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3 Ideas in 2 Minutes on Life, Tactic and Strategy

Life, Tactic and Strategy is an exclusive issue of my free weekly newsletter featuring 3 Ideas in 2 Minutes on critical thinking, practical philosophy, decision-making, mental models & more.

Tactical Hell · False Victories · Strategic Heaven

I. Tactical Hell

Tactic and strategy are just different words for short-term and long-term. But according to author Robert Greene, ending up in Tactical Hell is something to avoid:

Most of us exist in a realm that I call tactical hell. This hell consists of all of the people around us who are vying for power or some kind of control, and whose actions intersect our lives in a thousand different directions. We are constantly having to react to what this person does or says, getting emotional in the process. Once you sink into this hell, it is very difficult to raise your mind above it. You are dealing with one battle after another, and none of them end with any resolution. It is very hard for you to see the hell for what it is; you are too close to it, too mired in it to think of any other way. Because there are so many people now vying for power in this world, and our attentions are so distracted in many different directions, this dynamic only gets worse and worse.

—Robert Greene, The Daily Laws

II. False Victories

One of the reasons we’re stuck in Tactical Hell is the sweet taste of False Victories. Jocko Willink, Jiu-Jitsu enthusiast and ex-Navy SEAL, explains:

If you’re competing against me, I will have you in tactical fights all day long. I will put tactical things out there to distract you and fight you. And I put some minimum amount of resources against your whole deal and make you think you’re achieving this big victory — and you’re not!

I will be watching you take damage, I’ll be watching you waste resources, I’ll be watching you expend leadership capital while I’m putting money in the bank. I’m putting money in the bank and I’m gonna win. I am going to win.

—Jocko Willink, Jocko Podcast #266

III. Strategic Heaven

This brings us to the reason why we should choose strategy over tactic in life. Here’s Robert Greene again, explaining why there’s only one way to get out of Tactical Hell; namely embracing Strategic Heaven:

Strategy is the only answer. This is not some dry academic point of contention, or me trying to sell more books. You can read plenty of other books on strategy. It is actually a matter of grave importance, the difference between a life of misery and one of balance and success. Strategy is a mental process in which your mind elevates itself above the battlefield. You have a sense of a larger purpose for your life, where you want to be down the road, what you were destined to accomplish. This makes it easier to decide what is truly important, what battles to avoid. You are able to control your emotions, to view the world with a degree of detachment.

Robert Greene

On a similar note, check out my essay about the difference between hard and soft power.


Have a great week,