We were lied to by well-meaning people. Here are some of the lies:
“Live a balanced life.”
“Don’t work too hard. You might burn out.”
“Too much of one thing is not good.”
Think about the wildly successful people you have admired or heard of. They are sharp, not well-rounded. They live unbalanced and unconventional lives. They work hard and focus. The advice – rather the “lies” – are for a life of obscurity and limits. You don’t have a chance at creating something remarkable being busy balancing all sharp edges.
I can remember when I was a kid, I loved figuring out how things worked. I would take things apart all the time. I loved working on my bikes and understanding how each mechanical component worked in the context of a system. I would get to the nitty gritty with grease on ball bearings and blackened fingernails to show for it. Never mind that hours would pass, and I didn’t realize how much time I spent working on all the little parts to clean my bikes. I was obsessed, and I loved it.
Other days, I remember playing little league and pitching for endless hours in my back yard. I threw and threw trying different pitches seeking to master the strike zone. I got lost in the obsessive pursuit of perfecting my throw. I had to work long and hard at it and I can remember striking out a whole team one summer night. What fun.
What I learned from many types of interests and focal points is that being obsessive creates rewards. It is fuel. I see it in entrepreneurs and leaders that want to change the world. It is what carries them to push further than the rest of people living quiet lives of desperation. Singular focus and a strong a desire to be the best or master something makes something inside us want to push harder. Obsessive people change the world and make things happen. The energy is contagious.
Perhaps your own pursuits are less than they could be. Are you letting yourself be obsessive and get lost in the passion of the work? You might just tap into something revolutionary.