All or nothing – a blessing or a curse?

I’m sure that you’ve met them, those single minded freaks who seem consumed by one passion or another. Hell-bent on being the world’s best at whatever it is that they do.

Slow down buddy, take a chill pill. You’ll burn out before you hit 40.

Can you relate? Know one? Or maybe, just maybe it’s you.d3910-11244616_841332609284410_860039340_n

Hi, my name is Richard and I’m an all or nothing guy. It’s been 45 years now.

There’s no in-between for me, it’s either full speed ahead, or no speed. There are times when I wish I had an in-between switch, an idle mode; it can be frustrating when the turbos aren’t all charged and the engine is not racing full throttle.  But then I remember that every person who achieved a significant milestone in this world did it because that one thing consumed them to the core.

We are taught at an early age to try our best at everything, and to improve on the things that we are poor at. Ultimately, that way of thinking produces people that are just average at everything. I’d far rather espouse the idea of focusing all our time and energy on the things that we’re already good at, thereby making us brilliant at them.

And yes, I do understand that we only know what we are good at once we have tried many things. But if you try, and it’s not for you, stop! Just don’t ever stop trying new things.

Passionate people have an ability to trust their intuition, to follow their internal GPS. They understand that logic isn’t always superior. They are growth oriented, and continually strive to become better. Everything happens at high speed. They are not afraid to take risks, and let’s face it, nothing comes without a risk.

So there is the blessing, and it truly is. Embrace your passions and become obsessed. Obsession is a powerful thing, and all too often seen as a negative trait. Yes, there is a negative component to the word, so be careful what you obsess about. There is a fine line between blissful ignorance and being positively realistic.

all-or-nothingThe wonderful thing about people who are naturally obsessive, is that the same passionate energy spills over into everything else, including their relationships. I know that it’s possible to be obsessive in relation to my two girls – to the point that I become reclusive as a single dad when I get time with them – and to be obsessive about my work and also my sport. All at once.

We do what excites us.
It’s about being in that moment, that at that very moment the only thing that matters in your world is that singular thing. I can stand up in front of a crowd of people with many other things on my mind, I could be sick, I could be taking strain in other areas of my life, but for that moment, the obsession consumes me, and the people in front of me get ALL of me. I don’t think about it, it just happens.  And the excitement boils over, it becomes contagious.

There is another side to the gift of passion though.

Knowing when to let go is extremely hard for those who give everything that they have to every situation. We are so used to making things work. Being tenacious and enduring discomfort are all part and parcel of the trait. We don’t know when to give up or when the obsession becomes detrimental, or when it has merely become time to move on.

We are all too aware that giving up might mean the difference between becoming extraordinary or just plain normal. What if Thomas Edison given up on his 999th try at the light bulb?  Although I’d like to believe that he knew that he was close enough at that point.

A great example of the healthy obsession. I’ll bet there were many people telling him to give up.

f3259b3ebd9f1e4d9ed01a471bdabe93We are courageous and determined and therefore we tend to see giving up or walking away as failure, when in truth there are times when our actual failure is the inability to stop or channel our energies elsewhere. It’s a fine line.

All or nothing people can sometimes become self-destructive too. I know that if I have an athletic goal that I’m working towards, and I am training full speed ahead, the world is rosy and life is good. The minute that I have a hiccup and am unable to train for a couple of days, I find it hard to pick up and finish the week. My week was a failure, full stop.

And so I end up doing nothing for that week.  We tend to be particularly self-critical. It is unfortunately self-defeatist, but all too real. We are idealists.

It is hard for us to understand that not everybody is internally wired the way that we are. Please don’t expect us to be patient.

Passionate people give all of themselves to the people who matter to them, and don’t cope well when they get less in return. We commit, boots and all, and would like your boots to be committed too.

Weighing up the pros and cons, I will take being passionate any day of the week … as if I really have a choice. J