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May 23, 2011

Hunters Versus Scavengers

If I’ve heard it once… I’ve heard it a million times. Men are hunters. Always were. They are designed and programmed to chase. This bit of advice I’ve heard given to men and women alike. Men, get ready to chase, to hunt (take initiative and leadership)! Women… flee (be elusive), or play dead (uninterested, aloof)… in short: make good “prey.”

Somehow, it doesn’t work out as much as people think, or claim. Why?

It is precisely because men are no longer hunters; men have become scavengers.

Why? We’ll get to that in a moment.

How does "the hunt" work? Man prepares his tools, goes out and tracks his target. Quietly, slowly, knowing with certainty that when the moment is right, the opportunity arrives he will make his move. If he acts too soon, he will frighten the target away. If he waits too long, the target will be out of range and out of his reach. It is a carefully honed skill, learned from experience and practice.

But now, men go to the supermarket and pick up a package. Having a particular image in his mind, he'll choose what fits his fancy. There is no more hunt.

Unfortunately, it's not just the case for food anymore. Man sits in a cubicle at work, and behind a computer for dating, expecting opportunity to smack him in the forehead.

I’ve heard it a hundred times, by a hundred women, about a hundred different men: Why won’t he just move things forward? Does he even like me? Why do I feel like I’m being strung along? Is there something wrong with me? What does he really want? Why won’t he just DO IT ALREADY? Why didn’t he? And everything starts to feel like it’s slipping away. Which gives way to frustration and anxiety… .

As if everything should just drop in his lap, easy as that. Who does he think he is? I’ve asked that question myself at some point in time. But then I realized that it’s not some sort of ego or complex. It’s not because he figures women should fall from the sky onto his lap. Absolutely not.

Many of us –myself included, or maybe specifically me –didn’t grow up with the “go get ‘em” attitude (though perhaps I have been overcompensating and overly-zealous of late). Assertiveness is valued but not taught. Leadership is lauded but not learned. Humor is enjoyed but not cultivated. Courage, confidence and strength are exalted but not developed.There is no curriculum for developing these traits.

What’s the difference between a hunter and a scavenger?

Does a cheetah worry about NOT catching its prey? Not in a million years. What makes it a good hunter? The tools, the skills, the patience, the timing… putting so many of these things together, creating opportunity, taking every available opportunity and learning how hunt well. There is no rejection, no real failure –only experience… learning experience. There is always a next time, another opportunity.

But vultures, they circle around, they make sure their target is already served up and waiting for them; they will wait for days to make sure of this. They just wait. And if there’s nothing left, they move on… and wait some more.

I was taught to wait. But I discovered that waiting forever doesn't resonate with me, so I tapped into that innately instinctual inner part of my being. I am Man, hear me roar! I shall hunt, my will is strong, I will take action!  

(More on that action plan to come.) 


  1. Actually, of all the big cats, the cheetahs are the worst hunters. They have the speed, but not the savvy.

  2. Reminds me of the Hebrew aphorism that "it is better to be (considered) the tail of lions than the head of foxes."

    Just goes to show that even with a single skill, cheetahs hunt; they don't resort to being highway bandits.