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Obsessive Compulsive… Order?

As has been recently demonstrated in books such as “The Genius in All of Us” and “Talent is Overrated”, genius, or extreme talent is not born, it is earned. The average master in any given discipline has spent more than 10,000 hours honing his or her craft. And not just 10,000 hours doing stuff that you can already do in your sleep. A concert pianist playing chopsticks does not count. That’s 10,000 hours spent outside of the “comfort zone”. Practicing/learning things which do not come easy. Breaking down the most difficult aspects of whatever it is they do, identifying the part they have the most trouble with, and repeating relentlessly. Deliberate practice.

What does this mean for the average Joe like you and me? Well, not much. If you’re reading stuff like this, you probably don’t have 10,000 hours to put into something. That’s why most “masters” started their training when they were children. Putting in the time is a lot easier when you don’t have to worry about making money to put food in your mouth.

However, consider this… how much time does the average person spend deliberately practicing anything? In school, perhaps. Homework is generally designed around that concept. But how many of us actually deliberately practice, say, looking for opportunities? Creating a business? Public speaking? The answer is, hardly anybody.

Almost no one deliberately practices anything unless they have to. It’s by it’s very nature unpleasant. It’s identifying what we do worst, and practicing that specifically. So how does one motivate one’s self to do it? Passion. You need to have a passion for whatever it is you do. You need to feel a desire to do it as soon as you wake up in the morning.

It’s so complete, that chances are you’re going to end up neglecting a few things in your life. That’s what is meant by “sacrifice”. I would honestly rather stay in on a Friday night and work on my (poker) game than go out and party. I often find my mind drifting during boring bits of conversation to things like how I would play 87s on the button against a 3-bet from the big blind. (Don’t worry if you don’t know what that means, it’s just poker stuff.)

That’s passion. Or as it’s called in psychology circles… obsessive compulsive disorder. It’s not their fault, it is simply the natural result of a profession that is built around determining what “normal” is, and getting people that have mentally gone off the tracks back to that baseline.

But we’re not looking for normal, here. We’re looking for above and beyond. And almost without exception, the best performers at almost every pursuit have put in an amount of work and effort that would make a “normal” person wince, and make a psychologist perscribe pills.

There’s really no difference between that kind of passion and an addiciton, other than one is presumably positive, and the other isn’t. An addiction that makes one look at himself honestly in the mirror, identify his weak points, and strive to improve them.

But passion can be such a difficult word to picture. So few of us have ever spent time around a truly skilled practicioner who has an honest-to-god passion for what s/he does. But addiction, we’ve all seen that, we’ve all been there.

And that’s what we need to develop to become successful. A positive addiction. Obsessive complusive order.

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