The Art of Being Soft and Strong
Holly Kellums

I love your Ruiz quote for this context, “Practice makes the master.” It highlights your point that this required “learning” is experiential. It is full-on ontological learning, your way of being in your body, emotions and language, which includes your internal dialogue. You can’t just think your way into these states.

Through decades of dealing with business leaders, and now coaching them, I’ve seen countless who have learned well how to be strong. Most have been in that practice for a very long time. Some know that the soft side is critical for relating, but haven’t a clue how to actually be soft without feeling their fear of losing control (an illusion, by the way) by appearing weak. So they tend to offer the same “generous” comments over and over again, hoping to enter the hearts of those they lead to gain loyalty. “We’re all in this together.” “Everyone wants to know they matter.” They may even believe what they’re saying. But if they don’t allow themselves to soften and feel it, it will never be received. I have never seen that be effective when it comes from the head. And over time, it has the opposite effect. People quickly recognize the manipulation, intended or not. But when the genuine, soft heart is present, those same people will walk through fire for and with that leader. Your post is right on. Thank you for bringing it forward. I’ve found Pema Chodron to be enormously helpful in moving past these fears. Her book, “The Wisdom of No Escape” speaks to this, especially chapter 11 on “Renunciation” if you or your followers care to explore that further.