The Clever General - A True (?) Story
Mid Week Musing #266
The Clever General
Thousands of years ago there was a famous Chinese general with a reputation for being an astute and cunning leader.
One day, at the end of a long campaign, this general decided to stop in a stronghold with a small battalion of soldiers, sending his main fighting force ahead to rest elsewhere.
One of the Generals enemies discovers this and decides to march his army of hundreds of thousands of soldiers on the general’s all-but defenceless position.
In the middle of the night, the general’s awoken by one of his men, who breaks the news:
The enemy’s close. They’ll be there before daybreak and our tiny band of soldiers in the stronghold will be no match for their numbers.
Hearing this, the general stops and pauses.
Understanding his predicament, he instructs his men to stand down, open the gates, take down the banners from the walls, and hide.
The general then removes his armour, dons a cloak, and sits on the battlements playing his flute as he looks out at the approaching army.
The enemy leader soon arrives.
He recognizes the general immediately.
And orders his forces to halt.
He stops to think.
He knows this general better than anyone, including his reputation for wily deeds and setting deadly traps.
He waits some more.
The presence of this infamous general, sitting there with such nonchalance, makes him question himself.
Was the information he received false?
Is the general luring him into a trap?
Or is it a double bluff?
Is this a ploy to make him question himself and the general is, in fact, as defenceless as he seems?
He waits some more…
And then he orders his forces to retreat.
The Clever General thus avoids a bloody defeat,
There are two morals to this story
First, your reputation is crucial and can deliver all sorts of positive outcomes, In many respects your reputation conveyed through your words, actions and reactions is the only thing you own.
Money comes and goes, health can fade and friends may be far from you. But your words and actions are yours. They are how you deal with the world and your karma.
Second, there’s often a cleverer, more strategic way to achieve your goals. Never assume it takes sweat, blood and tears. Look for a method of attaining the same results with less effort.
Your ability to create different choices in challenging situations, to be flexible, adaptable are certain measures of your resilience.
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