Combine Toughness with Softness
Gang (刚) and rou (柔) are two mutually complementary measures. They refer to two opposite properties or qualities that objects and human beings possess. In the realm of governance, gang means being tough and stern, while rou means being soft and lenient, and the term means to combine tough management with gentle care. Gang and rou are considered to be a concrete manifestation of yin and yang. Their mutual opposition and accommodation are the causes of change. When formulating and implementing policies and decrees or managing a society or an enterprise, there must be a certain balance between gang and rou.
Confucius said: “One must perform righteousness according to the rules of propriety and speak in humility.” One should be soft and gentle without, while tough and firm within, and should combine toughness with softness, without trying to overpower the other side. This is the way to achieve success in doing everything. (Zheng Shanfu: Letter in Reply to Daofu)
All generals must combine toughness with softness, and should not act with personal prowess only. (Luo Guanzhong: Romance of the Three Kingdoms)