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msg #50013
Ignore TheRumpledOne
2/14/2007 10:48:17 AM

The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene

The Big Idea

It has been a customary perception that peace-loving people triumph more in life. Few realize that this is the very idea that acts as a barrier to realizing and identifying indispensable provisions to thrive in the challenges of day-to-day living.
Day after day, you will be faced with numerous conflicts that demand the need to engage in constant struggle or battle.
Bestselling author Robert Greene shares 33 effective strategies of war to guide you through the realistic battlefield called life.

Self-Directed Warfare

The mind indeed is so powerful that it can propel anything to action. A mind that is too emotional and clouded by past resentments may not see the world clearly and generate inappropriate strategies.

1 - Declare War On Your Enemies: The Polarity Strategy

Discovering that you have too many enemies may entice you towards the safer side; which is to act in accordance to the enemies' ways and be one of them. You should prevent this from happening or else, you will lose your identity.

2 - Do Not Fight The Last War: The Guerilla-War-Of-The-Mind Strategy

Holding on so much to past successes and resentments may indeed cause the mind to languish somewhere along the way. To restore the mind's natural course forward, here are some tactics that you can employ:

1. Re-examine all your cherished beliefs and principles. Get out of your paradigms and think out of the box based on the present.
2. Erase the memory of the last war. Whether it was a triumph or a failure, make each war a fresh new start.
3. Keep the mind moving. Be as sensitive as you can to what the current circumstance has to offer and work your way around it.
4. Absorb the spirit of the times. Adapt to the demands of the present. Strategize based on current state of affairs, not on theories of the past.
5. Reverse course. In certain transactions, actions and reactions may be very predictable. Get out of the trend and be more innovative.

3 - Amidst The Turmoil of Events, Do Not Lose Your Presence of Mind: The Counterbalance Strategy

At war, you are not expected to be cautious. Too much carefulness is a manifestation of fear. Do not be afraid to commit mistakes or to take risks. Fear will only hinder you from moving forward.

Remember that presence of mind is an essential armor. It counters your tendency to drift away from the conflict and go back to the comfort zone. It boosts your confidence and gives you assurance that you can successfully tackle all your encounters and recuperate from your mistakes. It positively overpowers doubt as it fills you with determination and drive.

4 - Create A Sense of Urgency and Desperation: The Death-Ground Strategy

Below are five actions that can easily put you on psychological death ground:
1. Stake everything on a single throw. This gives no room for failure as there is simply too much at stake.
2. Act before you are ready. Push yourself to move forward and take advantage of the pressure that you encounter once you are there.
3. Enter new waters. Get out of your comfort zone and be challenged.
4. Make it “you against the world”. Always think that you are putting your entire person at stake. Deprive your enemies the opportunity to celebrate your failure.
5. Keep yourself restless and unsatisfied. Get out of complacency. Constantly challenge yourself. Bring yourself to death ground always.

Organizational (Team) Warfare

The subsequent strategies emphasize the need to understand a team as a whole as well as its composition. A clear perception not only will pave the way for changes but will also identify better strategies to attain the team's purpose.

5 - Avoid The Snares of Groupthink: The Command-And-Control Strategy

Since an organization is composed of different people with varied personalities, intentions, and goals, it is important that you, as a leader, are aware of the strengths and weakness of your people. This will tell you how to approach each part of the
chain of command to get them more involved.

6 - Segment Your Forces: The Controlled-Chaos Strategy

Everything transpires quickly at war. You are not given the luxury of time. You have to make decisions and act before the enemy does. Conversely, with the progression of time, more and more information becomes available. This further contributes to the complexity of decision-making.

7 - Transform Your War Into A Crusade: Morale Strategies

It is man's natural tendency to protect his own interests to survive. Thus, even in an organization, members may have their own goals and intentions. It is your responsibility, as a leader, to encourage them to put aside their individual concerns
and crusade altogether against a certain enemy. Instill in them that only by working wholly can everyone turn out victorious.

