1 Jun 2022


Sun Tzu for Success

Format: APA

Academic level: College

Paper type: Book Report

Words: 2120

Pages: 8

Downloads: 0


The Art of war was designed to give advice and wisdom to the emperors and generals with regards tactics of succeeding in war. Such insights can be applied into a person's real life perspective to achieve success. The book uses both eastern and western strategies to achieve success in war. The eastern strategies are focused on winning before the battle begins while the western techniques are geared towards strategies that engage the opponent. The author's thoughts are based on core values, sound strategies and creative ideas that can enable one triumph in war. Also, Sun Tzu points out the importance of the personality in achieving success. He asserts that the real self is the basis of a good commander. The authors, Michaelson and Michaelson (2003) however acknowledges the difficulty in acquiring self-knowledge but firmly states that to achieve success, it is important to determine where one is and where they want to be. Most importantly, it is through the understanding of Sun Tzu's wisdom that one can acquire skills to apply in various personal strategies. The importance of this book in real life is that it helps coalesce wisdom and after that convert the wisdom into contemporary practical strategies that help in achieving success. 

Personal Characteristics for Success 

Self-knowledge is the foundation of the journey to success. Sun Tzu emphasized the importance of knowledge as a pillar in making life plans. The author's prescriptions of success begin with questioning and discovering the self (Tzu, 1994). It is important to understand that no one can define who you are, but they help you in searching who you are. Success begins by accurately understanding one's real strengths and weaknesses. People are perceived in three different ways; who they think they are, who other think they are and who they are. The search for self-identity is the realization that the most important definition is ‘who we are.' In self-determination, it is important to know one's preferences, and this can be obtained by thinking about people with whom one associates with because most often they give a true mirror image of oneself. In applying self-knowledge, Michaelson and Michaelson (2003) asserted that it is important to determine the values that are responsible for driving you. It is also crucial to show commitment, accept help from others and thinking positively. Growing through relationships is another important aspect of self-growth. Relationship with bosses, colleagues and family members determine one's strengths, weaknesses, values, and desires. 

It’s time to jumpstart your paper!

Delegate your assignment to our experts and they will do the rest.

Get custom essay

Another important aspect of Sun Tzu’s advice is the ability to have moral integrity. In his book, Sun Tzu outlines that to lead an army; the strength of moral influence is very vital (Tzu, 1994). In developing a sense of moral integrity, one must employ moral clarity which is simply defined as being clear about what is right and what is wrong. Sun Tzu also advised that moral influence has a role in getting people in harmony with their objectives. Moral influence goes hand in hand with integrity. A strong foundation of integrity is responsible for giving someone an advantage of building their reputation and executing an effective plan for their success. Other than moral influence and integrity, success requires active listening of instructions. Sun Tzu asserts that it is the business of the general to be quiet and thus assure depth in deliberation. To be regarded an active listener, one has to apply several rules such as asking questions, playing back what one is hearing, acknowledging other people’s thoughts and feelings and being aware of listening disruptors. Taking notes is also a good listening skill as it guarantees focus in a conversation. Through active listening, one can learn and also achieve answers to many questions. 

Sun Tzu advises that people, especially leaders, should be considerate of others. In his book, he advises that attention should be paid to the soldiers' well-being and they should not be fatigued. They should be kept in high spirits, and their energy should also be conserved. Sun Tzu extends his considerations to humanity when he asserts that captives should also be treated well and care should be taken of them. In the contemporary life, power hierarchies exist in various relationships. People are tempted to abuse power at various levels. Power should not be used as a tool of destroying a relationship and people should do to others what they would like others to do unto them. Courage is another important aspect of success in life. Sun Tzu advises that the principle of military administration is to achieve a uniform level of courage. Courage here can be used to imply having self-confidence in life. Confidence should also be balanced with wisdom and people should always take action to do the right thing, which is courage. Also, discipline is also important in achieving victory. Sun Tzu claims that where discipline is not applied, it is difficult to employ troops. Finally, it is crucial to be creative in life, to seek guidance and always aiming higher in life. 

