Tuesday, March 21, 2017

On Understanding the Enemy - Lessons on Strategy

The secret and real enemy in Full Metal Alchemist
On thinking about all my legal battles, I realized I made a mistake on not understanding my enemy well enough from the get go. I'm writing this, so you don't make the same mistakes I did.

Sometimes in life, we hear a proverb, but we don't realize how true it is until experience comes later and validates such wisdom. During college, I remember that Sun Tzu, the author of the Art of War stated, "Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories."

In short, it means that to win, you need to know both the enemy and yourself. It's simple to understand but harder to put into practice.

So, when I litigated against Baldwin Park, I had no idea the number of unethical tactics that would be prosecuted against me, such as when the City Attorney misrepresented my signature to the court. I didn't even know such tactics existed. I'm sure the English generals were shocked when the Germans bombed nerve gas on them for the first time in human history in World War I.

My introduction to litigation shocked me. And being shocked is not a position any fighter, warrior, or officer should ever be in. A good fighter should be able to anticipate such tactics, because he already knows his enemy. And in hindsight, I now know the information was available on my adversary, I just had to do more digging for it, which I didn't exhaust thoroughly.

Currently, I'm reading T. Harry William's novel Lincoln and His Generals, which echoes the same concept of war. In criticizing one of Lincoln's incompetent generals, Williams says that the general made the rookie mistake of expecting the enemy to do what he wanted. Think and pause about that for a second. Do you expect your adversary to do what's in your realm of possibilities?

Like that general, I made the same mistake as a young litigator. The biggest mistake I made with Baldwin Park is that I expected them to follow the rules of court.

But in hindsight, I can see it now has to be asked: Why would the City follow such rules, when cheating puts them at an advantage? Also, when the City gets caught, it goes unpunished. Of course, it would employ the most unethical of tactics, because it's in its great benefit to do so.

But over and over again, I expected the opponent to do what I wanted, instead of understanding the true nature of how he would behave. (Of course, there came a point in time when I changed my expectations of enemy, who is also the enemy of the people and the hardworking.)

So, that's a leaf from my book. If you don't know who you are, don't go into battle. If you do, then understand who the enemy is. Then, after you do that, really understand who the enemy is. And after you do that, really, really understand who the enemy is. In doing so, victory should be guaranteed. 

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