I work in a pretty conservative organization, so I was shocked at our strategic planning offiste when my new director recommended we start off sharing our “spirit animal.” We were to write down our choice on an index card and then pass the cards to him so he could read aloud all of our spirit animals to the group.
I was delighted with this little task, but couldn’t decide if I should take it seriously, make a joke, or be an ass about the assignment. A variety of options passed through my mind: owl, Loch Ness monster, cat. Then someone in the room said, “We should have picked our patronus” and I wrote down unicorn.
The mixture of animals our leadership team picked was pretty cool and diverse: fox, penguin, Canadian goose, sea lion, otter, turtle, mouse, deer, dolphin, desert sheep, baby robin and duck-billed platypus were all in the mix. (I said we were a conservative organization, not lacking creativity.) I was the only mythical creature and when asked to explain why I picked a unicorn I said:
- “Because a unicorn seems like it might wear rose colored glasses.”
I am a bit of a Pollyanna at work. I think things are going to work out and that people are trying to do their best and in the end things will be okay. This perspective is a bit unusual in my organization, so I wanted to pick something that conveyed that optimism.
- “We could really use more magic at work”
Who can’t use more magic at work? Pixie dust, Star Trek transporters, a pope who believes in climate change, and miracles all are welcome additions to my tool box.
- “I wanted something different from everyone else.”
I am an individual. I want to stand out and be noticed for the things that make me special and valuable.
By the end of the day I really liked this weird exercise. We referred to our own and other’s spirit animals throughout the day. We acknowledged the accuracy of choices and suggested modifications. At one point my spirit animal morphed into unicorn mold. Something about my growing and sticking to things, like mold. So the final evolutionary step of my spirit animal is a magical sparkly rainbow mold with spiky horns. Be careful not to step on me.
What’s your spirit animal?