Sometimes, giving your opponent the opportunity to walk away with his head held high, is all that’s needed to get him to relinquish control. It’s the ultimate mind-fuck. Make him feel trapped and desperate, and then become his rescuer.

I read an interesting analysis and opinion piece of why Grant beat Lee in the American Civil War. I’m sure you will find these points interesting as applicable to business strategy.

Ulysses Grant

· A remarkable common sense.
· An extraordinary ability to both recognize and execute a calculated risk.
· A profound ability to learn from both success and error, and, more importantly, to apply what he learned in an effective manner.
· A strong sense of professionalism that allowed him to overlook matters of personal ego.

Robert E. Lee

· He hated personal conflict and, as a result, could not bring himself to discipline his key commanders when it was necessary to do so.
· He also had less ability to analyses and learn from his mistakes, especially in the strategic sense.
· He apparently did not possess the strategic vision to see beyond his own threat and his army.

I guess the lessons to be drawn from this for any business person are these:
1. Be extremely well read and develop your common sense.
2. Learn to identify the opportunities in risky situations and learn to mitigate the risk through educated, well-informed decision making.
3. Embrace both successes and failures as learning experiences and learn to apply the lessons effectively.
4. Develop the ability to disregard your emotions (personal ego) in your decision making and to base your decisions on what you know to be right.
5. Embrace conflict and learn how to manipulate all players to get what you want out of the interaction.
6. Increase your vision to include even apparently unrelated situations and players. A conduit for success may develop from unexpected sources.

I firmly believe that every challenge we are confronted with has already been overcome, in some form, somewhere in history.

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