Manufacture a Magnificent Obsession
Restak's Magnificent Obsession
If you are unsure what career path you want to take in life or are unsatisfied with your current job, this is a discussion worth exploring. Our story begins with a tour Dr. Richard Restak took. In the Teaching Company course Optimizing Brain Fitness, Dr. Richard Restak discusses a tour he took in Egypt, where someone taking the tour knew more about Egypt than the Egyptologist tour guide. The man was a store clerk that developed what Restak calls a ‘magnificent obsession’. He defines such an obsession as “something not necessarily linked to your work about which you build up knowledge.” For instance, the store clerk had such a strong interest in Ancient Egypt that he constantly read books and watched films on the topic. And although Restak's concept is"not necessarily linked to your work," in this article we will explore just that--the possibility of conscientiously developing an obsession with the work we'd love to dedicate ourselves to.
Greene's Life's Task
This concept of the magnificent obsession coupled with the concept of a life calling would indeed make a powerful combo, no? In his book Mastery, for example, Robert Greene discusses the ‘Life’s Task,’ which is what we are meant to do, something we have long experienced inclinations to do (e.g., compose music, write, work with one's hands).
As Greene puts it,"You possess a kind of inner force that seeks to guide you toward your Life's Task--what you are meant to accomplish in the time you have to live" (20). It, however, can be tricky to determine our Life's Task, according to Greene. We, after all, may have been steered away from it by our family and peers. For example, your parents may want you to be a doctor, but if that's not what you're meant to do, it may be a difficult road ahead.
Assessing the scenario in this light, we are not so much choosing a career path, as we are discovering the one we are intended to do. Thus, we are not exactly manufacturing a magnificent obsession, but why can’t we conscientiously develop one. This, after all, is what I did with the craft of writing—a difficult career path for sure.
But, in reality, I learned how to utilize this level of determination from TBI Recovery. I lived to regain movement in my left-side and relearn to walk. Facing adversity or trauma in a way that you have to rebuild yourself from ground zero teaches you just how much you are capable of. However, there are those who utilize this potential and determination without undergoing a major setback first. Do you want to be one of them?
And, lastly, when we know what we want to master, we can make the commitment to pursue mastery no matter what. We will cultivate the magnificent obsession of attaining this level of learning, choosing to ignore unnecessary distractions. If you, for instance, are learning nursing, you will have to spend more time with your Chemistry textbook than with Facebook.
Do It With Determination
And, as the self-help author Napoleon Hill reminds us in Think and Grow Rich, “What a different story men would have to tell if only they would adopt a DEFINITE PURPOSE, and stand by that purpose until it had time to become an all-consuming obsession!” (10)
Greene, Robert. Mastery. New York: Penguin Books, 2012.
Hill, Napoleon. Think and Grow Rich (p. 10). Skyhorse. Kindle Edition.Holland, Jennifer S. “Boosting Your Brainpower: Interview With Richard Restak,
M.D., author of Think Smart: A Neuroscientist’s Prescription for Improving
Your Brain’s Performance. AARP. https://www.aarp.org/entertainment/books/info-08-2009/boosting_your_brainpowerinterview_with_richard_restak_m_d_author_of_think_smart_a_neuroscientist_s_prescription_for_improving_your_brain_s_performance.html