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Finding Your WHY with the Hedgehog Concept

Dr. Thomas Funke
Founder & Professor of Sustainability & Entrepreneurship

Identify your purpose as your north star at Tomorrow University.

What is your WHY? This is the first step towards creating a mission-driven life. Finding your "why" is about discovering the purpose, values, and motivation that drive you. It's about understanding the underlying reason why you do what you do, and how it aligns with your personal goals and aspirations.

As human beings, we are driven by purpose. We all have the desire to find meaning and fulfillment in our lives. However, sometimes we may feel lost or uncertain about our path in life. This is where finding your "why" comes in.

Your "why" is the reason behind what you do. It is the driving force that motivates you and gives you direction. It's what makes you get up in the morning and keeps you going throughout the day. It's your purpose in life.

Don’t worry if you don't know yet; it's normal. Most people do not have a clear understanding of their personal purpose. Most leaders tend to say that their purpose is to "help others excel" or "empower people," although this is what others expect them to do or what their CV shows. But your personal purpose is not your CV or portfolio of skills. Your purpose is not what others expect you to do. Your personal purpose is more than that. And this is what we are going to discover today.

Sit for a second and read these questions out loud:

  • What makes me successful?
  • What is unique about me?
  • What do I stand for?
  • What do people miss when I’m not around?
  • What do I feel from the inside?

Your answer to these questions is your purpose.

You will find here the first technique we use to support our learners in finding their purpose!

Use the Hedgehog Concept as a guiding tool

The Hedgehog Concept can help you identify your own personal purpose as well as your company’s purpose.

Let’s look at the different steps in the Hedgehog Concept. 

The Hedgehog Concept

Step 1: Find your passion

First, you should find the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning. "What makes you passionate about what you do?" When you have a passion for the work you do, you'll work harder and be more persistent.

Questions to ask yourself: In which situations am I when I forget time and space? What are the topics and activities that provide me with the most joy? What are the activities I would really be missing if I were to stop them?

Step 2: Understand what you do best — proficiency

In this step, you will identify what you can be the best at. In your business, this is where you identify where you can become number one in the world. The same is true when evaluating your own proficiencies. Don’t just think about what you’d like to be good at. Take the time to think about your strengths and weaknesses honestly.

Everyone has weaknesses. Be honest when you examine them. It’s acceptable not to be the best in some areas. Knowing where you can and can’t be the best is essential for success.

Questions to ask yourself: What are you naturally great at, and which of these can you develop until you’re the best?

Step 3: Discover your profitability engine

You’ve decided what you’re passionate about. You’ve identified where you can become the best. So far, you have the potential here for a great hobby. To find your life’s purpose, you must also consider what pays well. Let’s compare that to a company’s purpose.

For a business, it’s important to have a powerful economic engine. Your organization must understand how to generate both profit and sustained cash flow. This can be expressed as a single economic denominator. This is often referred to as "profit per X," where "X" is the single measure that you expect to have the greatest and most sustainable impact on the long-term success of your organization. This could be profit per customer, per employee, per location, per brand, or per sale.

Questions to ask yourself: Can your passion and proficiency be combined with an economic engine that will give you a sustained source of income? How can your passion and proficiency connect with your company or your work?

The final step: Look for the overlap

Once you've looked at the three circles of the Hedgehog Concept, look at where they overlap. That's where you'll find your Hedgehog Concept — the central vision that will guide your purpose.

We’ve created a template that will take you through these steps and take you closer to achieving your current goals. Please fill out the template and then add it to the form below, our team will review your submission and get back to you to provide insights.

Learn about our Mission Identification Trial Challenge where you can identify your personal mission in a community in just several weeks.

Dr. Thomas Funke
Founder & Professor of Sustainability & Entrepreneurship
Dr. Thomas Funke
Founder & Professor of Sustainability & Entrepreneurship

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