Law 23: Concentrate Your Forces

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Conserve your forces and energies by keeping them concentrated at their strongest point. You gain more by finding a rich mine and mining it deeper, than by flitting from one shallow mine to another—intensity defeats extensity every time. When looking for sources of power to elevate you, find the one key patron, the fat cow who will give you milk for a long time to come

Is This You?

Are you in a state of total distraction and diffusion, hardly able to keep your mind in one direction before you are pulled in a thousand others? The modern world’s level of conflict is higher than ever and you internalize it in your life.

The solution is a form of retreat inside yourself to the past, to more concentrated forms of thought and action.

1. Single-mindedness of purpose.
2. Total concentration on the goal.
3. Then use these qualities against people less focused.
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Such an arrow will find its mark every time and overwhelm the enemy. This is what happened to ancient Athens, which lusted for the faraway island of Sicily and ended up losing its empire. The Romans stretched the boundaries of their empire to encompass vast territories; in doing so they increased their vulnerability, and the chances of invasion from yet another barbarian tribe. Their useless expansion led their empire into oblivion.

Concentrate on single goal, a single task, and beat it into submission. You will need help from other people, usually those who are more powerful than you. More energy is saved and more power attained when you affix yourself to a single, appropriate source of power.

· Find out who controls the operation.
· Find out the real director behind the scenes.

Power itself always exists in concentrated forms. In any organization it is inevitable for a small group to hold the strings. And often it is not those with the titles. In the game of power, only the fool flails about without fixing his target.

You cannot hit two targets with one arrow. If your thoughts stray, you miss your enemies’ heart. Mind and arrow must become one.

Two Dangers in Concentration

1. When fighting a stronger army, concentrating your forces only makes you an easier target—better to dissolve into the scenery and frustrate your enemy with the elusiveness of your presence.

2. Tying yourself to a single source of power has one preeminent danger: If that person dies, leaves, or falls from grace, you suffer.

In cases when you may need protection, then, it is often wise to entwine yourself around several sources of power. Such a move would be especially prudent in periods of great tumult and violent change, or when your enemies are numerous. The more patrons and masters you serve the less risk you run if one of them falls from power. Such dispersion will even allow you to play one off against the other. Even if you concentrate on the single source of power, you still must practice caution, and prepare for the day when your master or patron is no longer there to help you.

Finally, being too single-minded in purpose can make you an intolerable bore, especially in the arts.

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