Are you OK with being used?

 

“People know who they can walk over and who they can’t. If someone is walking all over you it’s because they KNOW you’ll put up with it”. – Sonya Parker

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Helping others is noble and helps us in our understanding of ourselves. But we need to be careful that we are not doing we do not to seek validation from others in how great and ‘good’ we are as that way we get taken advantage of – if we are ready to help and are always ‘there’ for others and we will get used and abused.

We may consider people we help or wish to help as members of our extended family (regardless if they are or not) but to many we are just a tool for them to get further, rise higher on our backs, climb socially, look powerful, earn more, look well connected in the eyes of others. I am not saying this is wrong – but simply to understand we may want to be ‘good’ but this does not mean others will be good for us.

What works for me is the concept of ‘Pay It Forward’. When I do something for someone and they wish to give me something in return – I simply get them to Pay it Forward – help someone else. This way we do not burden my ego with attachment to others ‘goodness’ towards me. Pay it Forward means once we help another and in turn they wish to pay or give us a gift we simply ask them to pass this good deed to someone else. So the one we have helped doesn’t ‘owe’ us something in return.

“The greatest effects we have on the world are the ones we can never see.” – Chris Matakas

Everything we do – positive or negative – has an effect on us and others however small. We help because its the right thing to do but we all have a positive and negative side. Ask yourself when reaching out to assist – is it to distract you from something else going on in your life or your offer of help for a real detached reason?

I am not saying don’t help others – rather understand why you are eager to help another. In understanding our own reasons for wanting to help and understanding the mindset of those you wish to help – there will be less of a chance of being taken advantage of by others.

“Even The Most Caring People Can Get Tired Of Being Taken For Granted.” – Nishan Panwar

Helping should not be a ‘crutch’ to validate our existence in the eyes of others – society is not the reason for your life, you are the reason for your life – what I mean is we are all here for a purpose and that purpose is certainly not as slaves for others, don’t become a slave to others and don’t enslave others. We need to live outside of who we think we are or who we wish to be. We need no validation from others and if it comes – pass it on, pay it forward. Detach.

Our elders thought us never to give unsolicited advice, nor try to help anyone unless they ask us for it. This is not coldness its just realistic advice. A random act of kindness can change someone’s life no doubt, but it may also destroy it. There will be those who we will help and in turn they will escape their own responsibility for their own lives. When we are always there for others we may get used without a thought on their part. Its time to summon our strength and be ready to terminate our help. Helping means promoting others’ independence and life progress; not stunting them.

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein

Many do good for others and want to feel good and valued themselves – there is nothing wrong with that but understand that your life is yours and others lives are theirs – we all have value.

Its natural when we see others in difficulty our impulse is to reach out. Yes be selfless and guide others to be selfless. Being selfish or getting taken advantage of by the selfish is something we should avoid.

On a walk, a man found a chrysalis hanging delicately from a branch. As he admired it, it started to move and a small opening appeared and the butterfly struggled to free itself The man feeling sorry for it decided to help the butterfly, and with a small knife he gently slit open the chrysalis allowing the butterfly to emerge easily. The butterfly broke free, only to wilt over in a completely motionless state in his hand. Its tiny swollen body and shriveled wings withered and deformed. The man continued to watch waiting for the moment the wings would unfurl, expand and enlarge enough to support the still limp body, enabling the butterfly to get up, but he waited in vain. Instead the butterfly spend the remainder of its short existence, crawling awkwardly, dragging its fragile body and shriveled wings and never able to fly. ” – The Story of the Butterfly & The Helpful Man

Our lives have struggles and obstacles. Trials are there to make us stronger. Some of the best lessons we learn are through striving, pain and suffering. Each of us have individual lessons we must go through. This not to say that we should ignore the pain or suffering of others but rather give them space, time and let them find the energy themselves to develop and rise up stronger.

Do not rush in like a knight in shining armour or you may end up destroying the one you are rushing in to help.

We must be ready to help from a position of balance and detachment. Take a breath, observe the situation, understand your emotions. Is “helping” the ‘other’ what the other needs or do you wish to be seen as ‘great’? Do you want some ‘reward’ verbal or material? Detach and observe. Do not replace what is going on their path where they are learning their lesson – with your own ego, this is their battle not yours.

We need to pull back from “helping” that isn’t helpful to ourselves or the other person and is more about us proving to others what a great, selfless and nice person we are. This is not helping but taking advantage of the other for ourselves to feel appreciated, loved and validated.

“You can’t always be nice. That’s how people take advantage of you. Sometimes you have to set boundaries.” – Ritu Ghatourey

Don’t neglect your own deeper needs and look for similar signs in those around you like relatives, family members, spouses, friends and foes who maybe taking advantage of your helpful nature.

We all have different abilities and views on life and situations – regardless even if we are co-joined twins. We will still see a situation from our own viewpoint. We have different feelings, minds and strengths. Let the other person be. Yes we all need another to cope with a situation – we are human not unemotional robots, thats fine there is no shame in asking for help or offering to assist but look at the picture with clarity. If you must… make a move in a helpful and detached way.

Focus on building others confidence, self worth, self – responsibility and be wary of seeking to control them or redirect their lives. Listen to others – not in waiting to respond but simply hear and understand the other persons point of view. Know that are not their psychologist or psychiatrist.

