Are you a business leader or have you served in the military? If you answered “yes,” then it is likely that you’ve studied the teachings of Sun Tzu. Anyone who is focused on leadership and taking on the world reads Sun Tzu.
If you haven’t read Sun Tzu, then consider this a quick “INTRO TO SUN TZU-THINKING.” This is your opportunity to apply a seriously violent life hack to thrive at work.
THE ART OF WAR
Sun Tzu wrote the original book on warfare in his brilliant masterpiece “The Art of War.” It endures today as the go-to book for understanding military and business leadership, even 2,500 years after his death.
When I was soaking up as many books as I could before and after attending the Marine Corps’ Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia, I found myself returning back to Sun Tzu’s quotes time and again in order to understand how they applied to counter-terrorism, modern warfare, business, and life in general.
Sun Tzu was my baptism into the Marine Corps and my sacrament in the Army. Now that I am a “civilian bicycle commuter,” I continue to learn on the saddle-pew from his how-to-attain-ultimate-victory book.
THE ART OF E-BIKE COMMUTING
Crazy application of Sun Tzu, right? Allow me to explain.
I commute to work by electric bike and strive to improve my work-life balance. I recently found myself referring back to Sun Tzu’s thinking in order to improve not only my commute, but my daily grind.
It is well known that Sun Tzu’s teachings apply to military and business strategies, but did you ever consider that Sun Tzu’s teachings could apply to improving your commuting tactics and work-life strategy?
Now, consider his teachings relevant to your daily grind…
1. “When using our force, we must seem inactive…”
“All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe.”
Let’s face it, work is war. We are competing every day, whether it’s against ourselves, competitors, or colleagues. In order to dominate and be our best, we must consider all aspects of work as warfare. What better way to begin and end our battles by “using our force…”
When I commute to work in the morning with my electric bike, I pass bicycle warriors right and left. They are spandexed-out to the max and pedaling as hard as they can. They arrive to work tired and sweaty. On the contrary, I arrive comfortably dressed with a good heart rate, but I am not dead on arrival.
I’m alert and ready to start the day with a karate kick. I still have plenty of energy to make it through the day, and when I ride, I don’t have near death, kill-myself-overexertion-commuting experiences like my fellow bicycle commuters. I remain dominate at the workplace after my commute because I have not maxed out my energy either by bicycle or death-by-car-sitting.
My enemies (competitors) believe I am “far away” when near and can rarely understand my true energy when the day is long. They can’t figure out from where my energy comes.
Colleagues know I commute by ebike, but they don’t truly know what that means. It means I have the edge at work, on the commute, and in life.
2. “…subdue the enemy without fighting.”
“The true supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
On my commute, my enemies (fellow cyclists) feel the pain of being passed every morning day in and day out. Okay, they’re not my enemies, but enjoy the analogy for a moment. Cyclists get passed by a guy in a relaxed riding position, while they are in the kill position sweating bullets. They appear confused and weakened as I blow by them with ease.
They can’t figure it out and they don’t understand that my bicycle is actually an electric bike. I’m a covert electric bike operator. Maybe that’s a little over the top…
But my fight is is not really a fight. Their fight is truly a fight, and they always lose. I ride an old 1994 Trek bicycle. It also happens to have an electric bike kit on it. But they don’t know that and I don’t have to fight like they do. They are easily subdued without a fight.
3. “If the mind is willing…”
“If the mind is willing, the flesh could go on and on without many things.”
The greatest lesson I learned during Marine Corps training was to keep my mind alive even when my body was dead. When I thought I couldn’t go on, a motivated Drill Sergeant showed me that I could and how to do it.
Navy Seal leadership has quantitatively determined the exact number of hours a Seal in training can survive without sleep. Navy Seals are pushed to the edge at BUDS indoctrination. In the beginning, many new Seals think they cannot go on any longer. Those that make it through each iteration learn that their bodies are capable of much more than they ever expected because their minds are willing to continue.
Why not apply this concept at work? When you think that you cannot take sitting at a desk any longer, withstand a bad employer for another minute, or face negative colleagues tomorrow, your mind can endure and your body will follow. So why fatigue your body and mind unnecessarily at the beginning of the day sitting in a car, bus, or overexerting yourself on the saddle?
On the contrary, a commute to work with an electric bike keeps your mind sharp. It does not tire you like commuting with a regular bicycle does or like your car will. Your mind is fresh upon arrival and it remains vibrant throughout the day. Commuting by electric bike gifts you with the extra endurance and tactics you need to compete.
Many of us have met bicycle commuters. They are Ironmen, but they too have their limits and they are visible over time and throughout the workday. Long-distance commutes by bike are unsustainable without the right tactic. The best tactic is the electric bike wheel.
Commuting by bicycle without an electric assist day in and day out has a strain on the mind and eventually the body. This same principle applies to our coworkers who commute by car. They endure either a tiresome or mind-numbing commute and are finished upon arrival.
