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Cover image for Productivity: Are you a fox 🦊 or a hedgehog 🦔?

Productivity: Are you a fox 🦊 or a hedgehog 🦔?

rakshakannu profile image Raksha Kannusami ・3 min read


This is a short story that I came across that really intrigued me and want to share it with you all. By the end of this article, I encourage you all to get insights from this post, that will help you with your coding journey.

Ask yourself:

before we dive into the story, ask this question to yourself.
If you were given a chance to be a fox 🦊 or hedgehog 🦔, which one would you chose?

Obviously the FOX! 🦊
Fox is so beautiful, sleek, and cunning. On the other hand, Hedgehogs are slow, timid, and not so interesting.

Read this story:

The fox is a cunning creature, able to devise a myriad of complex strategies for sneak attacks upon the hedgehog. Every day, the fox circles around the hedgehog’s den, waiting for the perfect moment to pounce. Fast and crafty—the fox looks like the sure winner. The hedgehog, on the other hand, waddles along, going about his simple day, searching for lunch, and taking care of his home.

The fox waits in cunning silence at the juncture in the trail. The hedgehog, minding his own business, wanders right into the path of the fox. “Aha, I’ve got you now!” thinks the fox. He leaps out, bounding across the ground, lightning-fast. The little hedgehog, sensing danger, looks up and thinks, “Here we go again. Will, he ever learn?” Rolling up into a perfect little ball, the hedgehog becomes a sphere of sharp spikes, pointing outward in all directions.

The fox, bounding toward his prey, sees the hedgehog defense and calls off the attack. Retreating back to the forest, the fox begins to calculate a new line of attack. Each day, some version of this battle between the hedgehog and the fox takes place, and despite the greater cunning of the fox, the hedgehog always wins.


🦊 The FOX

Foxes pursue many ends at the same time and see the world in all its complexity. They are scattered or diffused, moving on many levels never integrating their thinking into one overall concept or unifying vision.

🦔 The Hedgehog

Hedgehogs, on the other hand, simplify a complex world into a single organizing idea, a basic principle or concept that unifies and guides everything. It doesn’t matter how complex the world, a hedgehog reduces all challenges and dilemmas to simple—indeed almost simplistic— hedgehog ideas. For a hedgehog, anything that does not somehow relate to the hedgehog idea holds no relevance.

Ask yourself again.

Am I a fox 🦊 or a hedgehog 🦔 ?
My thoughts are fox-like or hedgehog-like?


The hedgehog, despite the fox's cleverness, does one thing imperially well — it knows how to defend itself. If a hedgehog and fox were to compete, the hedgehog would be the fairer. But taken figuratively, hedgehog thinking draws from a central vision and foxes search for seemingly unrelated or even contradictory pursuits. The origin of the "fox or hedgehog" concept is unclear, and interpretations have changed over the years.

Princeton professor Marvin Bressler pointed out the power of the hedgehog and said: “You want to know what separates those who make the biggest impact from all the others who are just as smart? They’re hedgehogs.”

The take-backs:

Don't try to do a lot of things at once.
Don't get distracted.
Be the master of one, rather than a jack of all trades.
Don't compare yourself.

Are you ready to be a hedgehog, mark your goals, and smash them?

keep learning, keep coding, keep growing. 🌸


Editor guide
stereoplegic profile image
Mike Bybee

I thought foxes were great until they started screaming (they use echolocation) all night outside my window (I live in a forest). Imagine a pug or other small, vocal dog, but constantly screaming at the top of its lungs. It's one of the most awful sounds you will ever hear.

Now, I think foxes suck.

ashleyjsheridan profile image
Ashley Sheridan

I think you're confusing foxes with Flying Foxes (a type of bat). Foxes have a special membrane in their eye to enable them to see in incredibly low-light environments.

