Obsession Made Them Remarkable
We went to the Christmas Spectacular in New York City this year because a friend performs in the show. The show is spectacular because it’s done with precision time after time. There’s no spontaneity.
You wouldn’t know the name Rockettes if their founder had said, “Let’s just get on stage and see what happens.” But over 2 million people will attend the show this year.
Russell Markert founded the world’s most famous precision dance troupe in 1925. They began in St. Louis and were known as the “Missouri Rockets”.
Obsession made them remarkable. Being remarkable made the show famous.
Every remarkable person is obsessed with something. Maybe it’s fame, power, or money. But others are obsessed with food, speed, or building things. At least one person was obsessed with precision.
Markert’s obsession with precision is why you’ve heard of the Radio City Rockettes. The parade of the soldiers has been in the Christmas Spectacular since the beginning, 1933.
You could be obsessed with clipping toe nails and be successful. You might not become famous, but people in your community would come for pedicures.
- You can’t be obsessed with many things.
- You can’t be exceptional at everything you do.
- Obsession limits your life because it rules out so many things.
- Obsession is interesting. Balance is boring.
- Obsessed people don’t compromise. Compromise is the enemy of remarkable.
Obsessed people irritate average people.
It’s easy to lose sight of the value an obsessed person brings. They keep pushing at ‘insignificant’ details.
Is their obsession valuable? If it is, protect them. Honor their obsession.
If their obsession isn’t useful, help them find an organization where it is.
What’s true of an obsession?
Has your obsession served you well?
The most difficult piece to this is that average leaders often mislabel an obsession as a threat. In order to see value in the obsession and the amazing work that can be produced as a result, leaders have to accept that someone could be more knowledgeable, experienced, and simply better – as a product of their obsession. When the average leader labels this as a threat, it can make for a damning work environment for the obsessed.
Thanks Jeannie. If the people on your team aren’t better than you in some way, you’re on the wrong team!
Is there a difference between obsessed and focused? Obsessed sounds negative and focused sounds positive, but to me they both seem the same.
Thanks Pat. I wonder if you can be focused but not obsessed? But you can’t be obsessed without being focused?
What’s true of an obsession?
It’s with you day and night.
It requires openness and curiosity.
It requires focus and saying “no” to lots of other things. (Steve Jobs & Warren Buffet)
The improvements you make get smaller and smaller as you get closer to excellence.
It can be lonely.
Brilliant, Paul. The idea of small improvements speaks to me.
Ok, this stands out, “It’s easy to lose sight of the value an obsessed person brings. They keep pushing at ‘insignificant’ details.” One mans’ insignificant is significant to another for various reasons, so its not so easy and cut and dry. I have had many conflicts with one individual at work for years, I am exceedingly detailed (its my upbringing, my schooling, my experience) and he is “less than detailed” He believes I am too detailed and I believe he does not detail enough. Slowly over the years he has started (ever so slowly) being more detailed because blowback from “not being detailed enough” from customers has caused him to adjust his methodology and style more toward my approach. We deal in a world (who does not) that requires detail so that (we sell products/solutions) what we sell is accurate and correct. I cannot be lesser detailed in what I do because I sincerely believe the detail I require and put together is not overly obsessive and is actually what is needed and it provides value. As a result of my stand (which sometimes takes more time to accomplish) I have had others say, “we are glad you are detailed so we get the right item/solution”. I will admit it drives others crazy but I have to have some standards and detail is one of them in order to provide the value needed. Others have elected (beyond the individual mentioned above) to take a task and be less detailed than I and in each case they have failed, the details they used were “less than adequate” to provide the best product/solution and blowback occurred. So in summary obsession is required in some cases and significant details are necessary in some environments and challenges.
Thanks Roger. Finding ways to honor the strengths of others is a great leadership opportunity. You have well pointed out that not being detailed has a down side. On the other hand, so does being detail oriented. So depends on our role and responsibility.
Sadly, detail oriented people can be labeled as negative or nay-sayers. But often, they are just trying to clarify the path forward.
So glad you jumped in today, Paul.
I think the obsessed person is striving to come up with the most simple, clearest, most beautiful, clutter free product or service they can provide. The “right amount of detail” is critical. But too much detail and too little detail can both be problematic.
People who provide too many details–run the risk of over-complicating the message and confusing the receiver.
Thanks for jumping in on this Paul.
A famous fictional obsessive was Captain Ahab. His obsession didn’t end well. Beware that obsession doesn’t lead you down the road to ruining yourself, your team and the entire organisation you’re leading
Thanks Mitch. I wonder if it’s important, from a leadership point of view, that we evaluate the usefulness of an obsession. How does our obsession serve our team or organization?
Dan, I see Obsession and pride intermixing with the desire to perform.
Surely these performers have a zest for what they do, beyond compassion, that many people don’t understand the burning desire to excel at the top of their expertise.
They work so hand in hand with each other, so the end result is pure beauty!
The dedication a person shows bring passion and appear to Obsession.