Office Spirit Animals

office spirit animals500

Question: The other day someone asked me what my spirit animal was. Should I try to name something noble?

Answer:

Well, it could be one of those personality tests that they use to weed out the loners. Ideally you want to present yourself as a personality type that will mesh somehow with the bigger picture. Consider the affinities of the people who already work there, especially management, although don’t get too uppity and run with the wolves if what they really want is rabbits. Read the employee manual carefully.

Entire workplace cultures can be based around a particular animal, usually not intentionally. For example, a workplace could be a bunch of cats in a sack, clawing desperately to get out. A lot of workplaces are dogs or wolves, with a lot of alpha-male wannabes all looking to lead the pack. More interesting, and dangerous, are the bands of monkeys, which is essentially what a royal court used to be.

The possibilities are endless. Maybe one of these matches your world instead:

  • Lizards (indifferent, torpid, tend to eat one another’s eggs).
  • Rats (small family-sized groups, well-adapted to urban high-density living environments, short lifespan).
  • Termites (mass conformity, centralized authority, highly automated)
  • Cattle (prone to stampedes; males are incredibly bad-tempered)

When you think of it, any animal that moves in groups (fish, birds) will have some method of communication, decision-making, danger signaling, enforcing social norms, and methods of establishing dominance. This also includes ostracizing members with, say, contagious diseases or anarchist leanings.

If you’ve ever watched a flock of birds or school of fish all change direction on a dime, you’ll appreciate that just because a species is “dumber” than us, they can still have highly effective organizational structures.

This is all totally separate from whether YOU are a cat person or a dog person. One could say that your favorite type of pet would be your “spirit animal” although my spirit animal, which came to me in a flash when someone asked the question was a hornets’ nest. Distributed architecture, collective, strong defenses, efficient workplace… what’s not to like?

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