In the awesome book, Good To Great (if you haven’t–stop reading and click on link). There is a story of a fox that decided to prey on a hedgehog. The fox devised a clever plan and sneaked up on the hedgehog. However, the fox’s efforts were thwarted because the hedgehog simply rolled up into a ball of sharp quills and stuck the fox. The fox went “back to the drawing board” and came up with an equally cunning plan. Again when the fox attacked, it was unsuccessful because the hedgehog just rolled up into a ball of quills. This pattern of the fox devising a sly plan only to be defeated by the hedgehog’s act of balling up continues over and over, until finally the fox gives up. The hedgehog’s simple method of rolling into a ball of quills, proved to be more effective than all of the fox’s different strategies.
The other day while watching The Avengers, I made a connection with this tale. Dr. Bruce Banner a.k.a The Hulk, shows up in the midst of an alien invasion in New York. Immediately, Captain America steps up and tells Dr. Banner “Dr. Banner, I think now might be a good time for you to get angry.” Banner replies, “That’s my secret Cap: I’m always angry.” This quote refers to how Dr. Banner controls his stress and anger levels in order to not erupt into the raging Hulk. Early on, Dr. Banner took the fox approach, trying to use different techniques to help him stay calm. However, in the end, he accepted that his best strategy to manage The Hulk problem was just like the hedgehog.
It’s important to identify what strategies works best for us and to be confident. If you are a golfer and play better when you play fast, play fast. If you play basketball and are a better passer than shooter, pass the ball. If you focus better in the morning, schedule your important duties in the morning. If you play better stressed out, then get stressed out. The hedgehog and The Hulk figured out what worked best for them and embraced it. They didn’t try and come up with different strategies like the fox; they simply stuck with what was most effective for them.
Trying to implement new ways to be efficient, can actually take our attention away from what we are trying to accomplish, and as a result causes us to have poor performances. There is no reason to change an approach that has been successful for you, except the disbelief in our own strategy. It’s when we change the very things that have brought us success that we get in trouble. Embrace the strategy that works best for you, and use it.