What the Rules of Victory training involves

We make difficult
concepts usable for you

One of the central and most powerful concepts in Sun Tzu’s Art of War is shih (pronounced “shir”). In short, it is the dynamic configuration of power in a system that can be directed and released to help achieve your goal. 

We see shih in the natural world in things like dams that convert the flow of water into power. We already have words that approximate this idea—like “leverage” and “tipping point”—but they only capture part of the rich meaning of shih. While at first shih may seem foreign and unfamiliar to us, we soon discover it is a commonplace in our world, something we do and see all the time. 

By studying it as part of the simple rules of victory, we refine our ability to “employ shih” and find more effective ways to lead, particularly in difficult situations.

We give you practical guidelines
 that govern effective action

We present six qualities of shih that help you put it into action, each supported by lines from the Art of War and followed by commentary. Here is an example:

Relying on the nature of things, not changing them

As for the nature of trees and rocks—

When square, they stop
When round, they go

From the Art of War, Chapter 5

So often in difficult situations leaders become frustrated by trying to remake people and situations into something they are not, insisting on changing norms and behaviors. That makes your job more difficult, and it rarely succeeds.

The brilliance of employing shih is that you learn to see the momentum that the system itself is generating—its “nature”—and begin to see ways of using that to further your own goals. As an old saw puts it, “It’s easier to ride a horse in the direction it’s already going.”

We provide slogan-like reminders you can use in the heat of battle

Here is one of eight reminders we present, with a brief commentary:

If you can’t get destination, go for direction.

In an ever-changing, chaotic, interconnected world, our goals can often be elusive; somebody keeps moving the goal line. If we fixate on one particular goal or destination, not only will we get frustrated and disheartened when we can’t achieve it, but we also may miss other pathways to success that arise along the way. By concentrating on direction, we are both moving towards our goal while also leaving open the possibility of finding other pathways to attain it that can arise along the way.

How you can learn more

We present the Rules of Victory and the Simple Rules in a variety of settings, including: