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The Annotated Art of War (Parts 7.27-29: Spirit)

 

Disciplines > Warfare > The Annotated Art of War > Parts 7.27-29: Spirit

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VII. Maneuvering

 

Sun Tzu said: Commentary
27. A whole army may be robbed of its spirit; a commander-in-chief may be robbed of his presence of mind.

The 'spirit' of the army is its dynamic motivation and energy to engage in warfare.

When an army starts out, its spirit is high. When it has achieved great victory, its spirit is high. In between, it takes work to keep up their spirit.

Spirit can be greatly affected by leadership. If the commanders are positive and energized, they can give rousing speeches that raise the spirit of the whole army. When their spirit is low, they may make bad decisions.

Therefore it is important to sustain the spirit of the army and especially its offices.

The same is true in business. Spirited leaders can make a huge difference to their workforce.

28. Now a soldier's spirit is keenest in the morning; by noonday it has begun to flag; and in the evening, his mind is bent only on returning to camp. Rest improves spirit. A good breakfast helps too. After a day of marching or fighting, spirits flag. Even a day of inaction can make soldiers listless and depressed.
29. A clever general, therefore, avoids an army when its spirit is keen, but attacks it when it is sluggish and inclined to return. This is the art of studying moods. Hence if you can engage the enemy when your spirit is high and theirs is low, then you have a significant advantage.

Likewise it is unwise to engage when the spirits of your people are low.

 

 

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