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How Obsession Drives Higher Performance

I obsess over what I do for a living. And I don’t see anything wrong with that. I’ve found something that I love and I give it everything I’ve got. I don’t struggle with time management because I’completely devoted to achieving my goals. My work is my life and vice versa, and I see no need to balance the two. And I think if your intention is right, there’s nothing wrong with obsession. And in fact, I firmly believe that obsession drives higher performance. Here’s how I know I’m right. 

An Anecdote: My High School Friends 

When I was in my late teens and early 20’s I would see my high school friends a couple times a year. We’d go on trips together, and most of the time that meant Las Vegas. In the early years we were completely broke so we’d usually carpool together, crammed in a van. And we’d pack some snacks for the trip to save some money. We’d also all sleep together in a shared hotel room for that same reason. 

But once I started working as a service advisor, I was making maybe 5 times more than my friends. All of the sudden I had disposable income, a new car, I was eating better, wearing better clothes. I was still happy to go to Vegas with my old friends, but I wanted to do it a little differently now. 

With my newfound income I didn’t want to share a room, I wanted my own. I didn’t want to eat granola bars, I wanted to go to nice dinners. And so we went to Vegas and I treated my friends wherever I could…drinks, dinners, you name. Right off the bat, they told me they were uncomfortable…they said I had changed. 

They thought I was showing off and dismissing them, but really I just wanted to spread the wealth and live an above average life. I wasn’t trying to be flashy or rub it in. I just wanted to enjoy my new lifestyle. They thought I was being condescending, and it didn’t matter if I tried to explain myself. Their perception is their reality. 

gross profit

Obsession Drives High Performance: Breaking The Norm 

To be exceptional and perform at a high level is not normal. And you have to be willing to live with that fact. When you become a higher achiever, you’re above average, and you’ll start to behave and live your life that way. And most people want to fit in with the crowd, so they choose to be normal, lower their expectations, and go with the status quo. 

We all want to be accepted and liked, and it can feel like a betrayal to raise yourself above the rest. I totally understand the thought process, but it just didn’t work for me. I would rather rise above and chase after my goals than hold myself back just to fit in. 

Obsession Drives High Performance: Reframing The Narrative 

I’ve been with people at dinner and they’ll say “can we not talk business at dinner?” When that would happen to me when I was younger, I thought there was something wrong with me. But then I started to wonder if maybe I was sitting at the wrong table. I had to find people who were just as obsessed with achieving higher goals as I was. 

And that search for equals was just an extension of the situation with my high school friends in Vegas. I was achieving at a higher level because I obsessed about performing well at work, and my friends just weren’t on the same page. That mindset is not average. It’s not casual. It’s an obsession.  

Obsession can have a negative context sometimes, but I think it should have a positive one too. If you’re lucky enough to find your purpose in life, and you’re able to do that for work, I firmly believe you can dive in head first and let it become your life. There are so many benefits to giving yourself fully to your vocation that it’s hard to name them all. 

Obsession Drives High Performance: Improved Focus 

For starters, your ability to focus will skyrocket. You’ll be able to zero in on all of the stuff that actually matters to you, and eliminate all the noise. Getting into what you do is also just fun. You learn so much about yourself and who you are; you get the chance to dig into your interests on a deeper level, and that freedom inspires courage. And you’ll push yourself to do things you never would’ve normally done. And once you mentally adapt to operating outside the boundaries of average society, you will start to perform outside of those boundaries as well. 

That purpose, that drive…it’s contagious. And if you can stack your team with people who operate on the same wavelength, you’ll be unstoppable. That passion makes all the difference. 

CSI Score

Recap: Obsess About What You Do 

The message behind this anecdote is simple. Success is not normal, and neither is obsession or true dedication to your goals. Sometimes your pursuit of excellence can rub some people the wrong way, but it’s nothing to worry about. You may need to put a little more effort into making sure you’re eating dinner at the right table. 

Three Takeaways: 

  • Find your passion and commit to it fully
  • If your intention is right, obsessing over it can’t be wrong
  • When you perform above average, your lifestyle follows 

Let’s work to create a new understanding of obsession. The devotion and passion implied by the term fuels a greater understanding of your work, your life, and your purpose.

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