The Art of Obsession

What is Obsession?

I realize that this word has a negative association to many, so I have added the following words for those of us who would prefer the more positive twists of the word. Typically when we refer to an obsession in a positive way, we use the words “passion”, “preoccupation”, “fixation”, or something along those lines.

The fact is, no matter what word you use, the concept is the same: the most effective way to create an organized, disciplined practice in whatever ability you are attempting to refine, is by creating within yourself an unmitigated spring of incentive, an undying and habitual source of motivation, which is my definition of Obsession.

“Your ability to use the principle of autosuggestion will depend, very largely, upon your capacity to concentrate upon a given desire until that desire becomes a burning obsession.”

-Napoleon Hill

The single most effective trait present within every individual in history who is considered to be a success in their particular role or function, is Obsession. The textbook definition of obsession is this:


The state of being obsessed with someone or something : she cared for him with a devotion bordering on obsession.

• an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind : he was in the grip of an obsession he was powerless to resist. obsess |əbˈses|

verb [ trans. ] (usu. be obsessed)

preoccupy or fill the mind of (someone) continually, intrusively, and to a troubling extent : he was obsessed with thoughts of suicide | [as adj. ] ( obsessed) he became completely obsessed about germs.

• [ intrans. ] (of a person) be preoccupied in this way : her husband, who is obsessing about the wrong she has done him.

How to Develop an Atmosphere of Obsession

So what did the great minds do to develop this undivided passion that drove them to unimaginable success? Weren’t they born with it, or attributed with the ability from an early age? The answer is no, and yes.

As far as we have researched, no one is simply born with a passion. Neil Armstrong did not pop out of the womb with a sudden hankering for weightless adventure and tube applesauce. Nor was UFC fighter George St. Pierre born in the mount position choking out his umbilical cord. What’s their secret then?

They all have a very obvious obsession for the work that they do, and it is obvious that this passion has been the cause of a hyper-developed aptitude for whatever their obsession is rooted in. But how did it get there in the first place? The answer to this question is simple, but the replication of the process is not.

The key is that the overwhelming passion and dedication of obsession is not inherit in an individual’s mind, but is implanted. Often, the seed of obsession is sown by the parent or parents, as we have seen in the cases studied in the first chapter. Many times the passion is implanted as the mind’s reaction to a lack of parental development, as is the case in the individual who has adopted a manic obsession with a particular function with the subconscious desire to please an absent father. The emotion of love very often plays a large role in the development of obsession (think Van Gogh and his missing ear for instance..).

What must be generated in order for us to replicate any form of passion or obsession in our lives, is the formula of Obsession. Read more about Obsession in The Art of Obsession (continued).