Guest Post: If You Know the Enemy You Need Not Fear the Result of a Hundred Battles

September 4, 2013

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle

–   Sun Tsu

Recently I had the pleasure of reading the novel, The Pilgrimage, by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho—also the author of international best seller The Alchemist.

In the novel, Coelho’s fictional self takes on a physical and spiritual quest to find his mystical sword on a pilgrimage from the south of France to a small town on the west coast of Spain called Santiago de Compostela.

I’m going to paraphrase a huge lesson that Coelho learned while on his journey. The only way to deal with our physical enemy or the enemy that lives within, is to accept him as a friend and listen to the advice and lessons that he teaches us, never allowing him to dictate the rules of the game. But if we are to keep the enemy from dictating the rules of the game, it is first necessary to know what you want and then to know his face and name.

In life, as writers, and even in business we’ll always have “enemies.” But we must not see the enemy as some tragic inevitability but rather as an opportunity to learn a lesson, build more stability, create sustainable art, refine ourselves as human beings. Before we can learn the lesson we have to know two things:

  • We have to know what we want from our art or our current life’s purpose. Know what the big picture looks like to you and fill in as many details as you can, allowing for the inevitable change that life brings.
  • We must be honest with ourselves and know our enemy. Is it some invisible script within telling you that you’re not smart enough or powerful enough? Is it a physical person who is stifling our creativity, or is it a bad partner?

By learning about our enemy, we learn about ourselves and we use our enemy’s strength as a weapon against itself and we in turn become a powerful force to be reckoned with.

Josh Rivedal is an author, actor, playwright, and international public speaker. His new memoir The Gospel According to Josh: A 28-Year Gentile Bar Mitzvah is available HERE. Josh has spoken professionally about suicide prevention and mental health awareness in more than twenty-five U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. He wrote and developed the play, The Gospel According to Josh, which has toured extensively throughout the United States and Canada. He wrote the libretto, additional lyrics, and additional music to a Spanish language Christmas musical Rescatando la Navidad, opening in Miami in November 2013.

As a voiceover actor, Josh has lent his voice numerous national television commercials, audiobooks, and animated projects including the role of Hippo in Scholastic’s Rabbit and Hippo In Three Short Tales, the narrator of Julianne Moore’s Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully, and description for seeing impaired children for NBC’s Tree Fu Tom.

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One Comment

  • Laurie C September 5, 2013 at 6:53 am

    Great life lesson! I haven’t read any of Paulo Coehlo’s books yet, mostly because I unfortunately don’t seem to have a mystical bone in my body!

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