“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” – Lao Tzu

Set boundaries for your help and set boundaries for those who seek to use your good nature as their crutch. Lack of boundaries invites a lack of respect and it’s not your job to make others happy.

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If you like Machiavelli, You will love Chanakya.

Chanakya (also known as Kautilya) was statesman, philosopher, chief advisor and Prime Minister of the Emperor Chandragupta, the first ruler of the Mauryan Empire which became the largest empire in South Asian history even larger than the Mughal Empire.

Chanakya – is known as the Indian Machiavelli, If anything Chanakya is more of an in depth political philosopher and a realist when it comes to politics and control. Max Weber mentioned that Machiavelli’s The Prince was “harmless” by comparison.

 Chanakya vs Machiavelli Comparison:

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Chanakya (c. 350-275 BCE), belonged to the Brahmin caste (the priestly class), he hailed originally from what is now Pakistan/Northern India and was a teacher at Taxila (Takshashila). Chanakya authored, Arthashastra which keeps on being compared to the Italian mastermind Machiavelli and his book The Prince by people who probably have studied one of the works superficially.

Kissinger, said on Arthashastra in his book World Order, “This work sets out, with dispassionate clarity, a vision of how to establish and guard a state while neutralizing, subverting, and (when opportune conditions have been established) conquering its neighbours. The Arthashastra encompasses a world of practical statecraft, not philosophical disputation.

Pakistan, the area where Chanyaka taught and more or less was born – he is not studied and despite the promotion of Chanyaka neither is he studied in depth by Indians.  Pakistanis and Indians need to remember the beautiful quote by Chanakya  – “A man is great by deedsnot by birth.” Both nations and peoples need to feel comfortable with their common identity as South Asians and look within their rich heritage, deep history and need to embrace their identities with more confidence.

 

There are the 4 basic principles Chanakya had for Emperor Chandragupta:
1. Saam
2. Daam
3. Dand
4. Bhed

 

1. Saam (Diplomacy): 

The fragrance of flowers spreads only in the direction of the wind. But the goodness of a person spreads in all directions.” – Chanakya

Acknowledge your own interests and understand that the other party has their own interests also: Ask the opponent what is required and if there is rejection, explain your point, profit-involved for the opponent and allude to consequences if your opponent does not come to your line of thinking. Humility is best in dealing on this level acknowledge that you have your interests and the other party has their interests.

This is about calm diplomacy where you aim to convince your foe on the level, one to one, kindly, gently. Emperor Chandragupta built matrimonial alliances (as did Emperor Akbar of the Mughal Empire who has advisors who studied Chanakya) to expanded his empire.

Sun Tzu in his The Art of War addressing this as “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.

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2. Daam (Bribing):

There is some self-interest behind every friendship. There is no friendship without self-interests. This is a bitter truth.” – Chanakya

Many people believe in the concept of selflessness. They believe that friendship, good deeds and love are valuable – more or only – if the other person has no personal interest. And they are disappointed and bitter when they find out that the other person is gaining something from the relationship.

Many people believe in selflessness and yet do things because they have expectations to get something like acknowledgment at least back. Chanakya was suspicious of such people who did things out of selflessness. Imagine those who see themselves as “nice” and then get angry and bitter because they are not appreciated.

Very few people exist who are truely ‘selfless’ – one such person I can think of is Abdul Sattar Edhi who ran a sprawling health charity from a slum but such noble people do exist but are far and few.
Chanakya was a realist he acknowledged that as humans we need each other. Our friendships are used to share ideas, have company, grow up, to feel safe – these are needs, and they are based on the ego and the self – its not about other people. When you look within nature how animals behave they almost always look out for themselves. There is no shame in acknowledging that to ourselves.

Selflessness is a noble characteristic but relationships consist of giving and getting. Cease being bitter if others have used you for their own reasons – this is simple human nature.
With this in mind Chanyaka took bribing to another level – he believed in winning your opponents over with gifts – appeal to their self-interests. So if an opponent doesn’t understand, then Daam them. Know that ‘Daam’ is not just about money it is exploiting different kinds of needs and greed in your opponent.

Look at things from their point of view and see how best you can assist them to come to your line of thinking. Bribery is unethical – but people are not noble, selfless creatures, your duty is to your own side, you cannot take a bribe yourself as you are not acting for yourself but have other people dependent on you.

Wang Shi the Chinese businessman said it best “It’s easy not to bribe. But it’s not so easy to keep a business running at the same time.” – so be realistic and remember be mindful of your nation and your opponent nations laws don’t break them – if bribery is illegal use more creative diplomacy.

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3. Dand (Stick):

Even if a snake is not poisonous, it should pretend to be venomous.” – Chanakya

This is the ‘Carrot and Stick’ approach used by the philosopher Jeremy Bentham, during the industrial revolution he told the story of a donkey, that the best way to move him is to put a carrot in front of him and jab him with a stick from behind. The carrot is a reward for moving while the stick is the punishment for not moving and hence making him move forcefully.

Punjabis call this giving the ‘Danda’ not focused just as punishment but rather the use of force. Chandragupta became an excellent military commander with advice from Chanakya, he laid the foundation of the Mauryan Empire which covered most of modern day India, Pakistan and Afghanistan and held it together and expanded it.

