Monday, 27 March 2017

Winning Against Yourself

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” – Sun Tzu

Historically, the Indian festival of Gudi Padwa symbolizes Lord Rama's triumph and joy on returning to his homeland Ayodhya after slaying the mighty demon king Ravana. Since a symbol of victory is always flown high, so is the gudhi (flag). Hence year after year, the populace of India commemorates the victory of Lord Rama by raising this emblematic Gudi.

In the ancient days, victory always followed great battles, bloodshed, families torn asunder and the last man standing on a hollow battlefield. Flags were raised, great monuments, temples and statues were built and cultures changed dramatically as the winner subjugated his newfound empire. As times changed, our battlegrounds and conflicts changed. While battlefields became corporate boardrooms and home turfs, conflicts ranged from personal discords to professional battles to subtle yet agonizing demons plaguing our psyches.

But certain old school rules still endure. Victory has always called for great risk. And the risk today could be as simple as fearlessly voicing your opinion. In a time and age where we mistakenly deduce social media likes as approval and admiration, it takes a fearless soul to stand up and raise their voice against injustice. Just this act of voicing their honest opinion is more important than defeating an army. The courageous and the outspoken take a strong stand because it is the honourable thing to do, and not because they believe they will walk away with their social media likes, lives or jobs intact. Such altruistic fortitude is a victory in itself.

Any triumph achieved by violence is equivalent to defeat, for it is fleeting and void. If confronted by opposition, vanquish the hostility with understanding, empathy and love. The aim of the dispute should not be a hollow victory, but one of progress and mutual respect. Don’t battle aimlessly with the desire to prove a point or gain a one up over someone. If they have offended you in the past, rise above them and the situation by engaging the power of compassion and love. Don’t waste your hours plotting revenge for revenge is a double edged sword that ends up destroying both parties concerned. A fleeting victory is not worth the cost. The method and attitude employed to achieve the victory are as significant as the conquest itself. Remember that there is nothing that needs to be proven. Conquer your temperament and the desire for retribution, for then the victory will always be yours.

Ultimately, the greatest victory is not about winning against others, but conquering yourself. For when you conquer your mind, you can conquer a thousand opponents. As Sun Tzu aptly summarizes, “To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”

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