Defensive Warfare

When using defensive warfare, you attack only when necessary. You also capitalize on the enemy's confusion as it instigates unwise attacks working to your advantage.

8 - Pick Your Battles Carefully: The Perfect-Economy Strategy

All human beings have certain strengths and, at the same time, weaknesses. At some point, you will have limitations. Realistically, you cannot tackle everything. Thus, it is important that you balance the costs and benefits of any situation before plunging into it.

9 - Turn The Tables: The Counterattack Strategy

Warriors often take into consideration only two options: to fight offensively or defensively. Offensive attacks immediately create an enemy and may result in reckless decisions that encumber self-control. Defensiveness, on the other hand, leads to passiveness and avoidance of enemies as much as possible.

10 - Create A Threatening Presence: Deterrence Strategies

Do not allow yourself to succumb to intimidation. You are more prone to it if enemies find you weak and vulnerable. Deterrence strategies simply reverse this kind of an impression.

11 - Trade Space For Time: The Nonengagement Strategy

Retreat is not a sign of weakness. Rather, it is one way of utilizing and maximizing available resources. Get out of your paradigm that advancing is the best thing to do no matter what since it is not always the case. Retreat paves the way for
reassessment of the situation and strategies. It saves time and effort for situations that really call for action.

Offensive Warfare

There are simply things that you cannot exactly anticipate. The discrepancy between your expectations and what is real is called “friction”. By practicing offensive strategies, you initiate the war by attacking first. Thus, you get a better hand at control and create actual circumstances based on your expectations. Friction then manifests at the enemy's side.

12 - Lose Battles But Win The War: Grand Strategy

Reflect on where you really want to go and what you want your destiny to be. It may also be helpful to see where your skills seem to be bringing you right now. After which, think forward but be sure you are taking several steps ahead. Look at your
final destiny as an entire campaign, not just individual battles to recover from. This is the so-called grand strategy. The ultimate end result is more essential than each phase.

13 - Know Your Enemy: The Intelligence Strategy

Be keener in your interactions with people and situations. Remember that your opponent's mind is your real enemy. Having an accurate grasp of the enemy's weaknesses will contribute much to your victory.

14 - Overwhelm Resistance With Speed And Suddenness: The Blitzkrieg Strategy

This does not pertain to impetuous speed as it should involve a carefully crafted plan. You must come up with a plan that will catch your enemies off guard. A certain level of order and strategy must initially be in place to harness the benefits of the speed and suddenness of your actions. Prepare yourself and carefully analyze your opponent. Identify his weaknesses. To lure him into lowering his guard, appear weak. Attack when the enemy least expects it.

15 - Control The Dynamic: Forcing Strategies

At some point, you will encounter people who want to exercise control over you. You can easily reverse this by following these four basic principles and gain ultimate control:
1. Keep them on their heels. Take the initiative before the enemy does.
2. Shift the battlefield. You can confuse your enemies by making essential factors unfamiliar to them. Eventually, they will be exerting efforts that are to your advantage without them immediately realizing it.
3. Compel mistakes. Your enemies definitely have plans as well. Push them to become impulsive and commit a cycle of mistakes along the way.
4. Assume passive control. Let them believe they are in control. This way, they will lower their guards a little.

16 - Hit Them Where It Hurts: The Center-Of-Gravity Strategy

Gravitational pull is said to support the earth and keep it in place. At war, the opponent's power rests on certain elements that work for them like gravity. Look beyond the obvious and identify what these gravity-like elements are and make it
your target. Distressing it will certainly make them fall apart.

17 - Defeat Them In Detail: The Divide-And-Conquer Strategy

Instead of looking at the totality of your opponent, try to examine its parts and how you can defeat each of them. The whole may appear overwhelming and disheartening to conquer. The parts, however, seem easier to overcome.

