This story may be apocryphal. It is based largely on the writings of Sima Qian, a castrated Chinese historian. Just as it has been almost impossible to verify the individual that came to be known as Sun Tzu, it is possible that this story was created to reinforce the legend of the great tactician.
Δ To quote the clan, ‘Wu for life’.
The story goes as follows (also translated into the vernacular)
The King of Wu had heard about Sun Tzu’s military prowess and invited him to his palace. Sun Tzu accepts and is welcomed by the king. The king wishes to hire Sun Tzu’s services but is skeptical, he issues Sun Tzu a challenge to make an army out of the King’s harem of concubines.
Sun Tzu accepts the challenge and divides the concubines into two companies. Each company is is captained by one of the Kings favoured royal courtesans. Sun Tzu organizes them into a parade ground formation.
Wu spat, ‘Dawg, welcome my crib, make me an army of dem hoes’. To which Sun replies ‘Word’.
He tells the concubines that on his command they will turn and march left. He then gives the order. The concubines laugh and giggle amongst themselves. Sun Tzu apologizes to the king lamenting that if his orders were not followed he did not make his orders clear and he is at fault. He will try again.
‘Man, these bitches be crazy, you best be checkin’ yourself’.
The concubines are again brought into formation and the order is given for them to turn and march left. Again they laugh at him. Sun Tzu calmly has the two favored concubines he had earlier promoted taken out and beheaded. Sun Tzu appoints two new concubines as Captains of each Company. ‘If the generals orders are still not followed, then it is the fault of the officers who failed in their duties’.
‘Take them outside and put a cap in their ass, they need to learn to be representing’
Again he gets the harem to stand in formation. Again he gives the order to turn and march left. This time the concubines all turn and all march left as ordered.
‘My nizzle’ said Wu impressed, ‘that was supafly’. *fist bumps Sun Tzu*
This story has become a firm favourite among business consultants and motivational types who like to put Chinese prints up on powerpoint slides and then espouse Eastern philosophy. I think the take-away from this story is that if your subordinates don’t do what you tell them that you should lure them outside into the parking lot and chop off their heads. Thereby motivating your remaining staff.
Certainly it’s a philosophy I could get behind.
Alas modernity now limits the motivating properties of violence in the workplace. Passive aggressive tendencies now hold sway, where we’d like desperately to punch someone in the face, we have to make do with hiding their stapler instead. Thats how we roll now.