Finding Your Hedgehog

A “Live, Love, Lead Well” post

The concept of the “hedgehog,” that one big idea that captures our attention and fuels our vision, is a vital component of effective leadership.   When you discover your hedgehog, it will be at the intersection of three key drivers, your passion, what you are the very best at doing, and at what can you find your greatest opportunity to express your passion and gifts. We left off last week with “homework” related to finding the first of these drivers – your passion. What did you discover?  Now you can move on to identifying the other two drivers and your personal hedgehog.

At what can you be the best?

Or as Jim Collins would say, at what are you “world class?”  What have you gravitated toward, what keeps “popping up” in your life? At what are people saying you are particularly good?  What activities get you into a state of flow – “the zone” – where you work with passion, even joy?  When you find these, you are close to or on your best skills.

Finding out at what you are the best, even world class, is vitally important.  When your efforts are utilizing your best skills and gifts, your work energizes you (another clue), not drains you.  This means you also need to know what you are not best at doing, so that you can minimize your expenditure of energy in these areas and maximize it in others.  We all want to be good in everything, but that is impossible.  It takes courage and honesty to admit we are not world class at a lot of things, and to accept that this is good.

To answer these questions at the personal level consider doing a SWOT analysis of your life and work efforts.  Get trusted friends to help in this, listening non-judgmentally to what they say.  Do not defend yourself in this process.  Consider getting 3600 leadership assessment utilizing a balance of friend and non-friend raters.  Honest feedback is the key.  Truth is the target, not reinforcement of what we think or want others to think.

Where are your greatest areas of opportunity?

At the personal level, understanding where you have the greatest opportunity to be your best self with the greatest passion is important.  This is not about finding a “business opportunity.”  This is finding where you have the greatest opportunity to live your passion and skills to the fullest.

If you are in a work setting where you cannot live your passion, or where your best skills and gifts are underutilized, you have little opportunity there.  Throughout my career I knew this deep inside, even though I have understood the hedgehog concept only in the last decade.  As a result, when my work moved me away from my passion and my gifts (or when my passion and gifts moved away from my work), my response was to reboot my living and get back on course.  This has led to five career reboots, approximately 20 different jobs or businesses, a wide array of work experiences, and a rewarding, purposeful, passion-driven career that looks a bit like a patch-work quilt.

Finding your hedgehog at the intersection

If you draw three overlapping circles, labeling one circle for each of the drivers (passion, your best skills and gifts, your greatest opportunity), look at where all three overlap. At the point where they overlap – the place where your passion, your best gifts and skills, and your best opportunity to express you purpose are all found – you’ll find your personal hedgehog.  When the majority of your energy is flowing into a life and work is built on all three drivers, that will be the life expression (or career) that bring purpose, joy, vision and impact to your living.Hedgehog Graphic

This week, work on identifying overlapping life expressions –career, lifestyle, both – that might center you in the overlap.   It might be an adjustment to your current situation, or it might be on the other side of a reboot.  But don’t quit your job yet!  We have more to do on this!

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