Leadership story: The general’s strong reputation
Hundreds of years ago there was a famous Japanese general with a strong reputation of being an astute and cunning leader and a masterful tactician. Many came from near and far to serve in his army so that they could learn his tactics, and learn skills that would help them not just in war but also in life after they would finish their service. It was known that in the general’s army there were elite units that were trained in deception, special combat skills, and mental fortitude that no other general or army taught. To the surprise of the general’s enemies, his troops from the elite units were never willing to betray the general and pass on the knowledge they have learned. Even the spies that the enemy generals send never returned, either they were found dead or they turned ranks and became loyal to the famous Japanese general.
At that time in Japan, factions were constantly at war with each other, only resting in winter when the weather made it impossible to be outside. That day has come and all the warring generals started returning to their main strongholds to resupply and rest for the winter while making plans for the next year. Believing that his enemies have also retreated to their strongholds the famous general while coming back for the winter from a successful campaign decided to stop in a forefront stronghold with a small battalion of soldiers while sending his main fighting force ahead to the home stronghold. While at the forefront stronghold the general made sure it was well supplied so that the inhabitants and soldiers could wait out the winter and repel any skirmishes. Meanwhile, one of the enemy generals catches wind of this and decides to march his whole army on the general’s position even though they might have not enough supplies or time to return safely back to their own stronghold. The enemy general had lost many of his pears fighting the famous general and was now presented with an opportunity to be the one who would finally defeat the famous general and shatter his strong reputation once and for all. The enemy general believed that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and he had to take it.
While the enemy general was almost at the gates of the stronghold the famous general was awoken by one of his men which informed him of the situation they found themselves in. The famous general knew that they had no time to retreat, and if they would openly fight they had no chance to win. After some time thinking he instructs his men to stand down, open the gates, take down the banners from the walls, and hide and be prepared to fight if need be. As his men hid the general removed his armor, put on a cloak, and sat in the middle of the stronghold playing a shamisen. The enemy general soon arrived with his army. They were surprised that the gate was opened, there were no banners and no men in sight. Then suddenly they see a man in the middle of the stronghold square playing an instrument. The enemy general immediately recognized the famous general as they have met a couple of times when there was peace, and in the same breath, he ordered his troops to stop and keep their eyes open for an ambush. As time passed and almost after two songs the enemy general was still worried that they were about to fall into a deadly trap. He ordered his scouts to take a look around and see if they can spot anyone or anything out of the ordinary. The famous general kept playing without pause as he patiently waited to see what the enemy general would do.
When the scouts returned and reported that they have found no men, no signs of any army or even weapons the enemy general’s eyes and mind filled with fear and doubt. The enemy general found no logical explanation and could only fathom that the general’s strong reputation of a masterful tactician must be true. There was no chance that he would be sitting exposed like that without a hidden agenda. The presence of this general, sitting there with such nonchalance, made the enemy general question the information he received, the strength and capability of his army, and the situation he found himself in. After a bit more time he consulted with his closest advisers and they all agreed that it is all too conspicuous and they were all very well aware of the strong reputation the famous general had. Some of the advisers even fell into traps the famous general set in previous confrontations and they have barely made it out alive then. They didn’t want to try their luck this time. So after their debate, they agreed and decided to turn around before it was too late. As the enemy army retreated to their own stronghold the famous general helped his troops fortify the forefront stronghold and then returned to his main stronghold where he made plans for the next year. With this encounter, his reputation only grew, and was now known as the general who beat an entire army alone with an instrument in hand and a strong reputation to back him up.
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