Curly Understood Hedgehogs

Rewind the tape to 1991.  Mitch Robbins (played by Billy Crystal) is 39 years old, and stuck in the throws of a midlife crisis.  He and his city slicker buddies decide to head to New Mexico for a few days in an attempt to “get the knots out of their ropes.”

And so starts the movie, City Slickers.

Mitch and his friends find themselves on a dude ranch playing cowboy.  The plan is to drive a herd of cattle up into Colorado.  All under the guidance of a gnarly old trail boss guide named Curly.

Mitch and Curly are polar opposites.  But they do have a meaningful conversation.

Mitch asks Curly if he knows what the secret of life is.  The leathery cowboy says, “Yeah, one thing.”  When Mitch asks him what it is, Curly holds up his index finger and says, “This.”  Mitch says, “What?”

And then Curly gets it right.  He says, “That’s what you got to figure out.”

As a leader, it is important that you too figure out the one thing.  The one thing that you were born to do.  In Good to Great, Jim Collins calls it the “Hedgehog Concept.”  It is the second layer of disciplined thinking.

He defines the Hedgehog Concept as “the operating model that reflects understanding of three intersecting circles: 1) what you can be the best in the world at, 2) what you are deeply passionate about, and 3) what best drives your economic or resource engine.”

What is it that you have the potential to master?  The place where greatness is waiting to happen?  The thing that wakes you up early and keeps you up late?  A place where passion doesn’t have to be manufactured?

This is your “One Thing.”

If you ever hope to move from good to great in your life, I suggest you zone in on this one thing and line your life up accordingly.

I guarantee you, Curly would agree.





What is the “One Thing” that drives you?


repost from 1.7.11

Leave a comment


9 years ago

I just listened to Mr. Collins giving a speech at the Catalyst Event held last year. He again referenced the “Hedgehog Theory”. This is neither the first time I heard it from him nor the first time I read it. However, this time he was also referencing Peter Drucker. One of the more profound statements or comments Collins made in this 20 minute speech was that Peter Drucker at age 65 had only written one third of the books he wrote by the time he died. Therefore, to your statement, I say you are right and it is never too late to get your Hedgehog On!!!


9 years ago

Great point Mike. I almost used the phrase “get your hedgehog on” when I wrote the blog. I like that phrase!

Jeremy Etress

9 years ago

Straight from a movie…but that’s just good stuff! And applicable to life…
I’m still trying to hone in on that one thing


9 years ago

Thanks for the comment Jeremy

Jeff Wedge

9 years ago

As Stephen Covey says, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”


9 years ago

Great reminder Jeff!

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