Strategies for Success 

In pursuing success, strategies must always come before tactics. A strategy is thought or idea that is seeking a means of execution. On the other hand, a tactic is the means of carrying out the thought. Sun Tzu advised that in understanding the battleground, it is important to compare the antagonistic conditions such as moral influence, weather, terrain, commander, and doctrine. These constants should be familiar to every general who is after success. To arrive at the best strategy, first, one has to extensively research and gather information. Accurate information ensures that resources are utilized well. Sun Tzu also asserted that war is a matter of national importance and it involves either life or death, and therefore it is imperative that it is studied well. Here, the author emphasizes the importance of seeking knowledge through adequate information. To build a strong knowledge base, it is vital to learn the subject matter well enough, ask questions, and break the subject into pieces and also studying information close to the time of use. Expanding knowledge through having a networking mindset, taking advantage of learning opportunities, and spending time with people of different interests and seeking new experience will also drive one into succeeding. 

Success demands the development of great strategies. Sun Tzu advised that the soldiers’ aim should be to take all under heaven intact through strategic superiority. He also adds that a victorious army seeks victory even before the battle begins (Tzu, 1994). Strategies must be correct to succeed through any mission. Good strategies begin with vision. Without proper vision then one is bound to fail mentally. To establish a vision for success, one should focus on their core competencies, determine their applications and finally establish a direction. Developing personal strategic initiatives is important in providing the scope of the goals that are meant to be achieved. The final step involves implementation that should be focused on the most important initiatives. Adhering to these steps will create a personal pathway to success. 

Tactics for success 

The first step in applying tactics for success involves initiating an action. Sun Tzu advised that the possibility of attaining victory lies in the attack (Tzu, 1994). He added that the person who occupies the battle field first and awaits their enemy is in a better position to win. Taking an offensive action includes getting information, preparation, and skills. Being in the offensive gives a person an upper hand as the opponent is forced to react rather than act. To launch an offensive action, mental approaches that should be employed include planning everything in detail and determining the general objectives. Secondly, keeping on the move will ensure there is no inactivity which may result in loss of opportunities. Sun Tzu also highlighted the importance of considering alternative routes in reacting by saying that the army must be aware of the five different attack situations and then wait for the appropriate time. In real life, there are ways in which a person can take initiatives such as launching a head-on attack, using an indirect approach, using guerilla tactics, etc. Also, in launching a successful offensive, one should be professional, disciplined, diverse and a difference maker among others. 

In succeeding, moving with speed is an essential aspect. Sun Tzu asserts that speed is of the essence in war (Tzu, 1994). The most important thing in war is a quick victory, not prolonged operations. Speed is important because it reduces the chances of someone getting surprised with a challenge and it will ensure that one gets the opponent less ready. Speed should be applied in real life scenarios such as in solving differences. People should always set timetables for their actions to avoid incidences of time wasting. Developing a sense of urgency ensures that one remains proactive in solving life challenges. Success, other than requiring urgency, also needs momentum. Momentum can be described as the continuation of an initiative. Sun Tzu asserted that when torrential water moves through boulders, it is as a result of momentum. Momentum ensures that one has the freedom to take action and the opportunity to make the right decisions for the long term. 

Success also demands that people be aware of opportunities and hence take advantage of them. Sun Tzu advised that a skilled commander achieves much by using the situation to the best of their advantage. Success is responsible for opening more success. A first success should act as leverage for additional success. It is also important to develop an opportunity list that can be referred from time to time to remind one of the goals they are supposed to achieve. In taking advantage of opportunities, timing is very important. In this regard, people should avoid the tendency to procrastinate. In summary, it is essential to achieve the first success then use it to leverage to the next level and after that seize every opportunity that comes on the way. 

Competitive Success 

Setting priorities right is an essential part of gaining a competitive success. With regards to priority, Sun Tzu says that the best policy in war is to attack the opponent’s strategy. He adds that the second best way is to disrupt their alliance using diplomatic means and third is to attack the army in the field. He goes on to caution against attacking walled cities. All this are geared towards ensuring that winning is based on strategy as opposed to winning by fighting. To succeed, one should ensure that they pick their battles carefully. Sun Tzu says that if one is not sure of success, then they should avoid using troops. It is important to know how to win. Sun Tzu advises on the simple ways that can assure victory. To predict victory problems should be approached clinically, one should understand how to handle inferior and superior challenges, believe in themselves and finally do a thorough homework. Therefore, to succeed people should avoid battles they cannot win, strive to have overwhelming odds on their side and finally avoid winning too much in office politics as this can invite calamity. 

The knowledge on the opponent can be essential in the build up for success. Sun Tzu claimed that when you do not know the enemy, the chances of winning and losing are equal. This can apply in real life particularly in sports competitions where coaches can buy video clips that will be used to formulate offensive and defending tactics against the opponent. Also, a successful competitor in business, sports or politics require a constant flow of incoming information. According to Michaelson and Michaelson (2003), to build a creative information system, one should cultivate their contacts, snapshot build pictures, validate the sources and then put them all together. Identification of an enemy is also a vital process in success. An enemy is any force with the power to hinder the process of winning. Identification begins with defining the enemy. In the world of business, the enemy is normally the competitor, and in sports, it is the opponent. Knowledge about the enemy involves knowing what they are doing now and what they have been doing in the past. In a nutshell, to succeed, one must identify the opposition, understand their style and also ensure that there is no enemy within. 

Examples of Success 

This chapter focuses on the real life application of the Sun Tzu's advice and how they have helped in positively shaping life. An example is how it has helped changed the life of a teacher/ coach with regards to preparation. Sun Tzu teaches the importance of preparation and planning well. Such precepts have enabled the teacher to make lesson plans for the classroom and practice plans for the court. Discipline is another aspect that the teacher has been able to acquire from the Sun Tzu’s teachings. The teaching evaluations of the teacher have been based on a learning atmosphere that stresses on firm, fair discipline. Finally, the teacher has benefitted immensely from proper communication as advised by Sun Tzu hence helping him instruct his students and team members effectively. The advice on fighting only battles that can be won was useful to a young woman to make choices when presented with conflicting initiatives. The woman was faced with a conundrum of either to borrow extensively to attend college or support her and attend part-time school at night. Using Sun Tzu’s advice on how to make an assessment, she was able to determine the best strategy which was to work during the day and attend school at night. 


In conclusion, the advice outlined by Sun Tzu in his book The Art of War is universal laws that can be applied in all real life scenarios. The recommendations were communicated in the perspective of war, but their applications are not limited to the business world, politics, and sports among other sectors where success is essential. Therefore the book is necessary to be read by anybody facing a life challenge to be acquainted with the necessary skills to overcome the problems. Other than overcoming challenges, the book can also be used as a drive in achieving certain goals in life. This can be enabled because of the various life skills put forward such as discipline, courage, time consciousness, being considerate and patient among others. 


Michaelson, G. A., & Michaelson, S. W. (2003).  Sun Tzu for Success: How to use the art of war to master challenges and accomplish the important goals in your life . Simon and Schuster. 

Tzu, Sun. "The Art of War, trans."  Ralph D. Sawyer (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1994)  136 (1994). 

Cite this page

Select style:


StudyBounty. (2023, September 14). Sun Tzu for Success.


Related essays

We post free essay examples for college on a regular basis. Stay in the know!

19 Sep 2023

The analysis of chapter 23 of poem "Beowulf"

Running Head: BEOWULF 1 Beowulf Chapter 23: Fight with Grendel’s Mother The contexts that mark the beginning of Beowulf’s second fight have him courageous and unafraid of death. Beowulf has his armour on and...

Words: 659

Pages: 2

Views: 131

17 Sep 2023

"The woman warrior: Memoirs of a girlhood among ghosts": the book about hardship in California

Reading the book authored by Kingston reveals that indeed the author experienced various stages of hardship while living in California. One of the hardships the author experienced was that of difficulty in...

Words: 508

Pages: 2

Views: 60

17 Sep 2023

The 5 key elements of a great story

The aspects that make up a story can be categorized into five basic and important elements. These components work to ensure that a story not only runs smoothly but also develop logically in a way that allows the...

Words: 333

Pages: 1

Views: 158

17 Sep 2023

What is the nature of man?

Man's nature is a broad concept that invites different interpretations when asked to explain the same. Some of the explanation agrees on the initial biblical description about man's nature where the one is allowed to...

Words: 781

Pages: 3

Views: 121

17 Sep 2023

F Scott Fitzgerald and the Jazz Age

F Scott Fitzgerald had the twenties as one of the highlight years of his career. Notably, one would notice that the books written by Fitzgerald are set on the location in which he had been living at that particular...

Words: 1284

Pages: 4

Views: 439

17 Sep 2023

The analysis of stories by Lispector, Allende, Danticat and Cortázar

Lispector _The Hen _ The short story of the hen by Clarice Lispector carries persecution, feminism, and self- liberation efforts. Lispector uses the hen to signify how women are only celebrated for...

Words: 597

Pages: 2

Views: 91


Running out of time?

Entrust your assignment to proficient writers and receive TOP-quality paper before the deadline is over.