IOWA CITY, Iowa — Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu masterfully wrote The Art of War around 2,500 years ago, and many of his lessons have filtered to aspects of society unrelated to war itself.
Businesses apply many of his lessons to leadership and action plans. So do sports programs. Iowa strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle often uses motivation sayings to channel his players’ mental approach.
One of the more enjoyable conversations I’ve had with a football official this offseason was with Doyle on his favorite passage from The Art of War. If Doyle could use almost any mantra as a theme for his strength and conditioning program, it would be Sun Tzu’s “The battle is won before it is fought.”
I long have enjoyed military history and consider myself a fan of Sun Tzu’s work. I mentioned to Doyle my favorite Sun Tzu quote was related to his. “A victorious army first wins and then seeks battle; a defeated army first battles and then seeks victory.”
“That’s awesome. I love that,” Doyle said. “That’s a good one.
“They’re saying the same thing. Both quotes are saying you win in your preparation. One, the best army wins first then they seek battle. They’re saying they’ve already won in their preparation. They’ve brought the right people together, they’ve trained the right way, now let’s go fight. The same thing with both the battle is won before it’s fought. I think both quotes are saying the same thing.”
Iowa football bases its approach on development. Often the Hawkeyes rank in the Big Ten’s lower-middle in annual recruiting rankings, but through training, the program ranks third among league schools in draft picks the last 10 years (37) and 15 years (57).
Quotations from military leaders aren’t just cliches if they become part of the belief structure and form a mental foundation that leads to accomplishment.
“To somebody that selfishly works in strength and conditioning, we’re preparing,” Doyle said. “We’re preparing for year-round. So we like those.”
|Big Ten (top 6)||NFL Draft picks 2008-2017||NFL Draft picks 2003-2017|