Jeremy Bentham said “The question is not, ‘Can they reason?’ nor, ‘Can they talk?’ but rather, ‘Can they suffer?‘” – think not how you can make the other party suffer but instead find ways on how you can help them alleviate their suffering in the present or future sense.

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4. Bhed (Intelligence):

Before you start some work, always ask yourself three questions – Why am I doing it, What the results might be and Will I be successful. Only when you think deeply and find satisfactory answers to these questions, go ahead.” – Chanakya

Get your work done through your own network of friends and allies – find ways of developing the mindset of your opponents to share information with you in real-time. Be very focused in your victory.

This rule here is to use Mystery and Secrets. Chanakya has techniques of manipulating public opinion, spying, hypocrisy, deceit, creating disinformation – this earned him the title of Kautilya, which means ‘Crooked’ – he understood in dealing with people around him who were frauds, liars, seducers and deceivers – one had to play them at their game but in a better way. Intelligence was something Chanakya emphasised as a required tool to overcome opponents. In Arthashastra it is mentioned that there are 5 different types of spies and the Mauryan Empire had an extremely efficient system of spies.

Niccolo Machiavelli said that “The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.” – leaders whatever their level need to be more focused on getting the job done rather than spend time looking like leaders, they need to have people around them who can see the larger picture, are intelligent in their fields and unconcerned with gain for themselves. The overall focus should be helping the ‘ruler’ and if he or she is surrounded with idiots – then find a way of helping the ruler directly, and if that is not forthcoming – just do your own thing.

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Hope you enjoyed reading this and opened the door to the Teachings of Chanakya. Please feel free to share or quote from this article.

You can also contact me in the following ways:

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Mohammed Abbasi

The Art of War in playing Football

Admit it sports are not different from war:

Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I’m very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.’ – Liverpool’s Bill Shankly

How you use strength and strategy, will lead to you and your team to victory or defeat. There is no middle way – you are not playing to lose or have a draw – both of those are defeats.

In applying techniques from The Art of War, written by the great Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu, to your team you will have a better chance at winning. Keep your mind open, read, think, strategise, practise and just get a move on! Just Do It!

Mistakes are learning experiences – do not be afraid of making mistakes before the big game, make as many as you can in as many creative ways as you can – as long as you learn from your mistakes and understand the strategies (if any) used by you when you failed – that is a learning experience, not a burden, cease regretting your mistakes, be thankful for them, be strengthened by them. And remember when in battle – on the field DON’T MESS ABOUT! DO NOT MAKE MISTAKES!

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The Art of War can be applied to any competitive sports:

Sport like war enables the release of deeper human values which often lie just underneath the average human – these values make great warriors and also great sportsmen and sportswomen.

Our ‘warriors’ must be willing to display courage and daring as they battle to overcome the enemy. The warrior shows loyalty to his comrades within his team and obedience to his leader. Competitive sports are an artificial “life and death” situation and calls upon the warrior sportsman to bring to surface those higher noble values.

I will use football as the key to explain strategies of Sun Tzu and briefly explain each of the chapters and how they can be used to carry out a successful – war on the field.

So lets do this.

 

Chapter I: Laying Plans, Calculations, Detail Assessment and Planning

This is about pre-battle preparation which is the first key element of strategy.  This is essential.

Football is a game of mistakes. Whoever makes the fewest mistakes wins. – Johan Cruyff

Sun Tzu said: The art of war is of vital importance to the State.
There are three constant and consistent factors that determines who wins.

These are:
1. The Moral Law (the Coach/Manager),
2. The Commander (the Captain),
3. Method and Discipline (the Team, their disposition and organisation).
When you apply the first factor (Coach/Manager) and expect obedience to that “Moral Law” this becomes the unifying focus (overall goal) that unites your team – just like a nation and an army the overall mission becomes known.

Your mission is to ‘win’ – nothing more nothing less.
The Commander (Captain): who is practicing the five virtues of: wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage and strictness must be followed to the letter by the rest of the team in turn the team will be more united, stronger and effective.

The focus of the Captain is to work with the Coach to build an effective, courageous and strong team which leads to…
Method and Discipline (Team): Look at what areas you can improve on and capitalise on each team member’s roles, responsibilities, strengths and yes even weaknesses – plus your backups, those substitutes who may not be playing they must be kept in the loop of everything – as they may end up being your greatest back up resource when least expected.

Also watch out for the complainers and deal with their concerns quickly or get them out of the team.

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Chapter II: Waging War/ The Challenge

 

There’s only two types of manager. Those who’ve been sacked and those who will be sacked in then future.’ – Howard Wilkinson
Sun Tzu said: “In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.
The goal is to defeat your opponent fast, so your team doesn’t become fatigued and you don’t lose your momentum and strength. You are not a manager of a football team now – but their leader, their guide who will carry them to victory.

You need to place all your best efforts to defeat your opponents – the opposing team, fast – so that they lose their confidence and desire to respond and strength to win. You are not looking for personal glory as their leader and each team member should also have the same attitude – the focus is on winning not the individual ego.

