Sun Tzu's strategy is both a system and a mindset. When we develop the "warrior's mind," our brain works unconsciously to find ways to improve our position every hour of every day. This is the goal of training in Sun Tzu's Sun Tzu's Rules.
At first, we have to use strategy consciously, in planning and linear decision-making. However, by using it consciously, we reprogram our brains. We start thinking in terms of positions, openings, and situation response.
Sun Tzu's rules give us a framework for building up our perspective of our strategic position. It also teaches us how to identify and evaluate various types of opportunities and threats. As we get flooded with information every day, we use the science's mental models to filter and file that information to build your perspective. First this filing is conscious work, but it becomes automatic and effortless. Many of the rules teach situation response. Without practice, however, we will remember only a fraction of this science's principles.
Mastering these rules is like learning to type. At first, we have to go slow, hunting and pecking, but over time we program ourselves so that we don't even think thinking about typing. As our skill develops our brains types words without conscious effort on our part.
Our skills in Sun Tzu's strategy develop in a similar way, in four distinct stages.
We get a general idea of the system by reading The Art of War or, a little easier, an adaptation. This is like reading an article about how to type.
We begin to study the methods in detail to understand their layout and connections, either through more reading or courses at the Strategy School. This is like studying the layout of the keyboard and how to position your hands.
We then practice using exercises like those we offer in Strategy School or in our live training. At this stage, you start consciously applying Sun Tzu's Rules to the decisions that you make every day. This is the "hunt and peck" stage, when you have to think about each letter and where it is consciously.
Finally, the rules are ingrained in our thinking. Finding the element you need at a given moment is a habit and a reflex. At this stage, your unconscious mind takes over and makes the right decisions effortless. You are using the same automatic mind that types effortlessly for you. Only you are using it to make your life better every day.
Sun Tzu's "winning without conflict" is a way of living. It is a way of seeing the world. It is not just bunch of clever aphorisms. It is a skill set of reflexes and responses. Skills require training and practice.
Think of Sun Tzu's The Art of War as a teaching a mental martial art. Do you think you can master any martial art by simply reading a book?