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Do Not Join Them. Beat Them.


“If you can’t beat them join them”, right?


It is completely wrong, unless you are joining them to beat them. Beat them either harder or smarter. Better both.


You are not a quitter. But sometimes you get to the point where you want to give up on your dream. You feed yourself with ton of excuses why you can’t do it. You want to quit and move on.

Do not quit, you can beat them. You can beat them all.

Struggle is the meaning

When I was reading Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich I stumbled on a very motivational quote:

If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not working on hard enough problems. And that’s a big mistake. – Frank Wilczek, 2004 Nobel Prize winner in physics.

It really made an impact on me and every time I feel down, this one helps me to get up and move forward toward what I believe, The Dream.

It takes time to win

I am a big fan of “Fail Fast” approach. In a nutshell it means that investing in something must gain fast results. If the investment does not gain any results, if it fails – stop doing it, change the approach. It helps avoiding Pyrrhic Victory. However, never give up on the bigger goal, The Dream.

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer. -Albert Einstein

Struggle is your source of energy

In the The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal the authors identify 4 Dimensions Of Personal Power: Physical, Emotional, Mental, Spiritual. Their approach is based on tens of years of research and applied practice – they actually Practice This ;). Their take is that our Physical, Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual muscles must be periodically stretched in order to refill our personal power reservoirs. Keep fighting to be stronger.

What’s not killing me only makes me stronger – Friedrich Nietzsche

Beating smarter

How do I become a smarter fighter?

Try applying ancient proven patterns & practices of martial arts – take, for example, Judo – my favorite sport :

The word "judo" …  may mean "gentleness", "softness", "suppleness", and even "easy", depending on its context

The soft method is characterized by the indirect application of force to defeat an opponent. More specifically, it is the principle of using one’s opponent’s strength against him and adapting well to changing circumstances

Here is another great source of techniques to beating them smarter – The Thirty Six Strategies:

Whereas other Chinese military texts such as Sun Tzu The Art of War focus on military organization, leadership, and battlefield tactics, the Thirty Six Strategies are more suitably applied in the fields of politics, diplomacy, and espionage.

Take, fore example, this one:

19. Remove the firewood under the cooking pot.
When faced with an enemy too powerful to engage directly you must first weaken him by undermining his foundation and attacking his source of power.

The foundation

My take is that the foundation to becoming a smarter fighter is Emotional Intelligence.

Emotion Is Your Enemy – coach John Wooden.

Fight your enemy, become Emotionally Intelligent:

Self test

  • Do you have a Dream?
  • Have you ever gave up on your Dream? How did you feel? Drained?
  • Have you ever fulfilled your dream? How did you feel? Empowered, ready for another fight?
  • Do you want to become a smarter fighter?
  • Do you want to win you Dream?
12 July 2008


  • Shilpan | successsoul.com said:

    Alik ~

    This is just fabulous. It resonates so much with my life. From the humble beginning to making it in this great country, I’ve struggled. My friends call me “struggle snuggle” to tease my calmness in the midst of struggle. We often forget that our destiny is to reach our God given potential – no matter what it takes.


  • Marelisa said:

    I’ve read “The Art of War”, but I’d never heard of “The 36 Strategies”. I’ll look into it, thank you (love the idea of taking away the firewood :-) ).

  • alik levin (author) said:

    Happy it resonates w/you!
    You showed us all how to win in the blogobattlefield ;)

    Wikipedia refers to it as stratagems and not strategies as with the site i refer to.
    Enjoy reading

  • vered said:

    Gosh, you’re feisty. I like that. :)

    It does take time and patience to achieve one’s goals. It’s easy and very tempting to give up, but I agree that one should never give up on her main goal – her dream.

  • alik levin (author) said:

    I had mixed feelings when writing this. I felt this one is too feisty that might be interpreted as negative approach.

    I’d really like to call it “Do not join them, win them” or something like that. The reason for “Win” is that this approach I can easily apply to everyone – my manager, my reports, my customers, my wife, even my kids. I am sure not going to beat anyone of them, but winning them is a long struggle. And I think it is worth it. How do you win them? It is never straightforward, you must maneuver, you “fight” smarter…

  • Bamboo Forest said:

    I appreciated this thought provoking post.

    You shared: “If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not working on hard enough problems. And that’s a big mistake. – Frank Wilczek, 2004 Nobel Prize winner in physics.”

    Indeed, that is interesting.

  • alik levin (author) said:

    Bamboo Forest,

    It seems like this post moved you.
    Your comment is a great reward for my writing.
    Thank you!

  • Al at 7P said:

    This… Post… Rocks!

    I really enjoyed the read. Very insightful!

  • Bookmarks about Emotion said:

    [...] – bookmarked by 1 members originally found by tiewkt on 2008-08-11 Do Not Join Them. Beat Them. http://practicethis.com/2008/07/12/do-not-join-them-beat-them/ – bookmarked by 6 members [...]

  • tom said:

    I never really thought about it but if you can’t beat them join them, doesn’t seem to make too much sense.
    I mean you were at “war” with that person for a reason, and I am not so certain they are willing to just join in their battle now.

    i say we got to strive for independence and always keep growing.

  • alik levin (author) said:

    Good point.
    Many times when you are independent and growing you get involved with “war”, struggle.
    To keep your independence and growth sometimes you need to fight.
    What’s your prescription for peaceful independence and growth?

  • tom said:

    I never been the kind to get into fights with people, and i mean fist fights.
    I always seemed to take a step back and try and understand where the person is coming from.

    As i always say, no matter what someone did, there is always a reason, even as dumb or hideous as it is.

  • alik levin (author) said:

    Good points.
    No fist fights… :)
    Stepping back and understanding where the person is coming from is a good tactic – both in sports and life…
    Personally I love emotional intelligence and influence w/o authority vs fist fights. Works much better ;)

  • tom said:

    The bad thing about being shy was that it all bottled out and then i snapped like crazy, which usually came out even worse then i intended.

    So yes, I am learning to express myself and control my anger. I guess its called emotional intelligence.

  • Ted Bagley said:

    i think that the putting the hands together up in the Wei is a great tool as well as a play on words. Besides being exposed to a possible friend, they’re ready just in case.

  • Consultant Besieges Wèi To Rescue Zhào — Practice This said:

    [...] Do Not Join Them. Beat Them. [...]

  • Fred S said:

    It’s interesting how ‘fail fast’ can reinforce the art of continually looking for weaknesses in an opponents defenses. By combining this with the fighting metaphor it also brings up the issue of ‘not failing too badly.’ Sometimes you are in an all or nothing move, but most often its better to be thinking about the next ten ‘what ifs.’

  • alik levin (author) said:

    Fred S,
    I think the whole point of failing fast is to avoid failing too badly.

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