Are you a horse or a unicorn ? - Executips


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Are you a horse or a unicorn ?

Illustration by Julia Delos Santos

In the book The Office Oracle Wisdom at Work,  author Patricia Monaghan wrote that  we  have two kinds of energies. The horse energy is “ strong and sturdy…productive, uncomplicated, grounded, thorough. It is also ordinary. “

The unicorn energy on the other hand is “creative and elusive; it inspires us with new ideas, new visions, new enthusiasms. It is complex, challenging, beautiful. It is extraordinary and infrequent. “ She also said that we must train ourselves “to recognize unicorn moments and to follow them instantly, for they do not recur.“

The horse and the unicorn is a very simple paradigm but it is one of the most powerful metaphors I have ever come across. It leads to a quick but deep self-evaluation.

While Ms. Monaghan said that unicorn moments come and go, I think we can make it stay. It starts with a decision to be a unicorn.

Believe that we’re a unicorn and we will be inspired to see things differently, to think different and to do things that make a difference in the office. We may not necessarily become a genius overnight. But we can have that voice in our head constantly reminding us to make our output unique, special and excellent.

That voice will compel us to study more, learn from other people, look for more opportunities to shine and go the extra mile.

The unicorn mile is different from a horse mile. The horse mile can be physically and mentally punishing. The unicorn mile is full of fun, a sense of fulfillment and the urge to create more special things.

To know if we are becoming a unicorn, we may ask  ourselves the “do you matter questions” ( from the book Do You Matter? by Robert Brunner and Stewart Emery with Russ Hall. )

Two of the questions are “ Are you a positive force in their lives ? If you disappeared, will their lives be diminished in some way ? “

If we resigned tomorrow, will our boss be a bit worried about the department ? Will our officemates think some things will not be the same for a while ?

Every person has unique qualities and abilities that’s why I believe that we all have the potential to stand out from the herd. 

There was a time in my career when I was feeling low because I thought I was not doing anything special in the industry that I just joined. Then one night our Chairman told me “ just do what you think you should do. Your work truly reveals the soul of our company.”

Those words from my boss were like a unicorn. Magical.

If you have concerns about your job or if you wish to suggest a topic, you may email me at

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