1. Sun Tzu said: Whoever is first in the field and awaits the coming of the enemy, will be fresh for the fight; whoever is second in the field and has to hasten to battle will arrive exhausted.
Francis Drake led a pre-emptive strike against Spanish naval ships that were still assembling with an aim to invade England. Drake’s preparations and actions were approved by the Queen and his attack resulted in 100 ships being destroyed or captured, causing the Spanish Armada’s attack to be crucially delayed for a year. The following year the English fleet defeated the armada, with Drake playing an instrumental role.
Start something early to stand a better chance of success. Arrive at a battlefield or in a business market first; you have time to settle, survey the ground, plan ahead and pick your tactics. You can also attack opponents or competitors as they arrive to prevent them from settling and building a presence or market share.
2. Therefore the clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy's will to be imposed on him.
Union Col. Joshua Chamberlain and his men faced an attack from the Confederates. Chamberlain knew that his soldiers did not have enough ammunition to resist the attack so he ordered his men to fix bayonets to their guns and charge the Confederate troops. The charge surprised the attackers, taking the initiative away from them and causing them to retreat in confusion.
Take initiatives to lead the game. When you act first, the other side has to respond. In this way, you can keep them constantly on the back foot. To be effective fight on your own terms or not at all.