Archetypes in Lockdown- a north star and guiding light

There is an old samurai saying, “Adversity makes the man”.  Challenging times build resilience. It is all too easy to get lost in fear and despair.  So, it is good to know what signs to look for if you stray that way.  And to have a North Star by which to orient yourself so that you can move towards greater confidence, resilience and leadership.  Archetypes provide such a template.

The point of this blog is to highlight some of the aspects of four archetypes so you might navigate your way through lockdown.  And be able to look back and say I did well in lockdown and contributed in a positive way towards my own well-being and that of my family, friends, community and beyond.

**I’ll put in bold the aspects of each archetype**

Warrior:

All life events are an opportunity to live within your values and remain focused on your chosen purpose and direction in life.  Covid-19 is no exception.  A plethora of opportunities are opening to follow and expand your purpose as a values-focused warrior.  Warrior will keep you on focus and make sure you stay on purpose.  But Warrior will hold you entrenched in particular thinking and action because “it is the right thing to do” when actually it would benefit you, family and business to pivot and do something different.

As long as it does not compromise your values and purpose, your creativity (Magician) will take you to new and fascinating places.  And because you remain aligned to your purpose and values, it still feels heart-felt, passionate and inspiring to take this new path.  For example, the fruit and veg wholesaler who overnight had no restaurants to buy his stock.  So, he delivered free food parcels to local homeowners so that the food would not go to waste.  Now he is inundated with orders for fruit and veg boxes during lockdown.  He is making more profit as a result than he ever made dealing with restaurants.

Adapt or Flounder

As Nietzsche said, “if you know the why, you can live any how”.  In other words, stay true to your driving force and principles and you can live with integrity in any life situation.  Look at all leaders.  They have had to pivot and have done so successfully by staying true to who they are.  Steve Jobs for example, co-founded Apple on one of his visions of using computers for creativity.  When the Apple Board kicked him out, he founded Pixar soon after, which creates computer-animated films.

Personally, during the 2008 financial crash, I lost two thirds of my clients overnight.  I did not adapt fast enough to make ends meet, had a painful time of it financially and floundered in the subsequent years.  This time, I am more adaptable, and have used the opportunity to go online more and promote myself and my brand by offering free support and training.  The connections I make now may lead to new opportunities post-Covid.  We will see.  But I am staying aligned to my values and purpose at every pivot I take.  Therefore, it matters less whether it leads to business in the future.  And more about whether I maintain integrity and true to myself.  It’s much more fun that way!

I think people appreciate the loyalty and steadfastness of Warrior.  People trust the person who is reliable, true, honest, consistent, principled and unshaking in a cause or purpose.  Are you feeling the strength and confidence of Warrior during lockdown?

Lover:

How are your relationships doing with social distancing and self-isolation?  Are you finding it hard to say “yes” to things that are supportive and “no” to things that undermine your well-being, safety and confidence, so that you maintain your boundaries?  Are you using this as a time for self-care or are you caring for others?

Relationships

As your life takes on new rhythms during lockdown, how are you managing your relationships?  Are you able to get the time and space alone you want?  And how are you using that time?  Some time alone is important for your well-being.  To take time to connect inward, be that meditation, writing, walking or exercising alone, contemplation or reflection, reaffirms your relationship with yourself.  And that always you to keep centre when you are in relationships with others.  Lover can be prone to giving to others without thought for oneself…… which ultimately can lead to resentment, burnout and fatigue.  Or to be self-centric and give no thought to others.  How are you managing that balance?

Boundaries

Which really comes down to boundaries.  How is lockdown impacting your capacity to say “yes” to the things that support your well-being and relationships?  Are you able to ask for the time alone you feel you want?  Can you ask for help when things are overwhelming?  Or even better, before they become overwhelming, so that you can avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety.  And how are you doing with saying “no” to things that do not serve you?  Can you push back on the demands made by others for your own well-being?

Travelling to work on public transport may pose a threat to your health.  If this worries you, can you ask to work from home or take furlough?  If there are social events, can you attend and maintain social distancing?  We recently celebrated Victory in Europe (VE) day in the UK marking the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.  There were street parties and celebrations.  In our street, we made a point of keep two metres distance from each other and still enjoy the festivities.

