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The Annotated Art of War (Parts 7.30-32: Calm)


Disciplines > Warfare > The Annotated Art of War > Parts 7.30-32: Calm

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VII. Maneuvering


Sun Tzu said: Commentary
30. Disciplined and calm, to await the appearance of disorder and hubbub amongst the enemy:--this is the art of retaining self-possession. There is much in warfare that in civilian situations would cause panic and disorder. Such discomfort is a waste of energy, draining spirit and creating a dangerous state of unreadiness.

A lack of discipline is also a recipe for chaos and panic. Disciplined troops are quietly confident and are in control of themselves. With external discipline they gain internal self-discipline and so can reach a state of calm in the hardest of circumstances.

Calmness does not mean lethargy or a lack of readiness. The calm warrior is always ready. They just do not need to sustain a state of tension to be observant and able to respond at a moment's notice.

The same is true in business. Those who have an assured calm make better leaders and are more successful. They are not lazy. They are just  conserving their energies for where true value can be created.

A lack of calm is often shown as stress, which can wear people out and break them without external intervention.

31. To be near the goal while the enemy is still far from it, to wait at ease while the enemy is toiling and struggling, to be well-fed while the enemy is famished:--this is the art of husbanding one's strength. Strength, motivation and spirit are what you need in battle. When you are not fighting or marching, you should conserve the energies you will need later.

If you can cause your enemy to lose their calm, always keeping them on edge, then when you meet you will have a significant advantage.

32. To refrain from intercepting an enemy whose banners are in perfect order, to refrain from attacking an army drawn up in calm and confident array:--this is the art of studying circumstances. Striking at the enemy requires good timing. Panicked troops or those who want only to fight will lash out. Keeping cool and calm lets you wait for the right moment.

It also requires calm to stand firm or retreat in an orderly way in the face of an advancing superior force.

To be faced with a calm army is in itself fearful. In war, those who lose their cool first may consequently lose the fight.



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