Chapter OneUnderstanding the Elements: Which One Are You?
Earth. Water. Wind. Fire. Which one are you? And what does it matter? This book will help to educate and convince you that knowing the difference is important indeed. And it will also help you take this individual tool of the Path Elements Profile(tm) (PEP) and expand it into a team assessment that can help transform not one, but many individuals into a harmonizing, humming force for good.
It is imperative that leaders first understand their own elements in order to assess their strengths and challenges. One CEO I was coaching, for example, is an inventor-and a certifiable genius-from the Silicon Valley. However, he had burned through six assistants in a year, blaming each one of them for their failures. Only when he saw his element, Fire, and understood his current and most willing assistant, Water, did he realize that his flame was not giving as much light as heat. He was on the verge of accomplishing nothing of worth without a team that understood him and, more important, that he understood and respected. Are you a Fire burning through your team, or perhaps another element with its own unique set of strengths and challenges? Let's find out now.
Identifying the Positive Characteristics of Each Element
In this section, please take the time to contemplate each of the four elements. These activities are designed to trigger new synapses in your brain and create a new mind map for you to better reference and absorb the information that will follow.
What are the unique and positive characteristics of each of the elements? All are powerful. All are beautiful. All can be dangerous when unharnessed or out of control. Yet for our purposes here let's consider the positive characteristics of each element.
Quickly name five positive characteristics of Earth and write them here:
Earth is/does ...
Name five positive characteristics of Water and write them here:
Water is/does ...
Now name five positive characteristics of Wind and write them here:
Wind is/does ...
Name five positive characteristic of Fire and write them here:
Fire is/does ...
Now quickly choose the element you most relate to and write it here:
I feel most like _______________________.
If you are torn between two elements, write both of them here:
I feel I may be a blend of ______________________ and _____________________.
If you are uncertain, ask family, friends, and coworkers to choose for you. They usually can identify your elements.
At the top of the quadrant are the words Deliberate and Fast. Place a dot in the quadrant that is most like you.
At the bottom of the quadrant are the words People and Results. Place a dot in the quadrant that most attracts you.
If you placed yourself in the Deliberate quadrant, you tend toward Earth.
If you placed yourself in the Fast quadrant, you tend toward Wind.
If you placed yourself in the People quadrant, you tend toward Water.
If you placed yourself in the Results quadrant, you tend toward Fire.
Now look at your two dots. Where they are may be a reflection of your personality blend. For example, if you are in the Fast quadrant and the People quadrant, you are probably a Wind/Water. If you are in the Deliberate quadrant and the Results quadrant, you may be an Earth/Fire.
Another guide is to read the following statements and circle your answer to each one.
People say I make decisions quickly, often based on just the "scent" of something. True or False (If you answered True, your tendency is toward Wind.)
When it comes to choosing between people or results, I have to admit I almost always put people first. True or False (If you answered True, your tendency is toward Water.)
When it comes to decision making, I prefer to move based on evidence. True or False (If you answered True, your tendency is toward Earth.)
Once I commit to something, I give 110 percent to the task and am often angry when others don't do the same. True or False (If you answered True, your tendency is toward Fire.)
If you would like to have more information about taking the full PEP test, please go to my Web site, www.lauriebethjones.com, or see the information page at the end of this book.
Before we had the PEP online assessment, which pinpoints accurately each person's elemental makeup, I thought I was Water. I wanted to be Water, mostly because Jesus said He was "Living Water," but also because Water is beautifully capable of changing form.
However, my friends unanimously told me I was Wind and Fire, which gave me a whole new insight into how I was behaving in my relationships as well as in my calling. Even though I didn't get to be Living Water like Jesus, I took comfort when one friend reminded me that the Holy Spirit is compared to Wind and Fire in Scripture.
So, my dominant elements are Wind and Fire, with a little bit of Water and hardly any Earth. Therefore, I love to message with results, but am not too good at nurturing or details. This profile has proven challenging in my career choices and relationships. (My former bosses have openly shared that I was basically not a very good "employee.") Once I got who I was, however, as a self-directed author and speaker, I began to lead with my strengths and "team" for my challenges. (You may view my PEP report in Appendix II.)
