Are you a Lion, Bull, Chameleon or Turtle? How understanding 4 Animal Metaphors Can Change Your Life and Relationship

“Changing the way you think about you will inevitably change the way you live and love those around you.”

By Philip K. Hardin, M.A., M. Div., LMFT, LPC

By Philip K. Hardin, M.A., M. Div., LMFT, LPC 

I have spent thousands of hours sitting with men who are competent, capable, and gifted, yet they often share a similar sadness about their lives. They are perplexed as to how to make their personal life “work”. They often express their frustration by blaming and criticizing their loved ones. Most men have few, if any, meaningful friendships. Many are depressed and lonely because they do not know how to connect with their wives and children. I hear them saying, “I wish I knew. I wish I knew what she wants from me. I wish I knew how to connect with my children. I wish I knew how to get my family in a better place. I wish I knew how I could make life work.”

I wrote a book, Lions Were Born to Roar, several years ago that I believe that if you read, it would be as revealing as sitting in a counselor’s office for three to six months. The concepts introduced in the book will challenge you to think about your life in a different way; it will help you begin the process of acknowledging your areas of brokenness and to form a solid foundation for living life relationally.

The book guides you through four metaphors from which you can measure your life —a man is like a Lion, a Bull, a Chameleon, and a Turtle.

To become like a Lion is to reach the place of maturity. A Lion does three things well: he reveals, receives, and trusts.

He reveals himself— exposes his true self through humility, honesty, and courage.

He receives feedback from others in order to overcome the blind spots about his gifts and his weaknesses.

He trusts connection with others to overcome his fears and his tendency toward isolation.

When men fall short in these critical components they become characterized by unhealthy behaviors that they often develop in order to cope and survive.

I describe these common behavior styles in three metaphors: the Bull, Chameleon and Turtle.

Every man will have some aspects of the Bull, Chameleon, and Turtle living in him. However, the more he is willing to stretch and aim to be a Lion, the more he will become the man he was designed to be. Ultimately, being like a lion is to be like Christ, the Lion of Judah.

Let me give you some descriptions of each to help you determine which style you naturally tend toward in your day-to-day interactions.


As a Lion, a man demonstrates the courage to know and be known. He offers himself to others with vulnerability and invites others to know him. He is committed to growth.


As a Bull, a man is blind to parts of himself that are obvious to others. Those blind spots may be his gifts or his weaknesses. Because of his lack of self-awareness he often pushes his opinions and way on others. In order to become a Lion, a Bull must be open to the feedback of others.


As a Chameleon, a man fears sharing the parts of himself that he knows. He holds secrets about himself and seeks to be what he perceives others want him to be or what he believes will get him the acceptance from others.  In order to become a Lion, the Chameleon must reveal himself openly and vulnerably.


As a Turtle, a man lives in a shell of self-protection and is therefore unaware of large parts of himself and others around him. He overvalues safety - so much so, that he cuts himself off from connection to others. He refuses to risk and become involved in relationships. In order to become a Lion, a Turtle must be willing to risk and stop playing it safe so he can find vitality and adventure!

So which one do you identify with?

Understanding how each of these metaphors applies to your life will help you begin to break old, destructive patterns that prevent you from being known and living in community.

Being REAL and finding other men who want to be real is a choice that I have made and seen hundreds upon hundreds of men make over the last 25 years. They have been men at every age and stage in life.

It is never too late to become what you were designed to be!

Read the Book! You will be glad you did.

Be the Lion!

**Also consider going to a Men’s Coaching Weekend and begin the journey with men throughout our country!