A reader recently saying that she hoped that The Art of War was "not a real aggressive type book."
Because we describe Sun Tzu's methods as "winning without conflict" and "winning productively," it seems some people get the wrong idea about Sun Tzu's strategy.
Sun Tzu is not aggressive in the sense of "likely to attack others" and " try to harm others." However, it is extremely aggressive in the sense of meaning "attacking or taking action without provocation or without waiting for an enemy to make the first move" and especially in the sense of "characterized by or exhibiting determination, energy, and initiative."
In Sun Tzu's definition, attacking means moving into new areas, not getting into conflict with opponents. Since the Art of War's method focuses on position instead of opponents, aggression is a big part of making it work. It demands that we continuously attack and explore openings. We do not wait for our position to decay. We constantly look for and test opportunities to expand our positon. We don't simple react to what others do, we act so that they have to respond to us.
To use this system, we must aggressively pursue our goals. We want to be aggressive in the medical sense of "spreading quickly." We try to minimize is conflict with others and their goals because that conflict is expensive and slows us down, making our success less likely.
Don’t confuse a desire to avoid conflict with some sort of passivity. Passivity is simply taking no action, letting things happen to us rather than taking responsibility for our position. Only dead fish go with the flow and float downstream.