Being the Best: Helping the Hedgehog to the Other Side of the Dip


It always seems that a book or way of thinking is brought to my attention at just the right time when I need my thoughts redirected. Recently Dr. Susan Biali introduced me to Seth Godin’s “The Dip” which helps readers discover when they are in a Dip or a Cul-de-Sac and decide whether or not it is appropriate to quit or stick it out. The other book that is one of my favourites is “Good to Great”by Jim Collins.

The last two months have been challenging for my business and myself. Fitness World was once a place of growth, but it had become my cul-de-sac or dead-end.   After weathering the sale of our strategic partner for eighteen months we decided in June of 2011 that it was time to quit and find a new home.  Even though I had become lost and unmotivated, unclear of why I started Lifemoves others still knew what Lifemoves is about.

When I created Lifemoves I wanted to build a brand and company that stood for something, made a contribution to society and that had a unique selling position. Until recently I had forgotten how to articulate this.  It took speaking with a Physiotherapist, an outsider who believed in my business to help me reconnect to how unique and wonderful Lifemoves is, what we can be the best at and how much potential we do have. It is also clear from the enthusiasm from our clients, employees and her that the growth and changes are positive. Thankfully all of our clients have stayed with us.

The Dip is that period of time when whatever it is can be a bit of a slog, but there is greatness on the other side. During the Dip you might feel like quitting, but if you did you would be missing out. There were times over the last couple of years I thought of folding, however I knew that this was my calling and I still had a lot to contribute (I also couldn’t see myself working for someone else).

Godin explains that there are the serial entrepreneurs who love the rush of the start-up, but jump from opportunity to opportunity without building something truly great. Some companies try to be everything to everyone. I have seen this when Personal Trainers who want to cater to ALL clients with ALL goals; it just leads to mediocrity.  Godin believes there is no point in being mediocre.
Collins’ book delineates what differentiates Good Companiesfrom Great Companies and one of those things was the Hedgehog Principle (Collins, p. 90). Great companies were able to figure out the intersection between what they were best at, what they were passionate about and what could sustain a robust cash flow and profitability. The hedgehog realizes what is innately simple – being able to curl up in a ball of spikes to ward of attackers instead of being the fox that is chasing at things at multiple levels.

Clients value companies who are robust, who have been around for awhile and who deliver a clear simple message. Moving our flagship location in North Vancouver and opening a new clinic in Coquitlam created a Dip where I was lost in the transitions. Several conversations have helped clear the fog. To push us through the Dip we have to be consistent with our hedgehog message:

We are a health and rehabilitation company founded by

a Kinesiologist which is focused on getting clients with

medical conditions, disabilities and or injuries moving for life.

We are diverging into new markets, because our brand awareness is growing. I have often spoken to store owners who have heard of Lifemoves.  People and opportunities come to us because we have been around for five years and our message is clear. Everything that we do, we believe in, we breath and we deliver has to embody the above message. Now is the time to really push forward.
The Dip can be a long process or it be getting to other side can be accelerated. I decided to accelerate it now that our move is completed. Coquitlam is going to be phenomenal. We are not thinking of this as a start-up. We are a maturing organization. This is our opportunity to be GREAT
We all have it in us to be great at something (for me it isn’t being a mathematician). Are you stuck and in cul-de-sac or is this a Dip? Figure it out and make some changes.
What can you be great at? How can you simplify and stop being mediocre? What are you going to do differently right now and tomorrow?

Further Inspirational Reading

Collins, Jim “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t,” Harper Business, 2001
Godin, Seth “The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick),” Penguin Group, 2007
Rufus, Anneli “Stuck: Why We Can’t (or Won’t) Move On,” Penguin, 2008
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