Archetypes’ Got Talent

inwords Brand Voice News #6

El Mar Menor, España

In 1977 a wise man named Gerry Adams gave me the secret to life. Mind you, I seem to remember having to ask him for it. He was a modest guy — his only panache a pair of cowboy boots and a single Cadillac.

I was an 18-year old Nova Scotian, so, for all I knew at the time, sporting high heels and wrangling a Caddy were the marks of all Sages.

In defence of my innocence, his windshield wipers could sense the slightest rain and turn themselves on and off auto-magically. What sorcery! Environment Canada has yet to pull that rabbit out of a hat.

“A wet bird never flies at night.”

That was his secret.

Little Egret, Garceta común

Earlier this February, 2022, 45 years later, when the very same sun you see in the photo above had finished setting and it was well dark and I had my feet crossed on the front porch railing — just about where the words Legendary and Inspiration are in the very same photo — a Little Egret (that’s little with a big L — Garceta común in Spanish) took off from nearshore heading south-west toward the sooty hills of Los Nietos with a argent swish like a 5-year-old’s toes tickling a sea as still as the polish on a bottle. I’m certain it wasn’t one of the local gulls — the only other migrants here other than me at this time of year — because I found no ravaged take-away containers the following morning.

There was no Internet in 1977. Nor was there a library in rural northern Nova Scotia that stocked, “The Secret to Secrets to Life,” so, having no evidence to the contrary, I believed Gerry all these years. Actually, I believed that “A wet bird never flies at night.” was cryptic and magical enough to be good enough — as secrets to life go.

“A wet bird never flies at night,” is akin to the adage “Don’t just do something, sit there” from the preface to Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet, the last book written by Thích Nhất Hạnh (Thầy to his followers), the Vietnamese monk who made mindfulness so annoyingly simple, and who died last month on the magical date of 22-01-2022 at the venerable age of 95.

Just as Gerry’s caution didn’t specify whether a slightly damp bird might be exempt from the secret’s definition of wet, or whether the twilight or predawn shades of night delineated its fly or no-fly zones; neither did Thầy specify how to know when to stop sitting, or whether the something he was counselling not to do was any thing or just some things. Surely quenching the spark of an Australian forest fire or opting not to have afterwork beers with Sparky Boris Johnson would be exempt.

You don’t have to know exactly what something means, or even whether it’s 100% true for you or anyone else. Knowing that something about that something carries the weight of authenticity — that it just feels right — is enough.

That’s the way it is with both talent and Brand Voice Archetypes.

Often quoted for another, more famous and less cryptic secret to life, Joseph Campbell once said, “Follow your bliss.”
He also said, “I should have said, ‘Follow your blisters.'”

Etymologically-speaking, once upon a time talent referred to the weight of something, or balance, or desire. It wasn’t until a Medieval Roman writer needed a two-syllable word for aptitude or predisposition, and having yet to invent the word or the thing, Thesaurus — and being both geographically and temporally distanced from yet-to-be-discovered Nova Scotia and every library that would ever be in it — he chose talent as a suitable synonym. Maybe he was on a deadline and had no time to sit with it: Thầy hadn’t been invented yet either. (I used the pronoun he in this diversion because I expect the shes of those days had more mission-critical things on their minds than synonyms.)

So you see, if you ever feel like you’re lacking talent, it’s the fault of some vocabularically-challenged medieval pre-Italian. Night or day, seated or standing, your true talent lies in following your bliss and your blisters.

Two guileless and gull-less take-aways:

1. A Collection of Archetype-specific Talents

The Innocent

Conviction, Sincerity and Trust

The Everyperson

Fairness and Independence

The Hero

Bravery and Determination

The Caregiver

Empathy, Heroism and Respect

The Explorer

Ambition, Autonomy and Vision

The Outlaw

Courage, Discipline and Focus

The Lover

Dedication, Passion and Tenderness

The Creator

Imagination, Perception and Wonder

The Ruler

Benevolence, Certainty and Integrity

The Magician

Alchemy, Faith and Serenity

The Sage

Authenticity and Wisdom

The Jester

Insight, Selflessness and Serendipity

2. Take the brand voice quiz

If you’re brand-less, choose a name like Talented Tina or Super Sam and see where it takes you. Then, don’t just do something, sit there with your Talent Archetype. Then, put on your flip-flops (or thongs if you’re Australian) and follow your blisters.

Verte el próximo mes.


Despite my tip-toeing across the beach like Elmer Fudd hunting Bugs Bunny, even in daylight, I couldn’t get a shot of my night flyer. Little Egrets are more than a little bit camera shy. The snow white beaut above is actually landing on Laguna di Venezia, Italy, courtesy PJT at Wikimedia Commons.

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