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December 27, 2009

In the world of government policy, Knights can become frustrated when a problem cannot be resolved with a Knight approach, and requires a Gardener approach instead, such as the drug problem in the United States. Likewise, Gardeners can become frustrated when a problem cannot be resolved with a Gardener approach, and requires a Knight approach instead, such as military responses to, say, genocides in Rwanda or the former Yugoslavia.

Knights see the use of Knight solutions as most heroic and most appropriate, and Gardeners see the use of Gardener solutions the same way. Adopting an approach from the other mode can be uncomfortable—or even perceived as a betrayal of principle.

If inflexible, Knights’ and Gardeners’ approaches can reflect psychologist Abraham Maslow’s observation that if the only tool one possesses is a hammer, all one’s problems begin to look like nails.



December 27, 2009

Knights aren’t always conservative and Gardeners aren’t always liberal. Many 1960s liberals saw themselves as “The Movement” opposing “The Establishment”—a Knight’s viewpoint. And many financial conservatives work to grow world economies—a Gardener’s approach.


December 27, 2009

Some Knights—because they view the world in “either/or” terms—can interpret others’ disagreements with them as attacks on them, attacks that warrant a heroic response. These Knights assert that the world—out of ego, selfishness, greed, or lust for power—will persecute them, the righteous. They conclude they should resist or persevere nobly in the face of the onslaught. And they believe that the greater the attacker—and the greater their noble perseverance—the more heroic they are. And that those who make great sacrifices in their efforts to persevere will earn places as honored martyrs.

  • Some American Christian fundamentalists interpret efforts to accommodate greater religious diversity in the United States in recent decades as efforts to push Christianity out of the public square. These fundamentalists assert that there is a “war on Christianity.”  In response, these fundamentalist Knights have politically mobilized to protect Christianity in the United States by “taking back” or “restoring” America to its spiritual roots. Even though these fundamentalist Knights have gained significant influence within all three branches of the federal government in recent years, they continue to claim they are a persecuted minority.
  • Liberal anti-globalization protesters see an interconnected global economy as a threat to the world’s poor, and have mobilized politically to protect them from corporate greed—and the government agencies they believe aid that greed.
  • Osama Bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders believe that a malevolent alliance of “Crusaders and Zionists” (Christians and Jews) is waging a war against Islam, and seek to conquer the Middle East to steal its oil resources. For them, the United States’ invasion of Iraq was definitive proof that this alliance exists—and has begun its long-expected military onslaught. According to them, only pure faith and violent methods will purge non-Islamic influences from Muslim lands, and allow Islamic civilization to flourish again. Al-Qaeda sees itself as a worldwide alliance of daring Muslim heroes that works to defend Islam from evil. Bin Laden’s deputy Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri outlined this view in his first book, Knights Under The Prophet’s Banner.

Knights like these see themselves as heroic defenders, and object to being cast as trying to conquer and convert an entire world. Fundamentalists like al-Qaeda or conservative American Christian evangelicals do not want to establish a theocracy in their regions. They want a world safe enough for them that establishment of a theocracy is not necessary. Similarly, liberal anti-globalization protesters do not want to destroy the global economy; they want a global economy that does not threaten the poor.



December 27, 2009

In the workplace, Knights find winners—victors—heroic, and sometimes interpret those who hold high position as evidence of their success. As a result, Knights can become ambitious.

Knights often envision God—or a company’s CEO—as the Great King or the Great Knight. Kings have courts, and courts have hierarchies. Because of this, Knights admire champions whose successes or virtue have earned them a special place in the King’s court—or the corporate boardroom. Knights can be competitive and seek to best or surpass professional enemies. They sometimes seek to climb organizational ladders to sit among God’s—or the industry’s—champions. Knights may also try to identify their allies and enemies at work and engage in intrigues to gain advantage.

Knights in the workplace defer to rank, and follow orders from superiors. And Knight authorities in corporate or spiritual life attribute dissent or disagreement with them to insubordination or inferior thinking.

In churches, Knights often believe they should defer to those who hold positions of authority. These Knights believe those of higher rank prospered because they followed the rules more accurately or hold greater spiritual wisdom. As a result, Knights conclude God ordained their leadership and their orders should be followed or their example should be emulated.


December 27, 2009

In the workplace, Gardeners find ingenious problem-solvers heroic regardless of whether those heroes hold high position or not.

Gardeners often envision God as the Great Source of Creativity rather than a Great King with a court. There are no hierarchies in Gardeners’ worlds. Gardeners gravitate toward the tables in the offices, conferences, coffee shops or churches where problems are being solved. And they’re not afraid to pull up a chair because they believe they can contribute.

Gardeners ignore rank. Instead, they afford people respect according to how helpful those people are in solving a crucial problem. As a result, they can be perceived by Knights as insubordinate or arrogant as they take the initiative to solve a problem that is “above their pay grade.”


