Discovering Your Deep Passion

Knowing what you can be that is “world best” is important.  However, you may not always want to do what you can do well.  A person who is deeply caring and compassionate may not want to work as an emergency room Head nurse.  Maybe this person wants to run a pre-school.

This is part three of a five part series on the entrepreneur’s hedgehog.  For an initial understanding of the Hedgehog concept, we wholeheartedly recommend that you read Chapter Five of Good to Greatby Jim Collins.  For audio learners, Jim Collins provides several videos and audios on his website.  While we rely on Jim Collins for the initial idea, we have extended his concept to small business owners over a number of years.

Building on this five-part series, let’s tackle the portion of the hedgehog concept known as “What You are Deeply Passionate About?

When I’m taking clients through this exercise, this is the point where they create a “passion” list.

You want them to compile the longest and most honest list. The secret to success here is to be sure you write down things you love to do and that you do not down-shift to recording things that you like to do.

Here are a few distinctions which will help you better understand the type of things to add to your list:

  • When you are doing these things, time flies because you are fully engaged;
  • You might be worn down or tired from your efforts, yet you’d get up and do it again tomorrow if given that chance;
  • You are on fire;
  • Your life seems enriched by it;
  • You feed a hunger that afterwards is deeply satisfied;
  • You include things as personal, like watching a sunset; and
  • You are as professional as outlining the instructional design for a lesson plan.

Feel free to fill part of your list with examples from any special occasions.  They will encourage you to revisit this list and may also help you to envision your passions.

See if you can grow your list to 50 entries, or if you are an achiever by nature, try for 100 entries on your list.

When the list is finished, ask a handful of your friends to tell you what they think you are most passionate about. Add their ideas to yours. Store the list somewhere safe. Get ready for the next step.

Coming Next: Part 4 Economic Engine
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Finding Your Best in the World

The hedgehog concept is the ONE thing that can make the difference between loving what you do while making money, and all of the alternatives.  Not that those alternatives are necessarily horrible.  It’s just all ‘round better to be at the core of your hedgehog.

This is the second of a five-part series on the Entrepreneur’s Hedgehog–how can you, as an entrepreneur, discover what you can be the best in the world at?  For an initial understanding of the Hedgehog concept, we wholeheartedly recommend that you read Chapter Five of Good to Great, by Jim Collins.  For audio learners, Jim Collins provides several videos and audios on his website.  While we rely on Jim Collins for the initial idea, we have extended his concept to small business owners over a number of years.  The hedgehog is the intersection of three aspects of your life:

  • What you can be the best in the world at;
  • What you are deeply passionate about; and
  • What drives your economic engine.

You would think that you would know what you can be “best in the world” at, don’t you?  That is seldom the case without some work.  Imagine trying to look at the back of your neck.  Even if you can get it centered in a mirror, it’s backwards!  Additionally, your “best” may seem so natural to you that you don’t even recognize it as a strength.  Do you have one of those “walking encyclopedia” friends who shrugs his shoulders when you ask him how he always knows the direction for “North?”  Maybe you know one of those people who can add four digit numbers in their head or who always knows the “right” question to continue a conversation.  Those are people with a genetically-coded ability and they often don’t realize that others don’t have it.

As I’ve worked with clients to discover their “can be best” strengths, we’ve often used a combination of three approaches.  When the three all point towards the same strengths, you know you’ve got it right.

First, conduct a brief survey.  I’ve worked with several clients to contact friends, mentors, business associates, and customers as part of their discovery process.  I ask them to pick ten people who will be honest and answer three questions:

  1. What do you see are some of my greatest strengths? Can you relate a specific example?
  2. What is the greatest contribution I have made to you personally? Again, can you relate a specific example?
  3. What is, in your opinion, my single, most greatest strength if you had to narrow it down to one? Can you give an example that would illustrate your point?

The results from the survey can fill pages, so I’ve worked with some clients on a way to squeeze out the data.  They go to http://www.wordle.net/ and create a word cloud.  The results are often visually clear.  This is a word cloud generated for LynChristian.com

Second, look inside yourself.  Start by thinking about what you do naturally that others admire.  You are probably on the right track.  If you want an outside stimulus for this phase, you can turn to almost everything that Marcus Buckingham and the Gallup Management team has produced that contains the Strength Finder instrument in it.  The most recent publication is Strength Finder 2.0.  Are you a lifelong learner?  Maximizer?  Strategist? WOO?  Read the book, take the survey, and add the answers to what you find out from others.

Third, ask your customers.  The Entrepreneur’s Toolkit, Chapter 4, has a section on getting customer feedback as part of your marketing.  It works for this as well.  Often I will send a simple request at the end of a coaching contract that asks my client to “spend a few minutes thinking about the value our coaching brought to you.  I am asking you because I believe that you will be candid and objective.”  Your customers will tell you what you bring to the table, and that gets added to your other answers about what you can be best in the world at.

You can take the results from these three approaches and triangulate the results.  You will find what you can be the best in the world at.

Next: Part 3 Discovering Your Deep Passion
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The Entrepreneur’s Hedgehog

The hedgehog concept, articulated by Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great, is often the crux of successful business building for an entrepreneur.  As a coach, I’ve worked with several clients to help them articulate their hedgehog as a cornerstone of a new business.  While it’s a great activity to do with a coach, an energetic entrepreneur can work on discovering and implementing their hedgehog with the help of some accountability partners.

This is the first part of a five part series on the entrepreneur’s hedgehog.  For an initial understanding of the Hedgehog concept, we wholeheartedly recommend that you read Chapter Five of Good to Great.  For audio learners, Jim Collins provides several videos and audios on his website.  While we rely on Jim Collins for the initial idea, the extensions of his concept to small business owners has developed over a number of years.  This part will focus on the hedgehog concept as a whole and three decisive benefits that come with the activity.

For Jim Collins, the hedgehog concept “requires a deep understanding of three intersecting circles translated into a simple, crystalline concept (the Hedgehog concept).”  The three circles make a traditional Venn diagram.

Jim Collins Hedgehog Concept 300x280 The Entrepreneur’s Hedgehog

On its face, the concept is easily graspable.  Find out what you are passionate about, can be the best at, and make money.  The next three pieces in this series will explore the three circles.  For right now, we want to explore three reasons why you want to find your hedgehog.

First, your hedgehog is your one thing.  Just imagine—no matter what else goes on in your world, you have this thing that you can do in a world class manner, you love doing it, and it makes you money.  Circle it, star it, underline it, and tape it to your refrigerator.  There is absolutely nothing else than can do all three things.

Second, your hedgehog is the core of your marketing.  We will talk more about this in part 4 on making money with your hedgehog. Think of your hedgehog as being your brand—the core that creates evangelists.  It becomes an almost no-fail path to sales and marketing.

Third, your hedgehog lasts as long as you do.  It’s who you are.  It’s built into your DNA as what you can do as best in the world.  You can do other things, but few of them will feel as natural and as comfortable as being a hedgehog.

Next:  Part 2 Finding Your Best in the World
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