**This is an excerpt from Chapter 6 of TEAM ME - now widely available on Amazon and virtually every other online book store**
The Shadow Side
During a private coaching session, I had introduced my client to the whole concept of Archetypes and led him through an exercise that helped him to connect with, and release, his ‘Sage’ in a very powerful way. The results were immediate and, he told me later, had made a huge difference in his relationship with his fiancée. As we rounded up he asked me a very good question, “Is it possible to have too much of one of these archetypes?”
What we’ve focussed on thus far have been the healthy, mature expressions of each archetype; emphasising the good things that each one is naturally able, and inclined, to contribute. We wouldn’t normally be concerned with anyone being ‘too mature’ or ‘too healthy’, but it is possible – in fact we should acknowledge that it is actually very common – for some of these archetypes to get out of balance – sometime chronically.
Something that Carl Jung recognised many years ago is that each of these archetypes also has a dark side; a characteristic set of negative behaviours that can cause real damage to both the individual and those within their circle of influence.
It is often said that someone’s greatest strength is also their greatest weakness and this phenomenon can be predicted very specifically for each archetype.
This dark side will often arise with the purpose of meeting our personal needs as rapidly as possible, often when we are stressed or fearful, and it will manifest itself in two broad ways; either as too much of an archetype’s traits, or too little of them.
If you can imagine each archetype being measured by its own thermometer, you can probably grasp the idea of there being a moderate zone of temperature that would represent the healthy, mature archetypal traits we’ve discussed thus far. But if the temperature rises above this zone, we’d say this character is now getting overheated; and, equally, if the temperature dropped too low, the same character would become frozen, inactive and stifled in its expression.
A similar metaphor we might use for this is found in the various states in which we can experience water: H20.
Water is, of course, vital for every kind of life. Yet it has to be at a moderate temperature for any living organism to benefit from it, because only then can we drink it or wash with it or even give it to our plants. However, if the very same water becomes too hot (or too energised, we could say) it can scald, hurt and even kill. Likewise, if it is frozen it can’t be absorbed, it can’t nourish us - we can’t even wash things with it. Turning to ice, it can block or burst our pipes, weigh down and break our power lines, paralyse our transportation, stifle our movements, immobilise our muscles, or even kill.
So the very same substance can sustain life within a certain range of temperature and can cause much damage when too far above or below this range.
In exactly the same way, each of our archetypes can provide great benefits to us if expressed within a moderate, balanced (healthy and mature) range of temperament – and can equally do great damage outside this range; either overheating or freezing.
The Balanced (or mature) zone contains all the positive qualities we’ve detailed so far. It should be our aim to remain in this place, where a healthy expression of our archetypes’ key traits is evident and everyone around us benefits.
The Overheated zone is where we launch into a predictable set of excessive expressions that invariably cause hurt and damage to ourselves and others.
The Frozen zone represents an evident lack of archetypal expression. Here the individual appears unable to access the abilities and strengths of a particular archetype, even when the situation is demanding it from them, and such a lack of appropriate response will render them quite ineffective.
What’s interesting is that each archetype displays very specific behaviours when it either overheats or freezes; when it operates with either too much, or too little energy.
Most people will find that their strongest traits, whilst mature and balanced much of the time, will on occasions flare up and overheat. This ‘untempered’ strength needs to be effectively managed if damage is to be limited.
An archetype may also dive into a ‘frozen’ state of inactivity – usually in response to stressful situations or a major failure after giving something their best shot. Even strong archetypes can lapse into this state when they’ve thrown everything they’ve got at a particular challenge and it is still not overcome. For under-developed or immature archetypes however it may take little more than a certain tone of voice or a certain look from someone to cause them to ‘freeze up’ this way.
Jung referred to these negative zones as ‘shadows’; giving us a sense that the very thing that can bring us the help we need - the positive, mature archetype - also carries with it a darker side that is always present and potentially very damaging.
