Have you ever felt like there’s something special about you? Like you stand out from the crowd? Maybe you’ve always been picked for sports teams in school. Maybe you win every medal and award there is to win. Maybe you’re always at the top of the class. If any of those things describe you, then it’s highly likely that you may have grown used to thinking of yourself as special or as someone who makes people stand up and take notice. But while it’s easy enough to be that guy in high-school or even in college, it gets a little harder when you enter the adult world. Or when you’re twenty years into your career and you feel yourself sliding into a slump. By that point, you may feel your motivation and self-assurance waning. So, how do you keep yourself going then? How do you stay at the top of your game? Over the course of this summary, we’ll explore the answers to these questions. We’ll also learn about the attitude you need to adopt in order to maintain success and get a competitive advantage.
Chapter 1: The Difference Between Being Obsessed and Being Average
How would you describe an average person? You’ve probably met quite a few of them because — let’s be honest — most people are average. As kids, we grow up hearing that everybody is special and that everybody can do great things or live up to their potential. But as we get older, many people dismiss this. They become disillusioned by the failures they experience in life and take this as a signal that they were simply meant to be average. “Everybody can’t be special,” you often hear them say. This is often used along with other common refrains like, “Everybody can’t be the next Ed Sheeran,” (or any other big name in any industry).
So, if you believe you’re nothing special, what do you do? Most often, you become one of those people who simply goes through the motions of life. You graduate high-school, but your grades are okay, not remarkable. You graduate college after pursuing a field of study that is steady or predictable and achieving grades that are nothing to write home about. From there, it’s likely that you find an unfulfilling job doing nothing too exciting and pursue personal relationships that are probably of the same nature. That doesn’t mean that your life is wildly unhappy or that you’re destined to slog through every day going, “Oh, woe is me, I’m just so average.” But it does mean that your life is unlikely to leave an impact on the world and that you’ll never reach your full potential.
So, as you read over this prospect, you might want to ask yourself: is this what you want for your life? Is this the future you want for yourself? If your answer is no, then congratulations! You’re on the right path! Now it’s time to figure out how to put that desire into practice. The first step is becoming obsessed. But obsessed with what? If you’re not a big fan of your current job, it might be tough to imagine yourself becoming obsessed with your daily grind. But don’t worry — the author isn’t necessarily trying tomake you fall in love with your job, especially if it’s the wrong fit for you. Rather, the goal is to become obsessed with your true purpose in life — and that may or may not be reflected by your job! The author discovered this firsthand when he realized that even though he was busy all the time, he wasn’t actually happy. And in fact, despite being successful, he didn’t feel fulfilled by his job. That’s when he realized that he had simply gotten off track; he felt unfulfilled because he was no longer obsessed with fulfilling his true purpose!
But what does it really mean to be obsessed with your true purpose? And how can you put that into practice in your own life? Let’s unpack the logistics by considering an example. Imagine you’re a salesman. Maybe you’re even an awesome salesman. You studied sales or marketing in college and you can sell water to a fish. So, because you’re good at your job and you’ve built a successful career, you assume you’re happy and fulfilled. But if you really stop and think about it, you notice that the act of selling a product isn’t what makes you come alive. Instead, you feel electric and energized when you're pitching to a new client or giving a speech. That might only comprise a small portion of your job, but it’s the highlight of your day. And if you reflect on those feelings long enough, you’ll notice something significant: your true purpose. Because that electric feeling is a clue. It’s your heart’s way of telling you what brings you the most satisfaction. So, if you follow that feeling, you'll realize that you weren’t meant to be a salesman; your true calling is to be a public speaker!
The author discovered this firsthand through his own burgeoning moment of self-discovery. But it might not be so clear-cut for everyone. So, if you find yourself struggling with hints of a hidden purpose rather than a flashing neon sign, you might find it helpful to start by keeping mental notes about the aspects of your day that make you feel most alive. And keep in mind that these insights don’t have to stem from an aspect of your job. They don’t even have to sound like a proper career. For example, let’s say you’re a corporate executive and the highlight of your day is your morning workout or the time you spend baking cookies with your kids. If these are the activities that bring you meaning and fulfilment, then this may be a sign that you’re actually meant to be a fitness instructor or a baker! In fact, it’s totally possible that your true purpose is radically different from anything you ever imagined. And in the next few chapters, we’ll explore what that means and how you can pursue your purpose.
Chapter 2: Define Your Obsessions
So, now that we’ve considered the difference between being obsessed and being average, it’s time to learn more about putting those obsessions into practice. So, how do you become obsessed? And how can you use your obsessions to fuel your pursuit of your true purpose? If you’re not used to thinking of yourself as being obsessed with anything,you’re not alone! The author observes that we often think of obsessions as being unhealthy or deranged; when we think of people who are obsessed with something, we typically think Fatal Attraction or Single White Female. But according to the author, that doesn’t have to be the case! In fact, when it comes to the cultivation of your life, your goals, and your true purpose, it’s okay to be obsessed.
