How To Succeed In Life: Channel Your Obsession

How To Succeed In Life: Channel Your Obsession
NOTE: This is a book excerpt with minor edits from Doing The Impossible: 25 Laws For Doing The Impossible by Patrick Bet-David.

How To Succeed In Life

Every one of us has a bit of an obsessive personality. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself if you’ve ever done any of the following or something similar:
  1. If you have kids, do you notice that you are constantly thinking about them throughout the day, no matter what you are doing?
  2. Do you ever catch yourself watching ESPN Sports Center over and over again knowing it’s the same highlights coming up?
  3. Do you check for new e-mail on your phone every five minutes, even when you are on vacation?
  4. Do you have thirty pairs of shoes but you’re still excited about shopping for the next pair?
  5. Do you constantly think about what you can do to make your car faster?
  6. Are you a person who checks your Facebook or Twitter ten times a day for updates?
  7. Do you stay up until 1:00 am to beat the last level of your favorite video game?
We all have obsessions in life. The difference is that those who do the impossible get obsessed with something productive that can make an impact. It’s not necessarily that they are more obsessive than everyone else; they just channel that focus into a project or goal to change their lives and the world around them. As a young adult, I made a decision to channel my obsession into reading. If my high school buddies could see me now, they’d be shocked that the guy who wouldn’t even read the CliffsNotes to a book in high school now reads dozens of books a year. I’ve never been a big fan of teachers telling parents that their kids have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and automatically getting doctors to put them on medication. If you study the people who have invented breakthroughs and changed the world, many of them would be diagnosed with ADHD or OCD. Kids get obsessed with building model airplanes or accessorizing their Barbie doll. That focus and tenacity can be a positive thing later in life. The Wright Brothers were obsessed with flight; Mozart was obsessed with creating music. What we call a disorder today was likely the same trait that made possible many great achievements. Psychology Today reported that people with ADHD are 300% more likely to become entrepreneurs. Here is a list of famous people you may recognize who have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD or OCD:


  • Howard Hughes
  • Donald Trump
  • Cameron Diaz
  • Leonardo DiCaprio
  • Michael Jackson
  • Harrison Ford
  • Howard Stern
  • Ludwig Van Beethoven
  • Albert Einstein
  • Michelangelo
  • David Beckham
  • Sir Winston Churchill
  • Martin Scorsese


  • Justin Timberlake
  • Will Smith
  • Glenn Beck
  • Michael Phelps
  • Jim Carrey
  • Sir Richard Branson (Founder of Virgin Airlines)
  • Terry Bradshaw
  • Paul Orfalea (Founder of Kinko’s)
  • Pete Rose
  • David Neeleman (Founder of JetBlue)
  • Bruce Jenner
Did their obsessive or hyperactive personalities actually contribute to their success? Many say it did. Many of the people on the list did not have their disorders diagnosed until much later in life. Several of them decided to forgo medication and to view their disorder as a positive factor rather than a negative one. Sometimes a little obsession or hyperactivity, pointed in the right direction, is a vital part of achieving the impossible. “I know quite certainly that I myself have no special talent; curiosity, obsession and dogged endurance, combined with self-criticism, have brought me to my ideas.” — Albert EinsteinAction Item: What three things are you obsessed with in life? Are they positive or negative obsessions? Action Item: What’s one positive thing you can get obsessed with?

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