Understanding The 5 Elements

Understanding The 5
Elements In Chinese
在中国文化中的 5 大要素的理解
Cecil Daniels
Business and Culture Along The Silk Roads
Culture Presentation
Business Application
• The business application of understanding the 5
elements is:
– Being able to identify the strengths and challenges of
these core element types.
– Evaluating staff and teammates while not placing
people into one personality type over another with
the understanding that one's personality might make
adjustments based on his or her environment or
– Being able to understand the behaviors and
motivations of others relative to our own personalities
to help mitigate potential conflict by learning to
recognize personality differences and characteristics.
• cul·ture
• noun \ˈkəl-chər\ : the beliefs, customs, arts,
etc., of a particular society, group, place, or
• : a particular society that has its own beliefs,
ways of life, art, etc.
• : a way of thinking, behaving, or working that
exists in a place or organization (such as a
In Chinese culture there is philosophical understanding of life based on observation of
nature. They understand that everything in the Universe comes out of the ‘unnamable’ , the
TAO, which expresses itself as the dual principles of Yin and Yang, i.e. heaven and earth, day
and night, masculine and feminine energies.
Along with the law of Yin and Yang, ancient Taoists observed a pattern of expression in
nature that they understood as the Five Elements or Five Phases. These elements, or
energies, are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water and are understood to be the main
energetic building blocks from which all matter is composed.
The Elements are representations of the transformation that occurs in the world around us;
they are metaphors for describing how things interact and relate with each other.
Everything is made up of some combination of these elements: people, companies, games,
plants, music, art etc.
Each element is associated with one of the planets in our solar system. Fire is paired with
Mars; Wood is paired with Jupiter; Water is paired with Mercury; Earth is paired with Saturn
and Metal is paired with Venus.
There are relationships between each of these Chinese Elements. They each have a
beneficial relationship and a destructive relationship.
The Five Elements
Fire - Socializer/Marketing
• Fire is yang/masculine in character.
• Fire is associated with the qualities of liveliness, strength and resolve;
however, it is also connected to restlessness.
• The fire element provides, warmth, enthusiasm and creativity, however
an excess of it can bring aggression, impatience and impulsive behavior.
• Fire is the Element responsible for passion when you are following your
life's calling. It is the joy and laughter associated with playfulness.
• Fire type people tend to be charming, fun, mischievous, easily excitable,
and change emotional states rapidly. They love change, bright colors
and environments that stimulate. The negative emotion is hate, while
its positive emotion is joy.
• Beneficial Relationship
• Fire can help to produce dust (Earth).
• Destructive Relationship
• Fire can melt Metal, but Metal might not melt before Fire is extinguished.
Earth - Mediator and Peacemaker/Human
• Earth is a balance of both yin and yang, the feminine and masculine
• Its motion is inward and centering, and its energy is stabilizing and
conserving. It is associated with the turn of each of the seasons and
with damp.
• In Chinese thought Earth is associated with the qualities of patience,
thoughtfulness, practicality, hard work and stability.
• The earth element is also nurturing and seeks to draw all things
together with itself, in order to bring harmony, rootedness and stability.
Other attributes of the earth element include ambition, stubbornness,
responsibility and long-term planning. On the shadow side, the earth
element can represent selfishness and self-centeredness. Earth type
people are usually warm, kind and supportive. They can be
overprotective and tend to merge with their environment, having
difficulties with boundaries.
• Beneficial Relationship
• Earth can help mineral (Metal) to form.
• Destructive Relationship
• Earth can absorb Water..
Metal - Experimenter and Judge/Organizing
Metal is yin/feminine in character,
Metal represents the minerals, crystals, and gems of the world.
The metal aspect is the diamond found within each one of us.
The Metal Element is the breath of life. When you are connected
to that experience, you know your own self-worth. You respect
others and yourself; you are willing to give and receive
acknowledgment for the magnificent being that you are.
• The qualities associated with metal are unyieldingness, rigidity,
persistence, strength and determination. Metal type people like
minimalism. They are organized, clean, and contained. They can
be controlling, ambitious, forceful and set in their ways as metal
is very strong; and they are self-reliant and prefer to handle their
problems alone.
• Beneficial Relationship
• Metal can hold Water.
• Destructive Relationship
• Metal can cut Wood.
Water - Philosopher and Thinker/Innovation
• Water is yin/feminine in character
• In Chinese Taoist thought, water is representative of intelligence and wisdom,
flexibility, softness and flexibility; however, an over-abundance of the element is
said to cause difficulty in choosing something and sticking to it.
• In the same way, Water can be fluid and weak, but can also wield great power
when it floods and overwhelms the land.
• When your Water Element is in balance, you use your resources of energy, time,
contacts, and money wisely, neither hoarding nor squandering that which gives
you life. Water is also the element of stillness and rest, taking time to rest and
rejuvenate yourself. It is in the Water element that all great innovations and
ideas are birthed.
• Water type people appear a bit reserved, yet are often very creative, sometimes
even eccentric. They can appear cool and stoic, yet have the capacities to be still
and deeply reflect.
Beneficial Relationship
• Water can help tree (Wood) grow.
• Destructive Relationship
• Water can extinguish Fire.
Wood - Pioneer and Strategist/Directing
• It is yang/masculine in character.
• The predominant attributes are considered to be
strength and flexibility, as with bamboo.
• It is also associated with qualities of generosity and
idealism. One quality of the Wood element is
leadership. It is the leader within us, that can take
charge and determine a plan of action. The wood is
one that seeks always to grow and expand.
• Beneficial Relationship
• Wood can help Fire to burn.
• Destructive Relationship
• Wood can break the ground (Earth)

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