As I have proudly written many times, Steve Adubata Sr. shaped my views on politics – not necessarily on politics, but on the machinery of politics. I used to spend a lot of time at the North Ward Center in the back war room listening to Big Steve talk about the world as he sees it. Steve thought of himself as a modern political version of Plato or Aristotle, and to some of us he was that and a little more. It was at one of these political “lunch and learns” that I first heard Sun Tzu’s name.
Steve carefully told me and others present about this Chinese military general. Sun Tzu lived during the Eastern Zhou period from 770 to 256 BC. Besides being a brilliant military strategist, he was a writer and philosopher. Sun Tzu is credited with writing the book The Art of War.
If you’re in this business and haven’t read this book, shame on you. If you ever want to succeed in politics or business, read this book. Sure, the book goes into great detail about military strategy, but I challenge you to find a scenario that can’t be directly applied to politics. Trust me when I tell you that many of the lessons and teachings contained in this treatise are applicable to today’s politics. One of the main principles is that you have to believe in yourself. Another recurring theme is that the ultimate art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.
One of the things I’m most proud of politically is the now-famous (and oft-repeated) cascading and unrelenting outpouring of political support when I announced my candidacy for a soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat in 2007. Within 24 hours I blocked by killing four top political technologists, within 48 hours I shut down over 200 county committees and elected officials and received pledges from donors. Every day was met with an avalanche of press releases, which talked about another important “acquisition” for our fledgling company.
I truly believe that this Sun Tzu-inspired strategy laid the foundation for a winning campaign. We went full force, adopted a winning mentality and took the field in a battle we should never have won. Until then, the much feared and respected Bergen “line” had never lost, but we snapped that streak and buried them with an embarrassing loss. The key to getting over the ‘line’ is to have your own ‘line’ – with real candidates, money and most of all, a real company.
In addition to these two instructions found in The Art of War, I leave you with a few other suggestions from Sun Tzu’s book:
-Look weak when you are strong and strong when you are weak;
-If the forces are united, separate them;
-If you are far from your enemy, let it seem that you are close;
-Amidst Chaos There’s Opportunity (one of my personal favorites that we almost lost the dynamic with);
– If you know the enemy and yourself, you don’t need to fear the results of a hundred battles;
– Victorious warriors first win and then go to war.
I could easily turn this into a 5,000-word column if I detailed all the lessons in this book, but for now, I’d say use these few gems and tell me you haven’t already started applying them in your life.
“I read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. He continues to influence both soldiers and politicians.” General Colin Powell.