ou may be wondering what the hell this post is doing on this site, well, keep reading, you may just discover something interesting.
In most cases I pretty much hate animal analogies. They’re often spun in a way that attempts you to identify with your animal instincts and picture yourself as something powerful, this is not that! Gary John Bishop said it perfectly in his book Unfu*k Yourself, “stop telling yourself you’re a tiger… you’re not a tiger.” But I will tell you that by the end of this article you will know whether you identify more as a wolf or as a gazelle and if it’s the latter, well, there might be some reflection to do.
Why these two groups of animals? What about them bring a distinction to our lives and our environments? Well, one is a herd animal while the other is a pack animal and, in that respect, there are key behavioral differences that result in significant, dynamic shifts when shit hits the fan.
Let’s begin with gazelles, the herd animal. Gazelles travel is large herds as they graze and move across the landscape. While they are fast, agile and sneaky creatures, they are also very individualized in their behavior patterns. Imagine for a moment you are on safari and watching this large, beautiful group of gazelles all grazing calmly, enjoying their lives when out of now where, a cheetah comes barreling into the heard on the hunt for its next victim. What happens? Scatter! The gazelles disperse rapidly in all directions, each giving the finger to the other as they attempt to not be the slowest one. If they had the gift of thinking like we do it might sound something like this in their heads, “fuck you buddy, I’m outta here. Hopefully you’re slower today and your ass gets eaten because that means I’ll survive.”
Not much on camaraderie I’d say. Nope, it’s an everyone for themselves game and they all know it. They will ditch your ass faster than you can blink if it means survival.
The other interesting aspect is that they often don’t know whose feelings they are feeling. What I mean is if one gazelle in the heard senses something and gets spooked, it will ripple across the heard rapidly and no one will actually know why they are experiencing those sensations. It can be of benefit at times but it can also create chaos and distrust in the long run.
Contrast all of this with the wolf. Wolves are pack animals. They travel, move, hunt and remain connected in very unique ways, all relying on each other for survival. Think about it, if a bear attacks a wolf, what happens? The wolves pack up and attack the bear. They immediately come to the aide of each other regardless of their own safety. They are willing to put themselves at risk for the benefit of the pack. And, unlike gazelles, when one is alerted, each wolf in the pack feels that sensation and instead of not knowing where it’s coming from, they each horn their focus to identify the threat and prepare for action.
Look around, are you a wolf in a heard of gazelles? Or are you a gazelle in a pack of wolves? What does this knowledge do for you? Well, one, it lets you assess who you align yourself with and truly identify who you can and cannot trust when things get a little hairy. It also tells you whose got your back in times of need. In the jobs we do, it’s critical to be a pack animal rather than a heard animal.