How do you learn to think a few steps forward and consider different options?
1.Avoid tactical hell
Robert Green, author of “48 Laws of Power” and “33 Strategies of War”, claims that “most of us exist in the reality of a tactical hell.
Tactical hell is a place where we constantly respond to the demands and needs of others, driven by impulses and emotions rather than logic. We need to avoid such behavior and choose “strategic sky” instead. Strategy is a mental process in which your mind rises above the field of battle.
Instead of constantly being in a more frequent battle, you need to look at it from the outside and not participate, and with objectivity and determination to contemplate the picture as a whole.
2.Plan from beginning to end.
French poet Jean de La Fontaine said: “In all matters, only their completion counts.” Before you decide to do something meaningful (for example, decide to write a book), you must fully present the end result and have a clear goal. And then you must act.
3.Think long term.
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, explained the importance of long-term thinking almost two decades ago in a letter to shareholders. He wrote: “We believe that the fundamental measure of success will be the shareholder value we create in the long term. It is important for companies, as well as for people, to see their future in the long term. Bad companies are influenced by their shareholders and only look a year or two ahead.
Bezos, unlike most leaders, has refused to play this game. As he explained, his company will always focus on the long-term perspective, not on short-term profitability considerations or short-term Wall Street reactions. He understood that the real value lies in thinking for decades ahead.
4.Practice the art of negative visualization
This strategic lesson came to us from great costume philosophers such as Seneca and Marcus Aurelius. They had the term “premeditatio malorum” to visualize failure in advance. Why would they do that? Because if you imagine failure, you start to see all the paths that led to that result. And you can start working actively to eliminate or mitigate them.
- Be on guard.
General Matthew Ridgeway had this motto: “The only inexcusable offense in an officer is surprise.”
As a strategist, your job is to see the bigger picture and potential problems. Things never go according to plan, so be on guard against what happens in your way.
6.Use the “procrastination period.”
John Boyd was one of the great strategists of the 20th century. He was responsible for the development of the F-15 and F-16 fighters and was also the author of the OODA hinge concept.
Before testing the idea in practice, he carried out a preparatory phase, which he called a drag period. This is a reflexive period, which is required after you have a new idea. Instead of putting it into practice right away, step back and ask yourself a few questions:
What do I have at this stage?
How real and meaningful is this?
What is it going to be?
What am I hoping for?
- Choose an indirect path.
Historian and author of “Strategy” Liddell Hart, described the strategic genius of William Sherman with the following phrase: “Attack on the line of least expectation and along the line of least resistance. In other words, take it by surprise and strike at the weakest spot.
8.Don’t get distracted.
Nothing can distract a strategist from important things. One of George Washington’s favorite words was the Scottish proverb: “Many misunderstandings lead to a runny nose”. Do not let trifles and distractions crush you.
- Avoid competition.
In one of the best books on strategy called “Blue Ocean Strategy”, the authors explain the difference between “blue ocean” and “red ocean”. The first is a space without competition, the second is a place where you will be eaten alive. That’s why billionaire investor Peter Thiel says that “competition is the way of losers”.
- Adapt the systems and processes
According to George Washington’s biography, written by Ron Chernov, one of his favorite phrases was: “The system in all things is the soul of any cause. With a system, you can best do the best job as a strategist: think long.
- Awareness of things as they are.
Swordsman Miyamoto Musashi emphasized the difference between perception and observation: “The perceptive eye is weak, the observant eye is strong.” Strategy (be it business or fencing) requires objectivity and the ability to see things as they are. It requires us to put our emotions aside and turn on a cold head.
12.Share your success with others
Cyrus the Great, the famous Persian conqueror, understood the danger of greed: “Success always requires more generosity, although most people lost in the darkness of ego, see it as a reason for even greater greed.
- Be prepared to lose.
Former trader and philosopher Nassim Taleb had an extremely unorthodox trading strategy, which brought him a lot of money during market turmoil – he lost money for weeks or even months, but as soon as the market collapsed, he got a lot of money. He knew that certain collapses were inevitable.
- Deal with your problems as soon as possible.
There is an expression: the best time to do it was yesterday, the next best moment is now. Do not postpone solving your problems, they will only grow and become a source of other problems. The philosopher Publius Sire said: “Rivers are best crossed at their source”. A great strategist is not waiting.
- Use the energy of others against them.
It’s a fundamental principle of martial arts. Alexander Hamilton believes: “The best way to stop the flow is not to try to stop it”. Think of Gandhi and his non-violent resistance to the British.
- Learn to prioritize
Eisenhower came up with a decision matrix:
Urgent and important.
Urgent and never mind.
It’s not urgent or important
It’s not urgent and it doesn’t matter
The point is to deal with cases that are not urgent and important. This way you will solve your problems before it’s too late.
- Explore the area.
William Sherman has never done the same thing twice: he studied the terrain thoroughly. What does that mean for us? If you’re in business, study your field up and down, know as much as you can about it.
- Beware of specialization.
If you are engaged in only one case, you may become too short-sighted and not see the big picture. That’s why Victor Frankle, author of Man in Search of Meaning, said: “I would define a specialist as someone who no longer sees the forest of meaning behind the fact trees.”
- Regroup and focus…
Napoleon noticed that when two warring armies meet, they start scaring each other. There comes a moment of panic and that moment must be turned to its advantage.
From time to time, the opponents will strike hard. All that matters is how effectively we can regroup after that.
You can also play chess and other tactical games. They say it helps.