The famous Chinese general Sun Tzu, author of the classic The Art of War, said that the greatest general is not the one who can defeat 100 armies in 100 battles. Rather, it is the one who can control things so well that the need to fight never arises. Stephen Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People identifies proactive behavior as the first step toward success. Both of these ideas are based on the same age-old principle. This concept is using proactive thinking, strategic planning and action to stop or counter a situation before a problem arises.
In Japanese the kanji for the word Senryaku means war shorten. There is not a better strategy than one that will shorten a war, unless it might be one that would prevent it all together. This concept is the foundation of all success programs that are currently available and popular.
At the core of this strategy is the ability to analyze any situation and decide what is the worst thing that could possibly happen, and then create or implement action plans to ensure that it won’t. Perhaps the U.S. Government should have been thinking this way when the first indications of a virus in Wu Han province, China came to their attention. If there were martial artists in the upper echelons of government, we might not be in this predicament today.
This threat assessment is an on-going, never-ending process. Combat is fluid, with thousands of variables changing every minute. A true warrior develops the uncanny ability to identify the most crucial threat and neutralizes it right away. This process is imperative in warfare, but also in other areas such as business, personal finance, legal tactics, health and safety and personal achievement.
For example, a business may identify a competitive advantage that will ensure a profitable niche, but if actions are not taken in advance, a competitor may soon adapt and take over this niche, thus destroying this competitive advantage. In order for a person to become financially successful, he must recognize the biggest threats towards wealth accumulation such as taxes, lawsuits or poor management, and put actions into place to minimize these threats. Proactive solutions may include proper use of business entities to lower taxes and protect assets from lawsuits, as well as proper investment strategies.
Currently, what is your number one goal? What one thing can you identify as the greatest threat that will keep you from attaining that goal? Now, what can you do to make sure that the threat does not become a reality?
In the martial arts we constantly train to “change body” in order to avoid a threat, and then take control of the situation using a variety of strategies and tactics. As martial artists, we train in the hope that we will never have to use our skills physically. However, when we do use our
knowledge to avoid or neutralize a dangerous situation, we are called lucky, disregarding the years of training that lead up to that successful action. The truly successful person identifies key goals in the major areas of his life for future achievement, but also identifies worst case scenarios in those key areas, and then develops action plans to ensure those things don’t happen. It is this simultaneous working on these two opposites, the yin and the yang, that is the key to proper proactive tactics. At this level one begins to understand what being a great general is all about and can begin developing and implementing successful tactics in all areas of their lives.
Planning and strategy enable us to walk the path of martial arts mastery.