For a while I've been interested in the archetypes exhibited by two of the most influential leaders in the personal computer industry; Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. One who has become one of the richest men in the world, the other who (though he was significantly less rich in his lifetime) is regarded as a huge inspiration to millions of people.
Many people have studied their respective business methods, market strategies and leadership styles but I wanted to review their very different approaches from an archetypal viewpoint.
Knowing what you already know about these men I’m wondering if you have an idea of which archetypes are dominant in each of them, what would you say are the strongest traits: Sovereign, Warrior, Sage, Lover, Mystic or Jester?
Any leader of a multinational, multi-billion dollar industry must have some strong ‘Sovereign’ characteristics, of course, but this will not have always been strongly present.
After delving into Walter Isaacson’s biography on Steve Jobs – which actually contains a lot of material on Gates and shows just how closely these two interacted over the years – I was stunned at just how archetypical the behaviours of these two characters actually are.
To me, Gates has always appeared to be the more ‘left-brain’ of the two; which places him amongst the trio of Sovereign, Sage and Warrior. Jobs appeared to be just the opposite; whilst there’s got to be some Sovereign characteristics in the mix, he generally showed much more ‘right-brain’ – creative and lateral – thinking. Again, as you get more familiar with the Team Me pack of six, you’ll see that the Lover, Mystic and Jester are the three that occupy this space.
I’ve never met either of these men, so I can only go by what I’ve seen and read., yet it’s clear to me that the Sage is the dominant archetype in Gates; and the Mystic the dominant in Jobs.
This I’ve concluded not just from the gifting that each one demonstrates, but also from the evidence of their ‘shadow sides’.
Jobs is clearly the more creative of the two. His love for form as well as function is very evident to those who appreciate that sort of thing. Jobs regarded Gates as 'unnervingly narrow' and would often lash out at Microsoft as having ‘no taste, no original ideas, no culture.’
Gates once referred to Jobs as ‘erratic’, he compared his leadership style to that of the ‘Pied Piper’ and accused him of continually overworking his staff. If that wasn’t strong enough Gates, and others, would talk about Steve’s personal ‘reality distortion field’ - claiming that he’d lapse into fantasies that could not be grounded in measurable reality. Gates also observed his frequent ‘highs’ as he talked about his latest plans and developments; then experienced his lapses into bouts of fear, during which Jobs would sometimes refer to his own staff as ‘a bunch of idiots’. He’d witness Jobs displaying a ‘whole gamut of emotions’ and employing a ‘range of manipulation techniques’.
These, as you probably know by now, are all classic traits of the Mystic archetype.
Gates, on the other hand, is far more ordered, logical, factual in his approach… but lacked imagination if you were to ask the guys at Apple. “Gates was not a good listener,” said Hertzfeld, who was working on the development of early Apple software, telling of times when Gates would not wait until the team had explained how the code worked, but would jump in with his own guess at how it was done.
Gates’ comment on his own style is also quite telling, “I’m good at when people are emotional, I’m kind of less emotional.” This, of course, is the talk of a Sage, who prides himself in his ability to remain detached.
Finally, there’s a wonderful quote from Steve Wozniak who was a significant player in the early days of mass software development. When he heard of Jobs’ return to Apple he said, “Whatever you think of Steve, he knows how to get the magic back.”
Now, take a look again at the photo of these two at Jobs’ home. A rudimentary analysis of their body language is probably all we need to confirm what makes these guys tick:
Concluding, I’m not sure that I’d have liked to have worked for either of these guys! Whilst I’m sure I could learn a huge amount from both of them, there’s just not enough of the Lover in either of them for me to feel like they have my best interests at heart.
If you've not read it, I'd recommend you get hold of a copy of Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson you'll see a lot more of the Sage (Gates) and the Mystic (Jobs) in this book than I've even begun to cover.
So what do you think? Have you seen anything else about these men that supports or contradicts my assertions above?
Pad is a trusted adviser to business leaders across the globe. He is Director at Come Alive Success Coaching ltd. and the Author of TEAM ME - How to Play Your Best Game in Life, and TEAM GUY - Forging Men of Soul & Steel.