Chinese Philosophy

Leveraging Expectations: Prediction Confirmed

In this earlier post on the third of this month, I explained how Sun Tzu's strategy uses subjective perceptions to leverage changes in objective positions. I predicted that if politicians would just start taking actions that would change people's expectations about the FUTURE of oil availability, the price would drop immediately not years ahead when the oil actually becomes available.

Change, Adatability, and Flip-Flops

Sun Tzu's Sun Tzu's strategy is a philosophy of continually adapting to changing situations.However, Sun Tzu's strategy recognizes there are two types of changes in the environment: changes affecting the ground, which are objective, physical changes, and changes that are solely climatic, that is, subjective, emotional changes. Adaptation can also take two forms: objective changes to methods and psychological changes to character that affect how decisions are made. Such adaptations can be short-term adaptations or long-term reformations.

Leveraging Expectations: Bringing Down Oil Prices Immediately

Sun Tzu's Sun Tzu's strategy teaches that it is much easier to change people's subjective view of a position than the physical position itself, and that, by changing people's subjective views, you can leverage real physical changes very easily. This seems like magic, but let us use high oil prices as an example. Despite what the politicians says, they could bring down oil prices dramatically right away if they leveraged people's expectations about the future.

Attack Weak Points, Not Strong: Wesley Clark's Mistake

Sun Tzu's strategy teaches that you attack the weak points not the strong points of your opponent. Politicians (and business people) make this mistake constantly, but military people usually know better. Wesley's Clark's recent criticism of McCain's military service demonstrates that he is more of a politician than a strategist. What can be gain by attacking McCain on the basis of his resume? Such attacks only draw attention to Obama's much weaker resume, especially in regards to being commander-in-chief of the military.

Improving Position: How War Makes Us Happier

Sun Tzu teaches the our perceptions must always different from reality. For example, what is your perception of the increasing happiness of people all over the world? If you follow news media, you would think that people are suffering from record levels of unhappiness. However, the opposite is actually true. The best subjective measure of improving positions is not our perceptions of others, but their perception of themselves. When people are asked about their own happiness, the results are surprising.

Natural Systems: Stopping Change

Like most classical scientists, Sun Tzu sought to understand nature. Though he studied was human competition, he saw competition natural not a human artifact. Though human institutions are artificial because we create them, we do not create and cannot change the nature of competition itself. Whether we applaud it or hate it, one of the things that cannot stop is change. In watching this very entertaining video by Drew Carey ON Free Trade and

Five Factors: 2008 Election Snapshot

Positions are the starting and ending point of good decision-making. The five factors provided by the Art of War for defining positions allow us to understand the complete nature of relative positions and this map helps us discover the path between our current position and a better one. Our natural reflex is to look at positions too narrowly. We must retrain our reflexes to see them more broadly. For example, let us take a non-partisan look at the positions in the current US presidential race now that the two candidates are chosen.

Change Is Balanced: Not Good or Evil

Strategic cognition requires seeing the environment from the Asian perspective of balancing forces. Most of us are exposed from childhood to the media that trains us, incorrectly, that all changes are bad. Is it bad if housing prices are falling? Not if you are buying your first house. Is it bad if the dollar is falling? Not if you are selling American products abroad because this makes them cheaper. Is it bad that oil prices are rising? Doesn't high prices discourage consumption and make other forms of energy more competitive? Is that bad?

Strategy in a Blink!

Strategy means many different things to different people. For some, it is a plan. For others, it is a flash of inspiration. Sun Tzu's strategy is different, but it wasn't until I read Blink! by Malcolm Gladwell (the author of "The Tipping Point") that I saw that what Sun Tzu invented was really a "rapid cognition" system for competitive situations. It's main value isn't in providing deep, detailed analysis.

Every Meeting Changes Positions

The value of thinking in terms of advancing positions is that it allows you to easily clarify complicated question . For example, Sun Tzu taught that every meeting between opponents (even meetings that didn't result in conflict) changed their relative positions. So you avoid meetings that will damage your position and encourage meeting that will help your position. Simple. Right?


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