It’s Good to Be Obsessed, Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Otherwise

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Portrait of huge beautiful male African lion against black background

The unsolicited advice every successful man in history has heard:

You’re working too hard, I think you should take some time off, take it easy for a while.

Every soon-to-be-successful man has heard the exact same thing. You’re going to burn out. There’s more to life than work. Working isn’t everything. Money isn’t everything.

Some of those statements are true, but they’re used to diminish a man’s quest, to make him seem greedy, to make him feel selfish, to make him question what he’s doing. I think every ambitious guy’s been there, especially when he’s yet to see the fruits of his labor, or the full fruits of his labor. He’s far from his goal, and the work he’s constantly, persistently, obsessively engaged in doesn’t seem as though it will get him what he wants from an outside perspective, a perspective that doesn’t aim for greatness, think it’s possible, or even really want it that much.

Most people are content with mediocrity, and that’s fine so long as they don’t diminish the quest for more that someone may be on, or have jealousy toward someone who’s achieved greatness and put the work in to actually get it.

If building a legacy, acquiring real, generational wealth and power, isn’t something you want to do because of the lifestyle you’re going to have to adopt, don’t do it.

To that same point, if this is something you have gnawing at you deep in your soul, then by that same token you have to do it or you’ll live a depressing, unfulfilled life that may be successful to some, but not to you.

The Odd Obsession with Success

I was in high school, having just left hockey for basketball. Every morning I’d wake up at 5am, get on an hour-long bus ride to my high school, where the security guard I befriended would open up the gym early for me so I could get a couple hours of shooting in before class.

After school I’d leave to go somewhere in the city to play pick-up or do drills with a pal before practice later in the evening. And sometimes I’d stay after practice to shoot, too.

I wasn’t a great basketball player by any means, but I wanted to be. I wasn’t a great boxer at all, but I wanted to be. I wasn’t a great student and I really didn’t give a shit about that…

What I’m saying is that I clearly have an obsessive personality. With work, I’m the same. I just like it. I like learning. I like chasing a goal, a quest, greatness, whatever. I want to build something big, do something grand. I’ve repressed that a fair bit even recently and in the past.

I’ve quelled my ambitions, reduced my goals, cooled my ideas for what I want from life and also for the effort I put into getting what I want to essentially fit other people’s ideas for what life is all about. The reality is that life is different for everyone, and not everyone is obsessive.

Some are obsessed about adventure, others power, others wealth, success, building a legacy, while others still are content to chill, to enjoy their family and go at an easy pace.

The key is to be true to who you are, and fuck what everyone else says about what you should be, how you should think, and what you should aspire to achieve.

Being Obsessive Isn’t Bad

We’re told that being obsessive is bad, that being obsessed about anything is the wrong way to be. That too much of anything makes you an addict. Sure. But if you’re obsessive about success, or anything previously mentioned, that isn’t a bad thing, that’s how you reach your potential, feel fulfilled, find happiness and meaning, and actually live for a reason.

To turn your back on your obsessions is bad. I’ve been there.

You don’t work as hard as you like to, which leaves you down, depressed, feeling useless. You don’t train as hard because everyone’s telling you there’s more to life than lifting or hunting or hiking or adventuring or writing or whatever it is you’re obsessed about, and as a result you feel like a useless sack of shit, obeying what others think is living but ignoring what your soul calls you to do.

The magic is in being obsessed with success, because success entails more than one focus in life. It demands greatness in your career, your work, your craft. But you also have to be a great father, husband, boss, and leader. You have to live, to adventure, to serve. You have to have every area of your life firing on all cylinders.

To many, the thought of excelling in every single area of life is exhausting, but that’s what the Romans thought of as manliness, excellence in all things. They saw it as a quest to be truly great in every area of life so as to not waste the gift of life, the gift of ambition, the gift of health.

If you’re the type that is obsessive, use it.

Recently I opened up a Grant Cardone book with a title that screamed at me to grab it and read it, so I did.

From, Be Obsessed or Be Average, by Grant Cardone

    When I started studying other obsessive types who were super successful and stopped seeking advice from those who were settling for average lives, average results, average money, average everything and who were never obsessed with anything except defending average, that’s when I began to really live.

    When I started to own the fact that I was obsessed with personal fantasies of indestructible wealth and fame and the desire to create a legacy that would outlast my time on this planet, the world looked different. …I started to attract other people more like me. Opportunities started to present themselves that used to never come my way.

You are not someone else. You cannot diminish your goals to fit in because fitting in is far too overrated. Being obsessed isn’t a curse, it’s a gift, it’s insight into who you are. You have it hardwired in your DNA to achieve greatness, or die trying. That’s you. To do or aim to be anything or anyone else is a lie.

Just as the Alpha lion, the head male of a pride dies holding his throne, just as he risked death to acquire it, he has no other choice. He’s not doing it because he wants to. He’s not fighting other massive beasts because he likes it. He’s doing it because that’s just what an alpha male lion does. To do anything else is a betrayal of his existence, just like aiming for mediocrity, accepting a bad hand, lying down and quitting is a betrayal of who you are, a betrayal of your existence.

Fuck mediocrity. If that’s not for you, then by all means, aim higher, work harder, be obsessed. To do anything else will leave you with regret.