Water, Metal, and the “S” Word: Structure

Dear Vicki: I run an assisted living facility and as a Metal, I take pride in what I do. I have a wonderful crew of people who help me make the place as comfortable for the seniors as possible. However, one of my employees constantly gives me trouble. His name is Peter, and he’s caring, compassionate, extremely creative, and impossible to keep in line. Whenever we have a plan in place, without asking Peter will change it on the fly. Without permission, he buys more craft material than we budgeted, brings in treats for the residents, or reads to a few of our seniors well past lights out. I have reminded him of our guidelines dozens of times. He seems surprised and contrite, but nothing changes. And if I clamp down and create stricter boundaries for him, he becomes uncharacteristically reactive. I think Peter is an Earth, so I’m surprised that we don’t get along better. We relate on the Nurturing Cycle, right? Everyone here loves Peter, and he’s a very valuable part of our team, but I think I need to let him go. Can you help? Signed: At Wits End

Dear Wits End: Clearly, Peter does care about your facility and your seniors. And yes, the caring, compassion, and devotion he exhibits for his work does suggest that he has a lot of Earth. However, I also think that Peter shows a lot of Water characteristics, too. Not sticking to guidelines, creativity, changing things at the drop of a hat, these are all behaviors that are quite natural for Waters. They like to flow wherever they want, whenever they want. Rules are for other people, not them. And of course, your Metal isn’t going to like this one bit.

The fact that Peter has a lot of Earth is probably why you hired him. You do relate to Peter via the Nurturing Cycle. His Earth feeds your Metal, which works for you because every supervisor likes to feel supported by their employees. However, when Peter is in a Water place, which I think is more often than you realize, it is your Metal that feeds his Water. And while supervisors know they need to support their employees, Metals tend to want to do that only when it works for them. At their core, Metals don’t like people demanding anything from them. They’d rather present themselves, their wisdom, their skills when the time is right for them. So I suspect that the attention Peter’s Water requires from you is part of the problem. But it’s not the main problem. There’s a bigger problem when Metals and Waters clash, and that’s the issue of structure.

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