Community

And I have noticed that people are using this time to connect to new communities online.  I met someone on an online embodiment event who was saying that he has always felt an outsider in the communities he usually connects with.  Lockdown has given him the opportunity to find new communities in which he feels a part and included.  He will come out of lockdown with a new collection of friends that more deeply appreciate him, his gifts and contribution.

Magician:

There is always the option of living from fear through the Covid-19 situation.  More often than not, the News promotes the negative view.  And many people seem to focus on bad news.  But there are many positives coming from lockdown at a personal level, for community and the planet.

Interconnection

Our inter-dependence, the fact that we all impact each other, is coming to the fore perhaps more than ever before.  Our fates rely on everyone doing their part to be responsible for self-isolating for the benefit of the common good.  There is a larger cause here that we are daily being asked to consider when we take any action.  And that larger cause means we are being kinder to each other.  It means we are driving and flying less which is allowing the environment to recover and heal.  We are seeing tremendous acts of bravery, be it frontline healthcare professionals or war veterans walking to raise money for charitable causes.

Healing and Peace

For the first time in human history, humanity is united against a common enemy.  What healing can be done from this place of peace, unification and kindness?  The world could become a very different place once lockdown has passed.  Things could go back to where they were before.  But when Magician responds to this pandemic, there is a look towards doing things differently and finding solutions that will heal many of the challenges we faced before Coronavirus hit.

There is an opportunity to rewrite how we work, care for the sick and elderly, look after those closest to us and our neighbours, support our communities, manage stress and mental health, govern with compassion, take our responsibility as custodians of the planet, invest financially, cultivate relationships and much more.

New Solutions

It’s easy to go back to the old ways.  But, many of those old ways are not working right now.  Perhaps we are paving the way for a new way of being?  There is no precedent for this.  We are going to have to work it out as we go.  Turn inward towards our intuition and gut instinct and feel which is the best way to go.

In the old traditions, Magicians were wise men of counsel, like Merlin.  They saw the bigger picture and advised the sovereign so that he may rule with wisdom and compassion.  And perhaps Magician’s greatest counsel was not to be swayed by the fearful minds of lesser men.  But rather to be guided by your personal inner strength so that you may live with gratitude, wisdom, respect, compassion and above all, love.

Sovereign:

What order are you creating through lockdown?  Or perhaps you feel like things are in disorder?  Quick and radical changes have thrown many of us into disarray and it is taking time to reestablish order.  So that we feel safe and able to flourish.  And as things continue to change, so we are being asked to shift our structure, organisation and order to accommodate shifting sands.

Order and Freedom

Order offers freedom.  Structure and organisation give a framework around which freedom, adaptability and versatility can thrive.  This could be an opportunity to take action on your own initiative and authority.  There is the opportunity to do something new.

By your own direction, you can determine your routines, the order in your house, the care you take of yourself.  And your capacity and willingness to support others and empower them to tap into their own sovereignty.  Self-sovereignty is about having dominion over your own body, mind, emotions and spirituality.  I have spoken before how self-awareness empowers choice which leads to freedom.  And freedom is a hallmark of self-sovereignty.  Freedom allows self-authorship.  In other words, the power to write your life the way you would like it to be.

Sovereign as Leader

It takes Sovereign to mark out the routines, order, structure, plan, strategy and tactics to make that happen.  And Sovereign recruits the other archetypes to make that possible.  Sovereign calls on Lover for boundaries and relationship building with self and others.  Warrior to move forward and stay on purpose in a values-driven way.  And Magician to balance the heart and the head and live in service of something bigger than personal success.

Knowledge and Learning

I’m also hearing a lot of people are taking the time to learn new things.  Knowledge increases your capacity to adapt, lead and be more compassionate.  Covid-19 has opened the internet to so many free learning opportunities and expand your sphere of influence.

How are you using your sovereignty and self-authority during lockdown?  Are you using it to create order so that you and others can flourish?  Or are you abusing your position and using your freedom to limit the freedom of others?  Are you using it to lead with a sense of vision of how lockdown can be better for us as individuals, a society and the planet?  What can you do so for your family and community at large?

