Wolves are very social animals that live in packs of between 6 and 15 members. Occasionally a wolf is excluded from the pack to live a solitary existence. He is known as a lone wolf.
A lone wolf is an individual that enjoys his own company. He doesn’t need much social interaction and is most comfortable when not relying on the contributions of others. He’s not a great collaborator, preferring to hunt solo. More than anything he believes in himself and his own abilities. He might live in his own head to some extent – a daydreamer with a vivid imagination. He doesn’t readily show weakness and responds with indifference to the weakness of others. He’s stoic. The strong silent type. He doesn’t readily display his emotions and is not hugely affectionate toward others. He likes to go his own way, is generally disdainful of rules and restrictions. He has probably overcome significant adversity and now believes resolutely in himself, and not much else.
The lone wolf’s obvious strengths are those of resilience and self-dependence. He’s adaptable, cunning, and can thrive in what might appear difficult terrain. He often strives for excellence, working to please his own high standards. He’s largely immune to criticism, has thick skin, and spends a great deal of time just not caring about trivialities, inconsequential and minor details. The lone wolf generally has great focus and can work away on a task that might drive a pack dependent animal crazy. He is normally internally motivated and commits to a project because he has carefully chosen that path.
There are shortcomings that the lone wolf must overcome. Dealing with people is inevitable unless he lives alone in a log cabin in a forest – Ted Kaczynski style. Such interaction will drain the energy of the loner, and he might opt out of activities that require ongoing interaction instead of choosing to participate in worthwhile endeavours. Opportunities may be missed. Maintaining friendships can be a struggle, especially with those not familiar with the lone wolf ways. Complete isolation is a danger.
The workplace can be a struggle for the lone wolf, with its potential need for dreaded teamwork, and dealing with the petty bullshit of office life. Maintaining long-term intimate relationships can also be a challenge – with the need for affection, the need to reveal weakness, and the requirement to offer comfort and support. It can also be confusing for the loner to comprehend how minor things can become such a big deal. Pretending to care about the little things is not something that comes naturally.
Lone wolves are often happiest working on grand projects alone. Artists, novelists, programmers, designers, anyone who toils away in isolation to emerge with a significant creation are almost definitely part of this club. Steve Jobs is a classic example, poor at dealing with others, relentlessly driven toward excellence, harshly critical of subordinates, unable to hold a personal relationship together, cold toward everyone, including his daughter. Would he have achieved the same level of greatest if he was a little more rounded in character, less extreme in his determination to go it alone? Who knows.
While most humans feel safest when part of a group, a lone wolf is something of an anomaly. They don’t like to be bothered, interfered with, or told what to do. They are happiest out on their own, away from the pack, doing things their way without the need for constant approval. They are interested primarily in independence, survival, and their life’s work. Ideally, they should live in urban areas, where minor but agreeable social interaction is required and they don’t go into full Unabomber mode. If you are a lone wolf, be sure work at building and sustaining semi-close relationships. If you know one, respect their space. They don’t need to be part of your pack.