Here’s why: in this context, being obsessed means being infused with ambition and determination. It means that you’re so driven to accomplish your goals that you’re unwilling to be average. In this context, it is absolutely okay to be obsessed with becoming your best self. Here’s what being obsessed does not mean: in this context, being obsessed does not mean that you are crazy, unhealthy, or imbalanced. It does not mean that you neglect your family, your friends, or your health in the pursuit of your goals. Put simply, being obsessed just means that you are fierce and passionate in the way you chase your dreams. It also means that you seize the joy and opportunity in every moment of your life. So, what does being obsessed look like? How can you make yourself adopt that state of mind?
Well, as we established in the previous chapter, it starts with defining your life’s purpose. This is the most integral ingredient because that should be the thing that gets you out of bed every morning. (And that means you need a purpose in life that goes beyond something like, “I get out of bed every day because my alarm clock tells me to!”) Your purpose should be so enmeshed with your identity that if you’re not living into that purpose, you feel like you’re not being you. Once again, keep in mind that this doesn’t mean defining your self-worth in terms of productivity. This doesn’t mean getting out of bed so you can check off another item on your to-do list or use productivity as a form of validation. Rather, it means that you should find a purpose that makes your soul bloom and become obsessed with chasing that.
For example, maybe your purpose is to bake incredible cakes that blend your love for baking with your culinary expertise. Maybe you come alive when you find that perfect mix of flavors and you love imagining how people will feel when they take a bite of that cake. Maybe your cakes are so delicious that they bring people together. So, in that case, you wouldn’t be obsessed with productivity or baking a certain number of cakes in a day. Instead, you would be obsessed with the feeling you get while you’re baking. Because when you’re baking, you feel like you’re doing what you were put on this earth to do. It’s that sense of purpose, passion, and meaning that you’re chasing and that’s why you get out of bed every morning. Of course, that doesn’t mean that it won’t ever be hard. It doesn’t mean that you will never fall into a slump. And it definitely doesn’t mean that, on some days, you won’t feel like laying in bed or not doing anything.
Because unfortunately, even if you’re obsessed with your life’s purpose, you won’t always feel motivated. That’s simply human nature. So, because you won’t always be motivated, you must always be determined. And in the next chapter, we’re going to explore how you can cultivate that determination and put it into practice.
Chapter 3: Setting Your Motivation Milestones
What do you hope the future holds? An average person might hope that they’re able to retire and sit around doing crossword puzzles all day. (Although that’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with crossword puzzles!) Rather, what’s wrong with this picture is the fact that it centers around accomplishing only one goal, if that. Instead of reaching a variety of milestones in their personal and professional life, an average person hopes to make it to life’s finish line and call it good. And that’s exactly how you stay average. By contrast, however, someone who is obsessed with accomplishing their life’s purpose knows that doing the bare minimum is never enough. They also know that life is about more than just reaching one milestone. Instead, an obsessed person renews their sense of meaning and fulfilment by constantly setting new tasks for themselves to accomplish.
For example, let’s go back to our example of the baker. Maybe you’ve left your corporate job to pursue your true calling as a baker and now you’re wondering what to do. Whether you intend to bake cakes for a living or you want to throw yourself into developing your passion project, one thing is true: you need to set some goals. In this example, your goals could take a variety of forms. Maybe you start by saying you want to bake and sell 100 cakes. Or maybe your goal is to turn your hobby into a profitable business by opening your own bakery. Your goal can take any form you like; the most important thing is that you set one and follow through!
But what if you’re able to accomplish that goal sooner than you thought? Maybe you estimated that it would take you six months to bake and sell 100 cakes, but you did it in half the time! So, three months and 100 cakes later, what do you do next? An average person would say, “Wow, that’s awesome! I did it!” and then rest on their laurels. But an obsessed person knows that accomplishing your first goal is only the beginning. So, if you’ve successfully launched a profitable bakery, don’t stop there! Set a new goal of becoming a chain and get to work on the development of that second store! Or, if you’ve sold 100 cakes in three months, set a new goal of selling 500 cakes in the same amount of time! And once you accomplish that goal, set another one, and then repeat this process for infinity.
If you’re thinking that that sounds like a lot of effort or you’re wondering why you should bother, the author has this little nugget of wisdom to offer: goals are whatseparates the obsessed and the average. Because the truth is, it’s easy to give up. It’s easy to be average. It’s easy to set one small goal or accomplish the bare minimum and be content with that. But if you want to achieve real success in life, you must always push yourself to be faster, better, stronger. However, that doesn’t mean comparing yourself to others or striving to be better than someone else. Rather, it’s about being obsessed with beating your own personal best and becoming the best version of yourself.
Chapter 4: Final Summary
There are many factors that set successful people apart from their average counterparts, but the biggest factor is the desire to grow. Because where average people are content to accomplish the bare minimum, those who are obsessed with making the most out of life know that you must keep working to unlock your full potential. So, if you want to be obsessed (and not average), start by falling in love with your true purpose and defining clear and meaningful goals for yourself. Once you’ve accomplished these steps, you can use your obsession with excellence as fuel for pursuing your goals.