Who is the Enemy?

An Institute Trainer writes:

Where I struggle is since there is no enemy (except yourself), there is nothing to compare yourself against. There is nobody to defeat.The seven comparisons of victory have little meaning...Why this is bothering me: I have talked with people about learning strategy and they claim they don’t have any “enemies.” They don’t really need strategy.They realize that improving their job skills will make them more competitive in the future if they have to apply for a job, but don’t consider that people are after their job every day. There’s just no interview going on. So, I thought of how I could propose strategy learning as an individual exercise with no “enemy” in mind. People seem to love self improvement but not dealing with future or potential conflict. I thought we could at least prepare them in some way and in that selfish approach, help them learn where to compare themselves when the conflict appears on their doorstep.

In its most abstract form, the “enemy” is the philosophy that necessarily conflicts with your own philosophy. None of our English words capture the concept of tao because though it can be translated meaningfully as mission and goals in most contexts, it is also the way in which goals are pursued and our personal philosophy from which the goals arise in the first place.

In a zero sum situation (two applicants, one job), the “enemy” isn’t really the other person, but the core difference in philosophy. One applicant believes he would be best for the job and the other fundamentally disagrees with that viewpoint. Or, in my view, the conflict is with the philosophy of the person doing the hiring who thinks that there is only one job, when two good people might well pay for themselves.

In larger, more complex environments, the contest between different philosophies takes many forms. The goal of strategy is seeing the that all positions are, at their core, based on a philosophy. Most people's philosophies overlap in many areas so shared missions can be created, most easily around money because money is fungible value. A large part of strategy is creatively discovering areas where missions can be shared.

To those who think they have no “enemies,” again, the most generic form of enmity is the conflicting idea, the contrary point of view, the conflict between fundamental philosophies that cannot be resolved. Everyone has those. Even within ourselves, we have conflicting philosophies between our baser and higher selves, our long-term and short-termed selves. If someone thinks they have no enemies, then they have no opinions, ideas, or personal beliefs and are simply willing to adopt those of the people around them, but even that is a kind of philosophy.