When the Chips are Down, Which One are You?

Given the uncertain conditions of our time, it’s obvious that a new set of leadership capacities are emerging. Staying ahead requires learning not from the past, but instead from the future as it emerges. To do this, there are four archetypal pathways:

The Hedgehog

The Condor

The Honey Bee

The Fox

These entrepreneurial archetypes each have their own traits, and understanding which fits you best (especially when the chips are down) can help you see when you’re making proactive decisions, and perhaps more importantly, they can act as a compass for how to best guide the efforts that will work best for you.

The Hedgehog

Hedgehogs are animals who do one thing exceptionally well to keep them out of trouble… They roll up into a ball to protect themselves from enemies.

Hedgehog entrepreneurs are those individuals and companies who set out to be the best at what they do in a specific niche. Difficult conditions are faced with confidence with this uncommon ability. Hedgehogs focus on that one thing that drives the domino effect of success, and have an X-factor that is resilient to adversity.

If you’re a hedgehog, you meet the rodeo of tough times by relying on this skill to keep you in a favorable position. Kobe Bryant was a three point shooter. In fact, everyone relied on him for being a hedgehog. Steve Jobs was the best product making entrepreneur in history. His ability to see client experiences in a future concept put his product making strategy into overdrive to create demand and then dominate the competition.

Hedgehogs are tough-as-nails specialists that deliver under pressure and double down on their special skills to get through the toughest time.

The Condor

Condors are the most efficient animal on the planet. They fly with minimum effort and maximum efficiency, taking advantage of warm air currents to glide on the wind and soar to great heights, sometimes only flapping their wings once an hour. If you’re a condor with your money, you make financial decisions that focus on belt tightening and being lean. You trim fat and focus on essentials to keep you resilient.

Condors zoom in and zoom out, making their strategic swoops at just the right time. They see above and below all at once, with awareness of their surroundings and the patience to make the right moves at the right times. This depth of field allows condors to make tactical maneuvers or hover until the time is right.

Muhammad Ali was a condor. His ability to conserve energy in the ring, choosing when to throw jabs, swoop in with hard hits, or dance around the outside waiting for the perfect moment made him among the greatest of all time. He watched carefully, then made his move with precision and conviction.

Nestle’s supply chain management has been one of the most efficient of all time, turning to emerging technologies, committing to responsible sourcing, and setting transparent sustainability goals – all while doing so in a patient, strategic, and calculated manner of a soaring condor.

The Honey Bee

Honey bees let go of their stingers at the expense of themselves. They put it all on the line to defend the hive, and lean into death when the moment requires.

Honey bees are transformational, like moths becoming butterflies, diving into change to see what comes out the other side. They ride the tides of the present moment, embracing a philosophy of letting things come and go with the wind. They aren’t afraid to take bold chances when opportunities arise – or when drastic measures need to be taken.

As a honey bee entrepreneur, You give up your ego, your knowledge, and your preconceptions, trusting your instincts to find your way through a battle.

Bees don’t like to sit too long. They move around like great white sharks

The word “leader” is “Leigth” meaning “to die” or “step across a theshold. Honey bees give up their previous life to open the future possibility of what is emerging from the future. Bruce Lee’s philosophy mind like water is much like a bumble bee stance.

Nintendo has been on the move for years, reinventing itself again and again, with varying success, fearlessly adapting and trying new versions of products in a competitive video game console marketplace crowded out by Xbox and PlayStation.

The Fox

Foxes are cunning, creative problem solvers who never give up, attempting every available avenue until they find their prey. They are always learning for the future by doing things that don’t work, taking more shots, and eventually arriving at a future possibility through sheer persistence.

The film “The Martian” with Matt Damon required fox-like abilities to get the protagonist off the planet. Mark Watney (Damon’s character) just started taking steps to solve his problem and saw where the results took him, trying and trying again until he eventually found his way home. Ernest Shackleton, the greatest exploration leader in history, used his creative problem solving and never-give-up rigor to find a way to get all of the men on Elephant island back alive.

Fox entrepreneurs will try any and all angles to solve problems, relying on persistence and fortitude to carry them through.

So, which type of entrepreneur are you?

When uncertainty arises, do you move into “fire, ready, aim” agility like the fox, working on new responses to find your way?

Do you lighten your load like a condor, creating efficiency to lower your vulnerability and depending on patience to find just the right move?

Are you the honey bee who isn’t attached, releasing a part of yourself to let go when the time arises, and new things unfold naturally?

Are you the hedgehog who stays true to one thing, turning to a key skill that insulates you from failure?

Once you define which type of entrepreneur you are, build an action plan around your strongest traits. Get feedback from others about your assessment of yourself and your company, and be willing to refine your viewpoint to make sure you’re building a plan that you can return to time and time again. Make this strategy the centerpiece of your positioning during tough times, and let your animal archetype guide you in opportunities!