By Brett Cafferty

Dr. Jim Bailey’s recent article on ADHD got me thinking about my own tendencies and those of our immediate family. I am thankful for his comments, as they both helped me recognize characteristics I possess and perhaps gain a greater appreciation of others in my circle. What our society commonly labels as strengths and weaknesses are NOT necessarily all in black or white. Amen!

This topic brought to mind my exposure over the years through college courses and business training of the study of personality types, parent/child roles, and birth order characteristics, including well-known Myers Briggs, Disc Profiles, and most recently the Enneagram numbers. I find the study of this field to be quite fascinating and how better understanding ourselves, our family, and co-workers can be highly beneficial.   

During our time in Asheville, NC (before the internet!), the design firm my wife worked for had a simple view of the types of people in the office and in their interactions with clients – Kites or Strings. No formal profiles or psychological assessments were part of the equation – just a really interesting and very diverse group of art majors.

Kites come up with lots of ideas, love to fly, easily get off course due to changes in the wind, are often unpredictable, and can soar or hit the ground with a thud.

Strings are needed to keep the kite from flying away, or toward destruction, and as a safety mechanism when the kite goes too high, too far in one direction, or is headed for trouble. Strings are steady, reliable, trustworthy, and help navigate through the weeds to get things done.

Within your immediate team, family, or friend group, you can likely identify the Strings and Kites, correct? Spouses tend to follow this pattern also. Our team at EK has two of each. When allowed to be ourselves in our natural roles, great things can happen that wouldn’t otherwise.

The tricky part is getting the Kites to realize that a String is actually beneficial, and for the Strings to have a little grace (and less frustration!) toward the Kites in their lives. As a fellow Kite, I can assure you that my String has saved me lots of grief over the years, as both parts are vital whether in work or personal relationships. Kites can accomplish more of those excellent ideas with a grounding String, and Strings realize that they get to experience so much more when attached to a Kite.

In closing – a shout out to the professionals that help us better understand ourselves and each other, to value our differences and natural strengths, and to recognize we are not meant to go it alone!