December 27, 2009

Knights’ work excels to heroic levels when they face a great adversary or great competitor.

Gardeners’ work excels to heroic levels when they face a great challenge, great problem, great question, or great need.


December 27, 2009

Asking “What needs to happen here?” can help diagnose whether someone is a Knight or Gardener. Knights will answer that particular people or groups need to be heroically opposed to achieve victory. Gardeners will answer that heroic new breakthroughs are necessary to solve a crucial problem.


December 27, 2009

Some industries are inherently Knight or Gardener (though businesses within every industry compete for customers). Knight industries include sales, sports franchises, law, retail, or the stock market—industries with competitive cultures. Gardener industries include research and development, software engineering, pharmaceuticals, forensics, art, architecture, design, or education—industries with problem-solving cultures. As a result, the standards for “heroic” behavior is different in each industry.

Knights who join Gardener industries—or vice-versa—may experience a culture shock, and may be perceived by the industry’s veterans as a new hire that doesn’t “get it.”


December 27, 2009

The United States has gone through—and been defined by—Knight and Gardener phases in its history. Heroism in each time was defined differently.

  • The country began in a Gardener mode—a time of exploring, pioneering, settling, and prospering from the bounty of the New World. While conflict with Native Americans, the British, and others was always a factor, the time was defined by opportunity more than conflict.
  • The country operated in Knight mode during conflicts like the Revolutionary War, Civil War, both World Wars, and partly through the Cold War.
  • Since the end of the Cold War the United States has had difficulty deciding from which mode to operate on the world stage. Without a worthy enemy the size and menace of the Soviet Union, Knights cast about for another worthy enemy. They finally set their sights on—and thoroughly stomped—Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega’s forces, and Saddam Hussein’s forces in 1991. This struggle for direction was reflected in the James Bond film series. The producers, unable to identify new global menaces worthy enough for Bond to fight, suffered a six-year gap between 1989’s License to Kill and 1995’s Goldeneye. In License to Kill, Bond fought a drug kingpin and American televangelist. In Goldeneye, he fought world-class villains again—a rogue Russian general and a computer hacker bent on ransoming the world with a military satellite capable of assassinating world leaders from space.
  • During the relative peace of the 1990s, the country operated from a Gardener mode on the world stage as economies and political structures became increasingly interconnected.
  • In the post-9/11 era Americans have struggled over whether terrorism can be best resolved with a Knight or a Gardener approach in the lead.

Currently the U.S. is trying to decide whether to relate to other countries and peoples—and world problems—from a Knight’s or a Gardener’s perspective and policy orientation.



December 27, 2009

Knights worry they will lose their souls (and status as a hero) if their courage or perseverance fails during a spiritual test or test of character—if they are not hard-hearted at the critical moment.

Gardeners worry they will lose their souls (and status as a hero) if their compassion fails during a spiritual test or test of character—if they are not soft-hearted at the critical moment.


December 27, 2009

What you perceive as heroic or virtuous behavior influences how you form and maintain your love relationships.


December 27, 2009

Love is the exclusive domain of neither Knights nor Gardeners. Both Knights and Gardeners have Great Loves of their Lives, love their children, love their parents, and love their pets. They experience great passions and heartaches just the same.

How we believe we should handle our experiences of love and behave when we are seized by love—those choices and those views are influenced by which worldview you hold. And those worldviews about love are often heavily influenced by religion and the movies.


December 27, 2009

In matters of love, Knights seek to follow the example of pure, chaste Galahad. For Knights, love is fraught with peril. Many Knights believe the desires of the heart must be guarded against because the heart is not trustworthy to lead one down the right path.

For religious Knights, following one’s heart might mean abandoning God’s will in favor of one’s own selfish desires. Passions are dangerous, and must be defended against, because they come from the wiles of Satan rather than the will of God. Knights may even say that they pursue “not what I want, but what God wants.”

Knights struggle against their passions to preserve their integrity.

  • Like Galahad, who resisted the temptations of beautiful nymphs in the forest that sought to entice him away from his quest for the Grail.
  • Like Joseph and Potiphar’s wife, whose love was pure in the Koran’s telling, who sacrifice their relationship out of devotion to God. In the Old Testament’s telling, Joseph flees her efforts to seduce him out of his devotion to God.
  • Like Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon, who turned his love Brigid O’Shaughnessy over to the police for the murder of his private detective partner Miles Archer rather than running away with her.

Knights view Jesus or other divine figures as the ultimate Knight—the ultimate example of obedience to divine principle. For Knights, correctness trumps love.


