Integration : When the Hard Enters the Soft

The above title may seem to be taken out of a porn movie but it talks about integration or the joining of two or more entities to produce the desired result. Pardon for the undertone but this is the best and most simple definition I could think of that encompasses an example of integration which can denote a union, whether this relates to objects, units, companies, things, articles, beings etc. or simply entities which encompass all these nouns. So let us move on to business on the subject of integration.

Many of us think in dichotomy or a separation instead of integration, in our tasks, relations etc. The dichotomy is good to some extent, but when you go to the bottom line, you’ll see the effect of their performance. If they’re divided, they incur a loss if they practiced integration they are profited. Again, this may sound abstract and may even border on some evocative terms especially to some who are not familiar with the financial statements. Bottom line simply refers to the net income (or net loss) which is found on the bottom of the statement after deducting costs and operating expenses from the sales.

Yes, accounting can be provocative at times and accountants can really have a fertile imagination. Incidentally, the financial statement reflects the performance of the business and the relationship of each department, how integrated they are or the lack of it, i.e., marketing, sales, human resources, and accounting. And speaking of accounting or accountants, they are known to be highly analytical who sit in front of their computers and analyze hard data and enter transactions on the ledger. These professionals try to dissect an event into its parts, say a particular transaction that transpired. They divide the components to see what actually happened and they are very good at details. This is what analysis is all about, the technical or hard skills although this is not integration.

This is also what is called the masculine way of thinking. It does not relate to any gender physically as we know it, masculine in this context is referred to as the linear way of thinking. It follows a straight line and goes for a definite solution and is obsessed towards rationality. Now you know why it is called masculine. On the other hand, the more abstract way of dealing with things, the more inclusive, open and is drawn to the larger picture and the connection of the parts to the whole is the feminine way of thinking. Again, this does not refer to any gender but more on the manner and approach and this is not yet integration.

In the professional world, the masculine way of thinking relies on facts, backed up by statistics or research while the feminine approach relies more on the intuition or gut feel. Neither one is superior over the other. We are either dominant in one way of thinking, whether that is feminine or masculine but we can definitely merge them into our approach and achieve integration. Recognize that it is part of our constitution, both masculine and feminine qualities. We imbibed that from our parents and we should not limit ourselves based on the physical attributes. It goes beyond that.

You can also see some women who are more masculine in their manner and thinking that some men, and vice-versa. But this does not mean there is something wrong with them. They have just developed some characteristics of the opposite sex probably when they were during the formative years. Say, the daughters are more analytical because they have been trained by their fathers to think that way. Or the sons are more in touch with their feelings because they inherited that trait from their mothers. This is not uncommon and we see it in our day to day lives at work, school, and other social-oriented places. But in order to be effective, you must embrace those traits instead of alienating it and achieve integration.

Growing up, we suppress one characteristic whether masculine or feminine in order to become socially acceptable but we are also suppressing our natural gifts in the process. No, I’m not suggesting anything or after this, you may come out of the closet and voila, nothing like that and that is beyond the subject of this blog about integration. Besides, suppressing it would come out in undesirable ways so we must learn to embrace what is inherent in our nature and make it work for us instead of against us.

As a child, I was very close to my mom to the point of becoming suffocated of her over-protectiveness. Wanting to develop my masculine traits, I began to distance myself from her in my teenage years and develop the opposite trait, becoming more reserved instead of showy, insensitive instead of caring, in other words becoming full of myself instead of giving to others. It also affected my way of thinking. I became more analytical, taking up problems and looking for solutions and not telling or asking help from anyone when I’m faced with difficulty even though it was beyond me already, I took it to the extremes and I wasn’t practicing integration.

I became a CPA and achieved many accolades academically as well as professionally. However, I realized the more I rose on my profession, the more I needed to relate with people and become more social so to speak. I could not just analyze people and dissect their words into parts, somehow I needed to practice leadership and communication skills or otherwise known as the soft skills because in order to move forward and become more effective at work, I needed to relate with people. Now I have to embrace this inherited trait from my mother instead of denying it without compromising my masculine characteristics. It’s like the yin and yang, two principles, one negative, dark, and feminine (yin), and one positive, bright, and masculine (yang). Forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts. It complements instead of contrast and one could not be effective without the other. This is the process of integration.

Higher thinking through Integration is about analysis mixed with intuition, hard data with hunches, science with art, and the conscious with the unconscious. In doing so, you will become more effective and approach a situation with your completeness, mixing your attributes not just inherited from your parents but from the heavens.