Chapter Six Excerpt

From Chapter Six: Action                                           [back to excerpts page]

Offering Advantage


              How one can make the enemy arrive of their own accord—

                            offer them advantage.               [chapter 6]



              You shape the conflict, bringing the enemy to the battlefield of your choice. Offer real or imagined advantage to move them, threaten real or imagined harm to restrict them.


From a secondary school history teacher near Brighton, England


I had been working for a number of years with a major cultural institution to bring Holocaust survivors into the school to tell their life stories to the children. I struck up quite a good relationship with the people in the cultural center who deal with Holocaust survivors and education. So, on the sixtieth anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, I received an invitation to attend a one-day conference in London about the uprising.


I was very pleased and touched to be asked to attend, and I felt it would help my teaching about this difficult topic. But when I went to see my head teacher and showed him the letter and told him how much I wanted to go, he thought about it for a while but finally said, “No, we’re too short-staffed.” I was very upset. I knew the head teacher to be a good and a fair man, but like many beleaguered school administrators, if you questioned his decisions, he would tend to dig his heels in.


I called my friend at the cultural center, and I was explaining to her that I couldn’t go. Really just suddenly, an image came to me about not attacking a strong fortification head-on but rather finding its vulnerable spots and being able to use feint and deception. Then, an idea popped into my head. I asked my friend if she wouldn’t mind sending a fax to my head as if I’d never spoken to her. In the faxed letter, she should express her appreciation to the head for having the foresight and the vision to allow a member of his staff to go to this conference, saying how well it reflected on him as a leader of the school and how not many heads would have had that kind of vision to rise above the day-to-day demands to do something dynamic.


The next day, in my pigeonhole at work, there was a little note from the head teacher saying that he had reconsidered his opinion and he thought maybe it would be a good idea if I did go to the conference after all.


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