Section 4.9: Don't get praised by the whole empire.
"It is not the height of excellence to fight and win, and have the whole Empire say, "Well done!" and praise you... what the ancient fighters called a thoughtful warrior is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease. Hence his victories bring him neither reputation for wisdom nor credit for courage."
-Sun Tzu, Art of War, Chapter IV: Tactical Dispositions
Version of the Art of War I listened to on audio:
Edit: A good comment from Setsuna - "I don’t he actually meant “make it look easy”, it’s more like “be so skilled that you complete it without breaking a sweat”.
I'd agree with that, thanks for the good comment Setsuna.
It's not about making it look easy or taking credit or accomplishing something at a high level, the true test of a strategist or leader isn't how well he does these things, but how well he is able to meld his skills, energy, emotion, and spirit with those around him, so that when he wins, it's not attributed to cunning, or overwhelming force, or unshakable morale. Instead it seems easy, natural, and inevitable. The best strategists are the ones who flow invisibly, with fearlessness and compassion for exactly what needs to happen, who needs to do it, and how to inspire them so that the strategist himself dissolves into that higher purpose, so he himself is not there. This is Sun Tzu's message.
No, I should thank you! I actually learned more from this.
Here's a link to the page that has this message:
It's under the chapter named "Tactical Disposition" and the the first 7 points are actually very relevant to the title. But after that it gets a bit fuzzy- From point 8, he talks about what makes a leader an "excellent leader". And this is not about whether others see you as "excellent" or not- It's about whether *you* see yourself as "excellent" - more like a measuring stick I suppose, After all "Art of War" is all about improving yourself and your skills rather than bragging about them.
(Sorry for missing an entire word in the first comment! It's actually "I don’t think he actually meant..")