Familiar – Noun, a supernatural spirit or demon, often in the form of an animal, supposed to serve and aid a witch or other individual.
Project managers frequently wish that they had a trusted right-hand person who could help them out of challenging situations but why not broaden our imagination to think about the benefits of our multi-legged friends? Dear reader, before you start worrying that I have lost my marbles, fear not, this is merely a Gedanken experiment to help you gain a deeper understanding of yourself.
Let’s consider a few of the ones which came to my mind.
A canine will sacrifice itself if you are about to be thrown under the bus by an untrustworthy stakeholder and will cheer you up after you’ve experienced a rough work day. But you must also remember that dogs don’t lead long lives so this might not be the best familiar if you are working on a long project.
“An elephant never forgets” goes the cliche, so just imagine the benefits you’ll gain by not having to document much of the information generated by your projects. Elephants are also able to carry a lot of weight which means that they could help you better bear the burden of a complex project. Unfortunately, they also generate a lot of waste so you might find yourself spending too much time cleaning up after your familiar.
The swaying motion and spectacle markings on the hood of an alert cobra can be hypnotic which might be just what is needed to help you sway the attitude of your stakeholders. Cobras can’t be tamed so you might have to constantly protect yourself from being bitten.
A fly has compound eyes which enable it to see the world in a completely different manner than we can. This could be extremely helpful when trying to understand a decision or issue from multiple perspectives. Just imagine the benefits of having your very own “fly on the wall” – think of all those hidden conversations which you will now be able to eavesdrop on! Unfortunately, one fly looks very much like another to an untrained eye so you could end up accidentally swatting your familiar.
Pigs are among the animal kingdom’s smartest animals and have a phenomenal sense of smell. A pig could help you sniff out untruths faster than a lie detector could and when the going gets tough, your familiar might save your bacon.
There’s no doubt that a bear could be a formidable ally to have your back in challenging meetings but do you really want a familiar which will sleep for almost a half year at a stretch?
So if you were granted the wish of having an animal familiar what would it be?
“Man is the only animal that blushes, or needs to” – Mark Twain