Over to You

How are you doing?  What areas of your archetypes do you feel you are doing well in?  Which archetypes do you think you’d like to work on?  What archetypes do you want more of?  And which ones are dominant or over-bearing?  Which archetypes do you want less of?  And which archetypes would it be beneficial to step up to?  What areas of your life would you apply the archetypes?  What of the archetypes could you do more of and take into your life beyond lockdown and Covid-19?

Pass it on

Phew!!!!  That was a long one!!!! If you found this blog useful, please pass it on.

 

Lockdown- Resistance and Acceptance in our Coronavirus World

How are you doing as lockdown progresses?

Are you resisting the slowing down, or the speeding up, of your life?  Do you let the sense of limbo frustrate you or are you letting it go?  Are you being drawn further into your screens and out of your body, or is it the other way around?  Do you enjoy the stillness?  Or is it driving you crazy?

I am noticing a shift in myself, and other people, as this enforced lockdown, globally, is encouraging us to say “no” to the rat race and the relentless pressures of growth, expansion and competition.  It is also giving us the opportunity to say “yes” to being more present and mindful with ourselves, others and the world around us.  It opens us to being content with what we have as well as connecting to and sustaining community.  What gifts these things are.

Resistance

At the beginning, I also noticed an initial resistance.  Maybe you felt it too?  Or perhaps you are still resisting the inevitability and uncertainty of this Coronavirus situation.  It manifests as a “I can’t believe this is happening” or “What will I do?” or “What can I do?” “How will I cope?”  The tension that comes from worrying about money, business, family and friends is another sign of the resistance around having to give up control.  And frustration that so much is on-hold: house moves, career progress, business growth, birthdays, family and business events, weddings, schooling, funerals.  “When will things return to normal?” and “How long will I have to wait?” speak to that anxiety as well.

As a society, we are in pain over the loss of our old lives and the way we used to live.  Our resistance, though understandable, only leads to suffering as we grasp for more of what is not available to us right now.  Some of our old ways may never return and we will have to make our peace with that.  But, in the short-term, resistance prevents our ability to adapt, be flexible and creative.  The tension resistance creates stops our minds from finding solutions to the problems and prevents our bodies from living in peace and harmony with the landscape of ever-changing challenges.

Acceptance

But, if you can let go of the resistance and allow it to give way to acceptance, you can let go of this struggle that is beyond your power to control.  The questions then shift to “How can I make the best of this situation?”  “What are the advantages and possibilities?”  “What can I create from this?” “Where are the opportunities and how can I make them happen?”  People are adapting to a new normal.  They are appreciating that they could use their time differently.  That this way of life might have unforeseen advantages that could be sustainable in a post-Coronavirus world.

The impact of resistance on the mind and body is one of stress, anxiety, tension and dis-ease.  In contrast, acceptance leaves the body and mind at peace, ease and tranquil.  It’s just more pleasant to live through the Coronavirus experience this way, if you can.  Let go of what you cannot control, accept the reality of your situation, pay attention to your breath and notice your body.  Then, from this grounded place, take action.  Here is a video on these four points:

Here are 4 things I have noticed in myself and my community (both on- and off-line) that have come about as people have let go of their resistance and opened to acceptance.

  1. Opportunity

Your life was going in a particular direction and focused in a specific way before Coronavirus appeared.  And now, much of that is on-hold.  Others are completely blown out of the water.  Some things are accelerating.  This is an opportunity to pivot or change direction completely:

  • Working from home, shifting face-to-face meetings and training to online platforms.
  • Now you have time and space to create new projects and complete them, perhaps start new types of work or revenue-generating opportunities.
  • Many of us are travelling less and enjoying the extra time that gives to sleep longer, exercise and move more, connect with your loved ones more frequently and deeply and enjoy your local environment.
  • Old hobbies can be done in a different way now and with the additional time you have, why not take on a new hobby? Learn a language, develop a skill, try something you’ve always wanted to do or something completely new.  The opportunities are endless.
  • We are collectively taking a breath- humanity and the planet. As we pause, new insights come to us and we can embrace the potential opening.  This is a valuable opportunity to make slight and gentle adjustments that could have profound positive impact ten years from now and beyond.  Already the air is clearing, the oceans and rivers are cleaner and wildlife is safer to roam.
  1. Community

People are being so kind.  Reaching out to acquaintances and strangers to help and support.  We are reaching out to friends we barely speak with normally and building new relationships as people come together for a common cause.