18 - Expose And Attack Your Opponent’s Soft Flank: The Turning Strategy

People tend to camouflage their weaknesses by presenting the opposite. The most effective way to overcome this kind of situation is to attack indirectly. Targeting the opponent's strong front will only waste your time and energy. You may need to take a longer, but more effective, route. Consider areas least expected to be attacked. Eventually, because of surprise, they will unintentionally uncover their weak aspect and will unconsciously make the rest of the attack easier for you.

19 - Envelop The Enemy: The Annihilation Strategy

When the enemy feels that there is not a single gap in your strategies that he can take advantage of, he starts to get weak and lose control of the situation. Any form of manipulation of the mind, whether positive or negative, shall strongly influence corresponding actions. Remember that the mind is a mighty propeller.

20 - Maneuver Them Into Weakness: The Ripening-For-The-Sickle Strategy

As mentioned earlier, as you go on through life, circumstances calling for war-like encounters are inevitable. Embarking upon them one after another can be really exhausting. A wise strategist will think of ways to weaken the opponent first before
engaging in actual battle.

21 - Negotiate While Advancing: The Diplomatic-War Strategy

When things do not seem resolved at battle, people resort to negotiations. The strength that you have prepared for battle should be maintained during negotiations for these usually involve scheming for power and control.

22 - Know How To End Things: The Exit Strategy

Always put to mind your purpose for entering the war in the first place. Reevaluate and see if you have attained that in the end. Your goal is definitely not to create enemies who shall unendingly go after you. Winning the war is not what is ultimately
important. How you win it and what the war made out of you bring more significance above all.

Unconventional (Dirty) Warfare

A warrior must adapt to changing times by constantly thinking of new ways of fighting. Sticking to tradition may not be effective as demands change with time. The following strategies present several helpful unconventional practices.

23 - Weave A Seamless Blend Of Fact and Fiction: Misperception Strategies

The more unclear your actions and strategies are to the opponent, the better. This makes it more complex for your enemies to fathom reality. Leave them to their own interpretations while you advance. Remember that, at times, perception is blinded
by what one expects to see so strategize around this idea.

24 - Take The Line Of Least Expectation: The Ordinary-Extraordinary Strategy

Your enemies may anticipate your actions by basing it on certain patterns of actions and behavior. Fail them in their expectations and be as unpredictable as possible. You might want to confuse them by being conventional initially. Once they have established the idea that you work traditionally, veer away and work extraordinarily. Confusion and disorder then occur at their side, hindering them from executing the right strategies.

25 - Occupy The Moral High Ground: The Righteous Strategy

Question the value of your opponent's campaign and efforts. Build up your own as more worthy. Make this fact obvious by proactively advocating it. Probe into some of your opponent's intentions and make it appear as if they are doing the wrong thing. Capitalize on some points that may sever their reputation. Use guilt to disillusion them.

26 - Deny Them Targets: The Strategy Of The Void

Human beings always act for a certain purpose. At war, the opponent's ultimate goal is certainly to target or capture you by tempting you to attack certain points that are intended to make you fall into a trap. Do not give away success. Do everything you can to make their efforts pointless. Let them go home empty-handed. The mere psychological effects of emptiness can negatively affect their strategies. They will desperately do anything just to achieve something.

27 - Seem To Work For The Interests Of Others While Furthering Your Own: The Alliance Strategy

You might have recognized already the importance of getting alliances to decentralize some tasks. However, this is not simply about getting whoever it is available. The emotional aspect should not take center stage this time. Moreover, an increase in number does not guarantee quality. There should be a healthy balance between quality and quantity.

28 - Give Your Rivals Enough Rope To Hang Themselves: The One-Upmanship Strategy

Not all enemies come from outside. At times, you will find them in places you least expect, that is, inside. You may be working with people you think are working with you towards the same goal. However, you should not freely give away trust. There may be some who are good at pretending to be one with you while working for their own personal interests. Defeat them by subtly making them feel inferior and dubious of their capabilities.

