Tough or Hard—The Choice is Yours

By Curt Iles @curtiles

Thanks to guest blogger Curt Iles for a powerful life lesson.

In front of me are three objects: a hammer, a brick, and a flat piece of leather. They make for a wonderful lesson we all can learn from.

It’s amazing observing folks as they go through difficult times. Periods of trial, adversity, and sadness distill out what is really inside people. What’s revealed often surprises, as well as shocks, us.

The human spirit and corresponding attitudes are amazing to observe. It comes down to this:

Life will make you either hard or tough.

Let’s look now at our three objects: the hammer, the brick and the piece of leather.

Put the piece of leather and the brick on a sidewalk side by side. Now, take the hammer and hit each one of them hard several times. The brick will be broken into pieces by the hammer blows. The piece of leather may show the indents from the hammer, but it will not break or crack.

Here is why:  The brick is hard, while the leather is tough.

In life, circumstances will make us either hard or tough. These circumstances are the hammer blows. It doesn’t matter whether the hammer blows are self-generated or due to chance or fate. They may be due to family circumstances, what we call rotten luck, a cancer diagnosis, a hurricane, or any trial. The hammer blows of life are limitless.

The hammer of life’s troubles hits all of us. No one is immune.

However, some people will only become tougher when the hammer falls. They take the blows, their lives even show the imprints of the hammer, but they are supple and flexible. They come out of this experience tougher and still standing.

Under the same circumstances others, like the brick, crack and crumble under the same blows. That is because like the brick, they have become hard. However, hardness does not ensure toughness.

In this new year, I encourage you to seek to be tough, but not hard. What will you do to be shaped during 2020?

Curt Iles

Curt Iles is a native of Louisiana’s Pineywoods region.  He is the author of thirteen books and over 1200 blog posts at
His writing celebrates the history, culture, and people of western Louisiana.
Before becoming a full-time author, Iles worked as a teacher/coach, school administrator, youth camp manager, and missionary.
His life statement is to be a man God can use, be an encourager and be respected by those who know me best (my family).
He and his wife DeDe live in Alexandria, Louisiana.
Learn more at

Thanks again Curt