The Four Elements

Nature's simple framework for success and fulfillment

Nature always shows the way.

Perfectly balanced. Perfectly wild. Perfectly magical.

(just an aside but I’m amazed every time I read about the delicate balance in local ecosystems. See how wolves change rivers, and how trees and salmon cooperate for a couple examples).

So today we take a cue from nature, more specifically its four elements - air, earth, water and fire.

Each element represented as a unique energy/skill, provides us a simple framework to walk our highest path of success and fulfillment.

Air is about vision. Getting a birds eye view of the terrain. An ability to zoom out, make sense of the big picture, look ahead and form an intelligent view of where to go next.

Earth is about grounding the vision. Walking the terrain. Doing the work. Forming plans. Taking care of the details. Building the vision and making it real.

Water is about accepting and adapting. Flowing with the terrain. Plans may go sideways. The unexpected may come up. The terrain could abruptly change. Each time this happens, we say yes, and adapt. Surrender and flow with what-is.

“Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth.”
— Mike Tyson

Fire is passion. The fuel to follow through on the vision because you care deeply about what you do. It also provides focus and burns away everything that isn’t aligned with your path.

Each element is needed to create the magic.

Overweight / underweight on any one leads to imbalance.

Too much air and you’re literally an airhead, daydreaming without getting much done.

Too much earth is compulsive action, constant micro-management of small details, losing sight of the big picture, and ultimately probably working on the wrong things/priorities.

Too much water is giving it all up to go meditate in a monastery in complete surrender for the rest of your days (won’t lie, I’ve pondered this).

Too much fire burns too brightly, becomes too attached, too stubborn, leaving one unable to adapt or adjust plans, and risk burning out too quickly.

Personally, I’ve been more heavily earth and fire for most of my career, so I was good at getting things done. It was rewarding, but it also led to many missed opportunities for bigger rewards because I rarely stepped back to assess the terrain. I also took challenges and setbacks hard, leading to unhealthy coping mechanisms.

As part of a personal transformation the past couple of years, I’ve been learning to harness water to be more fluid. I also took an extended sabbatical to assess what I really wanted in life, how I wanted to contribute to the world, and where I see the next big opportunities.

If you haven’t already while reading this, I highly, highly recommend doing an honest assessment of yourself. It’s quick and you’ll know right away where you lean, where the gaps are.

We all have our strengths, our comfort zones, but having major gaps in other areas can lead to blind spots and missed potential. Recognizing this will allow you to do something about it (partnering with someone that complements you is also an option).

Harnessing the four elements is also a must to boldly navigate a world of growing change and uncertainty.

All you got to do is soar, walk/run, flow and burn bright. Easy peasy :)


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