Can Obsession be a Good Thing?

Somewhere I read that when you are trying to hire the best people you should look for someone that is borderline obsessed with what they do.

For example, one of the QA guys we used to work with was insane about QA. He was obsessed with finding bugs in the software we wrote even if it meant putting the entire text of hamlet into one of the input fields to make it overflow. He was going to find a bug.

Even though he was obsessed with breaking the software we wrote, it made him brilliant at his job. I knew that if our software could get by him then it was as bug free as possible. If he didn’t find a bug then our users probably never would.

If you are looking for a good salesman, it is probably good to find someone that is obsessed with money. Because you know they will go that extra mile to the earn their commission which in turn means they will get your company more sales.

People that are obsessed focus on one thing..well obsessively. And one of the keys to success in life is focus. The more time you spend on one thing, the better you get at it.

I read a funny story about Warren Buffet, the famed money manager, that talked about how when his wife would have company over sometimes he was so obsessed with looking over the details of a company he was researching that he didn’t even come out of his study to meet them.

Personally, I’m obsessed with books and time management. I’m also looking for new ideas and knowledge. Books satisfy that need for me. It’s hard for me to keep my reading time in check and if don’t get a chance to relax with a good book at least once a week, I get surly.

I’m also obsessed with time management. I get very unhappy if I have to do something that feels like a waste of time.  That’s part of why I got into computers. I love automating manual tasks to make them more efficient.

And I’m always trying to make sure that I’m using every minute in the best possible way. I’m a hard-core disciple of all the time management gurus from Allen’s GTD for tracking my daily tasks to Covey’s First Things First to plan my big goals.

Obviously there can be a dark side to obsession. You can be obsessed with something negative or sometimes you can be so obsessed with something that it controls your life. But kept in check obsession can push you to become the best at any given subject area, and greatness is usually achieved by being the best at one thing.

So what are you obsessed with?

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 Einstein