I strongly urge you to pause here and, before you continue, get feedback from friends and family about how they see you in elemental terms. The insights you gain about your behaviors and their perceptions of you will be worth the price of this book. By capturing your essence in terms of Earth, Water, Wind, or Fire, people can communicate your strengths as well as your challenges in nonjudgmental, loving, insightful, and often humorous ways.
In one seminar I conducted in Seattle, a gentleman named Jackson expressed his inner uncertainty. His team unanimously called out, "Jackson, you are Wind!" amid great howls of laughter. Sometimes we see ourselves through a glass darkly, while those around us can see quite clearly.
Stop here and get feedback from your friends and family.
Understanding Personality Blends
There are sixteen possible personality blends:
Earth Water Earth/Wind Water/Wind Earth/Water Water/Earth Earth/Fire Water/Fire
Wind Fire Wind/Water Fire/Wind Wind/Earth Fire/Earth Wind/Fire Fire/Water
I have developed symbols for each one of these, which are as follows:
Earth Earth/Wind Earth/Water Earth/Fire
Water Water/Wind Water/Earth Water/Fire
Wind Wind/Water Wind/Earth Wind/Fire
Fire Fire/Wind Fire/Earth Fire/Water
Almost 3 percent of the population will be fusions. They will be about evenly matched in all the elements. Because they are capable of changing form as needed, I typically relate fusions to the Water element for purposes of discussion.
The value of having the full overview of your elemental makeup is discovering where you are strong and where you are challenged. The implication of this self-knowledge is profound and far-reaching. It can and will affect (and has been affecting) everything from your relationships to your career choices, leadership style, and happiness needs.
Your personality type influences you in each of the following areas. In this section I will detail each area for the basic elements of Earth, Water, Wind, and Fire.
Action Adventure Anger Authority Change Communication Conflict Fears Fun Ideal Work Leadership Learning Environment Order Pace Leisure Stress Success Relationships Tasks
Now that you have made a quick guess and/or gotten feedback from others about your elemental makeup, let's look at the elements in more depth.
Earth is "terra firma" for us. It is the foundation of everything we do. It is our home, our grounding point, our anchor. It is steady and solid. Earth is predictable in its seasons and cycles and rotations. It is perfectly poised and balanced at all times, and is magnificent in its diversity. It supports all life forms and is equally comfortable and at work whether it is winter, summer, spring, or fall. Earth stores and saves and works silently and steadily to maintain diverse forms of life. It seeks balance and sustainability in all things. It is rich, fertile, vast, and full of resources.
Earth is also generous, nourishing, supportive, ordered, and colorful. It has multiple textures and incredible depths. It can be towering and sheltering, dynamic and peaceful. It is slow to change, fertile, and full of treasures. Earth is aware of the "gravity" of every situation and operates on predictable laws. Earth knows that everything "matters." You can almost always count on earth to be there, no matter what.
Name other positive characteristics of earth that come to mind for you, and write them on a piece of paper or in a notebook. Participants in my Path seminars have added the following words to the list for earth:
abundant active balanced beautiful changing colorful comforting communal consistent deep diverse dynamic earthy evolving experienced fertile foundational fruitful generous gravitating grounded healing home life-bearing multifaceted multilayered nourishing nurturing ordered oriented peaceful powerful precious regenerative reliable resourceful restorative rich sacred sheltering slow to change solid spinning stable supportive sustaining textural towering transformative treasureful vast warm
Water is the most vital and necessary of all the elements. Without water, nothing lives. It is fluid, cleansing, life-giving, shape-shifting, expansive, pure, and sculpting. It is tranquil, reflective, transparent, shimmering, clear, and nourishing. Water is deep, irresistible, dramatic, sparkling, entertaining, singing, still, and healing. Water is capable of changing form into ice or snow or mist or rain. It is flexible, taking the shape of whatever it is poured into. It is a solvent, dissolving hard substances and making things easier to swallow. It is capable of diluting solids. It is patient, taking eons to sculpt canyons as it quietly moves along. It is renewing and inspiring. Water takes the path of least resistance and "goes with the flow." It is easily directed and pours itself 100 percent into whatever it does, wherever it is.
