Tolstoy on what it takes to win

Business books give you tactical advice for right now, but little in the way of wisdom. I prefer to read classics and history as a reflection of what is timeless and permanent in life. What knowledge and wisdom has stood the test of time through the decades, centuries, and even millennia? Human nature doesn’t change.

Here’s a passage from Leo Tolstoy’s gargantuan classic War & Peace, which I started three times in different years to finally finish recently. Whether you’re trying to win in life, sports, work, or startups I think you’ll be able to relate and find some inspiration here.

And it is well for a people who do not — as the French did in 1813
salute according to all the rules of art, and,
presenting the hilt of their rapier gracefully and politely,
hand it to their magnanimous conqueror,
but at the moment of trial,
without asking what rules others have adopted in similar cases,
simply and easily pick up the first cudgel that comes to hand
and strike with it
till the feeling of resentment and revenge in their soul yields
to a feeling of contempt and compassion.

Leo Tolstoy, War & Peace
1828–1910 (Russia)

Read the book

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Thanks for reading,

Do you also find inspiration in history? Any striking examples in mind? Please share so we can benefit, too.

Thinks about the future a lot. Founder of two startups. Lives in Singapore.

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