Helping Their Son Succeed

Dear Vicki: I’m writing because my husband and I have run out of ways to help motivate our son James. He is 12 years old, musically talented, and loves photography and drawing houses. Currently, James wants to be an architect, photographer or a musician. The problem is that he has lots of ideas, but rarely puts anything into action. It’s like he gets stuck at the starting point and can’t get going. Not surprisingly, he struggles with his schoolwork and getting organized. He daydreams a lot and we constantly need to remind what he should be doing. Sometimes we even have to sit with him to make sure he gets things done. We had him tested and while the results came back in the normal range, we still need to make lists for him regarding what needs to get done each day. Fortunately, he’s an only child so we do have the time to focus on him. I work part time as an accountant and my husband is a computer designer, writer, and programmer. What will it take to help James accomplish things and succeed? Signed: Weary and Worried in Washington

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Dear Weary and Worried: It is very understandable why you are worried about your son’s apparent inability to accomplish things. We have an accomplishment-driven culture these days that readily equates success with manifestation: What have we done lately? And while this works well for several of the elemental personalities, not all of them will thrive or feel comfortable in this kind of environment. I think that may be part of the issue for James.

Your description of him perfectly fits that of the primary Water personality. Water people definitely dream and create, and sometimes their act of creation produces a physical manifestation like a painting, photograph, or drawing of a house. But Water people often don’t have the structure to stay with projects long enough to actually manifest something that is not an act of creation itself. This includes chores, uninspiring homework, etc. And while manifestation starts with an idea or a dream, in most cases it needs to be brought down to the physical to be real.

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Her Female Partner Not Included in Family Plans

Dear Five Faces: My mother recently made an extremely unreasonable request and I am writing for help on how best to deal with it. After a long illness, my father passed away this summer and our small family held a simple, private funeral for him. My fiance, Shelley, attended with me and all was well. Recently, my father’s brother (who lives out of state) has decided to stage an extensive memorial service for my father in January. My uncle is a very conservative person and Mom has asked that Shelley not attend; she’s concerned about flak from his family. Apparently, my parents never mentioned to Dad’s family that I’m gay. How should I handle this? Shelley says she understands and is willing to skip the ceremony for family harmony, but it just isn’t fair. How can I convince my mother that Shelley should be allowed to attend? I’m really angry that Shelley is being snubbed! Signed: Angry Daughter

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Dear Angry Daughter: First, I offer my condolences on the loss of your father. Losing a parent is always difficult. And losing a spouse can be just as difficult, sometimes more so, which means that your mother is probably in a pretty stressed place these days. She may still be reeling from all that needs to be managed when someone passes, so let’s figure out your elemental personalities and see if we can find a way to help you and your family with this issue.

Because you are angry and upset at the unfairness of Shelley not attending the service, I suspect you are a primary Wood personality. Fairness is key to Wood people and anger is where they go when things seem unfair. Shelley’s willingness to skip the service to keep the peace suggests she’s a primary Earth personality. Family harmony is very important to Earth people. Finally, your mother’s insistence on Shelley not attending because of appearances suggest she is probably a primary Metal personality. Appearances matter to them. And even if your mother isn’t normally a primary Metal, with the recent death of her husband she is probably in a Metal place these days. Grief, loss, and letting go all sit in the Metal element of the Five Elements model.

The main elemental dynamic at play here is that you and your mother (as she is now) relate on the Controlling Cycle of the Five Elements model, with her Metal energy controlling your Wood energy. Wood people do not like to be controlled, so it’s understandable that you are having serious trouble with your mother’s request. Something else Wood people hate is when things seem out of control, which touches on another dynamic involved in your situation that is probably bothering you, as well.

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Keeping Her Brother and His Girlfriend Together

Dear Vicki: My brother Joe is in his early forties and works as a cook, which is just his “day job.” His passion is music and playing guitar. When we were younger, Joe wanted to write songs for a rock band or be an elementary teacher. Neither ever happened. But about a year ago, Joe met a woman who runs a nursing home. Carol is close to his age, kind and caring, but also very exacting in how she approaches things. She’s always punctual, too. Since Joe moved in with Carol, he has changed in very positive ways. He’s less scattered, more organized, and even thinking about going back to college for a degree in early education. Our whole family is thrilled, and I’m wondering if there is anything we can do to help Joe in his relationship with Carol. She is so good for him. Signed: Caring Sister

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Dear Caring Sister: It’s wonderful news about Joe, and no surprise that your family is so happy. In the Five Elements model, family sits in the Earth element. That means we’re all a little Earthy around our families. Deep, lasting relationships matter to Earth people. They also really want the people they care about to be happy. In fact, there appears to be a great deal of Earth energy in your family. Not only because you all want to help Joe and Carol stay together, but because I suspect both Joe and Carol have Earth as key parts of their elemental personalities. So, let’s take a look at them individually, then move on to their relationship.