You are not playing a game anymore, you are engaged in a war and the goal is beating our opponent decisively.  It is not a simple football game, your focus and the entire focus of the team is on winning and if this remains the teams mindset on the field – its more likely to lead to an easier victory.

Focus on complete victory, quickly, do not mess with seeking personal accolades – complete the mission. Do it! That is your focus. Do not stop to think – carry it through.

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Chapter III: Attack by Stratagem/The Plan of Attack

 

You only stop learning when you quit. – Ruud Gullit

Sun Tzu said: If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
Learn from your opposing teams mistakes as well as their successes.

Be stronger in what you practice not just what you preach, have time to think different ways in what ways the battle on the field will go – your team need to know that a good football player must have continuous practice and learn more techniques and skills to achieve a decisive victory – talk about winning without fighting. What this means is that your team has practiced, skilled and prepared so much that when they go onto the field they will win without having to really fight and they will break the other teams will to win. Imagine knowing your opponents every move – this is where the best team will be, your team. This can be achieved when total presence of mind of your players is in the present moment with the sum total knowledge of the opponents strategy and tactics.

With preparation you will be able to do this with your team and continuously look at indirect approaches that will be more effective and less energy-draining in any future games your team engages in.

Look to tire the opposing team out or look or to change tactics midway in your campaign against them on the field as to disorientate the other teams layers. Look on their social media look at what irritates their players. Use strategy and intelligence not just physical assault on the field.

Think before you kick.

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Chapter IV: Tactical Dispositions/Positioning

I am constantly being asked about individuals. The only way to win is as a team. Football is not about one or two or three star players. – Pele
Sun Tzu said “Know your enemy and know yourself“.

Everyone have habits, vulnerabilities and areas of limitations – your opponents are human and will have these. Be mindful that the opposing team and players will likely know of your teams vulnerabilities and they will attack where least expected.

Look to use your weaknesses positively and their weaknesses against them. Use different tactics at different points on the field as to confuse the other team – this will cause problems to the opposing teams strategy and positioning.

Sun Tzu said: “He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby succeed in winning, may be called a heaven-born captain“.

Learn from your mistakes and use the opposing teams mistakes against them.

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Chapter V: Directing/ Energy

 

I give a lot of instruction in training. It’s difficult for me to do the same in matches, so I need guys on the pitch to read the game, to understand what we want. – Jose Mourinho

Sun Tzu said: There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard. 

 

Combinations start with few things and become combined into patterns of behaviour that may succeed or fail for you. There are only a few patterns in the human genome which are repeated in endless ways that have created human diversity. In the same way in war, sport or business, understand how a few simple things can combine into many possibilities. Look at areas where your team can combine certain patterns in how they can become better players and get them to understand the patterns of the players in the opposing team.

When directing your army on the field – focus their energies.

One of the most powerful sporting technique is visualisation – this can automatically move you and your team to a win through mental focus and surpass those imagined limitations that  may have had. in your head. The players should know when to run, sprint, walk, go slow and where to concentrate their attack and hoe once they move in for the assault on the other team – this is the key to consider when moving in for goals. Combined the energies from all the team. Your players need to commit their strengths throughout the game.

Get your timing right, once you start, keep up the momentum and flow – no excuses.
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Chapter VI: Weak Points & Strong/Illusion and Reality

 

What you learn is that you can’t please everyone all the time. – Gary Lineker

Sun Tzu said: “Strike the weak and avoid the strong“.

When arriving on the battlefield – the stadium, you should have time to settle and survey the ground and go through your positions and routes with your captain and players.

Knowing your enemy well, remembering their weak points, and where you can attack them is something that should have now be drilled in the heads of the warrior players. Being first to attack will put your team in the stronger position and as your team leads the way – this will cause cause desperation on part of the other team who may show strategies and try to gain the advantage – keeping the opposing team on the back foot from this position would be much harder for them recover from and combine this with change of strategies of attack from your team.

Make the other team uncomfortable, let them show you their on-field strategies.
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Chapter VII: Maneuvering/Engaging The Force

 

I don’t have to show anything to anyone. There is nothing to prove. – Cristiano Ronaldo

Sun Tzu said: Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.

Your captain must have the command and the respect of your players. The language of your team – from Coach/Manager to Captain/Team must be one and the same for when the battle starts on the field the communication and mutual support will play the major part in scoring the goals. The team must think as one.

You are playing for the team, the team is not playing for you.

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Chapter VIII: Variation in Tactics/The Nine Variations

 

It doesn’t matter who scores the goals, just that we win the games. – Neymar

Sun Tzu said: The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.

Your players need to focused, motivated and ready. War has little time for planning, training and other preparation but this is a different kind of war and your team has trained and prepared to a fault – and now the team will need and move quickly.  If your team vary its tactics on field, you will win. Use direct and the indirect methods of playing and throw the confidence of your opponents. Your players need to disguise their intentions as best as possible and be ready to change tactics on field.

Once on field, let the players do their job – don’t interfere.

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Chapter IX: The Army on the March/Moving the Force

 

When you look at people who are successful, you will find that they aren’t the people who are motivated, but have consistency in their motivation. – Arsene Wenger
Sun Tzu said: When an invading force crosses a river in its onward march, do not advance to meet it in mid-stream. It will be best to let half the army get across, and then deliver your attack.
As the battle on the field begins – remember its for victory at all costs.

