How To Cultivate an Obsession: What Stops Us

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I’ve always wanted to have an obsession. When the fad for ‘follow your passion’ showed up, I burnt with jealousy of those who could name their ‘passion’ because, well, I didn’t have one.

I enjoyed doing so many different things that it was hard to bring them together into one fashionable passion-labeled basket. And so I settled for believing that I was one of those underlings that just hadn’t been graced with the purpose-filled magic of the Gods.

That is one of the reasons I got into engineering in the first place. But many years later I began to discover buds of passion-potential sprouting out of my soul. At first I was convinced it was too late. I had already invested over seven years of my life in my engineering education, so I ignored them.

Some urges are too strong to ignore though. Despite the dirt I kept spreading over them the shoots grew until I could no longer ignore it.


Why Cultivate an Obsession? 

It’s simple, “Whenever anything is being accomplished, it is being done, I have learned, by a monomaniac with a mission.” Peter Drucker

To do things that matter, you need to be obsessed. You need to have a deep-seated belief that what you do matters. And you need to be obsessed with getting it done. Not convinced? Watch Simon Sinek on the importance of your Why.


What Stops Us

Many years later, having abandoned engineering and moved on, I went back and unearthed some of the reasons I had been so adamant that I was born obsession-less.

  1. Lack of skills or knowledge: Sometimes we just don’t know enough. It’s as simple as that. If all you’ve ever grown up seeing, are medical doctors, the thought of dancing may never have crossed your mind. Likewise, sometimes the thing you want to do just doesn’t exist yet. It takes some level of entrepreneurship to create an unconventional space for yourself amidst the order of the world.

I just didn’t know that there was work like Personal Development Coaching. I never imagined there was a way to put people before profit, and creativity before consumption. In my mind work was about being miserable.

  1. Using the wrong language: We all interact with the world in different ways, some visual, some verbal, some auditory and some kinesthetic (to simplify). Of course none of these are 100% and we use some combination of all to understand the world around us and to communicate what matters to us. The problem is that the ‘civilized’ world as we know it uses primarily verbal methods to tell us what we need to know. It’s a problem because if we communicate in any other language, we have trouble understanding the world and we can’t make the world understand us either. We’re aliens in our own home.

 A great example is the way we are educated. There is room in classes for visual and verbal learners, but get a kinesthetic learner and they’ve got an ADHD label slapped onto them and a mouthful of Ritalin to stop them from moving.

  1. Beliefs about the world being a certain way: A long time ago when people believed the world was flat, nobody was exploring anything because they were afraid they would fall off the planet. I believed that people did work they didn’t like because that’s the definition of work. My brother used to tell me that if work was fun, it would be called Play. I also believed that anything called Business was cut-throat, all about money, and brought no soul-value to people, just consumption.
  1. Beliefs about you being a certain way: As kids we were bombarded by messages from the people we love most and from our environment. We internalized these messages and then we grew up. We forgot where these messages came from and we took them as truth. I always thought I was bad at business. That marketing wasn’t for me. I just took it as a given. So I never even tried to do anything in those areas. Until I challenged myself to teach an Entrepreneurship class at university. I fell in love with what an ethical business can do and have become obsessed with the concept of social enterprise.

“It’s the addicts that stay with it. They’re not necessarily the most talented, they’re just the ones that can’t get it out of their systems.” Harold Brown

Do you have passions and obsessions? How did you figure out what they were? If not, what do you think the obstacles in your own way might be?

In next week’s post I’ll be telling you where to start and how to grow what you’ve got, because once you get over the obstacles, it’s time to start cultivating!

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