Joe’s passion for music and songwriting suggests he has a primary Water personality. But his current job as a cook, as well as his desire to be in elementary education, suggests that he has a strong secondary Earth personality. I suspect Carol has a strong secondary Earth personality, too. Earth people make wonderful nurses. But to run a nursing home means that Carol has a more structured element as her primary personality: either Wood or Metal. And given her tendencies to be exacting and punctual, I suspect she has a primary Metal personality.

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He Needs an Assistant: Who Should He Hire?

Dear Vicki: I am writing about my father; we’ll call him Greg. He’s fantastic at making things happen, is the most amazing multi-tasker I know, and is actually a great father, just not very warm and fuzzy. He’s been in business, specifically marketing, for most of his career, and changed jobs two years ago to head up a national marketing and sales force for a large corporation. The reason I’m writing is that he’s had three administrative assistants during those two years. The third quit last week and now he’s complaining that he can’t find good help. I love him, but when he’s stressed, he can come across as bossy and insensitive. Is there anything I can say to him that will help him find and keep a good administrative assistant? Signed, A Caring Daughter

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Dear Caring Daughter: Your father is very lucky to have such a caring daughter. Good for you! And this is an interesting relationship question. Work relationships are just as important as our personal relationships, but are often more difficult.  That’s because at work, we’re usually more invested in our performance than our relationships.  But work relationships often make or break our performances, so let’s see what we can do to help you help your father.

If Greg’s business career has focused on marketing and sales, it’s highly likely that he is a primary Wood personality. Marketing requires focus, vision, and the ability to make things happen, while sales requires multitasking and an ability to put yourself out there in the name of a product, brand, organization, etc. This sounds pretty close to how you described your father.

Greg clearly has a lot of responsibility in his new job, which Wood people perceive as a reflection of their importance, so usually enjoy – until times get tough. When significant problems arise, the stressed Wood personality will usually take dramatic steps to keep things from getting further out of control because nothing takes a Wood person down faster than chaos. This clamping down makes them seem very controlling, or as you put it: “bossy and insensitive.” And as Greg’s history with assistants has shown, it can be very hard to work for a stressed, controlling Wood. So how do you help your father?

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Her Business Partner is Shirking Responsibilities

Dear Vicki: Abby, my close friend and business partner, has been acting very strange lately. We have a small public relations firm and she’s the organization and power behind it. I’m the enthusiasm and presentation side. It’s worked out really well and our little firm has grown steadily over the past five years. The problem is that our business is stalling right now because Abby hasn’t been very organized or powerful lately. She’s been low-key, distant, and sort of stuck in the past. When I ask her what’s going on, she denies that anything is wrong. I know her only daughter recently moved out of state, but Abby made it through a contentious divorce a few years ago, so I can’t imagine Shelley’s move would affect her this way. As her business partner, I feel it is my responsibility to let Abby know we need her to snap out of it. What can I do to help Abby get back in the saddle? Signed, Losing Steam 

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Dear Losing Steam: It appears that you and Abby have a great set-up in your business. As the organization and power behind your firm, I suspect that Abby’s normal elemental personality is Wood. As we have said here many times, Wood people are focused visionaries who are great at running things. You, on the other hand, sound like a primary Fire personality. Fire people are nothing if not enthusiastic. They also are comfortable in front of others, which makes them excellent actors, salespeople, and presenters. Finally, you and Abby relate to each other on the Nurturing Cycle of the Five Elements model, with Abby’s Wood feeding your Fire, which as long as you both stay balanced, works great for everyone.

I believe that the key to your current problem rests in the fact that, at the moment, Abby is not a balanced Wood personality. In fact, I think it’s possible that she isn’t acting from her Wood personality at all these days and that’s what’s hurting your business. It sounds like what’s happening for Abby is that she’s experiencing a temporary stint as an out of balance Metal personality. When you describe Abby’s behavior as low-key, reserved, and stuck in the past, you are definitely describing characteristics of an out of balance Metal person.

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