For the longest time I thought I was crazy. I get obsessed with things. Many people said to me, relax and take it easy, but I never get enough of those few things I love — so why “take it easy”?
Raised in a family where stoicism is the motto, I suffered a bit to meet my parents’ ideal when it comes to discipline. I am a late Gen X, son of middle-upper class baby boomers. My generation is hybrid because I am an early millennial and eternal Peter Pan with a special attraction for Gen Y, aka the XYZ.
When my obsession meets with my Gen X traits, something magical happened. My compulsiveness in sport, business and nutrition transformed me into a competitive athlete and an accomplished businessman. The downside, however, is that I also became an endorphin junkie and a workaholic with orthorexia. I can’t go through my day without my big dose of workout, long working hours and over-the-top control of my nutrition.
I try to make myself feel better by believing that many talented people are also imbalanced, like Steve Jobs who also struggled with psychiatric disorder. In the book America’s Obsessives, it tells the story of seven icons: Thomas Jefferson, HJ Heinz, Melvil Dewey, Alfred Kinsey, Charles Lindbergh, Ted Williams and Estée Lauder. All of them trailblazers who toiled and excelled in different aspects from business to politics, to information technology and sports. All of them had obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), a personality disorder that is characterized by extreme perfectionism and a high tendency to impose on others. On the flipside, this is the exact character that made these great entrepreneurs great! Once I reached this point, things started to make sense to me.
If practice makes perfect, then an obsession to practice is actually a fast track to perfection.
After analysing (or over-analysing) the OCPD and my own attitude towards entrepreneurship I concluded the two negative and two positive characteristics of those who are in the same boat:
Due to working long hours, people with OCPD sacrificed the time for family, self, leisure, exercise and sleep — the exact activities that could make them feel better. Being extra stressed about the inability to participate in doing the right things takes an extra toll on them and eventually a small stress becomes a bigger one.
Aside from the normal work stress, entrepreneurs face extra pressure to excel in their projects and meet milestones they set for themselves. This leads to burnout, it makes them feel tired and easily agitated.
Being persistent gives us the determination to accomplish our goals. A little compulsiveness takes us to jump the extra step to success. By nature an entrepreneur (or an OCPD) is passionate about what they do, which can be physically and mentally tiring as they want to do as much as they can, but by doing as much as they can, also brings them forward a little faster.
Visionary entrepreneurs knows they need to create and implement organizational standards in order to for the team to get there. They give constant motivation to their employees and are eager to build their team according to their vision and what kind of people can bring the company to the final goal.
Despite the negative aspects of this personality trait, I still believe obsession is a greater force than discipline.
To conclude, my advice is:
1. Foster a little obsession as a bio-hacking tool in anything you want to achieve. Keep practicing until it becomes a routine and you get addicted. Try running for 30 days in a row, first 30 days is a discipline, the 31st becomes an addiction. Same goes with morning routines and night routines, as the theory applies to good and bad things.
2. Don’t feel guilty to be a little compulsive, although it could be difficult for people around you. Keep it at bay but don’t suffocate it, because you never know there may be a talent growing underneath.
Aristotle once said, Excellence is nothing but a habit. Obsession is nothing but a chemical reaction that hits on your adrenal glands triggering good “drugs” from inside. Somebody can find the gift easier than others. If you find yours, treat it as one, respect it, control it and use it in your favour.
If you are an entrepreneur, use the power of obsession to help your business flourish — don’t forget, a strong vision and a dash of craziness can take us to jump the extra step to success!