There is a famous Zen parable about a Zen master asking the three most powerful warlords of the Sengoku Jidai, or Warring states period (Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu) how they would make a hototogisu or cukoo perching on a nearby branch sing. It was a parable which illustrates the character of each of these three different types of leaders.
Oda Nobunaga was known for his fierceness, ruthlessness and cruelty and he answered, “If it refused to sing, I would kill it.”
Toyotomi Hideyoshi was the most cunning and coyly said, “I would put the cukoo in a position where it had no choice but to sing.”
Tokugawa Ieyasu was the most diplomatic and patient and his answer was, “I would wait. Eventually, it will sing.”
There is a saying in Japanese, “Oda Nobunaga makes the pie and Toyotomi Hideyoshi bakes it, but Tokugawa Ieyasu is the one who gets to eat it.”
I have learned in my life one important lesson from this old and interesting culture. Most battles are won long before the sword is even drawn.