29 - Take Small Bites: The Fait Accompli Strategy

To conquer something is not always straightforward as envy comes into the picture. Some simply cannot appreciate your successes but wish for your downfall instead. Such should not push you to lower your standards. You may still maintain your
ambition but you must work towards it differently.

30 - Penetrate Their Minds: Communication Strategies

Effectively communicating your ideas can significantly alter another person's behavior. They may primarily block you off in several ways but appealing to their emotions will certainly lower these defenses. As soon as you've penetrated their minds, everything will run in accordance to your expectations.

31 - Destroy From Within: The Inner-Front Strategy

The best way to truly know your enemy is to take their side and appear a supporter. You will be able to gain information not readily available and accessible to outsiders. Use this information to propel your subtle maneuvers leading to the opponent's

32 - Dominate While Seeming To Submit: The Passive-Aggression Strategy

Outright expression of contradiction is often translated as a form of aggression. This mainly explains why some people are hesitant to implement something that is not in line with the usual as they are concerned about gaining resistance and dislike.
Therefore, to block off this notion before it even surfaces, you must project yourself as in submission to your opponent. In this way, you get zero resistance. You, in turn, resort to subtly influencing them as you go with the flow.

33 - Sow Uncertainty And Panic Through Acts Of Terror: The Chain-Reaction Strategy

A person can easily be influenced and affected by the emotions of those surrounding him. Introducing fear instigates extreme emotional reaction that spreads almost automatically. A great sense of fear makes anyone more vulnerable than usual and
less resistant. Strategic capabilities seem to take the back seat as well. You can take advantage of this if you want to easily conquer an enemy.

6,362 posts
msg #50014
Ignore TheRumpledOne
2/14/2007 11:03:08 AM

Other summaries:

6,362 posts
msg #50241
Ignore TheRumpledOne
2/25/2007 5:48:50 PM

Posted by Robert Greene:

OODA and You - February 24, 2007

A few weeks ago I gave a talk at a company convention in southern California. This company has offices worldwide, is very successful in its line of work, but on the horizon are some dangers. They brought me in to address those dangers. The specifics here do not matter much, only to say that, like a lot of companies that were successful in the 80s and on up to the present, they have come to rely upon a particular business model that is part circumstance and part design.

Loosely put, their upper-tier employees operate more like entrepreneurs, each one out for him or herself. Each office tends to think of itself as an island, competing with the other branches across the globe. This works to some extent, as these entrepreneurs are very motivated to expand the business. On the other hand, it makes it very difficult to create an overall esprit de corps.

As I was preparing the speech, for some reason an image kept coming to mind--the jet-fighter pilot, and the theories of Colonel John Boyd as it pertains to this form of warfare. Many of you might be familiar with Boyd's most famous theory: the OODA loop. I will paraphrase it for those who are not familiar with it, with the understanding that it is much richer than the few words I am devoting to it here.

OODA stands for Observation, Orientation, Decision, Action. A pilot is constantly going through these loops or cycles in a dogfight: he tries to observe the enemy as best he can, this observation being somewhat fluid, since nothing is standing still and all of this is happening at great speed. With a lightning-quick observation, he then must orient this movement of the enemy, what it means, what are his intentions, how does it fit into the overall battle. This is the critical part of the cycle. Based on this orientation, he makes a decision as to how to respond, and then takes the appropriate action.

In the course of a typical dogfight, a pilot will go through maybe a dozen or so of these loops, depending on how complicated the fight, and how fluid the field. If one pilot can make faster decisions and actions, based on the proper observations and orientations, he slowly gains a distinct advantage. He can make a maneuver to confuse the enemy. After a few such maneuvers in which he is slightly ahead in the cycles, the enemy makes a mistake, and he is able to go in for the kill. Boyd calls these fast transients, and if you are ahead in these transients, the opponent slowly loses touch with reality. He cannot decipher what you are doing, and as he becomes increasingly cut off from the reality of the battlefield, he reacts to things that are not there, and his misreactions spell his death.

