The Beaver – ISTJ

Low-maintenance and industrious, Beavers are the quiet backbone of most, if not all, institutions. Similar to their SJ siblings, the supervising Stags, Beavers prioritize duty above all things, whether it is in their role as a parent, a boss, an employee, student body treasurer, or any position with even a modicum of responsibility. However, unlike the Stags, who take it upon themselves to command the group towards a common objective, Beavers assume the role of inspector general, guardian to all of the rules and regulations that society is built upon.

The Impartial Critic

AYAAN - FEB28 - Author Ayaan Hirsi Ali talks about her autobiography. tb (Photo by Tony Bock/Toronto Star via Getty Images) By: Tony Bock Collection: Toronto Star

I confront the European elite’s self-image as tolerant while under their noses women are living like slaves.

– Ayaan Hirsi Ali

When it comes to practical details, no type is more on top of things than the fastidious Beavers. Differing from the strategic Spiders, whose mastery of details usually pertains to the abstract concepts that buttress their long-term plans, Beavers prefer to focus on the concrete particulars of the present. No manner of minutiae is too trivial for their inspection. For a Beaver, it’s those precise specifics, the ones that other types—particularly Shamans and Smiths—frequently disregard, that are necessary to keeping society intact. For example, when it comes to trouble shooting, a Chimpanzee, with their Smith curiosity, is prone to examining every interesting aspect of a machine. A Beaver, on the other hand, will be the one who discovers, in seconds, that the machine is merely unplugged. This method may not be exciting, but Beavers don’t really care. They just want things to work.

This no-nonsense approach, along with their humble skepticism—a Beaver will usually label grand ideas for the future as unrealistic hubris—is also the major reason they make great judges and umpires. No one is above the rules, not even themselves, and their insistence on sticking to the facts of the case, contest, or competition, without adding any superfluous context ensures that the results will be as fair as humanly possible; Beavers check their personal convictions at the door.

As critics, they’re insightful and unbiased, pointing out specific objections, and unwilling to pull punches when critiquing those with whom they share a close personal or social connection. Because of this, other types will sometimes perceive Beavers as being rigid or uncaring, especially when compared to their more compassionate Gatherer siblings, the Elephants and Bears. However, this is far from the truth. A Beaver’s adherence to the rules is actually just a reflection of their concern for the welfare of society as whole; and what’s more compassionate than that?

The Workhorse

Andy Dufresne

In 1966, Andy Dufresne escaped from Shawshank prison. All they found of him was a muddy set of prison clothes, a bar of soap, and an old rock hammer, damn near worn down to the nub. I remember thinking it would take a man six hundred years to tunnel through the wall with it. Old Andy did it in less than twenty.

– Ellis Redding on Andy Dufresne, The Shawshank Redemption

“Industriousness” is easy enough to define. Merriam Webster describes it as being “constantly, regularly, or habitually active or occupied.” But what if there was a competition between animal types as to which was the most industrious? Who would win? The career-minded Killer Whales and Spiders are relentless students, just as the Sharks and Butterflies will practice endlessly to perfect their craft. And we cannot forget the Stags, Elephants, and Bears, all of whom possess the Gatherer traits of consistency and diligence. Nonetheless, it’s the Beavers that can claim the title of “Hardest-working Type.” Whether they’re fixing things around the house, taking part in menial and tedious tasks, or inspecting the structural integrity of a proposed freeway project, Beavers are unparalleled in their determination to see that the task is completed.

Their willpower is second to none; to shirk responsibility, no matter how daunting or unglamorous, is absolute failure. Beavers feel an almost nagging proclivity to be productive at all times. “Dirty work” is like catnip—pardon the mixed animal metaphors (though I know it’s technically a simile). Don’t be surprised to see a Beaver taking out the trash or washing the dishes. Bears might do the same, though they’re motivated more by loyalty to their friends than to any obligation to serve. Beavers are usually the first to offer help and the last to ask for it; they hate being a hassle, and the idea of not being able to carry their own weight horrifies them. Since much of their work is done outside of the spotlight, Beavers are commonly taken for granted. Recognition is not a necessity, but appreciation goes a long way towards making a Beaver supremely happy. Just don’t try doing the work for them. That would be an insult.

The Worrywart

Angela Merkel

The Freedom Bell in Berlin is, like the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, a symbol which reminds us that freedom does not come about of itself. It must be struggled for and then defended anew every day of our lives.

– Angela Merkel

Naturally cautious, Beavers are like the boy scout motto incarnate— “be prepared” is basically every day of their lives. They have a defensive mindset, always at the ready for whatever life might throw at them. Because of this, it’s not unusual for them to worry about possible outcomes that have very little chance of happening. If there’s a ninety nine percent chance for a positive outcome, leave it to a Beaver to stress out about the one percent. And unfortunately, no matter the outcome, it’s the perfect set up for confirmation bias. If, by chance, the negative, one-in-a-hundred scenario occurs, the Beaver will declare that they “told you so.” If the probability-blessed positive outcome occurs, the Beaver will attribute the “good fortune” to their stressing out about the negative possibility. Either way, it reinforces the idea that their unnecessary stress is, in fact, necessary.

In many contexts, this reflexive caution serves Beavers well. They make terrific accountants and civil engineers—when it comes to building bridges, I’ll take the person who’s constantly stressing about ways to make sure it doesn’t collapse. That being said, a Beaver’s hesitance to take risks can be frustratingly closed-minded and stifling to progress in any field and, at worst, will lead to the continuation of a status quo that could be detrimental to society in the long—and short—term.

The Patient Builder

Warren Buffett

I call investing the greatest business in the world … because you never have to swing… All day you wait for the pitch you like; then when the fielders are asleep, you step up and hit it.

– Warren Buffett

Mature Beavers learn to channel their carefulness and risk aversion into a disciplined patience. They never rush. They never give in to the temptation of “easy” rewards. On the surface, this makes them appear similar to Bears, their Gatherer siblings. But unlike Bears, whose protective qualities make them skittish when it comes to investing money or developing projects, Beavers can become extremely proficient at taking calculated risks. There’s no doubt that they’ll put in the time and effort to read all the instructions, take all the necessary precautions, and research all the relevant information. Engineering is regularly assumed to be the sole province of the Smiths. While this may be true to a certain extent when it comes to the field of computer science, where abstract design is key, structural engineering is another thing entirely. Let’s not forget, actual beavers are known for constructing dams.

Precision, cost analysis, and risk assessment—skills that translate to the financial sector as well—are all necessary if one plans on building the massive structures that serve as foundations to cities both large and small. Though, like much of what Beavers do, these logistical afterthoughts get outshined by flashier achievements. I mean, when’s the last time anyone got excited about a new sewer system? Or fixed potholes? Which is a shame. The next time you marvel at the wonder of the Golden Gate Bridge, think about that stretch of California highway you took to get there, and remember that it was probably a Beaver that built it.