Using Lanchester’s laws for improving yourself

When we try to improve ourselves or change something in our lives, we meet opposition in may forms(lethargy, giving in to temptations, discouragement from others, etc).

Frederick Lanchester, during World War I devised some mathematical equations to demonstrate the power relationships between opposing forces. These are called the Lanchester’s  laws. While these laws were used for combat, we can use them for improving ourselves or changing our lives because that also involves a different method of combat.

Let us look at these laws and see how we can use them in our daily lives:

  • Lanchester’s linear law: This refers to ancient combat where one person can fight only person at a time. This can also be applied to unaimed fire to the opposing force.Look at the figure below:

Lanchester's linear law

When one force is acting against another force, we can see that two things are important:

1. The stronger force will kill the weaker force.
2. The larger force will kill the weaker force, provided each elements of the forces have the same strength.

How to use this to improve or change our lives?

  1. Use strength against the opposing force
  2. Use different ways against the opposing force.

This means for example, if you want to exercise daily, use strength( will-power) against the tendency of not wanting to exercise consistently and daily. Use different ways( make the environment conducive: join a group, wear exercise clothes before going to bed, give yourself small rewards, etc) to oppose the tendency of not wanting to exercise.

  • Lanchester’s square law: This refers to modern combat where there are multiple weapons aiming at each other but can kill only one enemy at a time. Look at the figure below:

Lanchester's square lawHere we can see that the number of weapons is important, the larger the number of weapons shooting, the greater the force.

This means that if we use many ways against the opposition, then we can change or improve ourselves. An important corollary is that of focus. Rather than trying to change many things, if we focus on one thing and use different ways to change a thing we have a higher chance of success. Unitasking is better than multitasking, as many studies have shown.

Understanding these concepts is very useful. You can apply them to any area of your life and you will find that change becomes easier.