Weekly Newsletter: Happy hedgehog to you

‘Tis the season of annual plans and introspection. And of a string of festivals. A time for thanksgiving for what has been and looking forward to what will be. When many of us wonder what next. If you’re lucky enough to have some amount of financial security, then the question gets more urgent, because money alone is not sufficient to get you out of bed in the mornings. When I did this exercise for myself some years ago, I found Jim Collins’ framework of the Fox and the Hedgehog useful. The Fox knows many things while the Hedgehog knows one big thing. Of course, Jim Collins’ piece is about companies – the successful ones apparently are more hedgehog-like. That is, they know what they can be very good at, and also what they cannot or should not do. The framework used is the 3 Ps in a Venn diagram – Passion, Perfection, Profitability. Happiness lies at the intersection of finding something you are really passionate about, and which you can become really good at, and which provides you with sufficient income. Sufficient income is my inference – in the business context it would just be profitability.

Each of us has to decide how much is ‘sufficient’. As financial independence becomes accessible to larger percentages of the population more people will have to make a decision on how much is good enough for them. In business we may be touting the next big thing that will make lives better – recliner sofas, flatbed seats, larger screens, whiter teeth – but as individuals we may have to decide that we have the basic objects minus the adjectives- ie a sofa, seat, screen and teeth – and that’s sufficient.

As I was reading the Jim Collins site again, I wondered if this ability to find the intersection of the 3Ps is what makes athletes so popular, both as celebrities and as inspirational speakers. They’ve found their passion, they’re constantly getting better at their sport and hey, they make buckets of cash too. (As a non-athlete I can’t think why else people would shell out money to watch other people play, but that could just be me.) Unlike musicians or actors, athletes can quantify their performance which makes them even more attractive. In our quest for professional perfection we have to find measurable goals too, whether it is business results or certifications or media mentions.

I’m in Sydney for a couple more days and thanks to all the Sydney-siders who reached out. I’ve had coffee and apple cider (separately) with readers here and it is truly awesome to be able to meet in person and I appreciate their taking time out to do this.

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