Do you ever wonder what it takes for people to reach the top or be the best ...perhaps just to have earned money that makes them the ultimate of success stories? I see people in my lifetime that were complete jack-asses yet they own successful companies or have prominent roles in companies. Each of them are unliked. But perhaps what you should see beyond them being a prick is the secret to their success - each of them are strong characters. While being harder than steel is pragmatic, being pragmatic is only one component of this personality.
When I was young I recall people using the bible verse that God will not put more on you than you can handle (First Corinthians 10:13 is the actual closest but the verse itself doesn't really exist). Later in my youth I would hear "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." The point is that hardships change you into something stronger. But is that a good thing? After all when you gain the ability to withstand emotional pain, you also lose the ability to enjoy emotional pleasure.
Growing into a man I came to realize that only adversity brought on the biggest changes in my life. Sure we can all luck into walking into a talent agent that insists, "You have the look!" Or you could win the lottery. But in most cases, it's something hard in our life that defines a change.
Haven't we all had some sort of childhood experience which has defined us as adults? It's something you don't tell others about but for yourself, that secret you lock inside gives reason to the things you do; from an experience or experiences with parents to friends or worse yet a stranger.
Think of it. If you've been through the fire and survive, then you become tougher than others. Mentally and perhaps physically. In life, those of us that have endured more hardship may have terrible scars mentally but the trade off is that when you give up (or lose) some of your human emotions you are able to sustain tougher situations and when you get through them you end up further ahead in life than the next guy. Of course a question of this you may ask is "Is it worth it?"
I can't answer that. Only you can for yourself.
But one thing is true. That fire does change you. When that heat from a fire breaks down the carbon in the metal and it hardens, it's tougher than ever. Like the molten rock that sheds all its inequities and becomes a dense hard metal, we shed unwanted emotions that hold us back from making tough decisions in life. I think people are like those elements that when broken down the heat and fire of life threatening or life changing situations that person comes back with greater power than others. And it's with you for a lifetime.
While you may be thinking that I'm suggesting we all become a little thicker skinned or stop caring about others in order to advance our own lives, I'm not. And while that sentiment may be true, and equally true benefit of identifying people like this is you put yourself in a position not to be used or consumed by that type of personality. I say consumed because it's not always practical to avoid hard unfeeling people and in even more cases you may be able to co-exist with one of these people by choice. Even this concept enters into another ethics area for yourself to ponder. Do you in turn leach on and use (ride the coat-tails) one of these people to better your own life?
For me, I have people with this characteristic in my life that I neither use nor do I enjoy seeing them in my life because not everyone with this characteristic is bad. Some just are. You feel sorry for them because you know they lost a human emotion, that emotion of feeling closeness or appreciation for the people they have in their life.
The people that make it further are people that can't afford to have feelings. Penetrate their emotional barrier and most likely it will cost that person some level of power.
It's not an easy concept to relegate into a baseline application. The idea of someone being a strong character - harder than steel is both a blessing and bane. Or should I say ...It's lonely at the top.