The Hedgehog and The Fox

My wife asked me what is the meaning of the Hedgehog Concept that I wrote in “Career Design”. I told her that it is a business concept derived from the famous essay, “The Hedgehog and the Fox” by Isaiah Berlin. He used the typical image of the dowdier Hedgehog and the cunning Fox to describe different categories of people.

Berlin divided the writers & thinkers into 2 categories, hedgehogs, who view the world through the lens of a single defining idea (examples given include PlatoLucretiusDantePascalHegelDostoevskyNietzscheIbsen, and Proust) and foxes who draw on a wide variety of experiences and for whom the world cannot be boiled down to a single idea (examples given include HerodotusAristotleErasmusShakespeareMontaigneMolièreGoethePushkinBalzacJoyceAnderson). ~ a reference from the Wikipedia~

A more straight forward and simple explanation would be the fox knows many things; the hedgehog knows one big thing. And Jim Collins, the author of “Good to Great”, states that concentrating doing what is relevant based on the 3 Circles of Hedgehog concept, is essential to turn a good company into the Great Company.

Then, my wife asked me again. Are you the Hedgehog or the Fox? Ohh… I never think of that before. But frankly speaking, my eagerness to learn new field of knowledge, my passion to challenge new things, and my ambition to be an all-rounded person somehow tell that I am unconsciously trying to be Fox than a Hedgehog.

But at the other hand, I know that a cunning Fox that knowing everything in the superficial level will definitely cannot win the competition with the Hedgehog. So, like the Hedgehog, I have been very “loyalty” in my major, an engineer, a backbone profession since my undergraduate, postgraduate study till now.

Ok, I might be wrong for the definition of Hedgehog. Continuing a profession for long is not the concept of Hedgehog. The concept of Hedgehog, according to Jim Collins, is to understand what your passion is, what you can do, and what will give you the economic support to continuing doing it. So, the next question is, is the profession of being an engineer fulfill my passion, capability and economic requirement?   

No grumble for the capability or economic factors, but have to admit that current work not really burn my engine to sprint me forward. As what Steve Jobs said, if you haven’t find something you are really passionate about, keep finding.

I do agree. For me, life is just about finding. Since small, we find who to become friends, what to study, which university to go, which company to join, what occupation to do, who to be the lifelong partner, where to settle down, what business to start with, etc. Each finding comes with pleasure or sorrow, surprise or anger, satisfaction or disappointment, laugh or tears. No one can do the right thing, meet the right person, in the right time right place in the first finding. But just believe in faith, and never give up finding, we will eventually found what we want in heart.   

So, if you know where your passion is, just go for it. Who cares you are the Hedgehog or the Fox.