Your opposing team has a strategy and your mission is to destroy that strategy, and ‘impose your will on the enemy and to not allow the enemy’s will to be imposed on you’ – to paraphrase Sun Tzu.  Look at how the opposing team comes to meet you in battle, how many are coming towards you and where is their concentration of power? Where are their weak points. Let them come.

Keep cool and focused.


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Chapters X: Terrain/Situational Positioning

 

In this job, you accept criticism and give answers on the field. – Gianluigi Buffon

Sun Tzu said: If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt; if you know Heaven and know Earth, you may make your victory complete.

 

The opposing players will try to lure your team members out from strong positions, especially if they hold a strong position. Instead lure their strongest players out into open ground, then you can gain advantage.

Remember the leadership of the captain must be followed – failure of this system will leads to problems down the team. Look at how the British army uses what is called ‘the commander’s intent’ – this means, even if troops get separated, the soldiers and officers still use their initiative towards the target that single goal.

Teamwork is a must but the goal remains the absolute.

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Chapters XI: The Nine Situations/ Nine Terrains

 

The toughest opponents for me are the defenders who are tough in the way they play – where you can’t see a way through. – Ronaldinho

 

Sun Tzu said: Success in warfare is gained by carefully accommodating ourselves to the enemy’s purpose. 

 

On the field your team needs to move easily and quickly to deflect and redirect the opponents to places where you can take advantage of them and beat them. Look at their positions and tactics and what are the temperament of your opponents. Attack their strategies and positions to dislodge them and use their weaknesses against them and with change of strategy/tactics for short periods assault their strengths – this will confuse them.

War is a game of positioning. Where your team players are at any time is critical to the success or failure of your troops – your team. As you travel to these positions, your team remains vulnerable this is why speed will reduce the chance of a successful attack by the opposing players instead drive your opponents to use their weaknesses as defence and strike hard whenever the chance presents itself.

Your battle is on the field – understand the field.

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Chapter XII: The Attack by Fire/Fiery Attack

 

In football, the worst blindness is only seeing the ball. – Nelson Falcão Rodrigues

 

Sun Tzu said: Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless the position is critical.
Attack your opposing players ruthlessly – yet remain within the confines of the Laws of Football. Your attack must be quick and you must have total attention on winning. Remember that the resources for winning are all around you and with some creative thought your players will gain the competitive advantage. Your attitude and that of all the players should remain consistent but tactics and strategy on-field need to change consistently. Remember that the army who wins is the one that shares the same spirit throughout all its ranks, keeping true and remaining consistent on the attack with a focus to score the goals, tire the opposition and win.
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Chapter XIII: The Use of Spies/The Use of Intelligence

 

Before I make a mistake, I don’t make that mistake. – Johan Cruyff

 

Sun Tzu said: Hence it is only the enlightened ruler and the wise general who will use the highest intelligence of the army for purposes of spying and thereby they achieve great results.

 

The biggest cost in war is your ignorance of not knowing where the enemy is, their morale, their likely action and so forth. The worst action of a commander is action for selfish reasons, without consideration of the men under his command.

In football we need to know what the opposing team is thinking, eating, how are they training, what are they expecting and what is their temperament and last but least what their leadership is like.

How do your opponents play, what are their weaknesses and strengths, talk to people close to them, search their youtubes, social media etc and get videos of their performances. What are their statistics and who is saying what about them.

Don’t believe your opponent – know your opponent.

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Conclusion

On closing we must always keep in mind that mistakes are our learning experiences and how we use our failures – we can either grow from them or keep regretting them and end up being stuck in a rut.

On Tuesday 3rd of July 2018 during a world cup match with led to a penalty shootout to enable them to progress to the quarter-finals of the World Cup, Englands manager Gareth Southgate comforted a Colombian player who had missed his penalty.

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Southgate remembers – as did a lot of those who hated him when England at the Euro 1996 tournament, it was an England vs Germany Semi-Final that went to penalties. Southgate’s penalty was saved and this gave Germany the chance to go through to the final if they scored their next penalty, which Germany did. The England manager at the time, Terry Venables, hugged Southgate.

22 years later Southgate is Englands Manager and England won in the penalty shoot-out with Colombia – Southgate showed compassion to Colombia’s Mateus Uribe, who missed his kick.

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A good leader should show compassion and the coach/manager who can remain in the background not coveting fame and just doing his job to best of his ability and keep his attention on coaching and leading his men are rare individuals indeed.

History remains silent in regards to such leaders, such coaches who quietly and gently move their team to a position to win. Southgate showed his leadership not just to his immediate team, to England but to the world at large in reaching out.

This is real football generalship.

With such leadership and focus of purpose of not wanting to do things for fame or not concerned about entertaining audiences – a football team can go far.

Naturally I want England to win and here I think they have an excellent chance with a good leader – but whatever team wins remember to compare the winning team with ‘The Art of War’ strategies.

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Mohammed Abbasi

Sun Tzu & Muslim Rage Control!

Unchecked anger (called rage) is detrimental for us as individuals as well as for those around us.