Water is very comfortable with change and works silently and invisibly to nurture and sustain life. Name other characteristics of water, and write them in your notebook. Here are more words to describe water:
bubbly buoyant calming cleansing clear cooling deep detoxifying dramatic energizing entertaining essential ever-changing expansive flowing fluid form-changing freeing fun-filled healing holding immutable intoxicating irresistible life-bearing life-giving luxurious magnifying mesmerizing noisy nourishing powerful pure quenching reflective refreshing rhythmic sculpting serene shape-shifting shimmering singing solid soothing sparkling still surging tranquil transforming transparent transporting vital
Wind is swift, uplifting, whirling, motion oriented, and refreshing. It can be silent or howling, and is itself invisible. It is mysterious, unpredictable, energetic, and global. It is cleansing, musical, electric, haunting, sweeping, caressing, and scent-bearing. Wind warns, cools, soothes, and pollinates. It inspires, literally giving "breath" to everything that moves. Wind can penetrate through cracks and walls and fabric. It is persuasive and enigmatic. It can whisper and caress and tease and play. It can lift up kites and dash down buildings. It supports butterflies and hummingbirds and can sweep the old away in a single breath. Name other characteristics of wind, and write them in your notebook. The following list describes wind:
boundless caressing changeable cleansing confident cooling creative dynamic electric eliminating enabling energetic enigmatic exciting forceful freeing fun gentle global God-breathed haunting howling invisible lyrical mesmerizing moody motion-directed multidirectional musical mysterious necessary omniscient penetrating persuasive pollinating powerful prevailing refreshing scent-bearing seed-bearing silent soothing strong sweeping swift temporary unpredictable untamed uplifting warning whirling whispering wild
Fire is purifying, hot, illuminating, and passionate. It is dancing, sizzling, radiant, freeing, and captivating. It ignites, comforts, signals, blazes, and roars. It is romantic, wild, hungry, and intense. It is insatiable, transformational, and contagious. It can be cozy, glowing, and civilizing. It gives warmth and light, and keeps away the wild beasts. It also stirs up what is wild within us. Fire is useful, regenerating, consuming, and motivating. It is energizing, forging, purifying, and renewing. Write other positive characteristics of fire in your notebook. Here are more words to describe fire:
attractive blazing brilliant captivating catalytic changeable civilizing cleansing colorful comforting communicative consuming cozy dancing energizing fascinating forging freeing glowing has no boundaries hot hungry igniting illuminating insatiable inspiring intense joyful life-sustaining light lingering mesmerizing motivating passionate playful powerful purifying radiant regenerating renewing restoring roaring romantic sense of home signaling sizzling spreading transformational unpredictable unstoppable useful warm wild
Now let's consider strengths, challenges, likes, and dislikes of each element.
Earth's strengths include stability, predictability, a sense of the long term, grounding, and orderly movement. Earth is sure of itself.
Earth's challenges include a tendency to be stubborn, being unyielding and locked into old ways of doing things, and an unwillingness to move. Earth can be boring without the other elements.
Earth likes structure, stability, long-term thinking, commitment, being asked for sound advice, planning deadlines that are adhered to, details and facts, and regular and constant communication ("I need you to touch base with me on this," or "E.T., phone home").
Earth dislikes sudden movement, words like new or radical or change, things that are "different," too much spontaneity, sudden changes in plans, chaos or clutter, and unpredictability.
Meditation for Earth
I am Earth. I give soil and substance to those around me. I support and protect all living things. I guard resources so life may be sustained in all seasons. I am sure. I am steady. I am Firm. I am Earth.
I do best when given facts, data, information, and time to process and create in an unhurried, orderly fashion.
Shadow Side of Earth
Others sometimes see me as ... boring stubborn hardhearted dense slow to move stuck in the mud picky obsessive about order or details
To bring more balance, I need to open up to new ideas and be more willing to take risks.
Earth prefers to gather information and move cautiously. Wants assurance of a desired outcome before taking action. Tends to be better at maintaining and completing rather than starting.
Earth respects consequences and seeks safety over risk. Prefers to choose a planned activity over an impromptu experience. Typically has a backup plan and wants to be prepared for unexpected events.
Earth does not welcome showy displays of emotion, and views loss of self-control as a sign of immaturity and weakness. Can become irritated or even angry about careless inattention to details, inconsistency, and hypocrisy.
Earth respects authority because of its need for order and balance but will resist authority that demands ethical or legal compromise. Tends to know and live by rules, and enforces boundaries in its work and personal relationships.