Image by Rayani Melo
Continuing the theme of my earlier post “Find Your True Calling“, there is a model by Jim Collins that helps make this difficult decision a little easier. In his book “Good to Great”, he talks about something called the “Hedgehog Concept“. In his own words “A Hedgehog Concept is not a goal to be the best, a strategy to be the best, an intention to be great, a plan to be best. It’s an understanding of what you can be the best at. The distinction is absolutely crucial.” The last two sentences have had a profound impact on me. The meaning hits a chord when you are actually able to visualize the entire concept. The model consists of three circles. I have broken them down below:
The first circle asks you the question: what are you good at? There comes a point in our lives where most of us know what we are good at and what we are not good at. I have the ability to break down complicated matters into much simpler language either through visuals or words. I am also able to handle multiple tasks at the same time without losing focus. On the other hand, I am not very good at the operational side of running a business. Detail oriented work such as tabulating accounts is something I do not handle very well. It is important that we be completely honest with ourselves in this circle and identify those capabilities of ours that we excel at.
The second circle asks you a much more challenging question. To answer this question one must identify times when doing something is almost effortless. When time loses meaning and you could go on forever. Was it when you were playing an instrument, teaching a child, painting, leading a group or cooking? There has to be this aura of complete ease and enjoyment in the doing of that particular activity and the awareness that in that moment everything is just how it is meant to be. Looking back in my case, this occurs when I am leading a team or a group. Whether it be one person or more I always find myself performing not just optimally but thoroughly enjoying it as well.
The last circle asks you a very pertinent question. Usually most of the things we really enjoy doing such as surfing the web, twittering, reading or listening to music are things most of us will not get paid to do. So we have to be realistic with ourselves here and identify the skill sets we can get paid for. For instance if you are good at reading and writing and find that when you write, time seems to stand still and you could go on writing forever, this is obviously something you are passionate about. You then have to figure out a way to monetize your writing, to earn a living. Things you could do include, copy writing, journalism, writing reviews or things along those lines to find ways to get people to pay you for your inherent skill sets.
When you merge all the three circles together you get this:
The purple section at the intersection of the three circles is where one needs to continue moving towards. If we leave out any one of the circles from this equation, a major component will be missing from our lives. We could then end up doing something we are good at and which makes us a lot of money, but do not get any satisfaction from. We could also just go along doing something, never aiming to excel at it because we lack the needed passion and drive. Therefore it is important that we keep all three circles in perspective when choosing what we really want to do in life. When we are able to find that sweet spot in the middle, life becomes more fulfilling and meaningful and every day is a new day to look forward to. I am still figuring out all the three circles, and coming close. The closer I get, the more I can feel my life becoming energized in each and every way.
I would really like to hear from readers about their experiences so far. Have you managed to reach that sweet spot? If you have, what were some of the challenges that you faced along the way. If you have not found that sweet spot what are some of the challenges you are currently facing? I look forward to your comments and thoughts.