first know your destination.

Then, after knowing your destination, you should figure out how to get there.

Do you have a model for your future?

Do you have a real vision of the future for you and your family over the next ten to fifteen years, complete with written strategies to achieve that vision?

Successful businesses and institutions have visions of their future and strategic plans that they not only follow, but monitor and update on a regular basis.

This is an effective model that can be applied to personal lives, including your life.

What is a personal vision, and how do you define it?

A personal vision is simply your statement of what you want your future to be.

When asked, some people say that their vision is to be healthy, wealthy and successful.

That’s a good start, but you should recognize that those terms might have different meanings at different times in your life.

To develop your vision of the future, start with a pen and a piece of paper, and ask yourself “What?”

What do you want for your future?

What would your future look like if there were no financial restraints? No time constraints?

Now, ask yourself about your values….

What or who is really important in your life?

Family?

Career?

Wealth?

Ethics?

Knowledge?

What do you want to achieve during this life stage?

Career advancement?

Raise family?

Educate your children?

Travel? Accumulate?

Change the world?

Summarize all of this into one sentence about your preferred future. Two at the most.

This written vision should give you direction, declare where you are going, what you want to achieve and, by implication, what you want to avoid.

With your vision and mission defined, the next step in strategic planning is to devise strategies to achieve your vision.

A strategy is simply a way to do something, but some strategies are better than others.

Good strategies are what make the difference for winning generals or championship chess players.

The winners develop better strategies than their opponents.

So, for each component of your vision, ask “How?”

How will you achieve that component of your vision of the future?

I began adulthood as a high school drop-out, from a working poor family, with every card in the deck stacked against me…

At one point, things in my life got so bad that I just GAVE UP.

I’ve never had the type of character that would lead to suicide (maybe I was too much of a coward back then!), but I was as close as you can get…

I spun a globe to the furthest point in the world I could find from central Indiana, and my finger landed on India.

In desperation and confusion, I used the remainder of the cash that I had in life and bought a one way ticket.

No return ticket…

Less than $50 cash in the world…

No friends and no job waiting for me…

No way to even get home and no hope…

I arrived in Jaipur, the capital of the Rajastani desert in India with nothing but $50 and the clothes on my back as a young man with no employable skills, and not a chance in hell of making it.

But – as you’re probably guessing, I DID make it.

After a couple of weeks of sleeping outside in the desert heat, the pangs of hunger (hunger has been a constant and great teacher throughout my life.  It was hunger that caused the initial situation which allowed me to self-awaken in 2011) and thirst, and the realization that I WAS GOING TO DIE, every bit of existential angst simply disappeared and my survival instincts took over.

I instinctively and intuitively realized the same strategies and tactics as the great thinkers of the worlds of politics and war, and later went on to refine those skills…

In later years I would go on to live in China, where I studied not only Sun Tzu, but Jiang Ziya, Sun Bin, Zhuge Liang, and all of the great Chinese, Indian and European masters of strategy.

Within a few days of making the decision to change my life – with no experience and no skills I had become a project manager for the 2nd largest business clan in India.  2nd only to the world famous Tata group…

Since then, I have spent the last 17 years travelling the world, training with high level masters of martial arts, strategy and meditation, and running multiple successful businesses.

But it wasn’t any innate ability or even luck on my part.

It was that I uncovered a system…

This system has been employed for thousands of years to guarantee success in all endeavors – big or small.

And – it’s been battle tested and refined under the harshest conditions.

The system works.  It will work for you.

No matter how big or small your goals are – The Way Of Strategy will help you to achieve them.

Becoming the person you were really meant to be, fulfilling your own highest and best potential and achieving the unlikeliest of goals is all possible.

You can do this…

As you go through The Way Of Strategy you’ll begin to reprogram yourself for success…

Your mind will open to possibilities…

The obstacles that you currently face will transform into opportunities…

And, in the end if you would like even more help and training on the art of strategic thinking and mental warfare – it’s available for you.

