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The Art of War: Laying Plans

This is Chapter 1: Laying Plans, of our “Art of War” series. This will not be a continuous series, but one that we will continue to build on over time.  If you are unfamiliar with “The Art of War” then we highly suggest reading a synopsis of it on Wikipedia.

Laying Plans

If you’ve read The Wealth Artisan for any span of time, then you know that we hold planning in high esteem.  Planning is a fundamental to success.  Warren Buffet doesn’t just purchase companies blindly, there is much research and planning that goes into an acquisition.

Few people experience success accidentally, and even fewer can be consistent.  At some point, planning will bring you success, or your lack of planning will bring you complete disaster.  Now, I’m going to cherry pick some excellent lines from the 1st chapter of “The Art of War” to point out great points, and maybe further elaborate.

These five heads should be familiar to every general: he who knows them well will be victorious; he who knows them not will fail.

Therefore, in your deliberations, when seeking to determine the military conditions, let them be made on the basis of a comparison, in this wise:

Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the Moral Law?
Which of the two generals has the most ability?
With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth?
On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced?
Which army is stronger?
On which side are the officers and men more highly trained?
In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment?

By means of these seven considerations I can forecast victory or defeat.”


In short, this says that you can tell who the winner will be based on who is more skilled, disciplined, and prepared.  It seems obvious, but how many people go into financial situations that are way above their head?  I’ve seen it a countless number of times.

If you walk into a financial deal with people who know more, you are going to lose.  If you don’t believe me, drive up to your local Cash Advance store, and watch the customers walk in and walk out, and tell me who is winning.  Is the Cash Advance company winning, or is the customer?

Examine Yourself

The next time you’re making a financial deal, whatever it may be, sit down and ask yourself the questions quoted above.  If you’re meeting with a financial advisor, or you’re considering taking out a loan for something, examine yourself with those questions and see who will most likely win.  Will you win, or will your debt win?

Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought.  The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand.  Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculations at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose.”

In short: if you don’t plan and prepare, you’ll lose bonehead!  It really is that simple, toss a couch potato into a mixed martial arts fight with a seasoned veteran and it’s pretty simple to guess the winner.  This quote is basically telling us a couple of things:

  • Those who plan succeed.
  • Those who don’t will fail.
  • Planning takes a lot of time.
  • The planing likely occurred well before the battle ever occurred.

This means that you shouldn’t procrastinate, you shouldn’t short change your planning time, you should make the most of it, and you should plan more than any other parties involved.  If you’ve got a big deal coming up, you want to knock the other peoples’ socks off!  You want people to be intimidated when you begin to speak.

Winning Battles Without Fighting

If you can walk into a room and intimidate people just by speaking intelligently, not only have you won without fighting, you’ll eliminate nearly every possibility of being taken advantage of.  Would you bet money on yourself if you were playing a basketball game against LeBron James?

If your answer is no, then it is because his skill, and reputation won the game before you two ever hit the court.  Strive to have that kind of talent, and reputation in anything that you do and you’ll win wars that you never even knew might have happened.

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