Keywords; refining, discerning, performance-based, measuring, auditing, critical, repetitive, specialized, quality, reserved, improving, focused,
Metal is a master of its craft. Deep within the depths of the earth, mineral resources accumulate and undergo a transformation process to become something rare, of value, and useful. Metal is pure in its own right, anxious to be suitable, and is driven by virtue.
As the degeneration phase of the lifecycle process, metal is keenly about refinement. Shaking off all that doesn't matter, all that is insignificant, and all that is simply not within the scope of the mission, is the journey of the metal process. A lifestyle of goals, discipline, and measurement are the hallmark traits that help metal to achieve fulfillment by delivering extraordinary results.
As a servant for a greater cause, metal lives a life of high standards, practices discipline, and respects authority. It's thirst for definition, structure, and alignment gives it it's business-like appearance on the outside, all the while maintaining a charity-like sense of higher calling, purpose, and principle on the inside. Our metal process is the part of us that asks "Can I do better", and then does just that.
While repetition, training, redesign are normally a disinterest for most, metal adopts these methods as the exclusive path to improvement. It self-reflects and asks "Did I get it right?", "Can I do better", "Is this the way it should be", and then urgently makes changes that increase grade, quality, and efficiency of the operation. Metal gives rise to the finer things in life, by virtue of it's rarity, underlying cost, and overall viability. It has the the ability to shape and reshape itself to meet the needs of the job, and it seeks to be precise, strategic, and symmetrical.
Excess metal is heavy, over critical, and strict. An overabundance of rules, corrections, and judgement can leave a trail of exasperation in the wake of the pursuit of perfection. It has tendency to become dogmatic autocratic, and overly assertive about what is fit and unfit, right and wrong, proper and improper when it is exposed to more samples than it can process. This perpetual act of criticism, intolerance, and contention, leaves little breathing room for other virtues to develop. A classic case of "too much good can be a bad thing", the desire to refine all things in sight, results in an overwhelming tension that cracks, snaps, and breaks tools that are used outside of their design limitations.
A deficient metal follows the path of resignation. "If you're not going to do it right, then why do it at all". Being forced to compromise quality, leads to a disowning of moral conviction. A deficient metal trades being a helpful tool, for being a heavy weight. If it cannot refine as it feels it should, then it will adopt unrefined behavior, causing fear, uncertainty, and doubt via perpetual problem identification without resolve. In this state, metal is tempted to become lazy, complacent, un-invested, and will perform only to the bear minimum. This formal, repelling, and distant energy stifles connection, intimacy, and perspective. As a second order of consequence, atrophy comes into play. "If you don't use it you lose it". The longer metal stays deficient, the more work it is going to take to bring it back into play.
Balance of Earth and Fire
The metal element does not operate in isolation. Its health rests in the balance of relationship that exists between other elements. It needs to be nourished by the structure, layout, and participation that connects to earth, as much as it needs to be restrained by the warm, social, and affection of fire to do what it does best. A healthy balance of work and play, can cultivate the metal process to achieve its peak levels of performance.
Nourished by Earth
Earth participates by developing all of the ingredients and basic recipes for metal to optimize, shape, and elevate into delicacies. It sees broad fundamental architecture in earth, and dreams passionately of how the overall results could be improved if the model was assembled with better, longer lasting, higher quality parts.
To over-nourish metal with earth is to provide a burdening amount of processes, plans, and procedures to the point where metal is no longer refining a niche, but exhaustively correcting the broad spectrum of all of earth. At the same time the undernourishment of earth can make metal feel void of usefulness. Metal craves a community (earth) to give it work to do.
Restrained by Fire
Fire melts metal. It can be easy to get immersed in the day-to-day business and overlook our natural desire to be seen as people rather than machines. Fire brings that broad warmth, charm, and loving aspect back to the forefront of a rather tunnel-vision-like process.
Over-restraint of fire can stall the formation of metal, leaving it in a lazy, passive, and in an indifferent condition. Too much casual fun, can void life of things that are sacred. At the same time, a lack of recreation, excitement, and novelty can feel numbing, robotic, and labor intensive.
The minerals in metal, nourish water. Refinement articulates a truth in diversity, that not everything, everyone, or every process is the same, equal, or of the same value. This poetically wets the appetite of the water element, as it takes these observations into philosophical dimension, and develops a quests to gather a storage library of truths on what is and what isn't.
Where truth, knowledge, and information are meant to flow like water, excess refinement, processing, and bureaucracy will generate course deposits of contaminated/toxic water. At the same time, the under-nourishment of metal in water, makes for data overload, where any and all information flow in discriminately, regardless of its nutrition or toxicity.
Metal prunes wood. The idea of growing, changing, and producing is the heartbeat of the wood element and it is a concept that is easy to get lost in. Planning, processes, and disciplines will help prune the over grown branches of wood that take up more resources than it contributes to, and restores a fresh new healthy look.
Too much pruning however, will result in the chopping down of a tree all together, leaving only a lifeless stump. Likewise, the absence of metal will leave a forest in a dark, tangled, and knotted state.