The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) asked of his Ummah to check and control their anger. Anger, however unconscious, does makes us vulnerable. Deep within ourselves anger builds a foundation for how we connect with our lives outside of us and makes us communicate with others on a more inauthentic level.

When we are hurting we should acknowledge that pain to ourselves at least – maybe write down why we are hurting? Maybe find a loved one to talk to or a friend. It is easier for many to express their anger and frustration rather than to admit they are in pain. We should be there for others but also remember not to be drawn into others problems – its their life not ours, show compassion yes but this is their fight not yours.

Expressing vulnerability is painful and many feel powerful expressing their anger and denying their weakness.  This anger inhibits their authenticity in how they communicate with others whether family, friends, enemies or at work. Understanding ones own anger helps to recognise ones own feelings and needs.

Sun Tzu says that  – The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” – here anger is that enemy within oneself and war is to acknowledge it, understand it and subdue it.

I hope the following few lines suggestions can help you to help a loved one or someone you know who maybe angry:

1. Seek Refuge Dua/Prayer – Allahu Akbar

Allahu Akbar – means Allah is greater than everything else not just in your life but the entire existence. Translated as God is Great.

Many look for help from others when they are in pain and are suffering or they are being targeted by someone. Sun Tzu said that – “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” Our war remains within ourselves and to have victory outside of us – we must first deal with the enemy within and remain mindful that God remains the greatest whether we fight or lose, whether its the enemy within or the enemy outside of us.

The following Dua I find helpful, this is a Dua I have been using after Jummah (Friday afternoon) prayers and use a few times a week to centre me and my thoughts/feelings and helps me focus on the greatest enemy – myself:

 

O Most Merciful!: Grant me – for I am your slave made of dust – protection from what I know and what I do not know within the darkness that seeks to challenge me for I will return to that dust only on your command as will all your Creations made of dust. O Allah Grant Me Courage! You Are The Most Merciful & Most Powerful.

O Most Gracious!: Guide me – for I am your slave made of dust – with your light and fire as you have guided Your Prophets and Servants on their paths. For I acknowledge that all Creation will return to you at its chosen time – both Humankind and Jinn. O Allah Guide Me With Your Wisdom! You Are The Most Gracious & Most Wise. 

O Most Holy!: Give me – for I am your slave made of dust – your permission to awaken that which lies dormant within me and only you know of so I may glorify you. I acknowledge that You Alone are the originator and Creator of all creatures of Dust, Fire, Light and that which lies beyond our understanding.

O Allah!: Creator & Lord of – Gibreel, Mikael, Israfeel, Hafaza, Kiraman Katibin, Mu’aqqibat, Jundullah, Hamalat al-‘Arsh, Artiya’il, Munkar and Nakir, Nāzi’āt and Nāshiṭāt, Darda’il, Maalik, Ridwan, Harut and Marut, Hamalat al-Arsh, O Most High Creator of The Heavens and Earth, O Knower & Creator of that is unseen and the seen, I acknowledge that You are the Majestic Judge of all matters in which Your slaves and creatures of Dust, Fire & Light differ; Guide me on this path, Grant me the the wisdom, Give me the power. by Your permission, for it is You who guides whomever You will to the straight path.

Ameen 

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2. Be Calm, Be Silent, Be The Observer – Subhanallah

Subhanallah – The Meaning is that Allah is perfect in an absolute sense without any defects or imperfections of any kind. Translated as Glory be to God.

Sun Tzu said “Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.” This isn’t about being superior to the other party – but rather humbling oneself to the level of what the other party is experiencing, looking through his/her point of view and through his/her words/actions will show how best to deal with the issue or issues the party is going through.

So keep your emotions in check and acknowledge that others have emotions also. When angry people lose control they are likely to say things they will regret. The best course of action is to stay calm and be silent and as others speak their anger, observe them – look at how they are suffering and understand but do not attach yourself to their suffering. Think about who you are, where you are and what you are and what you are about to do or say in response if anything. Centre yourself.  The words to remember here are what The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “If any of you becomes angry, let him keep silent”.

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3. Express Gratitude – Alhamdullilah

Alhamdulillah – The Meaning is all praise and thanks belong to Allah alone because He is the originator of everything. To praise or thank something is indirectly praising and thanking Allah because He is its true Creator. Translated as Praise be to God.

Sun Tzu said “Great results, can be achieved with small forces.” this means when someone uses a lever, they exert a force around a central point to move big object. So small things happen around us – small pushes and pulls that give way to anger within us where someone who sought to get a reaction out of us did so. Here we need to be mindful of others behaviours however small they look to get a reaction out of us. We can use the same techniques on them to gently guide them to change their behaviour not just towards us but also themselves.

Allah promises that the grateful will be given more:

And remember when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you in favor; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.  Quran Ch 14, Verse 7

As we begin to understand the causes of anger and struggle within ourselves and others we need to acknowledge the good things in our lives and how we can learn from what caused us or others this anger. Being grateful and angry at the same time is difficult. Some have a gratitude journal — jotting down what they are thankful for which can be helpful when they are feeling down.

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4.Remember the effects of anger – La ilaha illaAllah

La ilaha illaAllah – The Meaning here is that There is no god worthy of worship except Allah alone without any partners in any way or form. Translated as There is no god except God.

