The Winter Olympics are in full swing as I write this and I can't help reflecting on a comment my mother made some four or five months ago about obsession. I don't recall the entire situation. We were probably in the car, on our way home from the gym, and I was ranting about some new concept or idea I had. I was more than likely overly excited about it, as I tend to get when I think about all the possibilities for the future. Anyway she made a comment about my having an obsessive personality. I.e., when I fall in love with something new (a book, a fitness regimen, a skill or hobby) I like to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible. I recognize that I don't have the time or ability to be an expert at everything but there are a few things in my life that are huge priorities for me and thus I allow myself to be "obsessed".
My writing is one of those things. I have to make certain sacrifices for my writing. I don't have a life because most weekends are spent writing or doing something for my writing. I spend a lot of money to attend workshops and conventions where I can meet authors, agents, and editors. My mother doesn't get that. I buy a lot, I mean a lot, of books every year to support my fellow authors, to know the trends in publishing and make certain I am offering something fresh and new to the genre. My mom definitely doesn't understand that. In her mind, that is obsession.
But as I am watching the Olympic games and hearing the personal stories of the athletes who have triumphed to win a medal I realized that for some reason with Athletes it is different. Their whole life is often devoted to a certain sport. They have been playing that sport since they were a child. They are at the gym every day for hours at a time. Some of them were home schooled so that they could prioritize their training and travel schedule. Their parents paid money out the wazoo to get them lessons, coaches, equipment, training facilities etc... If that isn't obsession, I don't know what is.
I suppose the point I am trying to make is that maybe obsession isn't all that bad. What seems obsessive to one person may be passion, commitment, or dedication to another. You certainly can't be successful without any of those three things. I read an article a few years ago on what makes some people successful and others give up on their dreams and it stated that for most people it takes an average of 10 years for them to reach their dream. Business men, athletes, actors, writers...we don't start off at the top of our game. We put in a lot of long hours under the radar before we get our big break. People will call us obsessed, or worse just a dreamer. That is until we make it. Then people write books about how our passion and commitment. Oprah made a comment years ago about how luck is merely preparation meeting opportunity. I truly believe that. If you haven't put in the time and the effort, you can't take advantage of opportunities when they are presented to you. Those billion dollar actors didn't fall into those roles. Most of them spent years training, washing dishes, taking low wage hourly jobs before that lucky break came along and when it did, they were ready. We tend to forget that.
The reality is, most people look at the finished product, a person or business in their prime and think, I want to have the life that they have. The reality is, most of us aren't willing to do what they were willing to do to get there. Show me someone at the peak of their career and I will show you someone who was "obsessed".