Startup general interest

Intellect without will is worthless, will without intellect is dangerous

By April 16, 2010 One Comment


When I come across great quotes I normally put them on my Tumblog but I like this one from Art of War author Sun Tzu so much I decided to share it with all of you.  As you will notice I’ve used an excerpt from the full quote as the title for the post.

The essential thing is action.  Action has three stages: the decision born of thought, the order or preparation for execution, and the execution itself.  All three stages are governed by the will.  The will is rooted in character, and for the man of action character is of more critical importance than intellect.  Intellect without will is worthless, will without intellect is dangerous.

– Sun Tzu, as quoted in the Marine Corps Warfighting Dotrine

There is so much in here that is relevant to startups:

  • The importance of striking a balance between thinking everything through properly and not letting too much thought get in the way of action
  • The consequences of acting without thinking properly first
  • The importance of thorough preparation
  • The importance of character in an entrepreneur and leader, and how that is about so much more than raw intelligence
  • The centrality of ‘will’ and ‘determination’
  • The limits and the importance of intelligence

It is easy to write about the balance between thinking and acting in a blog post, but is much harder in the every day maelstrom of running a business – I see that in the running of our fund and in the companies in which we invest, which is maybe why I wanted to reflect on the quote at a bit of length.

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