The Art of War for Women

Back about 2,500 years ago, a Chinese man named Mr. Sun went through many hardships and lived in a world full of civil war. Seeking to gain employment with the current leader, he wrote a "military resume". This work outlined his tactics in an obscure manner so that the leader would be intrigued enough to talk to him - and would need to keep Sun around to interpret and put into action the words. That opus was of course The Art of War, and "Mister" in ancient Chinese was written as Tzu.

2,500 years later, it seems that this deliberately complex and vague work has become the guidebook for men and women in all aspects of life. Its advice on how to approach a problem, how to deal with adversity and how to handle the whims of fate are as valid today as they were back then. People are still jealous, deceitful, and harsh. Businesses still undercut each other. Co-workers still back-stab to get ahead. The problems that Sun Tzu wrote about are problems we face today. The answers, in essence, are the same.

Chin-Ning Chu, an accomplished female Chinese business strategist, has taken on this work in a fresh light. Yes, the tactics are great for men facing battles in a male world - but in modern times, women have stepped up to gain their stage. A revolution not seen for thousands of years is taking place, where women are educated, can vote, have full and equal rights alongside men. As they say in the movies, with great power comes great responsibility. For perhaps the first time in history, it is no longer enough to blame the glass ceiling, the upbringing, the pressures of the world for our success or failure. We have - more than perhaps any generation which came before us - the ability to take the reins in our hands and give it our very best shot.

That's the straight-from-the-hip advice provided by the book. With numerous examples, we hear how women claimed they were helpless and unfairly turned down for promotions and advancement, when investigation found that these women actually sabotaged their own chances. Life isn't always fair, but in order to succeed in whatever arena you choose - family life, charity work, the boardroom - you have to do your very best to shine. Success won't be handed to you just because you think you deserve it. You need to be your own most vocal advocate - and to do that promotion in a way most in line with the atmosphere you are in.

The book is realistic. If you've got a nasty co-worker that is always undermining you, various techniques will be offered to help you overcome the situation. However, in the end, it may be best to find another job. You might claim that the job is perfect for you - but a job is a complex combination of many factors, which includes the people you work with. Another job will be *more* perfect because its combination is more in line with your path for yourself.

You also get a message echoed in many other current releases, which is to make sure the path you're on is one you really *want* to be on, deep down. People strive to be top in business because it's expected of them, not necessarily because it will make them personally happy. If you'd rather be home with the kids, running a small business from your home office, then find a way to make that work. It is critical that your daily life reflects your dreams and goals if you want to be truly happy, for your family and friends around you to share in that joy, and to find a real measure of success.

I found a few of the sections to be a bit extreme. One area talks about sexual harassment and says that women get offended by a pat on the shoulder. Perhaps some women do - but I don't! I find encouraging physical contact like that to be an important part of our society. It's very sad if we've gotten to the point that patting someone on the shoulder as a congratulation is grounds for legal action.

In general, though, I found a lot of helpful advice in here. At its very core, the entire book is a reminder that nothing is new under the sun. Issues that we find pressing in our current modern world were just as important 2,500 years ago. People are simply the way they are. By reading through the wisdom of the ages, we can help make our own world one which are are proud to live in, and our path one we are happy to follow.

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