I recently watched the movie Red Cliff II. It’s about a famous battle in the Three Kingdoms era in China. The battle was between Cao Cao who had about 800,000 soldiers and Liu Bei – Sun Quan alliance who had less than 100,000 soldiers.
Despite being greatly outnumbered, Liu Bei and Sun Quan eventually won the battle. One reason for their success was the role of an advisor named Zhuge Liang.
Again and again, Zhuge Liang devised tactics that cleverly turned the situation around. One of my favorites is when he was asked to provide 100,000 arrows for the alliance. He was given ten days to complete the task but he confidently asked for just three.
After two days, he didn’t make a single arrow. All he did was sitting beside the river, watching the weather, and waiting for some boats he asked.
When the boats arrived, he took them to attack the enemy. The river was foggy so the enemy couldn’t see clearly how many boats were attacking them. Zhuge Liang attacked first with some archers, but the enemy – being far stronger – fought back fiercely. They overwhelmed Zhuge Liang’s boats with arrows.
Guess what? All Zhuge Liang’s boats were covered with straw so he got all the arrows shot to him. When he eventually went home after “losing” the fight, he brought with him 100,000 arrows as requested – and he didn’t make even one of them.
Watching this movie makes me understand what a difference being smart can make. Those who are smart can achieve much more – with much less effort – than those just work hard.
Photo by Esparta