Hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, there was a period in China known as the Age of Warring States. This was an age of great conflict and uncertainty as seven states fought for survival & control of China. For these states to win they sought out any means of gaining advantage over their opponents; those with knowledge on strategy & leadership was especially sought after. It was during this time that there arose a general from the state of Ch’i known as Sun Tzu. His ability to win victories for his warlord gained him fame and power.
To hand down the wisdom he had gained from his years of battles Sun Tzu wrote a book, The Art of War, that became the classic work on strategy in China. His book, which details a complete philosophy on how to decisively defeat one’s opponent, has given guidance to military theorists and generals throughout the ages. In The Art of War, military readers found a holistic approach to strategy that was powerful and deep–it is truly a masterpiece on strategy. As the former U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell said, “I’ve read the Chinese classic The Art of War written by Sun Tzu. Sun Tzu has been studied for hundreds of years. He continues to give inspiration to soldiers and politicians. So every American soldier in the army knows of his works. We require our soldiers to read it.”
Today, Sun Tzu’s appeal has extended beyond the military realm into the world of business. Because business by definition deals with competition, Sun Tzu’s principles are ideally suited to competitive business situations. Because business, like warfare, is a contest of wills, dynamic and fast-paced, based on both morale and machines, and deals with the effective and efficient use of scarce resources, many business people across the globe have found value in Sun Tzu’s teachings.