“One has to grow hard but without ever losing tenderness.”
I grew up with this quote from Che Guevara written on the wall next to my bed in the family house.
I remember writing it as a teenager learning about politics and trying to act cool and contrarian. I didn't quite grasp it at the time. I'm still trying to figure it out.
The quote stuck with me for some reason, and a few days ago, it hit me that this is the perfect illustration of what a great leader is all about.
A leader doesn't seek a following or to be a leader. A leader is an individual who left the cave to experience the sun and be blinded by its intensity. Facing this cold hard reality head-on is growing hard.
When you grow hard, it's tempting to choose the easy path and grow bitter or to feel superior as well. To tell you the truth, it's one of my dark patterns. I can quickly get arrogant and dismiss others. This is something I'm working on.
The solution is to stay tender. In Buddhist terms, I would say "to cultivate compassion".
For a person to become his own leader, it is important to balance self-development with compassion.
Practicing mindfulness. Simple living. Aiming for what truly matters. Alignment between actions and values.
The opportunities are many.