Obsession: Competing for Your Dreams


by Wim Dodson


“Passion” is one of those overused corporate words. It’s as inane as “core competency”, “touch base”, “reach out” … and many many more. Check out the Forbes Magazine article on the 45 most annoying corporate jargon.)

Instead, what diverse professionals need is Obsession (note the capitalization). This is especially so for diverse professionals building businesses.


So What’s Wrong with Passion?

Every time I come across the word passion in a job listing I want to throw up in my mouth.

  • “Tell us what your passion is …”

  • “Must be passionate about your work …”

  • “Only morticians passionate about their work need apply …”

Given that a Gallup poll in 2014 showed that about 70-percent of Americans were bored in their jobs, I’d guess the campaigns to find passionate staff are not hitting their targets.

The problem with passion is that it’s ephemeral. For instance: boy meets girl, boy becomes passionate about girl, girl gets passionate about boy, boy and girl get married. Well, you know the rest.

That’s where obsession comes in. Now, read this a different way: boy meets girl, boy becomes obsessive about girl … well, now we’re in talking stalking territory here.


The Upside of Obsession

Obsession does have a positive side, though. It’s built to last. Obsession is the gift of attention that keeps on giving. Obsession is that activity that you must do. Time becomes obliterated in the warm bath of obsession. Obstacles dissolve when the laser beam of obsession is focused on them.

Obsession is the thing you must do to remain alive, to feel alive, to survive. For instance, I’ve been obsessed with writing since I was 14 years old. I was rejected by magazine editors before I was rejected by girls.

Nevertheless, it’s remained one of the few constants in my life of extensive change. I’ve even written about some of the more extensive changes. I just can’t seem to stop writing.

In business, obsession is a great ignitor. You see a problem or problems that need to be solved. The lack of solutions niggles at the back of your brain. It irritates you, makes you lose sleep.

When you glum onto a solution you’ve not seen elsewhere, you put all your energy and focus on making your vision a reality.


Obsession 101 for Diverse Professionals

Obsession is way more important for diverse professionals than passion.

Passion dissipates.

Obsession grows stronger with neglect.

Diverse professionals have so much more crap they have to deal with on a day-to-day basis than mainstream professionals: racism, sexism, ignorance, outright prejudice, a well-documented historical lag in financing behind mainstream banking transactions, a lack of mentors, and on and on, ad nauseum.

It’s just too easy to get discouraged as a diverse professional in realizing one’s own business or career aspirations. The only driver in our lives seems sometimes to only be economics, which can be an oppressive master, indeed.

So think about what keeps you up at night -- every night -- and do something every day to move closer to realizing your vision. Even an investment of 15-minutes five days a week can yield incredible results.

I’ve used the approach to start several businesses, publish several books, study several languages and then lived and worked in the countries of origin.

So I know it works.

Your own obsession doesn’t have to be about saving the world, or even about “disrupting” it (another one of those corporate icky-words). But it does have to be yours.

Stay focused. Stay strong.