The Art of War and Lean In

As you might have read in another blog post of mine, I was given book reading advice from many prominent women in the community.  When I asked one such woman what book helped her become the leader she was, without hesitation she said, “The Art of War, by Sun Tzu.”  A few of the other older women at the round table nodded their heads in agreement so I took that as a good sign.

I’m an Audible app junkie.  I listen to a book a month and flip flop between fiction and non-fiction.  So when non-fiction came up, that was the first book in my mentor list that I downloaded.  It’s actually a fairly short book.  Sun Tzu was pretty succinct, so I got the extended version that talked a little bit more about how others have viewed and/or interpreted the book.  So I pretty much read it twice.

As I started listening to the book, it started to dawn on me that by understanding the strategy and tactics that one should use when going to war, one could either use those in business, or try to steer clear of those people that do.  Not to knock people that subscribe to these strategies and implement them in business, tennis, volunteer organizations and treat life like it’s a game of chess, but I don’t think it’s for me.  Having to know all of the pieces so that you can strategically move them into positions that benefit you and eliminate others before any confrontations even occur  sounds exhausting to me.  I feel like a person who is in constant battle mode may always know how to be on top of any situation, but sometimes situations shouldn’t be conquered.  I feel like while it is good to know the ins and outs and the weaknesses and strengths of the people you are working with, you should never view anyone as an opponent that needs to be taken down or put at bay.

Which is why I really enjoyed the book, “Lean In.”  The juxtaposition of how women in the twentieth century needed to scrap and claw their way to the top using the Art of War and how now women are needing to understand that collaborative efforts where everyone raises everyone up together produces better work.  Cheryl Sandberg has looked at how because the corporate ladder has really become a jungle gym, old strategies of using people for their worth and discarding them when you move up is no longer relevant.  And the goal is to maintain open, honest, caring relationships with all fellow workers (all of mankind, really) because more things can get done… better things can get done.

So I can appreciate knowing how some people may utilize “The Art of War,” but I generally prescribe to just leaning in and embracing everyone as a valuable relationship.  If I can help as many people along the way, maybe when I need a little help, I’ll have nice, happy people to ask a favor of.

Thanks for reading the ramblings.

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