Book Summary: The Art of War – Sun Tzu

The book is a compilation of collective wisdom of Chinese military leaders dating back to the 5th Century BC. The work is attributed to Chinese strategist – Sun Tzu

The book is centered around how to fight wars without having to go to battle; how to outsmart your opponent so that physical battle is not necessary. It applies to anyone seeking to work with conflict without aggression.

The Sun Tzu begins with the understanding that conflict is an integral part of human life. It is within us and all around us. Sometimes, we can skillfully sidestep it, but at other times we must join forces with it directly.

Lessons from the book can be applied to all areas of life and below are my favorite lines/lessons from the book:

  • Our response to conflict should start from knowledge, of ourselves and the other party. Skillful action emerges only from knowledge of all the details that go to make up the situation.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

  • True victory is victory over aggression; a victory that respects the enemy’s basic humanity and thus renders further conflict unnecessary.
  • In this world, we are not a thing in and of ourselves; we have qualities in contrast with other things e.g. what is called tall is dependent on what is called short. It is important we have awareness of this interdependence.
  • Achieving a fundamental, long-term solution is more important than resolving immediate irritation and discomfort.

Have you read ‘The Art of War’? If yes, what were your key takeaways from the book?

My next read is Black Box Thinking by Mathew Syed – Watch this space for the summary.

With Love,