Not for softies!
‘Soft?’ I repeat in a faltering voice, my heart skips a beat and I instinctively hide behind my hoodie so you can’t see me for a moment.
It’s a drizzly Tuesday, the kind of day when you’d rather meet in a warm café. That’s not possible right now, so during a walk through the dunes we discuss your participation in my leadership program. At a safe distance from each other, both of us wrapped up in a warm coat, our hands in our pockets.
‘Okay, that’s good to know,’ I say. Past my hood, I can now only see your nose and a bit of your hat, which protects your hunched head from the rain. Your head full of knowledge, experience and self-confidence, which just now expressed its doubt about participating ‘I don’t know, you say participating is good for me, I believe you and I want to, but I can’t sell it to my manager, it doesn’t seem very concrete and maybe a little soft.’
Your words hurt my ears like the all-pervading beep of a fire alarm. Our relaxed conversation is disrupted. Silently I concentrate on the even rhythm of our footsteps while the word soft keeps reverberating in my head.
And then suddenly, I impulsively take two large steps forward, make a quarter turn and shake of my hoodie. I anchor my shoes firmly in the dune sand when I hear myself ask, ‘tell me honestly, do you think I’m soft too?’
He stops too and looks past me into the dune landscape. With a boyish grimace he replies, ‘On the contrary, I appreciate your pragmatism and your results orientation, that’s why it’s so nice to work with you.’
We continue down the jagged dune path. ‘Fortunately,’ I say. ‘And that’s precisely why I know this experience will take you further.’ I enjoy the power of silence before I give my intuition words: ‘Your head knows enough and wants to keep choosing the easy path of more knowledge, but that won’t get you where you want to go. Otherwise, you would have been there a long time ago.’ A watery ray of sunshine reinforces my last words. ‘The real answer has been inside you for a long time. I grant you so to give this words and put it successfully into the world.’
The ascending path narrows, I lead the way up the dune, momentarily alone with my own thoughts. As soon as we can walk side by side again, I look at him and say ‘soft? No, rather intangible!’
A little later, alone in the car, I smile while I say to you, imaginatively: ‘Grasping the intangible and looking it in the eye is not for softies. It’s up to you to decide if and when you dare to do that.’