We are, for the first time in human history, united under a common threat.  Imagine that?  Many of the differences that usually divide us are being put to one side so that we may come together and collaborate and help each other. Giving us the opportunity to come together and connect regardless of faith, gender, colour, nationality, sexual orientation or political persuasion.  Humanity is coming together as one and that is priceless.   What if we could keep that going once this threat is over?

This is also an ideal time to connect to people in your personal and professional networks and cement those relationships.  And, by opening new ventures, create new relationships that might breathe new life into your business or life in general.

  1. Simple Pleasures

Hasn’t life become much simpler suddenly?

We are being given the chance to enjoy the simple pleasures of life: walking, cycling, running, the natural world, cooking, gardening and conversation to name a few.  Life was so complex before Coronavirus that many people didn’t pay attention to these things.  You may have done them.  But you may not have been as attentive as you might have been while doing them.  Rushing to move on to the next thing?  Or thinking about the future or the past rather than paying attention to the present?  These are common ways of doing things in our modern world.

Coronavirus has slowed things down.  There is less of a rush.  Less of a drive to push that extra mile or two all the time.  Without that pressure, we are better able to enjoy each task as we are doing it.  Now, in the simplicity of life, there is a mindfulness that perhaps was not there before.

Taking time to notice the simple pleasures makes tasks that feel mundane when we are rushing, more pleasurable, purposeful and powerful when life is slower and simplified.

  1. Being Present

The opportunities, the connection to community and the simple pleasures allow us to be more present.  The slowing down allows us to take notice.  There is so much you could worry about for tomorrow, but you cannot answer or control those things.  So, let them go.  The slowing down means there is less to preoccupy your mind.  If you let it.  You could always let yourself worry more and more about the unknowns and the things out of your control.  But, when you let go and only focus on what is in your sphere of influence, you realise that, for now, there are only certain things you can do.

I have heard many people say that they are on their hamster wheel of worry and concern.  When I probe deeper, they say that they are thinking about things over which they have no control.  Nor can they answer the questions they are posing.  Lockdown is imposing a long horizon.  Much of our worlds are on-hold, an enforced stillness that we can either fight and know turmoil and distress.  Or let go into so that we might know greater tranquillity and peace.

So, allow yourself to be present in all that you are doing during the Coronavirus lockdown.  Allow these special moments to keep you present with what is in front of you.  Bask in the immediacy of what you are doing.  Know that there is no rat-race today.  There is nothing to chase.  Enjoy the reprieve that Coronavirus has given you, if you can.

An Invitation

Will you accept or resist?

This enforced lockdown has encouraged these behaviours.  Whether you are doing these things or not is a choice.  Perhaps the events are making that choice easier?  But never forget that it is a choice.

My invitation is to ask you to decide which of these choices will you chose to keep after Coronavirus.  When lockdown is done and the threat to our health is significantly reduced, what of this will you decide to maintain?  Here’s an earlier blog on what you might want to be thinking about when you are making choices.

When the world changes back, if it changes back, what will you commit to keeping the same?  The community?  The presence?  Your simple pleasures?  The opportunities?  Something else entirely?  If enough of us commit to keeping some of these things, perhaps the world will not go back to how it was.  Perhaps our working lives will change so that we commute less or connect more online at work.  Maybe we’ll socialise with our friends, family and communities more?  Perhaps we’ll travel less and care for the environment more?  Maybe we’ll reassess what productivity means and what a healthy economy and financial system looks like.

I don’t know.  But something is changing for the better in amongst all the pain, fear and anxiety.  What will you change and take into your new future?

Are you fed up with being Strong?

Are you fed up with being “strong”?  Are you tired of the pressure you are under to perform without showing signs of losing composure?  Or having an emotional outburst?

Do you feel that it is your role to have the answers all the time?  If that expectation is hard to meet, is that difficult to admit to?

How are you at having to be right?  Is it a matter of great face and honour or are you OK with making mistakes?

Do you feel the need to be “happy” all the time and find it hard to admit that you might be below par or even struggling to cope?

Do you really thrive under stress, or are you struggling to manage, but afraid to share the truth for fear of what people might say- the boss, your partner, friends?