Boyd saw this theory as having application to all forms of warfare. He went backwards in military history and showed how this was relevant to the success of Belisaurius, the Mongols, Napoleon Bonaparte, T.E. Lawrence. He saw it as also deeply relevant to any kind of competitive environment: business, politics, sports, even the struggle of organisms to survive. In reading about the OODA loop for the first time, I was struck by its brilliance, but I was not quite sure what to make of it. How exactly does this apply to my own battles, my own life, or to those whom I advise in their affairs?

Then, working on the speech, the image and the idea began to coalesce. A fighter pilot is in a unique spot. He is a rugged individualist who can ultimately only depend on his own creative maneuvers for survival and success. On the other hand, he is part of a team, and if he operates completely on his own strategy, his personal success will translate into confusion on the battlefield.

At the same time, the battlefield itself is so incredibly fluid that the pilot cannot think in traditional linear terms. It is more like complex geometry, or three-dimensional chess. If the pilot is too slow and conventional in his thinking, he will find himself falling further and further behind in the loops. His ideas will not keep pace with reality. The proper mindset is to let go a little, to allow some of the chaos to become part of his mental system, and to use it to his advantage by simply creating more chaos and confusion for the opponent. He funnels the inevitable chaos of the battlefield in the direction of the enemy.

This seemed to me the perfect metaphor for what we are all going through right now in the 21st century. Changes are occurring too fast for any of us to really process them in the traditional manner. Our strategies tend to be rooted in the past. Our businesses operate on models from the 60s and 70s. The changes going on can easily give us the feeling that we are not really in control of events. The standard response in such situations is to try to control too much, in which case everything will tend to fall apart as we fall behind. (Those who try to control too much lose contact with reality, react emotionally to surprises.) Or to let go, an equally disastrous mindset. What we are going through requires a different way of thinking and responding to the world, something I will be addressing in my next two books in great detail. (I am happy to report that these two books have now been sold, and that is why I have been away for a while.)

In essence, speed is the critical element in our strategies. (See the chapter on formlessness in POWER and the blitzkrieg in WAR.) Speed, however, is something that is rarely understood. Napoleon created speed in his attacks because of the way his army was organized and structured. If you read Martin Creveld's book on command, he explains that the speed of Napoleon's army is comparable to any contemporary army, but with the technology of two-hundred years ago. This speed comes from the mission-oriented structure in which his field marshals had great liberty to react in real time and make quick decisions, based on Napoleon's overall strategic goals, and with the incredibly swift communications up and down the chain of command.

Napoleon increased the speed of his army by loosening up the structure, allowing for more chaos in the decision-making process, and unleashing the creativity in his marshals. Speed is not necessarily a function of technology. Technology, as Creveld showed, can actually slow an army down. Look at the North Vietnamese versus the US in the Vietnam War.

We are all in the position of those fighter pilots. Those among us who succeed in this environment know how to play the team game in a different way, not being an automaton, yet not completely a freelancer. We are comfortable working on our own initiative, but also find pleasure in making our individuality fit into the group. We are able to embrace change, to let go of old patterns of operating, and to stay rooted in the moment, observing the battlefield for what it is, not cluttered by preconceptions. We can think fast, let go of the need to control everything, stay close to the environment in which we operate (the streets, our clients), and experiment.

It is a new kind of beast that thrives in this new order.

Your mind is the key that will turn this to advantage, not your wealth, the technology at your command, the number of allies you possess. Whatever success you are now experiencing will actually work to your detriment because you will not be made aware of how slowly you are falling behind in the fast transient cycle. You think you are doing just fine. You are not compelled to adapt until it is too late. These are ruthless times.

Discuss John Boyd and the OODA Loop here. The Power, Seduction and War Room thread for this entry features further reading, analysis, and more input from Robert. Post your thoughts.

6,362 posts
msg #50242
Ignore TheRumpledOne
2/25/2007 6:05:00 PM

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