Successful Strategies

Cyborg Attack Mode

Military Strategy in Non-Military Situations

Making use of tactical considerations to ensure overall strategic success For most of the preceeding chapters of this book, we have discussed topics which give a person short-term tactical advantages. For example, skills to successfully write a particular exam, techniques to minimize sleep time, and knowledge to use specific machines and tools to benefit us. These are all individual “weapons” in our war against the obstacles. You can think of them as machine guns, tanks, or even individual soldiers. But because of their nature, they are limited in that they still require guidance to use them. Even the smartest of weapons, the artificially-intelligent “smart” cruise missiles, need someone to determine their targets for them. This is when strategic analysis and guidance comes into play, and will be the focus of this chapter.

One clarification must be made concerning the material in this chapter. Some of it may portray itself as advocating the “use” of people, in a superficial and pragmatic manner, without regard for their individuality or feelings. Yet it should be obvious that I cannot possibly want to convey that kind of message. “No man is an island,” it has been said, and no person should be. On this planet, we are each unique and special. In my life, I have met so many individuals with remarkable qualities and personalities that I find it ridiculous to attempt to generalize about people. I have friends all over the world. Most from personal encounter and travel, others (such as penpals) simply from correspondence. I do not consider myself a conniving or iniquitous person. I doubt my friends do either. In fact, for the most part, I have tried very hard to help as many people, and animals, as I can financially and psychologically afford to. Yet it took me a long time to get over the stigma of compromising objective accomplishment with the fear that one is using other people. Our treatment and relationship to other people come on at least two levels.

First of all, we are associated with that person because of some need, whether it is emotional, financial, or otherwise. Yet on top of this utilitarian level, we overlay our personal feelings and affection. We cannot say, for example, that we are “using” our fellow students to achieve some end, unless we also say that we “use” our parents to ensure survival. We cannot blame patients for “using” doctors, lawyers for “using” witnesses, or patrons from “using” waiters. Just because you are afraid of being a jerk if you asked a classmate to help you type up a paper does not mean that you suffer the consequences of not getting it typed, or paying to have it typed (by “using” someone else). In fact, if a classmate was a personal friend of yours, you would probably not hesitate to ask for help, secure in your knowledge that you would have done the same for them. Just because you prefer to ask for help from people who are already your friends does not preclude the fact that you can ask for help from people first and then become their friends. I know a lot of family doctors that have personal relationships with their patients. I am sure that very few of those patients started off as friends first, before deciding to see the doctor. I made many good friends during my school years simply because situations demanded that I collaborate with them on a certain project, or borrow their notes.

To be sure, most students make friends at school in exactly this manner anyway, so what is there to prevent us from becoming aware of the fact, and maximizing its value? In any event, what I present are only the tools and potentials for their use. Whether or not you decide to use them towards friendly, or manipulative, ends will depend on your personality. Nothing that I can say will make you go out and do harm to someone else unless you are already predisposed to something like that, in which case you would merely be using my material as an excuse. I take comfort in knowing that people can only succeed if they think, subconsciously or not, that they deserve it.

The Battleplan

Mapping Out the Objectives

In order to win a war, we must understand as many aspects of the situation we are in, as possible. However, there is but a single supremely important piece of information that supercedes all others in priority: Knowledge of the conditions of victory. I say this because we must understand what we are fighting for. We must understand the whole point of the war. It is easy to be caught up in the intensity of the moment, in each individual shorter-term battle, and in the even smaller components of that battle – the very-short-term goals. Without knowing what our ultimate objective is, we cannot know when to stop fighting, we cannot know whether or not we had already won, and most importantly we cannot know if we have made errors in our strategic thinking without a specific target to gauge us.

Therefore, let us specify our ultimate goal. What do you want to get out of your business? Out of your school? Out of your life? Why do you wake up every morning? What are you trying to accomplish by reading this book? What would make you totally happy for the rest of your life? Please sit down at your desk now – using maximum shielding so that you will not be disturbed at such a critical point in time – and write down your thoughts about the ultimate objective you are striving towards. Make sure that it is truly extremely long-term. When thinking about your target, ensure that you are specific about it. Very specific. It would do not good for a commander or general to give a vague description of an objective to his or her soldiers. They must have specific characteristics to identify the enemy.

Likewise, you must describe your goal in specific terminology. What makes your target different from other targets? How “big” is it? What “colour” is it? What does it “look like?” For example, if your target was the achievement of a million dollars, then the specific characteristic of it would be the appearance of the digit $1,000,000 in your bank statement (Net balance, I might add!) If you were a student, perhaps you wanted to graduate at the top of your class. In that case, perhaps a diploma and a letter from your dean telling you that you’re the best, would serve as specific descriptors.

