the difference

The problem we all face in strategy, and in life, is that each of us is unique and has a unique personality. Our circumstances are also unique; no situation ever really repeats itself. But most often we are barely aware of what makes us different – in other words, of who we really are. Our ideas come from books, teachers, all kinds of unseen influence. We respond to events routinely and mechanically instead of trying to understand their differences. In our dealings with other people, too, we are easily infected by their tempo and mood. All this creates a kind of fog. We fail to see events for what they are; we do not know ourselves.

Your task as a strategist is simple: to see the differences between yourself and other people, to understand yourself, your side, and the enemy as well as you can, to get more perspective on events, to know things for what they are.

Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War

Necessity’s Effect on Creativity

Abundance makes us rich in dreams, for in dreams there are no limits. But it makes us poor in reality. It makes us soft and decadent, bored with what we have and in need of constant shocks to remind us that we are alive. In life you must be a warrior, and war requires realism.

While others may find beauty in endless dreams, warriors find it in reality, in awareness of limits, in making the most of what they have. They look for the perfect economy of motion and gesture – the way to give their blows the greatest force with the least expenditure of effort. Their awareness that their days are numbered – that they could die at any time- grounds them in reality.

There are things they can never do, talents they will never have, lofty goals they will never reach; that hardly bothers them. Warriors focus on what they do have, the strengths that they do possess and that they must use creatively. Knowing when to slow down, to renews, to retrench, to outlast their opponents. They play for the long term.

Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War

Becoming Real

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

“Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit