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Five Attitudes of Strategy Approach

Excerpt from The Sword in the Boardroom

Musashi – Never think in terms of being a “righty” or a “lefty.” I am both by practicing movement from all directions. Combinations of approach are only limited by your imagination and not striving to see as many variations as possible. The main approaches are upper, middle, lower, then right or left. Front and rear approaches are aspects of these. It is always best to approach directly from the front if it is possible, bearing in mind the need to attack indirectly that comes with experience. If circumstance requires it, attack from the rear without warning. Some people will approach in a completely disoriented manner unable to consummate a meeting because of a peculiar attitude and style. Unaware of intelligent preparations for war, they do not understand that entrance into conflict is senseless without an attitude of complete and total victory.

Sun Tzu – There should be nothing fancy in your approach. Simply, and with conviction, go straight to the heart of the matter, thereby gaining the advantage to win. There is nothing else to do; you either do it or you don’t. The only reason to make an approach is to close. Particular technique is important, but it should not be dwelt upon while it is being used. Doing so causes hesitation to develop and deters your intentions that can cause you to lose any advantage you may have had up to that point. Attacks must be made with blinding speed and with inevitability of your resolve, because if they are not, quality opposition will recognize your attitude and easily crush you based on their awareness of your intended actions. The aim of winning is to not have to force your intentions. You should not work hard; you should work smart. Winning must be accomplished with ease and grace and this is only possible if you are adequately prepared. Errors in judgment are not too rare and appropriate force should be used when attacking. If you are going to play, play. Don’t play!

Kaufman—List the times you approached for a close with what you thought was complete control of the situation but met with an objection that caused you to try and force your way in. As a result, you lost control of the entire matter because you couldn’t regain control. Write down how you could have maintained control of the situation. Do not permit excuses other than your own lack of preparation for anything you are responsible for.

Targets accept and succumb to sincere attacks

Musashi – Regardless of the direction of your approach—up, down, middle, left or right—there should be no doubt in your mind that straight ahead is always best, especially when it is done with conviction and purpose. The direction does not matter; straight-ahead does. Strike and win—objections notwithstanding. Straight-ahead approaches are always decisive, but that does not mean variation should not be considered if necessary. If you are intelligently and adequately prepared, the target will accept your approach and close. Never force matters. Acceptance of your approach by the target is a significant concept. You should make it your business to understand the reality of it. A target exists for one reason, and one reason alone—to be destroyed. Otherwise, it should not be thought of as a target. Consider the place you are coming from. Flow into the proper position naturally without making a conscious decision about it. Make a direct approach even if it is indirect in appearance. This is why it is imperative to practice approaches from all directions. Practice with one form of approach and close, and when you sense opposition, immediately change your approach. While I stress the direct approach and close, I do not favor the upper, middle, lower, right, or left as a favorite. I use the term attack and I use the term approach. Both are consistent with strategy and should not be taken to mean two different things. In combat, an approach is the same as an attack if the intention is to beat the opponent. The same mentality must be used in the art of negotiation. All things must emanate from your center.

Sun Tzu – The reason for a target’s existence is to accept and comply with the attack, but only if the attack is done with conviction and determination. Indeed, all things come from the center regardless of appearances or final destinations. This happens even if a warrior is not consciously aware of it. Therefore, it is better to be conscious of personal intentions, but never during the actual conflict. Approaching from the side indicates awareness of a possible objection. It is important to be able to approach and close from the side because of obstructions that are not always evident during an initial attack. This is the ancient teaching of going full force from the center of your heart. An approach of any type must originate from the heart if it is to be a winning tactic. The importance of concentrating your approach from the center of your being should be understood if you will be able to function at middle, upper or lower positions and either the left or right side. This works in accordance with the Spirit of the Thing Itself. When I observe an arena of activity, I see an astute leader in the center surrounded by aides. He directs the action with appropriate strategy regardless of his physical position.

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