Obsession-noun-an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person's mind.
Let me start by saying that obsession is not a bad thing. In fact, it's very natural for humans to practice obsession in a number of different ways. When we are caged, we're obsessed with freedom. When you're starving, you're obsessed with food. When you get tired of failing, you become obsessed with success. The problem with obsession lies in the things that we are often trained to be obsessed over. People obsess over things that they can't have too often, which generally drives bad behavior. Stalkers are a perfect example of bad obsession.
What about good obsession though?
Obsession with self-improvement. Obsession with being better.
I would argue that in order to be successful in the world today, you have to be obsessed with what you do. Why?
Everything feels saturated because of social media. I had a very interesting conversation with a freelance photographer on Sunday while I was volunteering for the 2018 Doggie Dash 5K. I asked him how business was around Atlanta for getting freelance gigs. "Slow" was his response. "Social media has killed the freelance market. It's so hard to make a living on this." I quickly reminded him that it's not so much that it's dead, you just haven't found a way to innovate yet.
When things are saturated, you must have the ability to stand out. Obsession with your craft makes you stand out because you work harder than everyone else. You get more eyes on your products. You come up with fresh ways to present old material. You fail much more than the average person, which gives you more insight into what works and what doesn't.
My old chemistry adviser told me that when I do reactions, I should do it as many known ways as possible because one way may not work. By increasing the number of reaction techniques, you increase the likelihood of finding something that works. That my friends, is tugging at the strings of obsession.
Obsession is something that we've been taught to shy away from because of the repeated examples of bad obsession. Stalkerish exes, creepy guys in the club, and social media drama hounds highlight the bad form of obsession. (Bad sounds juvenile. Let's use undesirable.) What about desirable obsession though? We see this form of obsession everyday, but we often don't equate it to obsession. Sports icons, fitness icons, and prolific actors demonstrate peak obsession.
Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Robert Downey Jr., Lauren Williams, Christmas Abbott, Robert de Niro, etc. All of these people are obsessed with their craft. This is desirable obsession. This is the kind of obsession that turns your life around. Sheer commitment to excellence and willingness to overcome all obstacles.
Obsession doesn't have to be seen as a bad thing, and quite frankly, it's ludicrous to see it that way. Obsession shows an intense desire for something. When that energy is channeled toward self-improvement and self-mastery, you will find yourself out of the dregs of mediocrity and saturation very quickly. Above the scrum is where you find greatness.
How do we cultivate the art of obsession?
Become deliberate in everything that you do. Deliberate living forces a trickle down effect of obsession into all areas of your life. Let's look at a step by step list of what you should be deliberate about in order.
1-Deliberate goals: when you deliberately write down what your goals are, you have an outline for your life. All you must do at that point is fill in the details.
2-Deliberate details: once you have the outline, it's time to write the details. It's very important to be specific. This is the same thing as bringing big goals down into the smaller pieces. Want to shed 50 lbs in 4 months? What is your diet going to look like? Are you going to the gym regularly? These are the important details that need to be filled in deliberately to start feeling the obsession churn.
3-Deliberate execution: deliberate execution requires discipline. You must be disciplined enough to stay the course when times get rough. They will. Deal with it. No one cares about your problems, nor should they. The only person's opinion that matters is yours. Stay disciplined in your action so that you can deliberately execute.
In a world saturated with voices and products, you must find a way to stand out. I contend that obsession is the way. Few are willing to fully become obsessed though, fearing that they will lose perspective in the process. Plot twist: that loss of perspective is *necessary* at some points. You want to be unreasonable in your thoughts so you can be unreasonable in your actions to get things done. That's how you stand out. I laid out my goals for this week and one of my twitter followers said they were unreasonable. My response?
You fuckin right it is, and I'm not scared.
Do what people say can't be done. Here's a subtle reminder of what happens when you dare to be obsessed.
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