A meaning of “Strong”

Show your strength by being vulnerable & courageous in front of the right people

This out-dated notion of being “strong” needs a modern update.  Too many people are crumbling under the weight of carrying on regardless, pushing through at all costs, meeting ever-increasing expectations and ever-closer deadlines.  And all for the sake of being or appearing “strong”.  It is a relentless drive, that is driving many of us into poor physical, mental and emotional health and well-being.  “Strong” seems to mean something close to perfection.

So, rather than “strong” meaning perfection can we change that definition? I get the need for an external persona that makes it look like you have the answers, you’ve got it sorted and you can cope.  And I hope that is the case for you a lot of the time.  But is it reality?  And when it isn’t reality, do you have people to turn to so that you can talk it through, bounce ideas off, admit mistakes to, ask advice from and share your emotional pain when you are struggling?

This need to be “strong”, I believe, is stopping people feeling comfortable speaking to others about their struggles.  “It makes me look weak.”  “How will anyone respect me?”  “What will people think of me?” “Will I be able to hold on to my job?”  In silence, they battle on, often getting ground down by the weight of fear, doubt and worry.

Get Wise Counsel

My experience as a coach, and a Samaritans volunteer, is that speaking to someone about these very normal emotions is not only good for your health.  It also gets you to an answer much faster.  And to a much better answer than you might come up with otherwise.   You do not need to carry the burden alone.  But who can you talk to?

All great leaders have a team of people around them who they can talk to and lean into for support. (you can find out more about this in this Brian Tracy article).  Can we not learn from the cream of our business leaders?  We are all leaders.  If only leaders of our own lives.  And many of us will also lead families, children, work colleagues, groups, teams, businesses and countries.  Honest and open leadership starts with these personal qualities in our own day to day living.  Having people around you with whom you can confide makes you healthier physically, mentally and emotionally and allows you to be more effective in anything you do.

So, choose your team carefully.  Perhaps it is good friends you can talk to?  May be its your hairdresser or tennis coach or physio?  You could have a formal relationship with a mentor or coach or therapist.  Or may be you have people you work with you can confide in?  Whoever is in the team, you need to be able to trust them.  The more people, the more resources you have for advice, listening, support and guidance.  And with that comes more resilience and well-being that means you can bounce back faster when you experience setbacks, disappointment and failure.

Who makes you “strong”?

It is not rocket science, but it is startling how few people we actually talk to.  In our fast-paced society, we race from moment to moment and barely touch the surface of our own lives.  Let alone the lives of others.  We take less and less time to connect to people and so lack the depth of relationship we once enjoyed.  But it is this depth of relationship that allows us to feel safe enough to reveal our pain to others and be vulnerable.  As Brene Brown says, it takes courage to be vulnerable.  I think this is the real “strong”.  And to do that we want to build relationships over time that make it easier to be vulnerable when it serves us and others to be so.  All of that takes great courage.

Throughout my divorce process, I had people to whom I could talk about the conflicting emotions I was experiencing.  Some of those ears were professional (a counsellor), but others were family, friends, colleagues and even our beloved dog, Tigger.  In the pain I felt more resilient.  Amongst the confusion, I had people to tell me it was OK and normal to feel this way.  And when it got too much, I had people who would simply be with me.

I witness great courage in my coaching clients, who are vulnerable about their emotions and experiences.  Great insight, bonding and emotional healing come from this intimacy.  It is the human power of connection that helps to keep us whole when we are most in danger of being swallowed up by our pain, fear and loss.  It is not “strong” to suffer.  To remain in silence and isolation prolongs your suffering.

And others suffer as a consequence.  People notice.  And want to help.  Make no mistake.  So be brave.  Be “strong”.  And reach out to someone who cares enough about you to listen as you express your pain.  It is the greatest expression of their love.  A worthy gift to match your strength and vulnerability.

Over to You

What does “strong” mean to you?  How are you “strong”?  I’d love to know and get this discussion moving towards helping more people manage the stresses and pressures they face in daily life.  Our health and well-being demand it.  And if we can role-model this transparency to our children and grandchildren, to those we mentor, lead and guide, the bonds of human connection will be deeper and stronger.  And we will never need to be “strong” again in isolation and loneliness.  We will be vulnerable and courageous, share our wisdom and pain and show our strength in unity and camaraderie.

