Power & Strategy Quotes: The Importance Strategy Plays in Gaining Power

If one seeks power of any kind, it is necessary to have a goal and a path toward that goal. While tactics used along the way are in flux, the strategy will largely remain the same. So careful attention must be paid to devising a strategy. The right strategy can make all the difference in the world when it comes to when — or even if — the ultimate goal is arrived at. 

Many great men have written on the process by which strategy should be arrived at. The art of the general is as applicable to our own struggles as it is on the battlefield. This is why so many who have never even been in the same room as a weapon have studied The Art of War

The ultimate aim of virtually anyone striving in such a way is power, whether we mean power over the self or power over others. Once power is acquired, the question is how one chooses to exercise it. This is a class of wisdom all its own and one that is best studied well in advance of actually acquiring power, lest one be unprepared for its exercise when power does finally arrive. 

The following are some crucial musings on proper strategy and the nature of power. Use them as a starting point for your own quest for power — whatever that means to you.

Quotes About Strategy and Forming Plans

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

Sun Tzu

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” 

Unknown, often misattributed to Winston Churchill

“Each one hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough, the crocodile will eat him last. All of them hope that the storm will pass before their turn comes to be devoured.”

Winston Churchill

“Trust everybody, but cut the cards.”

Finley Peter Dunne

“I am sometimes a fox and sometimes a lion. The whole secret of government lies in knowing when to be the one or the other. “

Napoléon Bonaparte

“If you wage war, do it energetically and with severity. This is the only way to make it shorter and consequently less inhuman.”

Napoléon Bonaparte

“Plot and plan like all good generals.”

E.A. Bucchianeri

“Beware the quiet man. For while others speak, he watches. And while others act, he plans. And when they finally rest…he strikes.”

Unknown

“If you find yourself in a fair fight – you didn’t plan your mission properly.”

David Hackworth

“In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant.” 

Charles de Gaulle

“No proceeding is better than that which you have concealed from the enemy until the time you have executed it. To know how to recognize an opportunity in war, and take it, benefits you more than anything else. Nature creates few men brave, industry and training makes many. Discipline in war counts more than fury.”

Niccolò Machiavelli

“Pick your enemies carefully because the way your enemies fight is who you become.”

Wild Wild Country

“The Western democracies, including America, have a strategic deficit right now. We don’t teach enough military history in our universities. Strategy I don’t believe is taught well at all. There is this draw of young patriots into our armed forces. Young people who look beyond the hot political rhetoric and rally to the flag. 

In the infantry case, it’s named for an “infant” soldier who are 18, 19, 20 year olds who are serving under 22 and 23 year old sergeants and lieutenants, and they’re willing to put it all on the line.  We owe them a good strategy. We owe them a strong policy. That defends America, and then a strategy to carry it out.

I think at the higher levels in today’s information age is a sense that they really know what’s going on on the front lines because they see these pictures on the news. They can immediately pick up the phone and listen to conversations. But there needs to be a division of labor. Once the strategy is determined, then there’s a feedback loop to keep the political leaders fully informed. No surprises. But you take your hands off the steering wheel, and turn that over to the young officers on the battle field that’ve been trained and educated to carry out those responsibilities. 

So why are we making the same mistakes? Part of it is the human condition. War is a fundamentally unpredictable phenomenon. At times you just can’t predict what’ll go wrong once you start out in this direction. One of the wisest mentors I ever had said: ‘Don’t ever tell your adversary what it is you will not do.’ That is a guiding principle for me. In other words, if we are going to pull out of a fight – don’t tell the enemy you’re going to do that.  Because then they know when you’re not going to fight any longer. Don’t put yourself in a position where the enemy can simply wait you out. Force the enemy onto the horns of a dilemma. Create chaos in the enemy’s camp.

Don’t reassure them – even if you’re not going to do something. Don’t reassure them in advance. In this case (the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War) we were reassuring the adversary that we’re going to pull out. Our intelligence community called it exactly right when they warned us that if we pull all our troops out – if we have no more influence – over helping the Iraqi army defeat this army, then they’re going to back stronger than ever. 

And you and I know now that ISIS did exactly that. We had to reintroduce the troops once again. The thousands killed, the tens of thousands wounded, the hundreds of thousands or millions forced into refugee status – we’ve seen the heartbreak of what happens when you make a bad strategic decision. You have to come to grips with reality. You cannot deny reality. Or reality will feed you a very, very tough pill.”

General James Mattis

Quotes About Power and the Effects Power Can Have

“The measure of a man is what he does with power.”

Unknown, often misattributed to Plato

“To do all that one is able to do, is to be a man; to do all that one would like to do, is to be a god.”

Napoléon Bonaparte

“Power rarely ends up in the hands of those who start a revolution, or even of those who further it; power sticks to those who bring it to a conclusion.”

Robert Greene, 48 Laws of Power

“The most exquisite paradox…as soon as you give it all up, you can have it all. As long as you want power, you can’t have it. The minute you don’t want power, you’ll have more than you ever dreamed possible.”

Ram Dass

“Consider the black widow spider. It’s a timid little beastie, useful and, for my taste, the prettiest of the arachnids, with its shiny, patent-leather finish and its red hourglass trademark. But the poor thing has the fatal misfortune of possessing enormously too much power for its size. So everybody kills it on sight.”

Robert A. HeinleinStranger in a Strange Land

“Power is given only to him who dares to stoop and take it … one must have the courage to dare.”

Fyodor DostoevskyCrime and Punishment

“Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts… perhaps the fear of a loss of power.”

John Steinbeck, The Short Reign of Pippin IV

“If you want to find out what a man is to the bottom, give him power. Any man can stand adversity – only a great man can stand prosperity. 

Robert Ingersoll, speaking about Abraham Lincoln

“Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”

George Orwell, 1984

“If any man is rich and powerful he comes under the law of God by which the higher branches must take the burnings of the sun, and shade those that are lower; by which the tall trees must protect the weak plants beneath them.”

Henry Ward Beecher

“Power-lust is a weed that grows only in the vacant lots of an abandoned mind.”

Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

“When the tree falls, the monkeys scatter.”

Chinese proverb