Just visit EarthWaterFireAir.com and you’ll be able to access a PhD. Level of training resources in The Art Of War and personal success in general.

Now, I want you to read this book from beginning to end.

Don’t skip around the first time.

Later, after you’ve begun internalizing the process it will be ok for you to refer back to specific sections when you need guidance or advice, but for now – just read and absorb.

These pages hold within them the master framework for your success, and I’m truly honored to be your guide, coach and mentor.

Here’s what you’ll learn to master in The Way Of Strategy:

·       The Way Of Leadership & Command – Learn the secret traits that all “natural” leaders possess, and how to develop them in yourself

·       Understanding Climate & Terrain – Knowing both the “lay of the land” and being able to understand and respond to change is a critical factor for your success, and as you go through the coaching you’ll hone your natural abilities to do just that

·       Training Of Your People – Success is determined by a few things – Strategic advantage, timing, and proper training. Without the proper training for both you and the people around you, success becomes more and more elusive and failure more and more sure

·       Discipline – Master the art of rewards and punishment – a key skillset in motivating and leading others

·       Comprehensive planning  – To reach any goal that necessitates a multi-step process, planning must be done. The focus is not whether to plan or not to plan. Rather, the focus is how detailed the planning is. Also, it is recognized that comprehensive planning is as much an art as a science

·       Formulation Of Goals And Strategies – How to create your strategic blueprint for maximum leverage and strategic advantage – no matter what your goals may be

·       Determining If There Is A High Probability Of Victory – Look, you don’t want to waste your time building strategic advantage and creating leverage for a no-win situation. This section will help you know instantly that something is right for you and worth your time and effort

·       Evaluation Of Strategies – How to test your strategic blueprints and plans before “going live” so that you waste as little time and effort as possible. When evaluating strategy there are 3 important questions you MUST be able to answer “Yes!” to: Do your goals represent net positive gains? Are you goals achievable? Are your goals prioritized?

·       Value of Information – Comprehensive plans cannot be made on the basis of intuition, gut feeling or calculated guesses. It must be based on intelligence—based on direct knowledge

·       Choice of battleground – In military combat, one of the important factors is the choice of battleground. This same logic applies to business and individual competition. Choosing the right battleground will allow you to draw on your strengths and camouflage your weaknesses.

·       Implementation Of Strategies – How to begin executing effectively towards success and victory – RIGHT NOW

·       The 4 Areas A Successful Person MUST Pay Attention To – Selection of strategic targets, the ability to create strategic advantage, the ability to fit the strategy to the situation, and a sense of strategic timing

·       Concentration Of Force – The economy of force means finding the way to concentrate your “many” against the enemies “few”

·       Attack & Defense – When confrontation in unavoidable even the best defense can only lead to not losing. When it comes to head to head competition, the ONLY way to win is to attack and you’ll learn the best ways to do it

·       Speed of execution – Once a comprehensive plan is created based on information gathered from intelligence and the battleground has been chosen, it is important to swiftly execute the plan. Speed of implementation includes aspects of timing, momentum and pacing

·       Adaptability  – This speed in execution however does not mean just charging blindly forward. You must collect feedback and change according to dynamic circumstances

·       Creating strategic advantage through deception – In war, the creation of strategic advantage is very important. If nothing else, you should be aware of deception so you can guard against it

·       Orthodox & Unorthodox – In battle, there are only two forces—the orthodox and the unorthodox. There is a yin-yang principle involved in the use of these forces that you must not only understand but be able to execute upon as the need arises in order to get the success you really want

·       Contingency Plans – Things rarely turn out “according to plan”. It’s generally a good practice to allow some margin for error and in order to “not lose” you have to develop strong, effective contingency plans

·       Strategic Controls – How to measure your success and know where, why and how you need to re-calibrate your strategies

The Framework

On this site, you’ll learn a simple framework, which is easy to use, and easy to implement in all areas of your life.

This frameworks represents the overall framework of strategic thinking.

You’ll also discover tactical specifics for each element in the framework – so that you become a master of The Way Of Strategy.

