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Intent

darksider should have an idea of their end goal. Without this, tactics are meaningless; they serve to (roughly) achieve that goal in the way the darksider wants – for example, in the most effective way, the way that involves least work for them, the way that will avoid offending people, the way that will obviously display power etc. This idea of INTENT or the GOAL is a concept key to Auftragstaktik or “mission tactics”. This is a way of thinking and organising an army that depended on every soldier knowing the overall goal, and “to do without question or doubt whatever the situation required, as he personally saw it. Omission and inactivity were considered worse than a wrong choice of expedient. Even disobedience of orders was not inconsistent with this philosophy.”

Flexibility

A key thing the darksider can take from this is FLEXIBILITY. As said before, have an idea of your end goal on whatever scale it happens to be – whether it is leading a fulfilled life, or simply passing your next exam at school. There’s no point in continuing with a way of doing things if it isn’t working out for you – if you’re chasing after that elusive fulfilled life, it’s not necessary to get qualifications, get a job, find a house, find a partner and have 2.4 children in that order. Life is not a series of cans on a wall to be hit with stones in a particular order; life is unpredictable, and the way to cope with that is to have sufficiently flexible plans so you can move and adapt to it, instead of being shattered when things don’t go in the way you expect them.

Flexibility is also in the eventual goals themselves; for example, in the course of your life you may decide that the goals you set for yourself as a teenager aren’t what you want at all when you’re in your mid-twenties, and again, the plans you made in your mid-twenties may not be feasible in your mid-thirties. In this case, why continue to pursue them?

Flexibility can also be expressed in the way we interact with people. For example, when you argue with people, you can use points that will appeal to them, or examples they can relate to. I am addressing this to the audience of the FA – a fairly diverse group, but largely informal. If I were addressing this to a different audience – for example, a more formal one, an older or younger one, or from a different social standing within that group – I would use different examples that would illustrate the point to them, and bring what I’m saying into their world – making it relevant for them, which will allow them to see my argument more easily. We are flexible in every encounter we have with people, treating them differently depending on factors like their relationship to us and our recent history with them.

Initiative

The darksider should show INITIATIVE – but here it’s important to realise “initiative is a desirable characteristic in a soldier only when its effort is concentric rather than eccentric: the rifleman who plunges ahead and seizes a point of high ground which common sense says cannot be held can bring greater jeopardy to a company than any mere malingerer.”

Here, the strategist warns against sudden bursts of activity that don’t seem to help the end goal – for example, losing a chess game because you saw a sudden opening that looked good but failed to realise your opponent had set you up. Although the move may look as if it will benefit you in the short term, in the long run it could hamper or be detrimental to your goals.

Initiative could be the desire and passion for action, but also to know when it’s better to retreat or to call off a project when it no longer supports a goal. However, it is also important to realise there are times when it can be more costly to withdraw from an action or plan you have put into motion than to continue with a no longer helpful plan. Sometimes, the cost is less if you press on regardless. It is never an easy decision to make.

But how does the darksider know what action to take? He has set his goals, so he knows where he wants to go. But what things should inform him? He is aware of what his logic tells him, but he is also aware of other things – for example, his emotions and passions and desires, his physical senses such as sight, smell, sound, taste and touch and his sense of morality. These will affect the darksider’s actions – what may be logical may not be something he desires to do. In short, the darksider aims to let everything he is conscious of inform him and direct his actions.

Delegation

Although the darksider aims to live by his passions and needs, he is not a sole organism but part of a community. Inevitably he draws on others for support and knowledge, and relies on others to help and support him. A darksider may find others who have similar visions to him and as such, will work with him to achieve their goals. People specialise in different areas and have different skills, therefore the darksider can DELEGATE tasks to others more suited to carrying them out.

However, this requires the darksider to have confidence in the abilities of those around him. A darksider is mindful of where his own strengths and weaknesses lie, and develops his awareness of what the strengths and weaknesses of those around him are.

In order to be effective, a darksider must recognise the limitations of their abilities and allow those stronger in that area to take over without interference. This can be a difficult thing to accept, given that we want to control how we achieve our goals, but the principle of Auftragstaktik means that you leave the specialists to their roles without hindrance. For example, if I am the editor of a magazine or newspaper I have various people to work with. Some people are writers, each with their own specialist area such as sports, music, films or current affairs. Other people are involved with the layout and design of the pages, and others are responsible for artwork and photographs. My task is to see it all comes together, with the goal of getting it to the printers by the deadline and fulfilling the paper’s brief, whether this is an entertaining and lively magazine, a critical and witty student paper or an informative and analytical newspaper.

To do this, I have to trust my colleagues to do their work without interfering and hassling them. I can’t write the articles on my own as I lack the knowledge to cover all the sections; instead I rely on my specialists writers. I can’t sort out the design on my own; instead I rely on the graphical artists, and so on. Through delegation, the work is better quality and I feel happier knowing that the project I’m passionate about is good.

Summation

1) Intent : develop your awareness of your goals and intentions.

2) Flexibility : be flexible in how you go about achieving these goals, and give yourself room to adapt to sudden changes. Show flexibility in the way you interact with the world around you, such as the people you meet. Be flexible in the end goals themselves, and allow them to change if they no longer suit you.

3) Initiative : it’s important to realise when an action is counterproductive in the long term, and whether or not to discontinue an action even if it’s been set into place as it may cause more harm to call it off. Act when you’re aware of all your reason and passion can tell you.

4) Delegation : sometimes you have to accept that your goals will be more easily fulfilled if you allow others to help you. Be mindful about this, and who you let help.

Using ideas drawn from Auftragstaktik.

– Kma Kharai