Using the best building plan, employing the most advanced machinery, mobilizing the best construction workers, and applying the highest quality materials, such as steel and concrete tiles to build a skyscraper on sand, what will happen? The result will be a crushing failure. Why? Because there was a strategic error - you can not build a high-rise building on sand, and even if you could and did, a single breeze would collapse it.
If it is strategically wrong; any tactical success is equal to zero. As in the example above, the building plan, the advanced machinery, the excellent construction workers, the high quality materials and other tactical successes will ultimately have zero value because of the strategic mistake.
Strategies are overall planning and designs. Tactics are specific measures to achieve them. If the strategy is wrong, then even the best tactics are ultimately hopeless efforts.
Sun Tzu’s, “The art of war” includes strategies and tactics; Life also includes both. The so-called strategic Life must grasp and operate Life from the macro perspective, or Life must first have the right ideal with the right directions and goals, otherwise no matter how diligent you are, how hard you try in your lifetime, you will end up fruitless.
I once drilled a well in a remote village in the Binga area of Matabeleland in the North Province of Zimbabwe. First, I mobilized all the villagers and built nearly 10 kilometres of road and we cut down the trees that blocked the vehicles along both sides of the road, then trucks loaded with the drill and other materials and workers entered the construction site in a formidable array. Hundreds of villagers cheered like thunder and supported us with great enthusiasm. After two days of drilling down to a depth of 90 meters, not a single drop of water had been found. The drilling failed. After having taken so much labour and having invested so much money, the result in the end was zero. Why was that? The reason lies not in tactics, but in strategy. In other words, the drilling point designated by the geologic and hydrographic staff was dry. In a spot with no water, no matter how many human and financial resources you invest, or how excellent the drilling experts you have mobilized are, you will never drill out water.
While taking a course in marketing, an American professor told us the story of an American shoe factory that wanted to set up a branch in Africa, so they sent two market researchers to Africa to make a survey of the shoe market. One researcher came back and reported pessimistically that there was no market for shoes in Africa because African people did not wear shoes. Another researcher came back and reported optimistically that a huge market for shoes existed in Africa because none of the African people were wearing shoes. In this situation, what should the American shoe factory have done? This leads to the strategic issue. If the strategy is correct, then there will eventually be huge profits, but if the strategy is wrong, it will drag the shoe factory down.
Most African women do not wear socks and if someone were to import a container of socks to sell in Africa, he or she would be making a strategic mistake.
Recently, I found a pinch of black slags on the white floor tiles in my bathroom. The situation remained the same the next day, even though the gardener cleaned it every day. Today, I bent down and took a closer look. It turned out that dozens of tiny ants were making nests along the edge of the floor tiles against the wall. I felt very sad about this because those ants had made a strategic mistake. The bathroom is very clean and having a food source would be a big problem. Would it not have been better if the nest had been built in the lawn or under the tree roots in the garden?
It might be a good idea to build a gem processing factory in Siberia, Russia, but building a soy sauce factory would be a strategic mistake.
Now let us come back to the strategic issues of Life.
The first strategic issue of Life is to give play to your strengths and to do the things that you want to do.
If a profession is not right for you or if it does not make you feel comfortable, then do not force yourself to do it. You would be better off staying idle than forcing yourself to do it because this is a strategic issue. Once you make a strategic mistake, your whole life will be trapped into building castles on sand.
Had the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mother Teresa not helped the helpless and lonely people, but rather studied radioactive elements like Marie Curie, she might not have accomplished anything at all. Likewise, if Chen Jingrun who took the math crown pearl by solving the Goldbach Conjecture had been sent to be the manage the marketing Department of an HR firm, it could have ended up in a complete mess.
If a person is tone-deaf, but wants to learn music or wants to be a singer, then they would be making a strategic mistake of Life.
I have a distant uncle. He became an apprentice to a carpenter at an early age. Three years later, he could not even make a chair without help from his master. That is to say, my distant uncle had made a strategic mistake of Life. He was not born with the material to be a carpenter.
The second strategic issue of Life is to comply with time
Sowing in spring harvesting season in autumn is correct. If you want to act at times inverse of nature, you will be punished by the Tao of heaven, "Those who suit their actions to the times are wise."
Yiwu people of Zhejiang Province, China are called the Jews of China because they have a shrewd business acumen, however during the Cultural Revolution, they were often criticized as models of walking on the capitalist road, so their shrewd ability could not be played out.
I knew a very talented man who remains in prison after more than ten years because he was involved in a democracy movement. This was not a bad thing and it was totally above-board, so why is he in prison? Because what he did was ill timed. In other words, he wanted to pick and eat his watermelon before it was ripe and he made a strategic mistake.
The third strategic issue of Life is to always place yourself in the right position and not to "overstep".
If it is your duty, you make sure to be conscientious and earnest to do it well and never to try to shirk your responsibility, but if it is not within the scope of your duties, keep your mouth shut, do not gossip, and pay no attention, even if the sky falls. What responsibilities do you have as to whether the country rises or falls? You have a responsibility to be a good citizen. According to the teachings of Jesus Christ, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in you own eye?”
I have several colleagues who often criticize the decisions of the leadership as well as the work and behaviour of other colleagues. Ultimately, they were a nuisance and could not play out their strengths, and so ended up complaining but unfulfilled.
An assistant General Manager was very talented and could have had broad future prospects, but because he was too critical of the decisions of the General Manager, he was soon dismissed. That is to say, a person, no matter how capable they are, must be sure to place themselves in the right position. Every man should confine himself to his own duties,otherwise, it is "overstepping".
What is the biggest strategic issue in Life?
Jesus tells us clearly, “For what a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world,and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”That is to say, the greatest strategic issue of Life is the issue of the soul.
From novels, history, and reality, we learn that many people have lost their souls for money and wealth, many have forfeited their souls for power, and many have lost their souls for fame and lust. These are all strategic mistakes of Life. Similarly, many people have forfeited their souls for their families, their ethnic groups, their religious or political parties, or for their countries. These people have also made strategic mistakes of Life.