December 27, 2009

In matters of love, Gardeners seek to follow the example of instinctive, heart-led Parzival. For Gardeners, love is the divine guide for life because they believe the heart is trustworthy—it tells the truth. Gardeners believe that within one’s deepest passions and compassions lies one’s true path in life and love. Instead of pursuing “not what I want, but what God wants,” Gardeners often conclude that “God planted this deep desire in me for a reason.” Gardeners sometimes sum this up in comparative religions expert Joseph Campbell’s phrase “Follow your bliss.”

Gardeners may be willing to sacrifice adherence to the rules—even of principle—on the altar of passion or compassion.

  • Like Jesus, who healed on the Sabbath despite the religious rules of his day.
  • Like the couple in The Song of Songs, singing about their illicit love.
  • Like Parzival who married Condwiramurs, the love of his life, without a wedding performed by the corrupt Church.
  • Again, like Parzival, who refused to slay his brother though his brother was an enemy of Christendom.
  • Like those who protected Jews during the Holocaust by lying to the Nazis.

Gardeners view Jesus or other divine figures as the ultimate Gardener—the ultimate guide of the heart. For Gardeners, love trumps correctness.


December 27, 2009

It may be tempting to think of Knights as predominantly male and Gardeners as predominantly female, but gender has nothing to do with it. Men may play the Gardener role in families and romance. Men buy many more tools and build many more projects than they buy weapons and go to war.

Women can play the Knight’s role in families and romance. Women may play the Knight’s game of discerning who their “allies and enemies” are in family systems and workplaces. And they may consider the choice between raising children and having a successful career to be an “either/or” choice or a zero-sum game. Some professional women may characterize their workplaces as embroiled in a “battle of the sexes.” Women seek out the dragons they believe threaten themselves or their loved ones just as men do.


December 27, 2009

The courtship model of male Knights is to earn the lady’s favor by proving his honor, strength or worth as a chivalrous protector. After winning the lady, the Knight continues demonstrating his worth by playing the role of the sentinel—the paragon of steadfastness, fidelity and chivalry. Knights dream of walking away from the movie’s final battle with the leading lady, having won her heart by proving his mettle and intentions. Knights sometimes secretly wish for a crisis to occur so he can demonstrate the depth of his love for her again. For this reason, at a boring wedding reception, Knights secretly wish terrorists would attack so they would have something to do.

The courtship model of female Knights is to earn a man’s favor by proving her moral virtue by remaining pure, steadfast and moral to demonstrate her worthiness as a potential mate. The fair and virtuous princess is the female version of the Knight.


December 27, 2009

Gardeners court each other by contributing to each other’s lives, making each others’ lives softer and easier, and helping each other pursue their dreams. (This is why Gardener women like to receive flowers and love men who cook for them.) While Gardeners appreciate demonstrations of valor and virtue, they believe those are only small parts of a lifelong relationship.


December 27, 2009

Knights and Gardeners who fall in love can confuse each other as they try to demonstrate their love for each other. Knights can become frustrated when their efforts to prove their virtue and mettle to Gardeners fail to win the Gardeners’ hearts because the Gardeners expect contributions to their lives instead. And Gardeners can become frustrated when their efforts to contribute to Knights’ lives fail to win the Knights’ hearts because the Knights expect signs of virtue or mettle instead.

Put another way, Knights may say to themselves “He or she will love me because I am a good man or woman,” while Gardeners ask “Will he or she contribute to my life or support me in my life or on my quest?”


December 27, 2009

Knight tales of romance end in victory or tragedy for the couple—and sometimes both at the same time. The movie Casablanca is a classic case. At the end of Casablanca, Rick—the bitter cynic who fights only for himself—rises to the occasion and chooses to aid the Resistance. In the same moment, he decides to sacrifice his relationship with Ilsa for a noble reason, choosing principle above all. In doing so, Rick sacrifices the great love affair of his life, but regains his hope, courage and idealism—he gets his soul back.


December 27, 2009

Some Gardener loves risk being dashed against the Knight rocks of principle, pride, or the society’s rules of the day. Sometimes these stories end happily, as in Pride and Prejudice, An Affair to Remember, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Sometimes the stories end tragically, with loves unfulfilled, as in West Side Story, Remains of the Day, or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

The struggle of true love against the Knight authorities—the Church—or societal rules of the day was a mainstay theme of the songs sung by the medieval troubadours… and by rock and roll bands today.


December 27, 2009

Some loves feature Gardeners on an epic quest to discover a truth or acquire the wisdom necessary to transform a world—a quest opposed by Knights who seek to thwart them. The clearest recent example of this kind of love story is The X-Files—a series about two investigators who sought the truth about the existence of extraterrestrial life on Earth. Though they were opposed by shadowy conspirators, Mulder and Scully were motivated more by discovering the truth than they were by achieving victory over the conspirators. Along the way, shunned by the FBI, their friends and family—two people alone in a world filled with darkness—Mulder and Scully’s professional partnership blossomed into romance.



