The Raven or The Macaw

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I.T. has had a large past of using animals to describe individuals, their attitudes, their skill sets, etc. Some of these originated outside of Information Technology such as the age old “Paper Tiger”. We’ve used terms like coding monkey to describe a programmer capable of knocking out code repetitively and constantly.

I’m going to take a slightly different approach on this concept with a thought and philosophy I’ve been trying to get myself into the mindset of applying on a daily basis. This mindset is something we all have the chance to challenge ourselves on everyday in different situations.  The concept is simple and the question goes like this. “Why not become the Raven, rather than the Macaw?” So what am I getting at here? It’s simple, we have two very different birds and many people will chose one or the other based on certain criteria. Here is my logic between the two.

The first thing most of you probably thought of was the distinct characteristics of how these birds look. You have the vibrant and bold colors of the Macaw versus the flat and bland black of the Raven. If given a simple choice of “please pick one bird you like out of these two” I strongly believe most individuals would select the Macaw. Sure, it stands out, it screams pick me. How do you not pick this bird? It’s the center of you focal point standing out like a living box of crayons. The question becomes this; is that who you want to be in your career?

Do you want to be the individual that is seen just because they are loud and stand out as vibrant and fun against the others parties? Or do you want to blend in like the Raven? Come in, do your job, do it well, and be left to do what you do? In my experience the Macaw, once established as such, is noticed in one of two ways. They are expected to be that consistent point of excitement and entertainment at the expense of being the best they can in their career. Or they are seen as distraction being over social keeping everyone from their day to day. This isn’t to knock being social, having fun with colleagues, or being personable to where people want to and do talk to you. My opinion in this matter follows a simple logic of going to work to do the best in my job. While everyone has heard the calls of a raven most notice it only as part of their existing environment. Meet someone with a parrot and you will quickly learn just how loud they can be. Don’t get me wrong, there is an added bonus of good colleagues that can laugh and have a good time, but not at the expense of getting tasks accomplished and just being the office stand out. On the other hand ravens are well known for a vast array of vocalizations and communication among peers, yet are contempt to get tasks done when they need to, whether they are alone, or in a group.

My second purpose of the Raven or Macaw concept is how you want to sit in your career. Most people I know have a dream of continuously moving forward in their profession up until (sometimes beyond) retirement. This comes at an expense however. This expense is time, your own time, to learn and develop your skill set. How does this come into play with the Raven or Macaw? Ravens are often touted as one of the most intelligent of species. Many times they have been put through logic and skill tests buy scientists usually learning, evolving, and ultimately completely their goals.  In fact, this is one of the more well known facts about the Raven. They seem to haven internal desire to accomplish their tasks and learn from every scenario they come across. A Macaw is a trick bird. When you think of a parrot most go straight to the phrase “Polly want a cracker?”. Parrots seem to learn a few trick phrases and simply recites them over and over in any order until it gets a response. You must work with the Macaw to have them learn a new skill.

As a last in the versus series between the Raven and the Macaw comes our environments. This is applicable differently in each individuals scenario however, in my experience as of late the market is volatile in terms of job longevity. Many of the corporate environments are in a cost cutting phase still to this day. The Raven is a constantly learning and evolving individual. This leads to a positive in two respects. If costs are to be cut in the means of employee numbers, a resource that has the ability to evolve quickly with a drive to learn an move forward will likely be an asset and held onto. On the flip side, the Macaw with its fairly static skill set may be an easy one to move out of the payroll. There is the chance that both could be ousted. In this case, the Raven is a bird that has learned to live amongst others and fit in in nearly any environment. The Macaw is an species whose living environment is slowly shrinking.

There is a place for both the Macaw and the Raven in the world we live in. The Macaws continue to make the work environment a fun place to be. They have a very solidified and trustworthy skill set. On the other hand, the Raven wants to evolve with its environment. Fitting in where needed, yet being local when the time is right. They can work as well alone or in a group. The question becomes what satisfies you in your career path. Are you comfortable doing exactly what you are doing for the rest of your working life? Become the Macaw. Hone in those specific skills, do them well. Learn when it’s appropriate to call for attention and be that excitement in the office.  Do you want to keep your mind active, engaged, and constantly move forward? Become the Raven! Hide in the shadows, socialize as appropriate, and keep challenging yourself and learning new things.

In my preference I am not yet at the point where I am satisfied with my skill set to where I can ignore moving forward. I want to be adaptive and able to move through any scenario and continue to grow. What will it be for you? The Raven or the Macaw?




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