Hans via Pixabay

Obsession is an Accelerant to Success

When I was growing up I wanted to be a marine biologist. In my head that meant sitting on a little boat all day looking after Dolphins.

As I got older it became increasingly obvious that marine biology’s actually still biology. And after studying it a little, I hated it.

That’s kinda the pattern in my life. I become obsessed with one thing until I know enough it to write a few books. Then it usually doesn’t interest me any more. So I move on.

It’s about problem solving

For me it’s mostly problem solving. My pattern is discover, obsess, learn, solve, abandon.

Some things are fascinating and complex enough that I stick with them. Exercise and nutrition are good examples.

At the moment I’m on a mission to drop back below 10% body fat and get above 80kg. I know what I need to do to get there, so it’s a hard, solvable problem. The best kind.

I’m also digging into alternative health a lot more. Pharmaceuticals have never done me well (still haven’t forgiven you for taking away my morphine, doc). When I start getting ill — like today — I reach for raw garlic, not drugs.

Obsession can be good or bad

I guess I have an obsessive personality. Certainly an addictive one. I like to win at things, and that means learning like crazy. Usually to the exception of everything else.

Sometimes that’s unhealthy. Alcoholism wasn’t the finest moment of my youth.

But sometimes obsession’s just what you need.

The best doctors are obsessed with solving medical problems. They might not care about your feelings, but they don’t wanna be beaten by an illness.

The best founders are obsessed with their mission. They’ll stay up answering customer support tickets late into the night, restart servers at 4am, and talk to their partner in the shower about code (just me?).

The best investors are obsessed with creating a solid return. They chase the deals they want, and persist with reckless abandon.

Find your obsession

It’s ok to just be good at stuff. But until you truly find that thing you’re obsessed about — the one that keeps you up at night — you’ll never be truly fulfilled.

Finding your obsession means finding your true purpose. Once you have, the details all become clearer. You’ll know what you need to do to win.


I’m just a guy from the UK that’s okay at writing, better at startups, awesome at making coffee.

I curate a weekly email digest and publication called Starting Up.

This is day 79 in a 365 day writing experiment. You can check out why I’m writing every day here.

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