Typically when you hear foxes making their awful noise it's them just having sex (which is incredibly rough and usually forced). Sometimes though they're just calling to each other.

rakshakannu profile image
Raksha Kannusami Author

Wow. I didn't know that!

shivenigma profile image
Vignesh M

They still wander around sometimes in our farms and the nearby forest. They are terrifying if you're alone and they are in numbers.

ferricoxide profile image
Thomas H Jones II

Sometimes, your job is to be the pathfinder – where you have to be the one to tackle a very diverse and ever-evolving set of problems, simplifying and breaking them down into manageable chunks so that others can then take on a subset of those problems and deal with them in the longer term.

rakshakannu profile image
Raksha Kannusami Author

Yes that's a great point to be noted!

spiritbro1 profile image

im hedgehog coz i love sonic

rakshakannu profile image
shaijut profile image
Shaiju T

Nice 😄, Can we interpret take-backs like below ?

Don't try to do a lot of things at once. - Don't try to learn all new shiny technology at once.
Don't get distracted. - Don't try to get distracted with new technology , learn basic first.
Be the master of one, rather than a jack of all trades. - Master one programming language rather than learning all with little knowledge.
Don't compare yourself. - Don't compare other developers skills with yours.

rakshakannu profile image
Raksha Kannusami Author

Yes, that's exactly what I wanted to convey. Thanks for this shaijut! 🙌

rad_val_ profile image
Valentin Radu

As a fox (not necessarily smart 😅, but certainly versatile and lacking focus and stability in my career), I can see the value of being a hedgehog.
But I just can't. There are so many things to explore and learn.

I mean, true, it's much easier to be successful at high scale if you're a hedgehog:

  1. Pick a niche, as small as possible, while still relevant
  2. Put all your time in it, be among the best in your city/country/continent/world at it
  3. Profit

But then again, how about the rest: the wonderful and curious things you'll never get to experience? Wouldn't make me feel accomplished.

codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald

Very good fable, there, and good takeaways largely.

Only thing I disagree with:

Be the master of one, rather than a jack of all trades.

There is nothing wrong with being a 'jack of all trades', as long as there are one or two things you actually put in the time to become a master of. It's possible to do both; I do it, and it has enabled me to contribute unique skills and abilities to different teams and situations. I'm not just a master of programming and nothing else: I'm an author, a public speaker, a musician, a computer technician, an amateur chef, and an organizer. I've done illusionism, video editing, and teaching. I'm a jack of all trades, or at least of many, but those strengths lend themselves to whatever I'm doing.

I believe the trendy name for that is "T-shaped". ;)

schnubb profile image

Do you think it could be possible to keep a balance between both?
Understanding the hole complexity of the world, while diving into the unknown but learn and adopt it. Simplify if needed? Taking tiny hedgehog steps is fine, but exploring the world is great, too!

rakshakannu profile image
Raksha Kannusami Author

Yes, definitely. It's a great idea to have a balance between the two. We need to make sure that we don't get distracted with too many things at a time, leading to confusion. Else, it's great to explore new things!

tacomanick profile image
Nick Shattuck

Hedgehog for me. Not only do I enjoy stuffing my face with yum yums, I prefer to take things day by day. Otherwise I am far too scatterbrained to efficiently do anything.

rakshakannu profile image
akhilarjun profile image
Akhil Arjun

Loved the ending punch line🕺👾

rakshakannu profile image
Raksha Kannusami Author

Thank you. Glad you liked it.

devimposter1 profile image

I'm a fox and can't stop learning and trying new things... On the other hand I have to also be an actual jack of all trades at my job doing full stack development as well as devops so I don't have a choice. I like foxes but to say hedgehogs are not interesting? They are super cool little creatures :)

yash_tripathi18 profile image
rakshakannu profile image
donnaken15 profile image

I'm a mix
Sometimes I will be the hedgehog and get lazy not doing my things and not fast enough, but when I can get in the mood in a sort of mental way (other than the fact I'm doing it anyway), I can power through some stuff like a fox

ashishshetty profile image

Well apparently I am a crocodile...😂

imjoseangel profile image
Jose Angel Munoz

Love this. Thanks!

pnehrer profile image
Peter Nehrer

Nice parable! I think humans should learn from both. One thought that lingers -- the fox only needs to succeed once, but the hedgehog must succeed every time! :-)

rakshakannu profile image
androminor profile image
Varun Singh

So clever story. really made me think for a moment and i found i am a fox but later on i felt i should be a hedgehog. it is simple. so now i am down to practice. thanks raksha!

elinakukalo profile image
Elina Kukalo

Hedgehogs rule!