The juxtaposition to these two commuters is the electric bike commuter. The ebike commuter is fresh, the mind is willing, and can “go on and on without many things.”
4. “A leader leads by example…”
“A leader leads by example, not by force.”
How many of us have or have had a boss who tells us what to do, but does not do it themselves? This is “do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do” leadership. All of us have known leaders like this. How can we set the bar and the standard for our colleagues, employees, and organization if we are not leading from the front? Is there a better way to lead from the front than actually “leading from the front?”
There are those who consider using an electric bike as cheating. I often see angry cyclists comments complaining that they were passed on their way to work by an electric bike commuter and I’ve heard this sentiment on the road.
I rode an electric bike up a hill and got called a "CHEAT" by a fellow cyclist. Is this a glimpse of battles to come? http://t.co/Q1GUJQT4be
— Jonny Cooper (@jbcoopr) April 29, 2014
If you compete in a race and cheat using an electric bicycle, then yes, you are a cheater. This actually occurred recently and the UCI came down hard. For good reason too! Electric bike commuters do not advocate cheating. We promote a better lifestyle!
We want people to use technologies and minds to improve our commute, our ride, and our environment. I advocate that we lead by example. New research is being published that actually shows that riding an electric bike has equal health benefits as riding a regular bicycle. An electric bike kit that converts your relic into a high power, efficient, green machine is leading by example. Ductus Exemplo!
As an ebike commuter you are not only leading from the front by setting the energy standard, but you are also helping your colleagues learn how it should be done, empowering your commute, owning your work-life balance, pushing one of the fastest growing transportation methods, and electrifying yourself to the front of the peloton.
Electric bike commuting is leading by example in every possible way from the beginning of your day until you reach your door step at the finish line.
5. “Know yourself…”
“Know yourself and you will win all battles.”
While I was on leave during a training with the Army a few years ago I made a rookie mistake on my motorcycle. I crashed and folded my right foot around the foot peg. My foot suffered a serious “lisfranc” fracture. A skilled physician put my foot back together with long pins and screws, however, it will never be the same. I wake every morning and limp my way to the restroom. I lose my balance and fall often. I have to force myself to walk “normal” when I’m around my colleagues and cold days hurt like hell. So what?
I could look at this experience as a tragedy or a blessing. I choose to look at it as a blessing. I’ll never compete in Ironman competitions again or run ultramarathons, but what I will do is “know myself.”
I recognize my strengths and weaknesses better now than I did before my injury. I know what I can and cannot do. Because I’m hyper-aware of my physical weakness, I have found opportunities with electric bike kits. An old bicycle converted with an electric bike wheel gives me the boost I need to ride like I used to and now how I want to.
It doesn’t matter that I can’t ride my bicycle like I could before my injury. We have electric bike technologies now that can help many of us carry on even with debilitating injuries. I recognize this is not the case for everyone, but for many of us this helps us to continue “winning battles.” Some injuries are too severe to get back on the saddle, but there are other battles that can be won.
Living with an injury helps us recognize our weaknesses by “knowing ourselves” so we can “win battles.” An electric bike or electric bike kit helps us overcome our weaknesses by choosing to “know ourselves” and return to the “battles” that we choose to win.
6. “The greatest victory… requires no battle.”
“The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.”
We often make things harder than they need to be. As humans we fret, stress, and often worry. These negative sentiments cause us to produce predictive outcomes. Consider the lessons in the book “As A Man Thinketh” by James Allen.
The ability to determine outcomes is derived from our confidence and our positive thoughts. Consider not only your commute, your work, but also your life goals. We can change the outcome of our most difficult “battles” by not ever having to experience them. Our biggest battles can be avoided entirely.
Sun Tzu recognized that victory can be achieved without confronting our “enemies” on the battlefield. How often do we force ourselves into battles that are not necessary? Avoiding many battles can be our greatest daily victories. The first battle we can avoid each day is sitting in our car. Start with small victories and achieve more over time.
7. “Move swift as the wind…”
“Move swift as the Wind and closely formed as the Wood. Attack like the Fire and be still as the Mountain.”
We are able to alter outcomes by effecting the things which we can control. We can adjust our velocity, but we can’t alter the landscape. I can’t flatten the hills on my commute, but I can significantly increase my speed and ease my climb to the top with an electric bike. My throttle is my wind.
We must recognize our controls as our strengths and our obstacles as opportunities. Disregard the weaknesses. Forget they even exist. “Move swift… and attack like fire.” Apply this principle to your commute and it will continue throughout the day.
8. “Tactics without strategy…”
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
We make resolutions each year. The gym is filled with well-intentioned people looking to lose weight and fulfill these resolutions. By March the gym is back to business as usual as these resolutions die. Without a clear tactical advantage for victory the strategy concludes in defeat.
