I recently read Outlive by Peter Attia. It’s a book about longevity that I found insightful. It contains many lessons about different aspects of health.
However, what I’d like to share with you here isn’t the health lessons from the book. Instead, it’s a quote by Sun Tzu that I found there:
Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
Interesting quote, isn’t it? Strategy without tactics might lead you to victory, but it’s the slowest route to get there. You will waste a lot of resources along the way. On the other hand, tactics without strategy is even worse. You might do a lot of things, but there is no coherence in your effort. As a result, it’s simply noise before defeat.
So, you need both strategy and tactics. You need to know what you want to accomplish and how to do that efficiently.
It’s easier said than done, of course. But here are two simple tips:
- To plan your strategy, study your opponent.
- To plan your tactics, simplify and experiment.
Let’s dive into them one by one.
1. To Plan Your Strategy, Study Your Opponent
In Outlive, the author plans his strategy by first studying the opponents. Because the book is about longevity, the opponents are the four chronic diseases of aging: heart disease, cancer, neurodegenerative disease, and type 2 diabetes. The author examined them to learn how they work, and then formed a strategy based on that.
Similarly, you should study your opponent before you form your strategy. In a business, the opponent could be your competitors or the obstacles that prevent people from buying your products. In personal productivity, it could be the distractions that prevent you from doing what’s important.
By studying your opponent, you will know how to handle them. You can then form your strategy accordingly.
2. To Plan Your Tactics, Simplify and Experiment
Based on your strategy, you then need to plan your tactics. These are the practical actions you will do to carry out your strategy.
For this, two things you should do are simplify and experiment.
First, you need to find a simple way to get the result you want. Why should it be simple? Because you need to be able to stick with it for the long term. With diets, for example, you might not be able to stick with a complex diet for long. But if it’s simple, you are more likely to stick with it.
You still need to experiment, though. That’s because your situation is unique and what works for others might not work for you. So, experiment with the tactics to see whether it works for you. If it does, you can keep it. If not, then you need to replace it with something else.
Both strategy and tactics are essential to success. The simple tips above can help you find the right strategy and tactics for you. Study your opponent to plan your strategy, then simplify and experiment to plan your tactics.