Joseph Joffre, who served as Commander-in-Chief of the French forces during World War I, was authoritarian and headstrong like other French generals were. In the early days of the war, he failed to read Germany’s Schlieffen Plan despite the reports from the battlefield that Germany seemed to be planning to invade Paris through Belgium, which put Paris at the risk of the fall. However, a series of mistakes and defeats could not stop his determination to win. His driver who was a former race car driver drove him through the chaotic city at lightning speed, and Joffre was able to spot the German forces’ mistake in the end, thwarting their war plans.
Some argue that such miracle would not have been possible had Germany not made the mistake. However, there is no war without a mistake. The basic war strategy is to induce a mistake. Great strategies alone cannot bring a victory if the enemy is perfect. The purpose of deploying unexpected tactics is to take the enemy by surprise and cloud their judgment. The reason why you should stand strong and continue to fight even when winning seems impossible is that there is still a chance of leading the enemy to a mistake or misjudgment by disrupting their intention or plan.
During the Battle of Xiaoting, Liu Bei fell for Lu Xun’s delaying tactics while advancing west along the Yangtze. Longer front lines meant more difficulty in providing military supplies and coming up with innovative strategies. Lu Xun’s strategy was to wait for the right moment to launch an attack while limiting what his enemy could do. The future of Shu Han depended on the battle, and Liu Bei was determined to win. However, he was too determined to make the right decision. There is no right or wrong, but there is a lesson to be learned, which is a war should be fought with “clear judgment,” not dogged determination. Some people mistake dogged determination for commitment and try to fill the gap left by their inability with it. However, such efforts are dangerous as they only pave the way for bigger failure. What is even more dangerous is fierce determination that blinds you to the reality in the field.