What was I saying? Yes that’s it, no wait, I’ve got it: I’m distracted. It’s not that I’m not motivated, I’m plenty motivated, it’s just that there’s plenty on TV, there’s Facebook and the hours that can be spent “Liking” pictures of our relatives pets and lets not forget we need to wring our hands a bit about Fox News’ slow ooze towards undermining Democracy. Wait, what was I saying agin? Oh yeah, distraction.
I have lots of ideas, some of them really good and it’s easy to think that any one of them are the solution to all my problems, financial, creative, interpersonal. These ideas can be along the lines of those dreams we all have where during our sleep we have an earth shattering epiphany, only to wake up and realize that what we were dreaming about, while in the dream made perfect sense, in reality wasn’t even coherent, and you then realize in the dream you weren’t even wearing pants.
Ah well, here it is, the end of summer again. The end of summer seems to bring more “I’ll knuckle down and start putting my better ideas into action” than that champagne induced semi correction we call New Years Eve. But, how is this year going to be different?
For me, I just read the best business book I have ever come across (and I’ve read quite a few) “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. I highly recommend this book, especially for those artists and entrepreneurs with no formal business education. Simply put, it is an examination of the differences between merely good enterprises and great ones.
Now there are six main concepts in the book, but I only want to talk about one of them here. All of the “great” companies had in common what Collins refers to “A Hedgehog Concept” That is one idea that you pursue that has three attributes:
1. Something, a product or service you are passionate about
2. You feel you have the potential to be the best in the world at the skill of.
3. Something that has a CLEAR economic engine to sustain you.
Why go all business book on us Steve? What does this have to do with distraction? We have a tendency to bounce from idea to idea that we think will be a silver bullet of growth, progress and quick reward. The reality is you have to work on your hedgehog concept over a long period of time. You have to commit to your concept and keep going especially when it gets rough, especially when there are obstacles, for in those obstacles lie the opportunity for the greatest growth.
Very successful companies have these concepts and stick to them. Walgreens runs drugstores, they don’t get distracted by a momentary interest in making engine parts for the space shuttle. Mainly because they aren’t passionate about it, can’t be the best at it, and funding it would destroy the economic engine they’ve established.
That sounds sort of abstract and duh, I know. But don’t we as entrepreneurs do the same thing all the time? I constantly have new opportunities put in front of me. I am getting much better at staying in my “Hedgehog Concept.” I love doing what I do, I try everyday to get better towards my goal of being best in the world at it, and the economics, while always striving to improve them, are clear and can sustain me.
What’s getting in the way of your “Hedgehog Concept?” Are you unclear on what you’re passionate about? passions change for sure, but there are differences between passions and being passionate about something. Being passionate about something mens you have committed yourself lock, stock and barrel to the idea of immersing yourself as far as you can, the idea being a person, business or craft. The “Hedgehog Concept” just keeps you focused on the process of making that successful.
Biggest de-railer is fear. What if I fail? What if it turns out not to be my passion? What if it’s too much work? What will my parents think because what I really want to do is drive an ice cream truck? Unfortunately, if you stay in that head you will never get started, so get over it. Look at the horizon, it’s not going to walk towards you, so you might as well walk towards it. If you have faith in what your potential can be and can just start moving, you will be surprised how much ground you can cover.
Now, the elephant in the room is that thing we were told when we were kids, (this is America, you can be anything you want when you grow up, it’s the land of opportunity,) that conotes ease and entitlement and personally, part of me is still waiting to grow up, so from time to time that’s what distracts me. Have I picked the thing for my life that I’m most passionate about? How the hell am I supposed to know? I have many passions. However, I committed to agenting and being a positive force in the livelyhood’s of others a long time ago, and I have found that my relationship with my craft has deepened. At the time I picked it, did I recognize it as my dream job? NO! I needed a damn job at the time, so I jumped in and I found after a while I really enjoyed it. That caused me to want to get better, and that process made me passionate about it. It’s not always passion first that gets you started. Sometimes it’s good old fashion necessity and discipline.
But, I still get distracted from my goals. I wonder sometimes if this blog is another one of my distractions. After much introspection, I’ve realized that giving business advice and helping people to have the best career the can IS my Hedgehog Concept, and this is a simple tool to support it further.
I encourage you to sit down and write out your concept, clearly and using those simple steps. I’ll warn you upfront, you have to think about it a lot and one or another of the steps won’t have clear answers at first (some of the companies studied took many years to realize their concept), but once you realize what you want to do and decide to do JUST THAT THING without distraction, you will be surprised how many options and possibilities suddenly present themselves.
Enjoy, I’m gonna watch sports, maybe go to a movie… just kidding… I think.