An electric bike kit is the tactic many of us need to fulfill our strategies. The strategy is to improve our commute, make choices that make us happy, lose weight effectively, dominate at work, and more. The tactic is the electric bike conversion kit. Without this, many will fail.
Apply the e-bike kit tactic to your strategy and you will see yourself riding well beyond March for years to come.
9. “Be extremely subtle…”
“Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponents fate.”
There are days I feel guilty passing cyclists on the trail. Spandex-cyclists have no idea that my bike is electric and I just feel terrible passing them on my converted electric cargo bike while they are trying so hard up the hills. Not true. I don’t feel terrible. I love passing hard-core cyclists!
My bicycle hub motor is my subtle boost. A motor hub is silent and my battery is so small that other cyclists have no idea that I’m cruising past them on an electric bike. It feels too subtle at times but it also feels so good crushing cyclists on the flats and the hills.
That, however, is what makes it so much fun. There are so many electric bikes these days and the majority of them are incredibly ugly. They look ridiculous; like something out of a Back to the Future movie.
Converting your bicycle to electric is the “covert” subtle alternative. It feels as though you are a secret electric bike agent. But that is what makes it so fun! The mystique of the electric bike conversion makes your bicycle a covert vehicle that “directs the opponents fate.” Arrive to work and carry that feeling into the rest of your day.
10. “If you know… you need not fear…”
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
Perhaps the greatest thing I’ve learned commuting by electric bike these past years is that I’ve come to not only know myself, but people in general better than I could have commuting with the majority. When I arrive to work, I arrive animated. I arrive with a secret. I know the secret to having a great day at work. That secret is electric bike commuting! But I don’t want it to be a secret. I want everyone to know what I know.
I understand my colleagues, competitors, and my own strengths and weaknesses better than I did before. I know what sitting in traffic is like. I know what driving to work every day does to my mental and physical fitness. I know defeat.
On my ebike commute, I get to listen to audiobooks. I get to arrive to work with a workout on the books, and yet, I didn’t have to put in too much effort. My heart rate only hits the endurance zone and I control the ability to increase that heart rate on my ride home.
I know the secret and I need not fear! I feel as though I’ve won a hundred battles by the time I arrive to work. Do you?
11. “…prolonged warfare.”
“There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.”
We are experiencing a prolonged war with energy. We face many energy related threats today. We have a national debt that has almost tripled in the last two presidencies, climate change threatens coastal cities around the world, and geopolitics dominate energy policies. Most of us are dependent upon foreign energy supplies. This is unsustainable and one day there will be a reckoning.
Electric bike commuting is the best step we can take as individuals and as a people toward fixing these problems. Consider the efforts of other countries that have built infrastructure and adopted policies that encourage bicycle commuting such as the Netherlands and France. France you say? I’m only advocating that we adopt their bicycle commuting policies that improve infrastructure, better protections for commuters, and decreased energy dependence through these policies.
Case in point. Millions of electric bikes are sold in China each year. The Chinese are trying to curtail massive amounts pollution. Pollutants cause millions of cases of cancer each year globally.
Have you been to Beijing or other metropolitan areas in China? When I visited my skin burned and itched the few weeks I was there. China is not the only country to experience serious health problems due to pollution. Even beautiful Salt Lake City, Utah faces serious pollution crises during the Winter. The smog in the Salt Lake Valley causes serious asthma problems for thousands of residents. Local governments encourage commuters to drive only certain days of the week and adopt bicycle commuting habits in order to curtail the “Winter Smog.”
Our energy policies are unsustainable and we must begin to change these. We are lliving a prolonged war with our energy consumption and we cannot benefit from this.
Some politicians are at war with energy companies, but that is not necessarily the solution. We must be willing to adopt solutions as a people versus forced compliance and punishments. We need to decide if this prolonged war is beneficial and make lifestyle changes.
Electric bicycles are the alternative clean energy that can turn this around because it is the most enjoyable solution with incredible mental and physical health benefits. It is the cleaner and better alternative that we can all agree on.
APPLY SUN TZU’S E-BIKE TACTIC TO YOUR COMMUTE
If you don’t commute by electric bike or are only thinking about it, then consider an electric bike kit as an option. An electric bike conversion kit transforms your old bicycle into a powerful electric bike. It is the cheapest and cleanest way to convert to electric. The cost of an e-bike conversion kit is 200-500% less than the cost of a new electric bike. We know because we’ve made and sold thousands of 250 Watt electric bike kits and 500 Watt e-bike kits. We also sell adult electric bikes. There are plenty of conversion options out there such as our e-bike kits as well as our competitors. There is also one-in-all conversion wheels that cost a little more but are making waves right now such as Zehus, the Copenhagen Wheel, and FlyKly. It doesn’t matter with which conversion tactic you convert. What matters is that you convert!