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Fight Battles, Not Wars

This entry is part 16 of 17 in the series The Art of War of Learning

You don’t fight wars. You plan wars.

Heaven help us, I do sound awfully bellicose, don’t I? Again, this is war as metaphor; I’m a pacifist and a coward to boot. I’m literally afraid of the dark (still sleep with all the lights on) and I still have my blankie from when I was a toddler — it’s sitting not three feet away from me right now. This isn’t comical self-effacement; these are facts.

Back on topic.

One plans wars, but one does not fight them. Wars are up there with strategy; battles are down in tacticistan. This statement may seem like another example of why I won the Nobel Prize for Obvious Studies, but it’s not. Too many people are confused; they think that their tactics are their entire life purpose, which makes them both situationally stupid and emotionally brittle; they become focused on protecting some tactic rather than winning the war; their tactics become their religion and they hate themselves whenever they have a little tactical dust-up. This is sick and wrong.

New Year’s resolutions are a tactic and a decidedly crappy one at that. You need better tactics, tactics that can be executed more frequently than once every 365.24219878 days (google it); that’s almost the definition of a craptastic tactic; WTF are you doing using a tool you can’t even control? Aren’t there already enough things you don’t control? You need to add one? Come on, man.

Your war is about what you actually want, but it’s always an abstraction, and I mean that in a very neutral way; being theoretical is not an insult, it’s just a categorization; I don’t store dry beans in the fridge but that doesn’t mean I respect them any less than milk.

Your battles and skirmishes are where things happen; these are real and concrete and tangible. This is where to you want to get crazy and creative. Tactics aren’t about making or keeping, stupid, grandiose annual promises, they’re about making things happen with minimum effort from and damage to yourself. They’re not always by-the-book; there’s a great deal of innovation and improvisation; you use what’s at hand; you do what you can, not what you “should”. Musically speaking, it’s very, well, jazzy. Wars are Wagner, battles are Miles Davis.

So you’re learning Japanese. Great. You can stay fixed on that. Everything else? Go nuts. No promises, just lots of fun and games and maybe even some explosions 🙂 .

Series Navigation<< The Art of the War of Learning Languages: Sun Tzu on ImmersionHow to Worry Correctly >>

  1 comment for “Fight Battles, Not Wars

  1. Jorge
    September 17, 2019 at 12:04

    I still have my Buzz Lightyear from when I was 5. 🙂

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