The conscious leader is firm, and knows when to be flexible.

He knows that skyscrapers are built with steel because steel is flexible. If they were built to be too rigid they would snap under the high winds that tall buildings must endure.

Tyrants and maniacs, on the other hand, are unbending in the application of their word: they show no mercy. In Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice, the moneylender Shylock shows no mercy, and holds his debtor to the exact letter of his bond. The judge tries to dissuade him, but he refuses, and in a moment, his fate turns into something worse than he can bear.

The conscious leader sees that when you are inflexible with life, life is inflexible with you. When you show no mercy, life shows you no mercy. Holding to your rules without exception, without sway, will necessarily involve force, because life and other people, and forces beyond the realm of your awareness, will inevitably blow across your path like winds, and if you behave like the skyscraper that cannot flex in the wind, you will snap. Life will inevitably break you.

The wise leader, unlike the tyrant, remains committed to his word and yet knows when to yield, knows when to show mercy.