Are You a Fox or a Hedgehog?
The Greek poet Archilochus once wrote, "the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."
Until next Friday, Thinkers.
There are many different interpretations of this parable, but many psychologists and philosophers see it as a way of understanding two major cognitive styles.
In a celebrated 1953 essay on Tolstoy, ‘The Hedgehog and the Fox,’ philosopher Isaiah Berlin writes:
"There exists a great chasm between those, on one side, who relate everything to a single central vision, one system, less or more coherent or articulate, in terms of which they understand, think and feel – a single, universal, organizing principle in terms of which alone all that they are and say has significance. And, on the other side, those who pursue many ends, often unrelated and even contradictory, related to no moral or aesthetic principle."
Hedgehogs are monists, ever in search of overarching laws, principles, theories.
Foxes, by comparison, are pluralists. They enjoy exploring the infinite multiplicity of life.
Much to Learn
Consider your view of the world.
Your approach to work and relationships.
Your guiding principles.
The clever, cunning fox and the focused, determined Hedgehog might hold the secrets to the inner workings of finding success.
In today's world, we tend to place value on those with a relentless pursuit towards a single idea - praising them for their dedication to the craft. On the other hand, we also value those with a more generalist approach, often labeling them as 'creatives'.
Perhaps both hedgehogs and foxes can learn from each other. There is tremendous potential value in illuminating and broadening our understanding of the other side.
P.S. I'm excited to say that I'll be joining the strategic partnerships team at Shopify!