8 Business And Life Lessons We Can Learn From The Octopus

By Warren Cassell

Humans are really good at picking up patterns. It’s actually one of the things we’re ingrained to do. With that in mind, we can observe the world around us and learn from it. Animals are a good thing to study; they actually have to put up with a lot of the things we do, like food rationing, learning from the environment and adapting. In a sense, you could learn a lot from an animal in a tight situation, especially one that requires manipulating the best of their instincts. A great example would the be the octopus. It’s actually one of the most intelligent sea dwelling creatures on the planet. With its eight arms and deep sea environment, it has to stay on top of its surroundings. This is especially reminiscent of a business situation, let alone all the things we have to deal with in life. Below we’ll take a look at the fascinating attributes an octopus possesses and what we can learn from it (takeaway: it may surprise you).

1. Adaptability

The octopus has to adapt, much like we do. Consider your work situation or something you’re dealing with in life. Odds are you’re probably experiencing something like that right now. An octopus knows your pain; the sea floor is constantly changing with new creatures and flows coming into its habitat, meaning it has to stay on top of the world around it all times. In life, this is true; not everything is set and qualities change. Business experiences the brunt of this even more, especially when you’re faced with a decision like getting a task done on time with unforeseen complications popping up. The octopus has some great lessons to learn here, that being adaptability. It’s a quality we all need to move forward and handle situations that were unexpected (not to mention places and people).

2. Complex Environments

This goes hand in hand with adapting. In our world and in the grand landscape of business, things get complex. There are a lot of complications and facets tied to just about every decision we make, meaning that if you’re not able to stay with the flow, you’re left behind. Humans deal with complex, ever-changing components, especially in business. Sometimes, it’s not clear what to do. An octopus has this issue as well, but it learns to deal with the landscape as it comes to it (and even plan ahead). Watching an octopus and its kin means knowing how they plan and foresee challenges in a complex world. It’s good to take note of this and apply it to your own life and instances. The world is full of possibilities, obstacles and detriments. Stay on top by anticipating a complex habitat and the things tied to it. With the adaptability and understanding of the intricate environment, you’re putting yourself one step ahead of everyone else.

3. Observing Other’s Behavior

Observing goes hand in hand with learning. An octopus will observe, study and interpret its environment. It kind of has to, otherwise it could spell trouble or even death. Business is the same way. You need to observe how someone else is handling a situation, either for the best or for the worst. Knowing a mistake someone else made helps you avoid it yourself. Also knowing a decision somebody in your life made that led to success if beneficial to your own goals and aspirations. Without observing the world, you’re in the dark. If you’re making a big life choice or hoping to tackle that complex task, see if you can find someone else who has done it and ask them what worked best. You can also take a step back and gather information for yourself. Remember, just about everything is a combination of cause and effect, so having a good mindset and wealth of information beforehand makes this significantly clearer. The octopus knows this as well and will do its best to observe the sea floor around it, ranging from predators to prey and even a good place to lay eggs for its future generations.

4. Using Tools 

Tools are a part of our primary nature. We need to them to accomplish certain tasks. Fire, a very basic tool and resource we’ve used for ages, has been one of the most influential components of nature we’ve ever learned. An octopus will actually use tools laying around on the sea floor to scavenge or maneuver in tight spaces. That takes a lot of intelligence and observing, something we share in common with one of the ocean’s most advanced creatures. You’ll need certain tools in life, whether it be a hammer or a car to get from point A to point B. They’re a necessity and without them, a lot of things we do wouldn’t be possible.

5. Wide Variety Of Techniques

You can’t keep repeating the same thing and expecting different results (that’s the definition of insanity). The octopus doesn’t have just one technique, it has a myriad of them to counterattack and interact with its environment and fellow sea creatures. In life, repeating one technique won’t get you very far. Instead, you need a slew of understandings to accomplish something. If something isn’t working at the moment, you should consider trying a different tool in your arsenal like the octopus does.

6. Venom

The octopus actually possesses venom for a couple reasons. We as humans have a metaphorical venom as well. A lot of times, this venom (be it defending yourself or more) can come into use. When you’re dealing with an extremely difficult issue, you may use your “venom” (tough love, defense, etc) to get something done. You could even go as far as to say that money can be venom, especially in the business world. You won’t snag the best pray with weak venom; you need something potent and carefully placed. The octopus does this as well.

7. Three Hearts

The octopus actually has three hearts. In a sense, we do too (mind, body and spirit). In tandem, they work together to accomplish a lot of important things. Start thinking of your health in terms of more than just not getting a serious infection. Think of your tasks as dealing with your “three hearts”. Your mind will get you far, but sometimes you need physical strength (body). If you’re negative about everything, you’ll find yourself just as stuck as someone else (spirit). The octopi’s hearts work together to achieve a strong, healthy life for it. Keep that in mind with your own.

8. Recreation

Everyone needs a break and so does the octopus. It actually has toys it will sometime play with deep under the sea. Perhaps your toy is a book that you read for leisure or even a gaming console. You can’t exist with all work and no play. Keep your mind and body healthy with doses of recreation and relaxation through. That will revitalize and refresh your perspective, much like the octopus does. It goes a long way for relieving stress too, which in our world, is common. Don’t worry, it’s the same for the octopus – think of all that pressure from the water pushing down in it. Yikes!


Just like other animals, we can learn a good deal from the octopus. Above are just eight of the many things it does on a daily basis to survive, flourish and reproduce. Keeping those tactics in your life will assure the highest quality moments and the best businesses decisions. Apply them daily and you’ll see the same thriving results that the octopus does.

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