Anger is a poison.

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah said: “The strong man is not the one who wrestles others; rather, the strong man is the one who controls himself at times of anger.” [Sahih Muslim]

When we see people suppress their anger when dealing with those they consider their superiors and then express that anger on those they consider weaker than them this shows an overall weak person. Such a weak person carry’s his/her frustrations out on their family, or a partner or children, or an elder – or frustrations against other groups, racial, religious or nationalities. In expressing this anger on another being (or beings) is a crime against ones own soul as well as the victim(s) of this anger – Of course it is okay to feel anger in situations but one should control the expression of this anger.

Imam Ali (RA) said: “A moment of patience in a moment of anger prevents a thousand moments of regret.”

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5. Allah is mightier than you – Astaghfirullah

Astaghfirullah – Muslims say this when they are aware of committing a sin or when they remember a sin they’ve committed before the meaning is May God forgive me.

Sun Tzu said – “The opportunity to secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.

Our own anger is the problem and we must remain mindful that nothing is greater or mightier than Allah and that when another being attacks or insults us – its usually to see what kind of reaction they are going to get. This is a ‘power game’ for the other party so they can ‘feel’ powerful by angering you. Simple as that.

The Prophet (PBUH) said: “The strong person is not the one that can knock people down. The truly strong person is the one that maintains his self-control when he is angry.

Our greatest enemy is our willingness to be easily angered, and this anger unchecked leads to being manipulated one way or another – by those who want us to buy something from them, or use us to be their followers, servants, slaves…

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Anger is an emotion that will destroy relationships, careers and so forth – We must remain conscious of what leads to anger within us and also others and ask forgiveness from God as unchecked anger leads to sin.

Look forward to writing more soon, hope you enjoyed this article and found it of use – please share, tweet etc and you can contact/keep in touch in the following ways 🙂

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Mohammed Abbasi

17 Tactics of Winning a War

Our lives are a minefield of personal politics and these minefields extend to and exist in business, sports, tribes and nations. Can we navigate such minefields in our lives and those we come into contact with?

This war outside of us can only be won once we deal with the enemy within, if you are a manager of a small firm or a leader of all you see before you – You will find these useful.

 

1. Declare war on your Self.

On the path to success we need to realise that as individuals we are born alone and die alone. Our intentions/self-programming is made by family, friends, enemies, culture, tribe, religion, nation and whatever is around us – all of these do not represent the Real us. Understand that the only person who is your worst enemy – and your best friend – is simply Your Own Self. Be ruthless on your self.

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2. Do not fight over the past.

Learn from your mistakes, but do not let them weigh you down – be ready to make more mistakes – simply so you can learn from them and strengthen your Self. Yes be happy of your victories if you wish, but do not let them make you egotistical and complacent – they will weigh you down, remove these burdens.

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3. Do not lose your presence of mind but be quicker.

Refuse to act from your emotions and look at things objectively so that when the time comes to react or respond – it is with calmness and focus. At the same time create a sense of urgency and desperation within yourself and keep moving towards increasing power within yourself and empowering your life and those you come into contact with.

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4. Be respectful of your time and – divide and rule your day.

Use your time wisely, plan two to five things that MUST be done the following day and write them down. Then ruthlessly make sure you do them. Your motivation comes from within you and doing this every day with help keep you focused and moving forward.

 

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5. Pick your enemy carefully.

The worst enemy is within but there are always those outside of you who wish to be your enemy – they wish to be your teachers so honour them by treating them as simply those you can both learn from and in turn seek also to teach them lessons from your own personal and practical art of war. Let your students (opponents) make the first move learn from their good moves and poor decisions out of their impatience and then move in to teach them, remember to focus on making friends afterwards.

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6. Refuse to fight out of anger.

Avoid battle if possible, but be impressive in the battles you do fight. Your refusal will anger the enemy and cause them to make mistakes – and if and when you do fight it will be to win and not to play a game.

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7. Some battles you should lose instead focus on winning the war.

At times its easier to let your enemies win, so you can conserve your energy, bide your time and build your strengths. You must keep your focus on longer-term goals and let your enemies enjoy their small victories.

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8. Know your enemy.

Study your enemies leadership/leader and power centres. Refuse to let your beliefs judge your enemy one way or another – observe how the enemy thinks, moves and behaves even over what you may consider trivial issues. And then when the time is right – pounce.

 

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9. Look beyond your emotions and instead look at the enemies.

The enemies emotions and temperament usually give away clues on what areas you can focus on. But what signals are you giving away to the enemy, how are you behaving and feeling? – centre your own self and look at this war with calmness and focus.

 

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10. Hit them where it hurts.

All life has a source of power and preservation, an ego, sometimes that ego is money, being popular or something where they feel they are great. Their strongest areas are their greatest weaknesses as those areas become their identities and like balloons they inflate – but should you be willing to deflate them?

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11. Defeat the enemy in pieces, encircle them and enclose them.

At times the enemy maybe too big to take down in one piece – so focus on dividing them, and dealing with them bit by bit and then encircle them, enclose them and consider your next move with wisdom – not with emotion.

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12. The strongest are the weakest and the weakest are the strongest.

