The hermit is one of seven archetypes that define the most common ways that people relate to the world. While being the weakest archetype, it is nevertheless one that I’ve come across on numerous occasions. What do I mean when I say someone is following the hermit archetype? I am not talking about literal hermits, like the Chinese Taoists or Ralph Waldo Emerson living on Walden Pond.
First of all, hermits by their nature withdraw from conflict. If a hermit is present during a discussion and some action is required, the hermit will never volunteer. The hermit always does the minimum, only what they must do to survive. To protect themselves, hermits will make an effort to become expert in something, then defend their area of expertise, making it seem difficult to master, and using their monopoly to make themselves seem indispensable.
Here’s a concrete example of a hermit: I once worked with someone who was the expert in ISO standards for my department. When my team was chosen to be audited, I was given the job of making sure we were ready. I was told that this person was the expert. When I asked him for help, he handed me a thick binder, but did little more. After a very short time, I determined that the bulk of the binder applied to the factory floor, not to engineering. In the end, the standard that my colleague was our expert in was only about two pages long.
This same individual, when invited to meetings, would always sent one of his reports, and give the delegatee responsibility for any actions they agreed to take. He himself seemed to do very little; a friend of mine once watched him spend an hour removing cellophane from a stack of CD-ROMs. Due to his unwillingness to protect his people from abuse, one of them once told me that he felt like the sewer pipe of the company, because all of the shit flowed through him.
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