The Vital Balance of Hard and Soft

Diamonds are rated 10 out of 10 on the hardness scale. And yet, a five-year old wielding a hammer can easily crack a diamond in two with a well aimed blow.

The hard-driven world we live in does not pay heed to natural balances, such as the balance between hard and soft in its behavioural context. Humans do not do well in hard-driven environments because the ways of hard shut out a big part of the human’s connective and creative capacity that may only bloom when exposed to the ways of soft. As a manager, you may get the job done the hard way but you would achieve vastly more through developing self-awareness and mindfulness that inspire an irrevocable shift to soft-accented ways of self and people management.

The Samurai Sword
A technological wonder whose process of creation blurs the boarders between art and science, the samurai sword’s secret lies in the supremely skilled play between heating and cooling and hard and soft. It’s a fascinating process that combines two kinds of steel: The ultra hard blade part and the softer core. The end result of several months of full-time investment of a team of up to 15 craftsmen is a flawless work of art, where it is said that each specimen embodies its own personality, its own unique essence, to then become “the soul of the samurai” that owned it.

Soft and hard together in the correct balance provide an edge that hard alone cannot have

Hard and Soft Skills
Sometimes, in terms of experience, hard is soft and soft is hard. As a whole, it is easier to assimilate a hard skill than to assimilate a soft skill. The reason: Soft skills require personal development in various measures which is on the short list of humanity’s most pressing blind spots. It is far more challenging to educate hard to also be soft than it is to educate soft to also be able to be hard when needed. Mindful management is a blend of soft and hard in a delicately poised balance, according to the needs of any given situation.

The Short-Term Frenzy Versus the Timeless
While hard natured cultures – business and any other – may be able to gain competitive, technological and/or power-based advantage over others in the short-term, they cannot prevail in the long-term. The reason: Fundamentally, humans are designed to be soft and then hard when needed, never the other way around. It is a natural law that cannot be re-written by the short-term ambitions – or sheer insanity – of any individual or leading circle of accolades.

The way of the universe is that even if people manage to enforce a warp-factor, life constatly seeks to return to its natural balance. A culture that is built around the way of hard and harder, no matter how seemingly successful, cannot prevail over the long-term and will back-fire, often in violent ways. The current events in Hong-Kong are a lucid example in reflecting this actuality. No human mind, no matter how bright, can re-write the natural laws and force humans to be what they are not meant to be behaviourally and spiritually. Many diseases that the world is struck by originate from this misplaced way of going on – especially where it concerns the onset of stress.

If you are part of a hard culture, watch out: Like any hard crystal that suddenly cracks open when under stress, the fall from the ‘top’ is sudden and brutal.

Self-Awareness and Culture Change
If you are managing and/or leading a project that you feel deeply about, this may constitute a make it or break it insight. The shift from hard to soft-hard requires a skilled approach. There are certain forms of ground-breaking creativity and innovation that cannot materialize in hard human environments. It’s a fundamental change in attitude, in embodying the qualities that make humans, human. We live in a hard-driven world that is desperately looking for a soft way forward, to create space for a bright new future.

In the hard worlds the one rules the many; in the soft worlds, the many lead themselves, together

David Gommé
World Copyright 2019© David Gommé

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