In addition to writing down the detailed “markings’ or attributes of your target, write down the reasons, the “why,” for your choice of target. You need to understand your rationale behind the selection of this objective, because you can usually find out more about what you really want to get out of life by looking at the reasons behind your choices, rather than at the actual choices you have selected. Do this now, and take up to an hour to really ask yourself questions about your own life, and the direction it is going, and where you want to ultimately end up.

Now, take a look at your supreme goal – your “big target” or BigT. Can you break it down into component targets and smaller, shorter-term objectives? I am sure you can. Simply examine your ultimate goal, and write down all the individual steps it would take before you achieve that ultimate goal. Think about all the things that will lead you right up to that big bullseye, all the stepping stones on your path to total success. To help you with this task, here’s a hint: Sometimes people find that their particular BigT is hard to break down because they have no idea how to get from where they are, to where the BigT is. That’s OK. Use some problem-solving help. Use the technique of working backward. In other words, establish your BigT, then write down what will immediately preceed and lead up to it. Write down the causes of the effects. By working backward, you will be able to plot out a viable route to success. I learned this method when I was playing with maze problems as a kid. If I simply drew a line from the goal, all the way back to the starting point, I would save myself the trouble of having to decide all the different paths and changes in direction that come with working forward.

Now that you have established your BigT, we can look at the SmallT’s (the shorter-term goals). Can you break down these into constituent targets? I know this exercise is getting tedious, but believe me it will serve you for years to come. If you have done this kind of “goal planning” before, try doing it again, but this time think in terms of military strategy and objectives. The change in paradigm may give you new insight and make you realise that there were some objectives of key strategic importance that you never knew existed! Finally, stand back and take a look at your overall strategic plan. You have identified the ultimate objective – the BigT – and the individual component targets – the SmallT’s – that lead up to it. Ask yourself whether or not there are other SmallT’s which can lead up to the BigT just as effectively (provided those SmallT’s are achieved)? By doing so, you are mapping out your options. Remember, maxok does not mean you must follow one path all the way to success, and throw in all your efforts and resources into that one path, regardless of feedback. Maxok requires you to use your judgement, and put maximum effort into your overall war, or each individual battle, but if things aren’t working out, you have to switch to another plan of attack. Maxok means that you don’t just give up. It doesn’t condone stubborness.

SmallT’s – The Shorter-Term Goals

Breaking down the big parts into smaller parts

Let’s look at the SmallT’s for a while. In the example of the student, a SmallT which can lead to the BigT of total academic success would be getting an A in his physics class. Another SmallT would be getting an A in his chemistry class. Yet another SmallT would be getting an A in his literature class. The list goes on.

Now, if we look at the SmallT for the physics class, are there even shorter term goals? You bet. He has to ace each of the individual exams, do well on the assignments, and get the 15% participation mark. And what about those exams? The goals within that objective consist of getting each individual question correct. Do you see the changing scale of events? We move in from an overall BigT, and zoom closer and closer from the war, into the battles, and into the skirmishes. The very act of planning out your overall battleplan in this manner ensures that you have a total and holistic sense of the entire war situation. This sense of the “big picture,” with knowledge of the individual details of that war, will provide you with a specific frame of reference to compare everything that happens against.

By knowing what you do now, you can gauge the relative importance of certain actions and events, and determine their actual and objective worth towards the achievement of your BigT. Many times, people encounter problems that may seem very important, but which in fact turn out to be irrelevant to their ultimate objective. For example, while most people think that failing a course is a very bad thing – and it can be – it may turn out that the course was totally optional and not at all related to the student’s major, in which case he can simply drop it. End of story. In another example, a business executive who loses a deal with a particular client may realise that the client had nothing to do with what the exective really wanted to do in her life: Enter the Olympics!

Thus, not only do we need to break down our objectives into smaller and smaller pieces, to map out the individual footsteps to take, on the path to success, but we also need to identify steps that are unnecessary or irrelevant. While it may be nice to climb up a mountain that lies somewhere between our starting point and the destination, our major purpose is to get to the destination. Climbing the mountain, or failing to climb the mountain, is irrespective of our final goal. It may even deter us or delay success. While other people, mountaineers for instance, will make the mountain itself their goal, we have not chosen that path. Every person has his or her own specific goals, and specific strategy and battleplan to achieve those goals. Do not mistake another person’s SmallT for your own SmallT. If Mary, who is an astronaut, can withstand a million G-forces (because she’s a cyborg as well) that’s great. But it would be useless for you do be able to do the same, except to impress your friends. Unless you think that impressing your friends would lead you to your BigT – hardly likely – then what Mary can achieve and you cannot is not to be your concern.