Career Lessons from Art of War


Career Lessons from Art of War


Businesses world over are passing through the most challenging phase, beautifully summed up in one word – recession. While not every country or company is affected by it at a similar level – the fact that no company or country is immune to it cannot be dismissed. For some it’s recession for others it’s a slowing demand or declining growth rates. At the center of this is white-collar workforce, which is continuously living in fear of layoffs, restructuring, salary-cuts and demotions. Well I am not certainly trying to create a grim outlook then what actually is, ignoring alone is not the solution. So what should employees do in challenging times like these?

Here are some strategic insights from the book “Art of War” by Sun Tzu:

  • Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions

Simply put – change from ‘Yeh Dil Maange More’ mindset of Pepsi to Honda City’s campaign – ‘Enjoy Your Challenges’. Business cycles change and not all times are the best times. We indeed are living in tough times and it’s the organization time to ask for more from all of their people rather then people asking for more. It’s an employer’s driven market out there and not employee’s market. The days when employee was the king are passé for now – so if you still follow ‘yeh dil maange more’ – you do it at your own risk.

  • In order to carry out an attack, we must have means available

Simply put - diversify your skill sets (which are the means to attack ever changing demands of employers): As with investments, so with your skills – never put all the eggs in the same basket. Diversify your skill sets, which can be a great valueadd to you and thus you, can deliver more than expected. After all everyone wants good returns and if you can provide that in sluggish markets, there is no one stopping you.

  • If you know the enemy, and know yourself you need not fear the result of a hundred battles

Simply put - keep learning: for many, learning stops as soon as they graduate from college. Whether you take some online courses or join some distance learning courses is immaterial. What matters most is how relevant are you, your knowledge and your skills to the job at hand. Keep reading, researching and digesting about all the facets of your organizations business, the industry it is working and possible competitive threats it faces. By doing that you will not only be able to do your job better, you will discover innovative ways of adding value to your organization thus ensuring your longevity in organization.

  • If it is to your advantage, make a forward move; if not, stay where you are.

Simply put – do not switch jobs unless you think it is going to advantageous. In employers market – job switch might not fetch you the best deal no matter how lucrative the offer might appear to be. Many of us are not sure whether they should stay put in their current roles or should switch jobs for better prospects. What will be advantageous can be tricky since not all variables of job change can be quantified till you actually make a move. So tread with caution.

Indeed we are living in terrific times and businesses will take their own course before they can overcome recession. Until then, it would be apt to share a quote from Rabindranath Tagore: “I have become my own version of an optimist. If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door — or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present.” So hold on friends, this too shall pass!

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