In brief, the framework is:

1. Situation Appraisal

2. Formulation of Goals and Strategies

3. Evaluation of Strategies

4. Implementation of Strategies

5. Strategic Controls

This framework is modeled on the classics of strategy from Europe and Asia, but for this work we’ll be looking most at Chinese thought on strategy.

While European strategy is fantastic and useful – it is often a broadsword.

It seeks total domination and total warfare, whereas it’s Chinese counterpart is more diplomatic and subtle.

One could argue that conflict is one of the major themes throughout human civilization.

On the soil that is now called “China”, the rise and fall of dynasties has seen various interest groups fight for control of the land, people and resources for thousands of years.

These battles have ranged from individual intrigues to clashes of 100,000 men armies.

These battlefield experiences and personal plots spawned a body of work that sought to grasp the underlying principles of warfare and understand the human combatants.

Throughout history these texts were appreciated, not only by military and political leaders, but also by the intelligentsia.

The writings provided principles and tactics suitable for the battlefield and also embodied philosophical truths and essential wisdom about the human condition.

The concepts within could be applied to numerous contexts—the battlefield, business, and the individual art of life.

These bingfa [~BEENG-fah], or works of

military strategy, have been, and still are, useful for areas outside armed conflict.

They provide not only specific military tactics but they also embody underlying principles and patterns of human behavior. Variations of the strategies can be implemented whenever you are dealing with humans.

Sunzi Bingfa—The Art of War is by far the most famous bingfa.

It’s interesting to note that it is not just the most highly acclaimed bingfa in the West, it has the same level of esteem in China and Asia.

It was regarded to be the best of its kind in ancient times too. In fact, it features prominently in one of the later bingfa, from around 600 A.D., Questions and Replies Between Tang Tai Zhong and Li Jing .

It also features prominently is this work since it’s such a seminal text. I’ve also added parts from other bingfa to flesh out certain themes.

The opening passage of The Art of War states:

 

Warfare is the greatest affair of the state, the basis of life and death, the way of survival or extinction.
It must be thoroughly pondered and analyzed.

 

With an abstracted view of “warfare” as “competition,” and the context personalized, the quote above reads:

Competition is the greatest affair of the individual, the basis of life and death, the way of survival or extinction. It must be thoroughly pondered and analyzed.

 

In addition to Sun Tzu, other strategists have suggested that war, and competition by proxy, is nothing to take lightly.

It is something to always keep in mind.

As mentioned in Sima Fa:

Even though a state may be vast, those who love warfare will inevitably perish.
Even though calm may prevail under Heaven, those who forget warfare will certainly be endangered.

And in Sunbin’s Military Methods, it says:

One who takes pleasure in the military will perish, and one who finds profit in victory will be insulted. The military is not something to take pleasure in, victory not something through which to profit.

The material in these bingfa can be viewed as a “mental” martial art. So, the same “rules” apply as with physical martial arts.

Use the same amount of discretion when employing the techniques you learn here.

In the following, I talk a lot about the “competition” and your “opponent” and the “enemy.”

Please remember that an “enemy” is conceptualized as someone who wants to harm you.

Thus, all “enemies” involve conflict, but not all conflicts involve enemies.

Sometimes, the conflict is internal. You are “fighting” with yourself.

Or you may get into conflicts with your friends and family about certain courses of action.

Perhaps you have differing opinions or it might be a case of miscommunication.

While you might disagree with them, they probably are not trying to harm you, so this does not make them an “enemy”.

Some of the strategies might not be appropriate for every conflict. But the overall process should be useful for almost any situation.

In order to gain a clearer grasp of competition and how this understanding can be beneficial, we will focus on one strategic process.

The structure of this overall process actually echoes the structure of The Art of War.

Before we being, please note that the source documents are from ancient China, so you will need to do a bit of imaginative thinking to really understand how this process and the principles within apply to your particular situation.

In the words of the samurai Miyamoto Musashi, “From one thing know ten thousand.”

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