Your enemy at all times remains your ego and those who are your enemies outside of you – their enemies are also their own egos which have consumed them, there comes a time when the greatest will fall and the weakest will rise. In fighting the enemy you are now in a position to win – how you win will show whether you are a worthy warrior and leader. Negotiate the enemies surrender with honour and show nobility – or – do you destroy them completely – its really your choice.

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13. Know how to end your war.

In war reputation of both sides is at stake. Do not put yourself in a situation that when and if you victorious, you will belittle your opponent to the point that you create an enemy that will strike back in the future.

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14. Show Humility.

In winning your war there will still be opponents using guerrilla tactics against you – play to their expectations, cause them to lower their guard as they will fool and show themselves up soon enough if they took you to be unassuming and ordinary as a victor.

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15. Occupy the moral high ground and deny them targets.

Weaken your opponents support by reaching out to their base. Help raise up those who fought against you and now surrendered. Be innovative, unpredictable and humble in word and deed, the remnants of the enemy will become frustrated.

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16. Give your rivals enough rope to hang themselves.

Let your enemies make mistakes, let them hang themselves. At times even those you consider as allies or friends will attack you from behind the scenes and create problems for you. Reach out to those who they are connecting with and create better relationships.

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17. Refuse to be The Great Leader.

Refuse to be the leader, instead help others lead. In influencing and guiding you are actually leading and letting others get the credit for something you may have initiated – but you are not concerned with that – they may have better ideas or become better leaders because of you and their egos may become inflated and you are there to make sure no one pops their balloon and or assist them to deflate their balloon gently.

 

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11 Wisdom Gems of Lao Tzu

11 Wisdom Gems from Lao Tzu:
1. “If you realise that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.”
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2. “He who defines himself can’t know who he really is.”
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3. “Treat those who are good with goodness, and also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained. Be honest to those who are honest, and be also honest to those who are not honest. Thus honesty is attained.”
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4. “At the centre of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”
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5. “Give evil nothing to oppose and it will disappear by itself.”
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6. “Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain un-moving till the right action arises by itself?”
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7. “New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.”
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8. “Express yourself completely, then keep quiet. Be like the forces of nature: when it blows, there is only wind; when it rains, there is only rain; when the clouds pass, the sun shines through.”
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9. “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”
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10. “Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner.”
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11. “Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.”
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Lao Tzu and The Force

 

In Star Wars Obi Ben – Kenobi said to Luke Skywalker “May the Force be with you.”  The idea of ‘The Force’ stayed with me and the understanding that this ‘Force’ is everywhere which gave the Jedi (and Sith) their power. This is a fictional story but the idea of this philosphy came mainly from Lao Tzu and his teachings of ‘The Tao’ and to an extent the Sufi understanding of Jihad which George Lucas (that guy behind Star Wars) and his colleagues read up on.

When we look at this (our) Universe there are certain natural laws (how plants grow / animals work with each other) / laws of creation ( evolution of plant and animals as well as stars) / scientific laws (laws of physics and how our 3D reality is linked to the 4D/ 5D reality) that we do not fully understand but they are there waiting to be uncovered and as a living and thinking species in this three-dimensional reality our understanding of these laws/ideas is a must if we are to progress not just technologically but also spiritually.

Star Wars and what I understood of The Force made me open up to study Taoism, Sufism and other similar philosophies and helped me understand my beliefs about myself and others better – for example that we all have a capacity for goodness as well destructive capacities within us (basically both good and evil) – I am still learning and at times its difficult to understand for me how some people remain so self-absorbed in themselves that they remain aloof from their real selves – but its not my place to tell them to know themselves better thats their choice, all I and others can do is simply to keep learning and living lives that are beneficial to others and hope in turn others will also live beneficial lives in regards to others.

The ‘Self’ is something that is much bigger and greater than the labels we have taken on – from the moment we are born, as a baby separated from our mother we cry and feel a certain deeper pain of that separation not just from our mothers body but before we are born and we come from another more higher reality… At birth/ separation we are given a name, family, tribe, society, religion, race, culture – so many things to help us define ourselves in this reality to which we are born in, so many labels… and then we take on more labels of our work, education, politics etc…

Yet how many of still feel empty?

 Life is about discovering our ‘Noble Self’ and that yes we can be good/kind/caring/benevolent but at the same time within there lies a darker more base side that each of us should acknowledge and understand rather than reject or deny and lie to ourselves that its not there – and from this grow ourselves as more balanced individuals regardless of our tribal, religious, racial labels.

 As human beings we come from something much more greater and purer and regardless of our wealth / power / knowledge / wisdom etc – all of us will die.

And all of us should leave something that will help others, maybe even plant a simple seed, which may become a tree?

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Lao – Tzu (also known as Laozi and Lao-Tze) was a Chinese philosopher credited with founding the cosmo-philosophical system of Taoism. He is known as the author of the Tao-Te-Ching, the work which exemplifies his thought processes.
The name by which he is known is not his personal name but a respectful title which means`Old Man’ or `Old Teacher (like Shaykh in Arabic)’ and many speculate whether an individual by that name ever existed or whether Lao-Tzu teachings are that of many different philosophers.
Hope you enjoyed reading this.
And May The Force Be With You – Inshallah 🙂
@MohammedAbbasi
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