Sun Tzu is well known for the book The Art of War. He was a Chinese general and military strategist. He is considered a master of preparation, and many of his teachings have found their way into the business world. 

Sun Tzu left behind a lot of knowledge and advice that can be used to win in any area of your life. You can build habits with his teachings and find success in your life. 

Sun Tzu was not about brute force. He wanted to find the easiest ways to win that would do the least amount of damage to his men. His approach to war at the time was unique. He went into battle with a level of preparation that was rare. 

Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win. - Sun Tzu

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Sun Tzu Lesson #1 - Attack Places Which Are Undefended 

Many people will see the world's most durable metal and try and go right at it, but why? Why not find a place to attack that is unguarded.

Think about the movie The Dark Knight, one big issue Batman had was that as his armor became more flexible, he also became easier to attack because there were holes. If you were fighting Batman, why would you attack him where there was the most armor.

When it comes to building habits, this same strategy to succeed, build habits in a way that you know can be maintained. Start small and create your actions from a realistic place. If you want to start working out, start by doing one push up a day, not by doing max push-ups. If you do one push-up, you're likely to maintain that.

Success is hard enough; don't make it harder on yourself without a good reason. Find the most natural path to get to where you want to be.

Start small and create your actions from a realistic place. If you want to start working out, start by doing one push up a day, not by doing max push-ups. If you do one push-up, you're likely to maintain that.

Sun Tzu Lesson #2 - Know When to Fight 

Every fight is not a good fight to fight. Part of being a winner is knowing when it's not your day. There is no shame in choosing to fight on another day. Choose the day when your spirit is high and when your opponent is feeling down.

When you're building habits or trying to succeed in life, you have to know when to say no. You can't build every habit at once. You need to go one at a time until you lock in your no behaviors and routines. Knowing when to fight is half the battle.

Every fight is not a good fight to fight. Part of being a winner is knowing when it's not your day. 

Sun Tzu Lesson #3 - Attack at The Right Time

Timing is everything when you attack. Sun Tzu knew that the element of surprise could be his best friend. He always wanted to seem near when he was far and seem far when he was near. It kept his opponents guessing. He also only wanted to attack when the spirit of his opponent was slightly broken.

When you're building habits and trying to win in life, you must put yourself in the best position possible to succeed. If you're trying to quit smoking, don't hang around people who smoke or go to places where you used to smoke.

If you want to get healthier, spend more time at the gym with your friends who love being fit and their ways will rub off on you. Success is about timing and knowing when and how to control your environment.

When you're building habits and trying to win in life, you must put yourself in the best position possible to succeed. If you're trying to quit smoking, don't hang around people who smoke or go to places where you used to smoke.

Sun Tzu Lesson #4 - Know Yourself and Know Thy Enemy

Sun Tzu was big on knowing who you are and your strengths and weaknesses. If you did not have a realistic view of yourself, you would never understand others. The next step is taking time to study the enemy. Knowing everything you can about them so you can be prepared for them.

Many people fail in life because they don't know who they are or what they will be up against. When you don't know who you are, you doubt yourself, and you are unaware of your strengths and weaknesses that can be exploited when you don't see what you're facing, you are caught off guard by obstacles.

A successful person spends an adequate amount of time preparing to fight. They know that they have weaknesses that others will study, and they try and find a way to cover those weak points. When you prepare for your opponents, there is nothing life can throw at you that you won't be ready for.

Many people fail in life because they don't know who they are or what they will be up against. When you don't know who you are, you doubt yourself, and you are unaware of your strengths and weaknesses that can be exploited when you don't see what you're facing, you are caught off guard by obstacles.

Sun Tzu Lesson #5 - Success Breeds Success

The best part about succeeding is that it breeds more success. That is the power in starting small; you begin to rack up small wins. The small wins get larger over time. People begin to look at success, and it seems like people spring up out of nowhere. 

The truth is that success starts so small that you don't notice. 

  • Walking 
  • Taking the stairs
  • 10 Push-Ups a Day
  • Writing 100 Words
  • 5 Minutes of Memorization

These tiny wins continue to build and build until no one can recognize you. Those 10 Push ups turn into hundreds of them per day and a sculpted body. 

What success are you looking for tomorrow that you have not started in a small way today? Stop wasting your time and focus on the best things you can do to win over the long run. The more wins you get, the easier it becomes to get more. 


Sun Tzu

Ian Warner

About the author

I went from a broken leg to a 2012 Olympian. I have spent the last 15 years building positive habits as a track athlete and entrepreneur. I founded Habit Stacker and dedicated my life to helping people to develop winning habits. I have helped over 5,000 people...

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