It sounds as an impossibly inadequate statement. I had doubts when I typed it, but I do have something say about it and if you read the whole article you will see why. What helped make my mind up was one single fact that’s more powerful than anything I could possibly say or write on my own: Love has been called an obsession, a mix of chemical reactions and constructs of the mind, and yet, people still fall in love every day, everywhere.
PsychologyDictionary.org defines Obsession as:
“A continual thought, concept, picture, or urge which is experienced as invasive and not proper, and results in significant fear, distress, or discomfort.”
I had to had that translated to me just to make certain I didn’t miss anything. It basically means, in an absolutely non-clinical way, extreme and unconventional focus on something. By extreme I mean intense, non-wavering focus. And by unconventional I mean, well, not very normal. For example: someone can obsess about their car and take such good care of it that to others like me (who think of cars as purely practical objects) might not find it normal.
Of course the key term there is “non-clinical”, which implies there is a clinical, more alarming form of obsessions. I can’t refer to those as I am in no way a certified mental health professional so I will only stay around what I know: cases where extreme focus provided great results.
Details and Perfection.
Have you ever held an iPod or an iPhone? That’s a piece of technology we’re probably all familiar with. You don’t need to like Apple to know what one of those is, as you don’t need to be a nerd to know who Steve Jobs was. It is also known that he would obsess deeply with new designs, with anything innovative or that would appear to have a really high potential for his Company. It has also been called “passion” by the most romantic or motivational-of-sorts biographers of Jobs, but based on the accounts of those who worked with him, I think it is safe to assume Steve Jobs was no stranger to obsessions.
What haunted him apparently was Perfection. Of all the known obsessions there are, Perfectionism is one of the most controversial ones as it implies a hidden or very visual Narcissism. It is also one of the most powerful and well kept secrets of hyper-productivity: give a perfectionist something to obsess about and you’ll end up with nothing short of success.
Look at that iPhone again. It is in your hands not because Jobs invented it (he didn’t by the way) but because he obsessed with it so much he wouldn’t release it if wasn’t perfect.
You can read more about his perfectionism in this article by Gerald Flurry on The Trumpet.
Order and Processes
I hate traffic lights, but I respect them. They seem to have an universal agreement to stop me when I’m in a hurry, and turn green only when there’s a huge truck in the intersection in front of me. I have learnt not to hate them back even when they surprise me in a new country I visit or even when there’s no one else in the streets but me.
They are just one small, highly (and poorly sometimes) automated part of a city grid, controlled through one central panel and a few thousand relay stations distributed along the city. They are one of the many sources of traffic control the city has and more importantly, they were planned and situated strategically.
Hippodamus of Miletus, thought to be the first city planner ever, lived in ancient Athens, around the year 450 B.C.. His obsession? The “ideal city”. He devised a grid-based city system known today to all Urban Planners as the “Hippodamian plan” to layout cities. His concept of the “ideal city” was linear, and it was originally designed to house 50,000 people separated in the 3 major categories of the ancient Athens: Sacred, Private and Public. His obsessions with proper order (such as the the separation of classes and harmonic design) led him to develop the foundation on which most cities of the modern world were later planned.
Obsession might not be that bad after all.
It certainly wasn’t for those who ended up becoming referrals in their fields as experts but again, this is not about the clinical type of obsession but the one that becomes perfectionism towards making a business work, or creates a vision that’s mesmerizing and inspiring for those who follow. There’s a dangerous edge to this situation as you wouldn’t want to push too hard on that thread but even so, if obsessing about making your product the best or your service the most wanted can actually getting there, what vehicles can you use to actually do that and not going extremely frustrated (or crazy) in the process?
Well, that’s for Part II of this article. Don’t get obsessed about it, you’ll get it very soon. 🙂
Also published on Medium.