Passion Alone Won’t Make You Successful

How many times have we heard of tips like ‘to be successful, you have to do things you love…’, ‘Find your Passion…’ , and ‘find the things you are passionate about, and you will be successful…” ? I heard these tips back then when I’m trying to understand how to become a successful person in my life.

There is nothing wrong about finding things you love to do. Passion is one thing that keeps people going on and on, in spite of  any obstacles and unforeseen circumstances. Finding and working on our passion will also makes working enjoyable, and not a chore you have to do everyday.

However, I come to realise that working on something you love doesn’t necessarily make you successful. The ‘Successful’ here I mean is about getting great wealth, impacting lots of peoples’ lives, and becoming the top 1% person in your expertise. I know there are many different meanings of ‘successful’, but that’s probably for another day, so let’s keep it simple here.


The Hedgehog Concept

Passion is indeed important, but it must come together with 2 other factors. And this is highlighted in famous author Jim Collins’ book ‘Good to Great’ . He highlighted an important concept on why some companies can be so successful, and why some don’t make it. And it is the Hedgehog Concept. I find that it is applicable to us on how we want to be successful too.

This is the video which Jim Collins explains the Hedgehog Concept. Watch it on YouTube here. (Embedding is disabled 🙁 ) Come back again after you have watched it.

It actually comes from an analogy between a fox and a hedgehog.

The hedgehog just knows one thing, but the fox is very intelligent. The fox knows a lot of things, very sly, and try many different tricks to catch the hedgehog. So everyday, the fox tries different tricks to catch the hedgehog, but every time, the hedgehog just knows one thing – rolls itself up, release its spikes, and pricks the fox. And the fox got pricked every time. The hedgehog asks himself, “when is he going to learn…?”

The fox knows alot of things, but good at none. The hedgehog only knows one thing, but is very good at it.

So the morale of the story, is to find one thing and to become really really good at it.

And this brings us to the Hedgehog concept.

the hedgehog concept jim collins

The hedgehog concept is made up of 3 circles – Passion, Skill, Profit. And the intersection of the 3 circles is the hedgehog concept. Come, let’s make it simpler.

1. Passion

Finding your passion, the things you love, the things you will keep on doing and doing, even without getting paid. We spoke about this earlier. So let’s move on to the next point.

2. Skill

Skill is about  “Can you be the one” .  The skills you must have in order to be successful.

3. Profit

Profit here talks about the money to be made here. It goes with ‘Profit Per X’, where it can means ‘Profit per book sale’, ‘Profit per seminar conducted’ , ‘Profit per performance’.

So with the intersection of the 3 circles give you the hedgehog concept.


Why Passion Is Not Enough

The reason I say passion alone is not enough, because passion only constitues just one aspect of the hedgehog concept. Because by lacking the other 2 aspects – skills and profits, we often find ourselves become frustrated, on why even though we love so much what we are doing, but we cannot make a proper living out of it.

For instance, I’m a die-hard soccer fan, and I loves playing soccer. Soccer is my passion, and I never miss a football match played by my favorite club. I also play football matches and competitions, and aim to keep a clean sheet in every game. By the way, I play the goalkeeper. I have a strong passion on soccer & goalkeeping.

But coming to making soccer a living, or becoming the best goalkeeper in the region, is another issue. We got to look into the ‘Skill’ & ‘Profit’ aspects of it.

Skills wise, I can be the best in my own competition, but I couldn’t match the level of goalkeeping at national level. Yes, I can get myself trained everyday to improve my goalkeeping skills, play more competitive matches, and become a better goalkeeper. But there might be physical restrictions, like height, which can’t be increased simply by training more. So I might be lacking on the ‘skills’ aspect.

How about Profits? Playing soccer in Singapore is not as profitable as playing in bigger countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, or even going to famous countries like England, Spain or Italy. And profits here is strongly tied to the skill level I have. So I might be lacking in the ‘profits’ aspect too.


Why I Need To Know This Concept

Knowing this concept is not just another formula to be successful, it is also knowing yourself, so that you won’t do things that prevent you from being successful. From the example above, I know that playing football for a living is not suitable for me. Hence, any opportunity for me to train me to become a professional goalkeeper that comes by, I will give it up to others. Because this is not my hedgehog concept.

By knowing your hedgehog concept, you know what opportunity is for you, what’s not. So that you can happily reject any offers, even though it may look tempting, or you might feel you will lose out if you don’t take it. But this is just a distraction for you main focus, as the offer you reject is not in your hedgehog concept.


Have You Found Your Hedgehog Concept?

Don’t worry if you haven’t found yours. According to Jim Collins, successful companies spend 3 or more years to find their hedgehog concept. But if you haven’t, go find it now. Go discover your passion by trying out different things out there, and go improve yourself by honing your skills. Stay focus and do one particular thing long enough, before jumping off to the next one.

I’ve spend a few years already finding my own hedgehog concept, and I’m quite pleased I’m on my way to shaping up my full hedgehog concept. It can be tiring, but finding and shaping it will determine the way you live your life, and who you will become at the end of the day 🙂

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