Pass it on

If you enjoyed this blog, please pass it on to someone you know.  Or share the social media posts.  Thank you.

The four elements in leadership and embodiment

The four elements model

In business, do you sometimes wish you could capitalise on your strengths more?  Would you and your business or career benefit from cultivating those strengths?  Are you unsure how to take advantage of your skills and talents more effectively?  Do you notice where your short-comings may lie and how they might impact you personally and professionally?  Would you like to be able to identify those areas you might develop so that you can take your self-employed business or career to the next level?

Would it be useful to have a model that allowed you to identify all these aspects of yourself, and others, and improve your business as a result?  The four elements model is such a framework, bringing ancient wisdom into modern relevance, benefiting people’s personal and professional lives.

The beauty of the model is that it allows you to identify the preferences, patterns and habits of yourself and others.  This empowers you to know where your strengths lie as well as the strengths of those around you.  It also shows your short-comings.  We even use the elements in our everyday language, as a hint to it’s intuitive descriptive qualities: “they have a fiery temper”, “what an air head”, “he is the salt-of-the-earth” and “she moves like water”.

All this to bring awareness to your short-term states and long-term dispositions and, consequently, develop your range and choice about how you respond to situations and circumstances.  Therefore, you also have the tools to build a team or community around you that is mutually supportive and nurturing.  As well as grow yourself and your impact in the world and on those you share your life with.

Ancient Wisdom

What I love about ancient wisdom is that it has stood the test of time and remains relevant, sometimes thousands of years after its origin.  For millennia, people have found ancient wisdom like the four elements useful, because it enhances their lives through the observation of human nature.  And it gives practical answers to everyday challenges, goals and questions.

The human condition has not changed much in all that time.  We may get caught up in the language and stories of the time and find them hard to understand: Ancient philosophers like Rumi, Lao Tzu or Plato; playwrights like William Shakespeare, Bernard Shaw and Andrew Lloyd Webber; American Indian Chiefs like Black Elk or Sitting Bull; the European Pagan stories popularised by The Brothers Grimm and; the Bible or Koran.  They may all seem impenetrable without deep study.  In fact, they simply share wisdom about human nature and our place in the world.  What’s great about the four elements model is that it is an intuitive description of human behaviour that you can test and play with from day one.  And, you can explore each element through your own embodiment, giving you real time feedback about what:

  • it feels like
  • seems familiar
  • you’d like more or less of
  • you could do differently
  • you would wish to leave behind
  • is no longer serving you
  • you long for

The four elements explained

The beauty of the four elements model is that it allows you to identify the preferences, patterns and habits of yourself and others

Throughout history, humanity has sought out answers to questions about the human condition.  Therefore, each culture in every age, has found a way to explain the human condition and help improve how we respond to life’s challenges.  For some it is a model with animals.  Others may use archetypes, spirits or gods.  An enduring model uses 4 elements (some use 5 or more like the Chinese) which are relatively organic and intuitive to interpret and are, to a degree, relatively subjective.  This is a model I have learned while studying The Embodied Facilitator Course (EFC- find out more here) and makes as much if not more sense than many of the models I have studied in the past.

So, let’s take each element in turn and see what you notice in your behaviour.  Which one or two elements are most familiar?  Do certain elements show up in particular situations/ contexts in life?  Did any feel unfamiliar to you?  Is there an element you long for?  Or one that you are sick of?  Pay attention to where the elements show up in significant relationships with others in your life: parents, partners, friends, colleagues, bosses etc.  How do these impact your relationships?  Are there patterns and preferences?  What are the strengths of your preferences?  What are the risks?

Earth

Earthy people like structure.  They like stability, reliability, control, things to be correct and organised.  Therefore, they like planning, management, budgeting and making lists.  You want your accountant or lawyer to be an earthy type.  However, too much Earth and things can get stuck and uninspiring.  Earthy people will maintain standards and hold to tradition.  When things get chaotic, the Earth quality will bring fairness, stability, reliability and self-control.

