Spirit Animal Cougar
Gifts: Leadership. Blazing a new trail without worrying about having followers. Having a view from above.
Challenges: Moving so far ahead that no one can follow. Loneliness. Getting stuck from not knowing where to go. Faith in yourself (from lack of support).
Cougar (also called Mountain Lion, Catamount, Panther, and Puma) is fearless in following its own path, in blazing its own trail. Cougar teaches leadership that may be so radical, so out there, that few people follow right away.
Think of the genius of Nikola Tesla and how followers are finally starting to catch up with the brilliance of his work. Cougar does not cultivate a following before leading the way. Cougar blazes the trail and trusts that the right followers will come—now or later.
Many people define a leader as someone who has followers. But Cougar teaches that a true leader creates the vision and walks the path that inspire people to follow. This method does not work for everyone. It does not work for most, in fact, because Cougar energy can be difficult to master and difficult to follow.
French filmmaker Jean Cocteau (not Mahatma Gandhi) said, “First, they ignore you. Then, they abuse you. The, they heap you with honors. Or make you into a statue. Stone. Dead.” This is the risk of Cougar’s leadership—to be ignored, to be abused, or maybe, just maybe, to be recognized and lauded.
Cougar’s challenge to you is to lead even when you “think” no one is following or watching.
There is a part of Cougar that would love for people to follow now. And Cougar is quietly pleased—impressed even—when people do follow now. But Cougar has a profound patience and radiating confidence that enable it to lead without worrying about who is following, if anyone.
Cougar has a greater view and perspective than most other spirit animal cats. Cougar is a powerful jumper and tends to live in habitats where it can climb to gain a higher vantage point. This view from above imbues Cougar with the confidence to be a solitary leader because Cougar can see farther along the trail it is blazing.
Cougar challenges include loneliness, losing faith, and getting stuck. It almost goes without saying that you run the risk of feeling isolated when you operate under the influence of Cougar. It is, literally, the nature of the beast. You may never feel consistently understood or supported. But you can get support as you need it—whether that comes from slowly developing a cadre of followers or hiring employees or assistants.
That sense of isolation can make you question what you’re doing and lose faith in yourself. While you can find a mentor who believes in you, you will also want to develop a practice of introspection so that you can stay internally motivated.
Finally, if you do start to question or lose faith in yourself, you may become paralyzed and get stuck. Constant second-guessing ordoubting the good you are doing can lead to resignation. This is a sign that you’ve lost connection with Cougar energy. Get back in touch with Cougar and bring its energy back into balance. You’ll find your faith restored.