To hell with the hedgehog.

One of my closest friends argues that I have a tendency to spread myself too thin. He thinks that I would realize greater success in my professional life if I focused on only one thing instead of attempting to do so many different things at the same time.

Some would call this a hedgehog and fox debate, an idea first introduced by the ancient Greek poet Archilochus, who said that the fox knows many things about a little, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.


A different friend sent me this quote, which aptly summarizes my position on the fox and hedgehog debate:

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." – science fiction writer Robert Heinlein

Yeah. That.

Oh, and in terms of Heinlein’s list, I can:

  • change a diaper (unfortunately)
  • plan an invasion (thanks to videogames and capture-the-flag)
  • conn a ship (sailboat, canoe and rowboat)
  • write a sonnet (none of them are very good, but still)
  • balance accounts
  • build a wall (stone)
  • comfort the dying (as long as it isn’t me)
  • take and give orders (I’m better at both than you might expect)
  • cooperate, and act alone (though I prefer to act alone most of the time)
  • solve equations (thanks to college algebra)
  • analyze a problem (though it’s often greeted with great disdain)
  • pitch manure (spent my childhood doing this)
  • program a computer
  • cook a tasty meal (breakfast)
  • fight efficiently (never lost a fight)

I still can’t butcher a hog (nor do I want to), design a building (shouldn’t we leave this to experts?) or set a bone (though I’ve temporarily splinted more than one).

I’ve died twice already, but I don’t think I’ve done it gallantly either time.