December 27, 2009

Some loves feature Gardeners so lost in each other they ignore the Knight boundaries or evils of the world around them. Nick and Nora Charles of the Thin Man movies were lusty equals. Likewise John Steed and Mrs. Peel in the TV series The Avengers fought threats to England, but those threats were just “MacGuffins,” narrative excuses for the couple to be together.


December 27, 2009

In terms of love and virtue, Knights emphasize dichotomies. Religious Knights, for example, see the world in “either/or” terms and conclude that one can only choose to obey or disobey God’s law. Oftentimes this means religious Knights categorize men and women only as saints or sinners. As a result, as Knights see it, virtuous men and women have only two moral options—to resist temptation or succumb to it.

Some self-proclaimed “outlaws” or “rebels” delight in flouting the ways of virtuous Knights. However, by defining themselves by what they are not, they still follow the “either/or” mindsets and ways of a Knight, just from the shadow side. Willie Nelson is a modern example, as are members of biker gangs who aspire to live life by their own rules rather than by the constraints of polite society. Evangelist Franklin Graham, who rebelled against the ways of his father Billy Graham until he “surrendered” to the ministry later in life, is another modern outlaw-turned-champion of virtue.

Occasionally, Knights will play both the saint and the rake—and other Knights will enjoy living vicariously through them. James Bond is a modern Knight who both saves the world and beds exotic beauties. Indiana Jones splits his time between teaching university students and hunting archaeological treasures—and killing Nazis. Han Solo from Star Wars is a smuggler and pirate whose attack of conscience spurs him to join the Rebellion against the evil Empire. Robin Hood robbed the rich and corrupt and gave to the poor. Johnny Cash knew about—and sang about—both virtue and vice.



December 27, 2009

In terms of love and virtue, Gardeners see no dichotomies—no purely good guys and no irredeemable bad guys. Since religious Gardeners emphasize the ongoing creation process, everyone has the potential to further and expand God’s Creation. Since Gardeners admire ingenuity, they see the qualities of cleverness and wisdom in some—and understand that those who lack those qualities today may possess them tomorrow. Categorizing someone as evil means one has decided that God is finished with that person—a conclusion religious Gardeners find dangerous to draw. Gardeners see potential in a person, even a terrorist or a criminal.

Gardeners see the purpose of love as to overcome the boundaries that enforce dichotomies. Religious Gardeners believe the intention of the divine is to reunite separated aspects of the world.

  • In the Bible, the story of marriage begins at the very beginning of time, in the story of Creation in Genesis. The story of creation is the story of God splitting that which was one into two—“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” God goes on to divide light from darkness, land from sky, water from land, and then creates men and women at the same moment. Adam, upon first seeing Eve, says, “She is made of the very same stuff, the same flesh and bone that God made me”—they recognize that they are each other’s half. Later Mark wrote in his gospel (chapter 19, verse 6), “At the beginning, God made them separate, male and female. For this reason they will leave their families and be united, the two will become one flesh, so they are no longer two but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one put asunder.”
  • From the holy scriptures of Hinduism, the Upanishad: “In the beginning this universe was but the Self in the form of a man. He looked around and saw nothing but himself. He was just as large as a man and a woman embracing. This Self then divided himself into two parts; and with that, there were a master and a mistress. He united with her, and from that mankind arose.”
  • And from Plato’s Symposium: “The earliest human beings were round and had four hands and four feet, back and sides forming a circle, one head with two faces looking opposite ways. They were immensely powerful; and since the gods were in fear of their strength, Zeus decided to cut them in two. After the division the two parts, desiring its other half, sought and found each other, and threw their arms about each other, eager to grow into one.”

Gardeners conclude that this desire for each other is implanted deep within us to reunite those divided halves into one whole. Each of us, separated, seeks our other half.



December 27, 2009

The Bible contains very few romantic love stories, but features an entire book of erotic love poetryThe Song of Songs (also called The Song of Solomon). The Song is the (often explicit) story of two very young lovers who slip away into the dark for nights of passion in the quiet countryside. The lovers are seized with passion, and completely lost in each other. This couple does not agonize over the morality of their behavior. They do not resist love; they pursue, embrace, and savor it. Sex is no sin in this book; it is a blessing that is literally sung about.

Christian Knights and Gardeners have long debated the meaning of The Song, particularly over one question: “Does the unmarried couple’s consummated love fulfill virtue—or betray it?” Knights, unable to reconcile the idea that a book of the Bible could contain a joyful celebration of a sin—premarital sex—concluded that The Song must be an allegory, a metaphor for God’s relationship to the people of Israel. To whitewash a scandalous book, these Knights made an explicit love poem into something chaste and respectable.

Gardeners read The Song more literally—and more romantically.