Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Clausewitz on Love (Strategy that wins)

Carl von Clausewitz is arguably the best military strategist who ever lived. But if you read about his love affair with his wife, you will see that strategy is strategy and winning is winning. And it will may you rethink the term "emotional intelligence."

See my new ebook "Clausewitz on Winning Women" - email me at sdunn@susandunn.cc to order or click HERE.

Carl von Clausewitz, Prussian officer who fought against the French in the Napoleanis wars, and was a master military strategist

“At the heart of strategy there must be a heart that knows what to do with strategy."
-- von Clausewitz

Here is the last love letter he wrote his wife of many years, shortly before he died in a cholera epidemic in 1831:
What causes me deep sorrow is that I did not take greater care of you—it was not my fault. I thank you, dear angel, for the help you have given me in life,

When I first beheld you, I felt
As though in the presence of an angel’s majesty
I trembled through and through
And my heart whispered a childlike prayer;
Stay, kind stranger, stay here in this world below;
Through your eyes‘ beautiful gaze, bless and
Lead me back to life’s tranquil peace
From all the storms of life!
You gave me your hand in friendship
Under an angel’s protective wing
Our path sings gently through life
And in heaven resides our bliss
Do you recognize these lines?

They were there at the outset of our alliance, and should be there at the end, as well. I embrace you dear angel, until we meet again in better circumstances.

Carl von Clausewitz was a 19th-century Prussian general and is considered by many to be the great military strategist who ever lived. He was studied by Eisenhower, Kissinger, Patton, Chairman Mao, and others.

Clausewitz sought to understand and analyse the phenomenon of war so that future leaders could conduct and win conflicts more effectively.

He studied not only the tactical and technological side of war, but also the human and social factors. Two things he mentions which favor winning, which you might now expect to hear are, the assistance of the people and the use of great moral forces.

What is wonderful to those of us who most strategize, teach others to, and strategize for others, are his real-world insights.
  1. "Yet this is nothing but wretched book learning," he says
  2. "If you wish to enter that theater of strategy you must abandon all hope of finding the certainties and control to which they are accustomed in other pursuits and consider the surrender of such hopes as a rite of passage in strategy."
  3. Friction – unexpected interference – is what makes the seemingly easy so difficult. It is inevitable. "…[T]he general [and the rest of us trying to do anything] must have knowledge of friction in order to overcome it, where possible, and in order not to expect a level of precision in his operations that simply cannot be achieved owing to this very friction."
  4. Negativity capacity, that it is not always clear - "being at ease when in bafflement or doubt and not seeking escapes at any cost."
  5. "The weaker the defender's morale, the more brazen the attack must be."
  6. The nature of "military genius" involces matters of personality and character, beyond intellect
  7. "Given the same amount of intelligence, timidity will do a thousand times more damage than audacity."
  8. "If you entrench yourself behind strong fortifications, you compel the enemy seek a solution elsewhere."
  10. "Never forget that no military leader has ever become great without audacity. If the leader is filled with high ambition and if he pursues his aims with audacity and strength of will, he will reach them in spite of all obstacles."
  11. "The majority of people are timid by nature, and that is why they constantly exaggerate danger. All influences on the military leader, therefore, combine to give him a false impression of his opponent's strength, and from this arises a new source of indecision."
  12. "After we have thought out everything carefully in advance and have sought and found without prejudice the most plausible plan, we must not be ready to abandon it at the slightest provocation. Should this certainty be lacking, we must tell ourselves that nothing is accomplished in warfare without daring; that the nature of war certainly does not let us see at all times where we are going; that what is probable will always be probable though at the moment it may not seem so; and finally, that we cannot be readily ruined by a single error, if we have made reasonable preparations."
  13. "War is the province of chance. In no other sphere of human activity must such a margin be left for this intruder. It increases the uncertainty of every circumstance and deranges the course of events."
  14. "The best form of defense is attack."
  15. "There is only one decisive victory: the last."
  16. "No one starts a war-or rather, no one in his senses ought to do so-without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intends to conduct it."
  17. "Pursue one great decisive aim with force and determination."
  18. "If the enemy is to be coerced, you must put him in a situation that is even more unpleasant than the sacrifice you call on him to make. The hardships of the situation must not be merely transient - at least not in appearance. Otherwise, the enemy would not give in, but would wait for things to improve."
  19. With strategy one does not see at least half the situation with one’s own eyes, rather, everything must be guessed at ad resumed, which decreases one’s level of conviction. As a result most generals become bogged down in ineffectual fears when they should be taking action.

Clausewitz love affair with his wife was well-known in Prussian society, and his private life was exemplary. Read more about his "strategy" for love in my ebook, Clausewitz on Winning Women. Mailto:sdunn@susandun.cc.

You will also want to read

ON WAR, by von Clausewitz

Or click HERE to order.

and a great short compilation of his theories, particularly applied to the business world, called

Clausewitz on Strategy: Inspiration and Insight from a Master Strategist
by the Strategy Institute of the Boston Consulting Group

or click HERE

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