Sun Tzu, the famous mind behind the Art of War, studied war throughout his life. As a general, victory wasn’t something he could afford to be glib about. It was literally a matter of life and death. Tzu observed that all victories had one thing in common: they were never won on the battlefield. They were won in royal courts, military tents, and training camps where strategizing and preparation took place. And the best victory was the one in which no blood needed to be shed.
Life has many parallels with war, even in peacetime. Life is a war between good and evil. Life is a war between love and hate. Life is a war between selfishness and nobility. Life is a war between success and failure. There are friends, enemies, and obstacles that stand in the way of opportunity. And wisdom must be brought to bear if outcomes are to be favorable.
An exam isn’t passed or failed when the teacher hands out the paper. An athletic competition isn’t won or lost when the referee blows the whistle. An interview isn’t aced or bombed when the hiring manager asks the first question. A business doesn’t prosper or go bankrupt when the doors are open. A marriage doesn’t succeed or fail when the vows have been said. Health isn’t had or lost when an individual turns 40. Anger isn’t controlled or given free reign when someone utters an insulting word. And temptation isn’t overcome or yield to when the impulse to do evil appears.
Life is one big mind game, and no cheating is allowed. A human being secures the victory in every situation by being prepared in advance. If I am prone to losing control of my emotions, I can educate myself on anger and learn techniques like deep breathing. If I have mental health problems, I can get more sun exposure; spend more time in nature; take cold showers; serve others; or begin a discipline like fasting, working out, or meditation. All of these activities involve the body, but their real purpose is to train the mind to be successful in every area of life.
If outcomes are predestined, they are predestined in the mind. Don’t roll the dice with your life. There is no better day than today for you and me to be intentional about creating the change we know we need.