Invented, borrowed or just plain stupid quotes attributed to Sun Tzu’s Art of War. Some of this comes from bad translation, but most is either Hollywood or fortune cookies. If your Sun Tzu: Art of War has any of these “quotes” you have a clearly inferior rendition.
All of the following appeared on Internet “quote” sites; however I have been advising these sites these alleged admonitions are false and flaky. They are graciously removing them. Nevertheless, they were up there so long, they are likely replicated throughout an unknown number of additional sites. (Grammar and spelling errors not mine).
“A leader leads by example, not by force.”
“To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.”
“If quick, I survive. If not quick, I am lost. This is “death.”
“Rewards for good service should not be deferred a single day.”
“Great results, can be achieved with small forces.”
“Sun Tzu says: when a falcon breaks a back of its prey, it is because of timing..when flood waters toss boulders, it is because of momentum.”
“Attack is the secret of defense; defense is the planning of an attack.”
“Who does not know the evils of war cannot appreciate its benefits.”
“The King is only fond of words, and cannot translate them into deeds.”
“Be where your enemy is not.”
“The Art of War is self-explanatory.”
“Convince your enemy that he will gain very little by attacking you; this will diminish his enthusiasm.”
“If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by.”
“All is fair in love and war.”
“One mark of a great soldier is that he fight on his own terms or fights not at all.”
“If the mind is willing, the flesh could go on and on without many things.”
“Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.”
“You have to believe in yourself.”
“Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”
“Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?”
“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”
“Even the finest sword plunged into salt water will eventually rust.”
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
“Wikiquotes” has identified a number of the fraudulent Sun Tzuisms on its site: https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Sun_Tzu#Misattributed
Here’s a perfect example of someone with no knowledge whatsoever of Sun Tzu, Mr. Eric Jackson, who despite that is able to have his thoughts published in FORBES MAGAZINE 5/23/2014. My email to FORBES advising that his essay was seriously flawed has not received a reply.
His made up, or borrowed from other source quotes are: 1, 2, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 17, 19, 20, 21, 29 and 30. These are just the stuff of fortune cookies. (I have deleted the correct and close to correct aphorisms).
Sun Tzu’s 33 Best Pieces Of Leadership Advice
There was no greater war leader and strategist than Chinese military general Sun Tzu. His philosophy on how to be a great leader and ensure you win in work, management, and life is summed up in these 33 pieces of advice. They can all be applied by you in your job when you go back to work next week:
- A leader leads by example, not by force.
- You have to believe in yourself.
- If the mind is willing, the flesh could go on and on without many things.
- To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.
- Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.
- Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?
- Even the finest sword plunged into salt water will eventually rust.
- Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
- Opportunities multiply as they are seized.
- When the enemy is relaxed, make them toil. When full, starve them. When settled, make them move.
- Know yourself and you will win all battles.
- Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.
Here are a few other contemporary appearances – all erroneous.
The “quotes” of Wesley Snipes and others in the movie “Art of War” – bear no relation to the actual text. Not a bad movie though.
Says Peter J. Henning in the New York Times (22/12/2014): “The wheels of justice grind slow but grind fine.”
From “Sun Tzu Quotes” on Twitter: By applying the art of war, it is possible to defeat a greater force with lesser, and vice versa.
Neil deGrasse Tyson: “The Art of War,” by Sun Tzu, “to learn that the act of killing fellow humans can be raised to an art.”
Sebastian Kevany, “a research associate at the Institute for Global Health Delivery and Diplomacy, Univ. of California,” in a NY Times letter to the editor 20/04/2015: “As Sun Tzu (The Art of War) teaches us, unoccupied armies become restless, and may provoke the very conflicts they seek to resolve.”
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To read what the alleged “Sun Tzu” actually said in the so-called “Art of War” read The School of Sun Tzu: Winning Empires without War. Here you will discover that the 2300 year old “Bing-fa” – known for the last few centuries as “The Art of War” – delivers a methodology for managing organizations, and relations between organizations without conflict. But these messages are not limited to organizations. They can find application in people’s personal and professional life.
For the first time, individuals and organizations can tap into this “wisdom of the ages” and improve their condition, circumstances and future prospects. My book is available from iuniverse.com, a few dozen re-sellers and me.