Sunday, August 24, 2008

Thin line between passion and obsession

Most useful lesson from the world camp: Vishwanathan Anand talked about his life in the past few years when the number 1 title was eluding him in an interview with Times of India. Vishy said, “Before Mexico (last September), I came close to the number one spot or the world title in 2005 and 2006 too. It didn’t happen. That is when I got my most useful lesson: If you obsess over something, you won’t get it. I went back to my play-chess-enjoy-it philosophy then. By 2007, I had more or less stopped thinking about goals. But then, almost miraculously, I won Linares after 10 years. I became a 2800 player again and also climbed to number one spot.”

If you obsess over something you won’t get it: As an entrepreneur, having chosen to follow my passion, it has been an enjoyable journey. However, a few months back, I seemed to be overly worried about the impending recession and how much the business will be affected in the coming months. My wife said, “You seem to be tense.” Even a friend made a similar remark looking at my face. And suddenly there was a realization that I had (unnecessarily) become obsessive about the business (and how much it should progress etc.) And that is when Vishy’s lesson came handy.

Identifying your alarm bells: It is only human to cross lines. But then wouldn’t it help if we have our own alarm bells which will go off when the line is crossed between passion and obsession? So I asked myself, “What are the signs that I have become obsessive?” I few things came to mind:

1.     Did I jog in the last week?
2.     Did I go for a walk / watch movie / play / concert with my wife?
3.     Did I listen to Hindustani classical music in the past 2 weeks?
4.     Did I practice flute in the last 2 weeks?
5.     Did I go cycling with my son in the last 2-3 weeks?
6.     Did I get out of the city in the last 2-3 months?
7.     Did I read any fiction, especially a Marathi book in the past 2-3 months?

It has been only a few months since the last obsession-period. Let’s see when the next round comes. And let me see if this list helps.


  1. "Obsession" is like fever- You are bound to get over from it eventually.

    I really like the simplistic way in which you write, Sir. Connects to the reader.

    Hope you start marketing it.

  2. It has been over five years since I made this checklist of signs-of-non-obsession. It has served me great. I regularly revisit it and identify a thing or two that might have missed. Today I accompanied my son for the Vodafone cycling marathon held in Bangalore and really enjoyed it.