You know, some people have been saying that for years! But no, I don’t mean I’m an ill-mannered, rude, uncaring bigot. I simply mean I am fully committed to achieving my goals.
I’m sure you’ve all heard the riddle ‘In a bacon and egg breakfast what’s the difference between the chicken and the pig?’ – ‘The chicken’s involved but the pig is committed’.
It’s been applied to all manner of things from scrum agile project management to sports. And yet it’s a concept, when expanded, which can be applied to nearly any endeavour. I was thinking about this and you know what? I felt there’s a whole farm that needs calling out.
I’m sure there are more, so to get it started:
Fully committed to achieving the outcome. The Pig will forsake other opportunities to ensure success. Can live or die (literally, financially, reputational-wise, career-wise) based on the outcome.
Pigs often operate without a safety net. They are the visionaries, entrepreneurs, evangelists and champions of the endeavour.
Involved in the process. The chicken shares some pain (hey – have you ever laid an egg?) and wants the endeavour to succeed.
But the chicken normally has to balance a few other things that are going on.
This may be the reason they can seem unreliable or unresponsive at times when viewed by the single-minded Pig.
Also described in scrum, the rooster struts around offering uninformed, unhelpful opinions without being asked for them.
The opinions may actually be useful.
But he pisses people off so much they rarely come to anything.
The silly thing is Rooster is often bright and well informed. He just never learned how to tell everyone what they need to know in a helpful manner that doesn’t make him look arrogant.
The wise coach, mentor, and guide. Decent and experienced Owl wants the Pig to succeed.
Owl often gets overlooked because he doesn’t want to push himself forward. He knows people work best when they’re given their head, and are not over-managed to buggery.
Sadly, sometimes that means that what is locked in Owl’s head stays locked in there.
Mules like things the way they are, thank you very much, and will do everything they can to hamper the outcome.
They’ll start braying loudly and bullying anyone to retain the status quo.
There are no upsides to having mules around. They are always stubborn, unless you beat them enough, and then they only co-operate grudgingly.
Load them up with boring, heavy work and tell them to take a very long walk. Or sack them. Useless bloody creatures.
Ah, the dog is the happy and helpful one.
Always willing to lend a hand and help the Pig.
What it lacks in resources and experiences it makes up with enthusiasm. And loyalty.
Just don’t ever beat the dog unnecessarily. They can turn ugly.
The Cat sits back and watches.
Cat offers little or no input or assistance, yet has an ethereal sense of entitlement when the endeavour succeeds.
Somehow, they always thought of a good idea first, too.
Always ready with a subtle put down too, especially aimed at Dogs and Pigs.
We all know Ostriches. Past masters at sticking their head in the sand and refusing to accept that anything is changing.
If you can get their head out of the sand, they’re apt to run away at a million miles an hour.
They’re so nervous that they’re very good at spotting danger. So they can be useful. Except that when everything seems dangerous, you have to weigh their advice very carefully or you end up becoming an honorary Ostrich.
A Lyrebird has a superb ability to mimic what you are doing as though it is theirs.
So whilst this makes them useful allies – if all you want is mindless support – they are also very good at convincing people that your idea was their idea.
Apart from the deletrious effect on your personal prospects of advancement, this doesn’t matter so much, until someone wants them to come up with an idea of their own. They can’t.
These superficially attractive creatures seem, on close inspection, to do nothing of any value apart from eat and poo.
Plus they’re noisy when startled.
Sooner or later, when they get found out, they end up getting shot and eaten themselves.
Are there other animal types that you can think of?
So what animal are you?
If you’re like me, you may be an entire menagerie from time to time. Depending on the circumstances I might be any one or more of these animals. When it comes to The Different Company, I’m a Pig. When I look at the many charities and causes I support, I’m a Chicken. I’m an Owl when I give my time to share my experiences. And I’m a Lyrebird when I sit down and research for new and exciting ways to do things differently. I’m sure I’ve been a Rooster on more than one occasion and, at some point in time, every kid has been a Cat. I am never an Ostrich, and always try to avoid being a Duck.
What about you? Which animal, in what circumstances, best describes you? Are you always one particular type or do you change depending on the circumstances?
You know what’s smart? Treating them like the animals their behaviours represent …
And what about the people you work with? Does aligning their behaviours to one of the animals give you insight to a new way you can work with them?
That quiet old Owl that’s been here for seemingly ever, do you go over and seek his experienced help?
If you were walking through a barnyard and came across a mule, what would you do? Probably not shout back at him, but perhaps quietly turn around and find another way?
What about the Lyrebird? Could you actually leverage their enthusiasm for your ideas to get your message out to a wider audience?
And remember, always be respectful to Dogs – they’ll likely do a lot of the work but as we said: mistreat them and they will bite.
I’d love to hear from you!