Are you a horse or a unicorn?

ExecuTips - By Robert Labayen

Posted at Jun 24 2015 09:15 PM | Updated as of Jun 25 2015 05:15 AM

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."

Illustration by Julia Delos Santos

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 office mates 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 [email protected]

I would assume that you’re giving me permission to publish your email ( if chosen) and my reply. Your identity will not be disclosed.

Read more about ExecuTips on


About the Author:

Robert Labayen spent 22 years in advertising prior to joining ABS-CBN in 2004. He was VP-Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi and Executive Creative Director at J. Walter Thompson, two of the country's leading ad agencies. He is currently the Head of Creative Communications Management at ABS-CBN. His job involves inspiring people to be their best. He is a writer, painter and songwriter.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.