The paradoxical nature of astrological symbolism is particularly pronounced in the three elemental modalities (aka qualities). Whereas each has a primary function it is known for it is the surrender of these qualities to the opposite function that reveals a sign's ultimate potential or higher functioning. Some examples:
Cardinal - Cross of Matter: Movement and activity, initiative and immediate response. The will to action is tempered by knowing where/when NOT to act, especially where Libra and Capricorn (signs of moderation & caution respectively) are concerned.
Fixed - Soul Power: Fixity of purpose and resistance to change, stubbornness and steadfast action. The will to be constant, true to self above all else, eventually gives way to a transformation or radical mutation (a revolution) that goes beyond the superficial changes of less fixed signs... especially in Scorpio and Aquarius, two signs most known for their revolutionary qualities.
Mutable - Intelligence: Flexibility and awareness, going with the flow, bending with the heavy winds. Mutable signs adapt and adjust continuously to situations only to find a deep faith in the changeless Spirit, a movement whose only constant is continuous change and adjusting... this becomes especially evident in the Jupiter ruled signs Sagittarius and Pisces.