A business idea I very much like is Jim Collins’ Hedgehog Concept. In the context of a business, it is about answering three questions:
- What are you deeply passionate about?
- What can you be best in the world at?
- What drives your economic engine?
Here is what Jim Collins writes: “Are you a hedgehog or a fox? In his famous essay “The Hedgehog and the Fox,” Isaiah Berlin divided the world into hedgehogs and foxes, based upon an ancient Greek parable: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”…A Hedgehog Concept is not a goal to be the best, a strategy to be the best, an intention to be the best, a plan to be the best. It is an understanding of what you can be the best at. The distinction is absolutely crucial. Every company would like to be the best at something, but few actually understand—with piercing insight and egoless clarity—what they actually have the potential to be the best at and, just as important, what they cannot be the best at. And it is this distinction that stands as one of the primary contrasts between the good-to-great companies and the comparison companies.”
The same Hedgehog Concept can be applied to us as individuals. It can help us identify our passions, strengths, and potential for success. By answering these three questions, we can work towards finding our “personal hedgehog” and ultimately build a fulfilling, successful, and meaningful life.
Here are three questions that can help us discover our own “hedgehog”:
- What activities or pursuits genuinely ignite your passion and make you feel fulfilled? Reflect on the things that truly excite you, bring joy, and make you feel engaged in life. These passions can help you find a personal sense of purpose.
- What are your unique talents, skills, or abilities that set me apart from others? Assess your strengths and areas where you excel or have the potential to excel. Consider not only your natural talents but also the skills you’ve developed through hard work, education, or experience.
- How can you combine my passion and strengths to create value or generate income? Think about ways to leverage your passions and skills in a manner that provides value to others and can potentially lead to financial rewards or a sustainable livelihood.
I asked myself these questions to discover my “personal Hedgehog.” For me, it has been about generating new ideas and converting them into startups – the 0 to 1 phase. Not all have ended up being successful, but the two big hits (IndiaWorld and Netcore) have delivered very good outcomes. Of late, there is a mini-Hedgehog that I have been building on – writing. The blog has become a great ideas generator. As Kevin Kelly wrote in his advice book, “I write in order to think; that’s how I think. I think by writing. I don’t have the ideas and then sit down and try to write them. I use writing to get the ideas.” I could not agree more.
The concept of a personal hedgehog is a powerful tool for self-discovery and personal growth. It is an exercise we must all do. We should repeat it every few years or so because we change with time. By regularly evaluating our passions, strengths, and opportunities for value creation, we can adapt to life’s changes and remain aligned with our true selves. Embracing the personal hedgehog concept is not only an investment in ourselves but also a journey towards reaching our full potential.