Charting Your Course and The Hedgehog Concept

I am again focusing on what I do best. Being a leader and writing about it. I lead in many ways through my UC Berkeley work, my company Ocean SF and in my own family. But my true love has always been writing. This began in grade school when I kept a box of index cards under my bed detailing the characteristics of my friends and the people in my neighborhood. These were notes on the oddities of a woman named Mary and her sister who lived near the community pool and swam everyday and all of my friends and their parents. This went on through grade school, then I began writing in a journal where I recorded what I wore everyday and what everyone else wore. Yes, I have a love of fashion as well.

In high school I was pulled aside by my English teacher, and then in college when my professor read a paper I wrote on cognitive dissonance to the class. I remember shrinking in my chair and dying of embarrassment. Later, at work I was assigned all of the writing projects even though I was a systems analyst. I wrote the requirements, the white papers and the procedures. I think I am the only person who actually liked technical writing. And, now here I am.

If you are thinking about your path consider the Hedge Hog concept. In a famous essay, philosopher and scholar Isaiah Berlin described two approaches to thought and life using a simple parable: The fox knows a little about many things, but the hedgehog knows only one big thing very well. The fox is complex; the hedgehog simple. And the hedgehog wins.

Research shows that breakthroughs in companies require a simple, hedgehog-like understanding of three intersecting circles: what a company can be the best in the world at, how its economics work best, and what best ignites the passions of its people. Breakthroughs happen when you get the hedgehog concept and become systematic and consistent with it, eliminating virtually anything that does not fit in the three circles.

This concept applies to people as well. So, ask yourself these questions:

1. What are you deeply passionate about?

2. What can you be the best at?

3. How can you make money doing this?

Consider these questions and let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Are you a fox or a hedgehog?

Love and blessings to all.

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