Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book Review: The Art of War

Some people compare finding the right career to fighting a battle for their livelihood. Changing careers requires planning and strategy, whether that means attaining an associate degree, obtaining online training, or striving for an MFA, if you are a writer. It may also require being able to adapt to unforeseen circumstances, anticipating possible challenges, and recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of players in the field. Changing careers means competing with other people who are either doing the same thing, starting out fresh, or who are well established and networked within a particular market. Having the right mindset is key to exploiting opportunities and developing the means to achieve a successful shift in employment.

The Art of War was a bestseller in the 1980s when the “greed is good” philosophy was dominant in American pop culture. While many people bought and read the book during that decade, its relevance still pertains to the current job market.

Sun Tzu, who wrote this manuscript, was a Chinese general who lived between 544 and 496 BCE. He was renowned for his military successes that depended not so much on superior manpower or material resources so much as psychology. As a strategist, he is traditionally revered as a man without peers, who still has lessons to teach after more than 2000 years spent studying his methods. Going about a career change with the goal of succeeding is imperative to making it work. The lessons of Sun Tzu will enable readers to be in top form and to maximize their advantage.

While this is a battlefield treatise, it offers lessons that people can apply to their own, more peaceful, career ambitions. The twelve chapters deal with various aspects of warfare that are both specific and general. For instance, Sun Tzu recommends reconnaissance of enemy terrain and abilities before embarking on an expedition. This is what job seekers do when they evaluate their options in new professional fields. They look for strong points in any given market, as well as evaluate weak points in which they can fulfill unmet needs over other people who have similar skill sets.

The most valuable lesson Sun Tzu imparts is the necessity of being well-versed in the abilities and expectations of the competition, so much so that trouble can be avoided and success achieved with the least amount of effort. Everyone knows that time and resources are valuable for someone looking to change careers. By presenting oneself as an expert and being able to back it up, job seekers will stand out from the pack in their market.

Planning and intelligence are helpful in seeking success. So is self-assurance. A worker or business owner who presents himself or herself as a qualified individual will naturally find opportunities crop up that will lead, one after another, to many chances for career fulfillment. Research and mastery are the keys to being able to project assurance, as Sun Tzu did with great success over two centuries ago.

1 comment:

  1. This article explains the need to be flexible. I think it is also important that people realize, while they may have been an expert in a subject or certain field years ago- they may not be so knowledgeable today. While traditional school may seem to time consuming there are alternatives, all one would have to do is attend an online school and get caught up on all the latest technologies. A pretty good compromise- what do you think?