If you want to engage with an Earthy person, show them the facts.  Go slow and be structured and methodical.  In turn, they communicate in a factual and practical manner and will offer a supportive and reliable role.  If you find yourself lacking this element, slow down and get into the garden.  Literally, work with the Earth.  Take a walk in nature and breathe deep into the belly.  In excess of Earth?  Use qualities of the other elements, especially Water to create more movement, action and challenge some of that physical, mental and emotional rigidity.  Air can also bring a lightness, playfulness and creativity to counter Earthy heaviness and conformity.

Water

This element’s primary focus is relationship and acceptance.  Watery people love to listen, accommodate and care for others and support people.  They want loyalty and harmony in relationship.  Dislikes are rejection, conflict and loss.  They are great in feedback, networking, staff-care and HR roles.  You want your HR manager, coach and therapist to be a Watery person.  Too much Water and someone is a push over with weak boundaries and prone to collusion.  Empathy, connection, intimacy and relationship building are all Water qualities.

If you want to engage with a Watery person, take your time to listen and build the relationship.  Be sincere with your thoughts and feelings and show that you care.  Water’s communication style is empathic and relational.  In need of more Water?  Get to the sea or a river or failing that create comfort and soft lighting in the home.  Too much Water can be balanced with all the other elements, especially Earth to give structure and Fire to create and maintain boundaries.

Fire

What needs to be done?  When you need to take action, get results, prioritise and make tough choices, Fire is what you want to embody.  It will come as no surprise to hear that Fire is about directness, assertiveness, energising and doing more, being stronger and getting it done faster.  You want your boss or manager to have Fire.  If you are self-employed, you benefit from Fire too as you are the one who has to get the job done.  At their best, Fiery people will be challenging, name what needs to be said, be sincere and cut to the chase.  Too much Fire and you will rush and get pushy (perhaps to the point of brutality).

If you want buy-in from Fiery people, tell them what the results will be and the benefits.  Motivate to action through challenge, creating competition, setting goals, having a fast pace and being competent at what you do.  They will likely talk to you in a challenging and direct way.  Too much Fire can be balanced with Water for more relational integrity and with Earth for the rushing and potential burnout.  If you have too little Fire, get to the bright lights of big cities like London or New York or indulge in fiery activity like martial arts or tango.

Air

What is possible?  Sky-high, big picture thinking without a box is how Air people envision and strategise.  Leadership, innovation, brainstorming and creativity come from Air energy.  The light side of Air also leads to humour, flexibility, inspiration, and spontaneity.  Air types love freedom, creativity and perfection and fear boredom, imperfection and being controlled.  Use Air to over-come challenges, get clarity and come at things with lightness and fresh ideas.

Want to engage Air people?  Inspire, explore, study and learn with them, be original, use humour and pace.  Get them curious and fuel their joy of whatever you are trying to enrol them in.  Too much Air and people are vague, chaotic and silly.  Use the other elements to balance the excess Air, especially Fire for directness and Earth to bring order and calm.  Too little Air can be balanced with open space, bright lights, colour and chaos.  Head for the hills and mountains.  All this will inspire creativity, joy and excitement.

Four elements embodied

As you may have noticed in the descriptions, there are embodied qualities to each element.  You can evoke each one by moving, standing and sitting differently and even by subtly changing your posture.  This empowers you to bring more of what you think you might need to a situation or dial down what you might need less of.  We will be exploring the embodiment of the four elements in the next Be the Best Boss event in Cambridge on September 19th, 2019.

You will learn your particular mix of elements and be able to work out the mix of others.  This will allow you to better communicate with other people, teams and organisations. You will learn how to work with the elements through embodiment, to get better results in business situations as well as personal ones. The elements will give you more adaptability and versatility in work situations and work better with different people, groups and cultures, thus developing your leadership skills.  You can find further details here.

Over to you

What are your element preferences?  How do they impact on what you’re good at?  How do they limit you?  What elements would you wish to cultivate?  What impact could that have on your business, career and relationships?

Pass it on

If you found this blog interesting, please forward it to people you think might be interested too.  And if you know people in your network that might be interested in attending the Be the Best Boss workshop on leadership and embodiment, please send them the link (https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/be-the-best-boss-you-ever-had-a-workshop-on-leadership-and-embodiment-tickets-67255712647).

Thank you.