Dear Five Faces: Almost five years ago a good friend (April) and I started a business helping local restaurants get leftover food to homeless people. It was a small operation, just the two of us, but we felt good about it. Two years ago, my son became ill and I had to leave our business, but April kept it going. Several months ago there was an article in our newspaper about the business with a quote from one of the people we helped thanking April for all she’d done to make such a difference. She was quoted as thanking him, but she never mentioned me. I’m sure this seems petty, but I don’t understand why she didn’t acknowledge all I’d done to help start and run the business. I’m pretty sure April is a primary Wood and I’m a Metal. Should I say something to her? Signed: Left Out
Dear Left Out: It’s difficult to feel ignored when praise is passed out, especially when you were half of the team that created the company. And since you’ve only been out of the company for two years, April clearly can’t have forgotten all you contributed. Also, you don’t mention it in your letter, but you might be wondering if April purposely left out any mention of your contributions. Let’s look at the likely dynamic between you and April and see if we can’t bring some understanding to this situation for you.
It’s no surprise that you and April were able to start and successfully run a company. With her Wood and your Metal, you probably could have done absolutely anything! Her Wood would bring planning and the energy to manifest the plan, and your Metal would bring structure, process, and analysis of the plan. It’s a heady combination and you two probably had great fun creating and running the company.
However, the relationship between Metal and Wood is a Control Cycle relationship, so it’s possible that April’s Wood could have felt controlled or held back by you at times. Ask yourself if you ever felt that it was your “job” to keep April in check. These are subtle dynamics, but Metal likes to be in control, so you might have naturally stepped into a slightly controlling position in the business relationship. And since Metals run their lives by the “right” way to do things, it’s not surprising you are bothered by the fact that April didn’t mention you in the article. You were a key part of the company and in your mind it is perfectly “right” that you should be acknowledged.
From April’s perspective, her focus will be on success and accomplishment, especially as it relates to her. This is not to say that Woods are egotistical monomaniacs; they aren’t. But individual accomplishment is very important to them. Also, Woods hate feeling like things are out of control, which might be exactly how April felt when you had to leave the business two years ago. She may feel that she’s the one who kept the boat afloat, so to speak, so deserves the kudos. You don’t mention how April took the news that you were leaving. With a sick son it was completely understandable, but April could have felt hurt or even betrayed. And when that happens, a Wood can be good at pruning the offending person out of their life.
So what should you do? I suggest you look to your secondary element, which I suspect is Earth. To start and run the kind of company you did suggest a great deal of Earth for both you and April. Earth is about longstanding connections and will be the perfect energy for bringing clarity to this situation. Balance your Metal energy so you can let go of feeling hurt, step into your Earth so you can understand what it might have been like for April when you left, and reach out to her. Congratulate her on the great press (this will please her Wood) and ask how things are going. I suspect that once you get past the hurt both of you may feel, your Earth caring for each other and the great work you have both done will help smooth things over. Who knows, with the blessing of Earth, another great Metal/Wood partnership might be birthed by the two of you. Good luck!