Where Are You Coded to be Great?


Here’s something to think about: If we’re going to be great in our businesses and as individuals, we have to first figure out where we’re coded to be great.

In his famous essay “The Hedgehog and the Fox,” Isaiah Berlin divided the world into two types of people: hedgehogs and foxes. He said, “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” As Jim Collins writes in his book, Good to Great, the “Hedgehog Concept” is not a goal to be the best, a strategy to be the best, or a plan to be the best. It is an understanding, a realization of where you already are, and can continue to be, the best. That distinction is absolutely crucial.

As a business leader, you’re looking for the intersection of three things: where are you super-passionate; where can you be the best in the world; and how can I best contribute? The easiest way to think about it is to consider “What am I coded to be really great at?”

It’s tough to be the “best in the world,” above and beyond all others. The first thing you have to do is to find your niche, and understand where you’re internally constructed to do well. You might think you’re really good at basketball. You study, and practice, and maybe succeed, but, but then, you see someone that’s just internally wired to be great at the game. Are you as good as Wilt Chamberlain? Michael Jordan? LeBron James?

In order to succeed, we should play to our strengths rather than focusing on our weaknesses. It’s the same thing for a successful organization; you need to understand your business’s strongest points. A good executive leader will take the time to understand what makes their business special. They use that information to create a niche where the business can hold a unique and profitable position in the market. They really understand what makes the company tick, and what keeps its employees passionate and engaged. That’s the “Hedgehog Concept,” the one big thing, the place where your business can really shine.

If you take the time to find your “hedgehog,” in business or in your personal life, you’ll find that you become more focused, see better results, and overall, you’ll be much happier with your progress as a leader. So, ask yourself, “What am I internally coded to do?” …and then do it!


​ The Disciplined Leader

What do the best leaders have in common? The answer is one word: Discipline. A disciplined leader is one who identifies and focuses on the Vital Few: the 20% of activities that will drive 80% of the results. Learn More

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