What kind of animal are you?

Okay, that title is a multiple choice question, not a rhetorical one. What kind of animal are you? Here are your choices:

  1. Lion
  2. Otter
  3. Golden Retriever
  4. Beaver

Now, if you’re jumping out of your seat right now with your hand waving in the air, saying, “Oooh, tell me which one I am!!” you can take a seat. You’re an Otter.

If you’d like more time to think this over and more specific details about the animals, you’re probably a Beaver.

If you’re waiting patiently for me to tell you which one you are, you’re probably a Golden Retriever.

And if you think this list is silly and you’d rather use your own list, you’re probably a Lion.


While that was not a scientific experiment, and no one is strictly all one personality type, it is interesting to see how similar we can be to the personality profiles that are out there. The one I’m highlighting today is from a children’s book by Gary Smalley and John Trent called, The Treasure Tree. My son, “Seven,” and I read it last week and I was amazed how quickly he figured out which animals were represented in our family and circle of friends.

The story follows four animals (you guessed it): A lion, otter, beaver and golden retriever who are best friends heading out on an adventure to find a treasure tree. Four keys must be found and each of the different personalities comes in handy to help find the keys.

It’s a great way to introduce young children to the concept of personality styles. I love the idea of kids learning about this because I desperately wish I had understood it at a younger age. I think it would have helped me to be more secure in who I was and not as easily intimidated by people with different personalities.

You may not be familiar with these particular personality styles so I’ll give a quick overview. (For today, I’m using the animal names used in the Treasure Tree but in parenthesis, I’ll indicate the corresponding personality style from the popular DiSC profile.) Keep in mind, most people are a combination of two or three of the styles, with one or two being the most predominant. For example, I’m a Golden Retriever-Otter with some Lion thrown in for good measure. As you read through the characteristics, I bet people will automatically come to mind for each animal.

Lion (Direct)

Lions are extroverts who are task oriented. They are leaders, partly because they enjoy being in control. They love a challenge and they expect people to follow them and do things their way. They make decisions quickly, without showing any fear. They have to be careful that they don’t come across as arrogant and unyielding.

Otter (Influential)

Otters are extroverts who are people oriented. They love to talk and they’re the life of the party. You know it when they walk into a room because they make their presence known, often speaking or laughing loudly. They are fun and spontaneous, playful and enthusiastic. On the down-side they tend to be disorganized, chronically late and have difficulty focusing on tasks. They despise details.

Golden Retriever (Steady)

Retrievers are introverts who are people oriented. They are kind and compassionate. They like security and enjoy a small group of close friends. They make others feel welcomed and loved. They are great listeners and are loyal friends. They avoid conflict and change, preferring to keep the status quo. They can be stubborn and they don’t always like to try new things.

Beaver (Cautious)

Beavers are introverts who are task oriented. They are organized and they love the details, always asking lots of questions. They finish what they start. They can be very creative and inventive. They like order and predicability. They have to be careful not to be too critical of others or expect others to live up to their high personal standards.


If you’re a mom, I’ll bet you can see your kids in some of those descriptions. I literally have one of each. And it helps me to know that my Golden Retriever-Beaver doesn’t want to sing in the school musical because it’s just not how he’s wired. I have some Otter in me so I like to be on stage and for a while, I truly couldn’t understand why he preferred to be on the stage crew, behind the scenes. I just thought he needed more encouragement to get out on the stage. But as I applied what I know about personality styles I realized that he has no Otter in him so it’s completely understandable that he doesn’t want to be the center of attention.

On the other hand, I have an Otter who never stops talking. Every day, when he gets home from school, he asks who he can go play with. Every day! His social calendar exhausts me. And while I set limits because I can’t allow “play-dates” every day, I understand that being social is hard-wired for him. He thrives on social interaction. Knowing that helps me put more effort into arranging for friends to come over.

How about you? Do you see yourself in these descriptions? Do you see your kids, spouse or friends? Learning more about how the personality styles interact can be incredibly beneficial in all your relationships. I could probably write 5 more posts on this subject, there is so much to talk about (there’s the Otter in me, coming out again.) But for now, I’ll just link you up with a good resource. For a free, printable personality test from Gary Smalley, click here. (In linking you to this online test, I am not endorsing this particular website. I am an Otter, not a Beaver and therefore I have not looked at all the pages on said website, so click at your own risk ;))

One last thought…the Golden Retriever in me is feeling a little sick to my stomach thinking about the fact that I have my first book signing on Saturday (click here for more info). The idea of the unknown…having to talk to strangers…all of that is so uncomfortable! But the Otter in me is jumping up and down saying, “Hey! Come to my book signing on Saturday! It’s from 1-3 pm and there will be chocolate!” So, if you’re available you can come comfort the Golden or celebrate with the Otter. Either way, I hope to see you there!



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  1. Do you have a printable copy of the treasure tree personality quiz? I thought I found one online before, but I can’t find one now. 🙁

    • Hi Ann,
      I’m sorry for the delayed response…I’ve been away at a conference this past week. I don’t have a printable copy of the quiz. I took a look online, myself, and came up empty as well. I believe there is something of a quiz in the back of the book. But I’m still out of town, so I can’t check, at the moment. I will let you know, though. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. haha! I remember doing this before we got married…I think i was a Lion and Scott was a goldie and we were hoping that would work out all right!!!! Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh my! Some days are better than others (:

    • Haha…Lion’s and Tigers and Bears…love it! I can see u being a goldie. I never realized I had a lot of goldie in me till recently. It does make for interesting marriage dynamics, doesn’t it? But truly, understanding the differences helps me give more grace.

    • for what it’s worth….just re-reading this post and noticed I misread your comment first time around. You’re a lion? That surprises me! 😉

  5. I am totally an Otter–Golden Retriever too! We did this with our MOPS group a couple years ago and it was so helpful for team unity. There was more than one lion in the group and this revelation, in particular, was extremely helpful in understanding how personalities contributed to a few areas of conflict. Your book signing is going to be awesome! I wish I could be there to cheer you on, but I will just have to cheer loud so that you can hear me from Nebraska!

    • Sarah…I bet we could have guessed that we were the same 😉 I would love to create a talk about this and do it at mom groups, etc. I find it so fascinating!
      Wish you could be here, too and I’ll listen for your cheers across the nation! 😉

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