FORMULATE AND PURSUE A SENSIBLE OBJECT
One does not, of course, fight simply to fight; one must have something to gain, some object in view. The goal is not to fight, but to attain an object. Fighting is so costly, and entails such risks, that it must be worth the candle.
After a particularly bloody battle, Napoleon cried, “What?! No results from such carnage? Not a gun? Not a prisoner?”
The object itself is usually quite simple, attaining it far less so. To be sensible, an object must enhance your long-term interests. To formulate your object, you must see clearly where your interests lie.
The German historian Mattias Gelzer said of Caesar: “In constructing his policies he never laid a stone on which he could not build further: as a result, a retrospective view gives the impression that everything was actually planned in advance in full detail, as if by an architect.” We see Caesar, for instance, even as a young man using Pompey to weaken the Roman republic.
To be sensible, an object must fit the context; an object that fits the context is attainable; an object that does not, is not.
Cicero said that the “assassination of Caesar was planned with the courage of men, but the understanding of boys.” Much that humanity does, it does with the understanding of boys.
Once you have formulated a sensible object, one that enhances your long-term interests and fits the context, do not permit yourself to be turned aside. Your strategies and tactics may change; your object will not.
You must not be diverted from your object; the feeling of do or die rests largely on there being an object you feel you must attain. Caesar, Richelieu, Napoleon, and Talleyrand risked their lives for the sake of their object; any might have been killed countless times.
They cared only for their object, nothing for their self-love or comfort. At Pharsalus, the camp of the optimates was filled with luxuries, while Caesar lived as his men did, eating bread made of roots: the optimates cared about preening their self-love, Caesar attaining his object. Following the battle of Austerlitz, Napoleon wrote Josephine, “I am a little weary. I have camped in the open for eight days and as many freezing nights.”