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Episode #015

The Power Of Gentle Strength: Why Softness Isn’t Weakness

If I asked you right now - what is a strong human, what would come to mind?

A hardened Navy SEAL who makes it through hell week (the toughest week of military training in the world) by sheer grit and determination? A power-lifter beating the Deadlift world record? A budding entrepreneur who, in the pursuit of success, works 80 hours weeks on 4 hours of sleep a night?

Or would it be someone overcoming their emotional trauma through introspective work and countless hours of therapy? A man daring to cry in front of his girlfriend despite being told by his father that it was weak and pathetic to do so? A woman stepping into confrontation and telling her boss "no" to staying late and finishing that report, even though it terrifies her?

When it comes to the question of what makes a strong human, there are two schools of thought in self-development.

The "soft" approach and the "hard" approach.

At the extremes, the hard approach teaches you to "suck it up" and "work harder" whereas the soft approach emphasizes tolerance and acceptance but lacks the "punch" required to create powerful change in the world.

Think of this as the apathetic, powerless hippy on the left and the restless, stressed-out businessman on the right.

In this episode of the ikario podcast, myself and Shane discuss the middle way between these two extremes (which we call "gentle strength") and how it's possible to integrate the useful aspects of both to become a powerful and strong person.

In this episode...

Some of the points covered in today's conversation:

  • Why the extreme hard approach to strength is not useful for most people.
  • How we can embody all of the traits that make a person strong, powerful and capable without unnecessary aggressiveness. 
  • What most people consider "strength" is in fact insecure posturing, and how to tell the difference.
  • Why it's important to not become a pushover whilst integrating the "soft" approach into your life.
  • The reason why people don't listen to the "softies" - "they don't have the things that I want."
  • Why real strength only counts when you have the choice of being gentle.

Links & Resources

Over to You

We hope you found this episode useful! What brought you the most value? Do you have questions or feedback? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

You can follow the ikario Podcast on YouTube and also subscribe to our clips channel.


Oliver Cowlishaw

About the author

Ollie is an avid pizza connoisseur, accomplished drinker of coffee and lover of soul music. Heavily influenced by Zen & eastern mysticism, his curiosity regarding the human experience is insatiable. Despite having a strong vocabulary, he swears a lot and uses slang phrases ("ollie-isms") that almost nobody understands, not even himself.

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  • I just wanted to let you know that I love what you are doing. It is excellent. I have heard all episodes and I admire the clarity you bring to this topic. I struggle very often giving order and ground to what I know on self development… and you really make it sound very practical.

    It is also very exiting for me to see a team of young men doing this, because I sometimes get the feeling that we women are going to be the 80% of the people talking about this or participating in this spaces. And I think the world needs your energy and your perspective. The Ikario way, more than the “hard” approach.

    I would also like to invite you to talk about a topic I find very fascinating and also frustrating at times. This being the way we humans tend to wait until we are in a deep crisis to want to learn or change. You mention something about that, but it would be nice to hear you talking about this more and to give away some advice in how to overcome this. It is like, Do humans procrastinate on wellbeing? Sounds like an episode to me 😉

    I wish you all the best!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Andrea!

      I love your topic suggestion! That is a really great prompt for a discussion and I’m adding it to our podcast ideas list right away. 🙂

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