Lots of animals live and move in groups. Cows, sheep, wildebeest, mackerel, geese, humans…just to name some examples. We’ve come up with lots of names for these groupings: herd, flock, school, gaggle, gang, company, industry trade group, union, political party.
Each of these groupings have one primary purpose: defense. There is safety in numbers, or so the saying goes. Groups moving in unison appear larger to predators. Their coordinated movements confuse and intimidate those who would otherwise do harm to the individuals in the group.
When predators attack, they pick the weakest and most vulnerable in the group to attack first. That’s okay with the group, since protection of the group as a whole is paramount. Any particular individual is less important than the survival of the entire group.
Predators often travel alone. Eagles, bears, cheetahs, sharks, jaguars, Tesla…all loners. Sure, some predators travel in groups. Lions have their pride. Wolves have their pack. Orcas and dolphins have their pods. The primary goal of a predator, whether alone or in a group, is offense. They work in a coordinated effort to maximize return on their energy investment…capturing the most prey with the least amount of energy output.
Nothing is safe in the animal kingdom. The food chain takes no prisoners. The hunter often becomes the hunted. The same is true in human enterprises. In the (hopefully) never ending capitalist cycle of invention, construction, destruction, re-invention, and reconstruction, the roles of predator and prey can switch on a moment’s notice.
An instinctive drive for safety leads to new alliances. Predators who would never think of joining a defensive flock are drawn in by the promise of safety from some new, common enemy. Defense against the enemy becomes the rule of the day. Thoughts of maximizing return on investment, or re-inventing the future, are replaced by a focus on defending the status quo of the flock.
In a uniquely human twist, the defensive flock may even take on a new mission. The defensive flock goes on offense. This flock actively seeks out the lone predators, the re-inventors. They marshal all of their creative energy toward destroying predators before their new ideas wreak havoc on the flock. Protection of the group is all that matters. The individual is less important.
Which are you? Predator or prey? Loner, or flock member? Are you a former predator, now seeking the safety of a new flock? Are you defending the status quo, or throwing in with the crazies who are re-inventing the future? Are you on offense, or defense?
Are you making this choice for yourself, or are you allowing the flock to make the decision for you?