On my dime, I flew to Nashville, TN, from my home in Charleston, SC., to attend the 1st Sun Tsu, The Art of War conference is the western hemisphere. I am reasonably new the “The Art of War”. The basic principles are fairly straight foreward, but there’s is very deep meaning relative to human nature, human dynamics, group mentality and group behavior. It has been around for more than 2500 years. Thousands of leaders, military, corporate, and government have studied its premises and lessons. Today a few dozen of us gathered from as far away as New Zealand to hear how Sun Tsu’s principles are being used. There were talks way over there and talks right on point. This isn’t a report on any, but some of my impressions.
Everything must start someplace. So too, an inaugural conference. Here are some overall lessons, my perspective. I would like to have seen it bigger and longer. I think there’s enough interest that a professionally organized conference or even a track in a large leadership conference would have attracted a larger audience. The topic is important, the lessons and principles universal and deserve broad dissemination. The Art of War has been around for a long time and there are many examples of its use. An array of talks from a wide variety of perspectives focusing on practical application would be interesting. We did have some of that, but they were included more as anecdotes than lessons learned.
One of the presenters was Jodi Wing. As a result of moving from NYC to LA she ended up writing a novel, The Art of Social War. This got her attention in the school system as and author and eventually found herself working with young people. The interaction has developed into “The Art of Peace Club“. I am profoundly impressed by what she is doing. For a long time I have thought that we in America fail our children when we don’t teach them how to be responsible adults. We don’t teach them financial skills, communications skills, or relationship skills. And, yes, these things should be taught in the home, they are not. Parents by and large are not qualified to teach most of these. This is especially true when it comes to communications and relationships. Our kids today are bombarded by media from their phones, computers, TV, movies and magazines. The message they get is teaching them the exact opposite of reality in so very many cases. Parents, who should be teaching them reality, are too often duped into believing the media dribble; lost themselve in a morase of social decay. Jodi’s program is an excellent answer and as often is the case will be very difficult to scale large enough to have an impact on our civilization. It can be done, I believe, and I for one hope to help.
The best correlation to Sun Tsu was presented by Dr. Kevin Chan where he outlined how he is using the 13 chapters in his medical practice and philosophy. Prevention is better than treatment. Or, ensure defence before attack and Sun Tsu would say. I’m hoping we can get the slides for his talk as following the principles he advocated would make the effort to attend cheap.
Go to the link above and Google the speakers. Many of them have books out that provide much more detail. These leaders are well worth the effort. Here are a few.
The Art of War for Women, by Becky Sheetz-Runkle
Exploring the Practice of Antifragility, edited by Si Alhir (presenter) and Donald Gould