Best books about obsessing over a goal to succeed?
November 15, 2018 8:28 PM   Subscribe

I read "Be Obsessed or Be Average" by Grant Cardone a few months ago...and re-read it and re-read. I'm eager to dig into the subject. Does anyone have any other books (preferred), articles, or any other materials they would recommend that delve into the idea of obsessing about a goal to accomplish it?

Please none of the "don't push yourself too hard" or "Cardone is full of it" or "obsession is bad for you" kind of talk. I really just want to read more about this fascinating concept, if not specifically because it's contrary to the everyday, oft-touted by society advice of "balance" and "slow and steady."

One of the books I picked up in this vein, for example, was "The 1997 Masters: My Story" by Tiger Woods. I haven't read it yet, but it should be interesting to delve into the mind of a super successful athlete completely dedicated to his sport.

However, I'm not sure if this is exactly what I'm looking for, and I certainly don't want to just read the biographies of just athletes.

I want to read about people who are intense about getting to their versions of success, doing things most people would consider insane. All the better if it's more direct, like the title "Be Obsessed or Be Average" implies, rather than simply a biography (but I'll take biographies, too).
posted by adelaide to Society & Culture (11 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Grit by Angela Duckworth advocates focusing solely on one goal and discarding others so that you can become an expert in that one specific area, rather than be mediocre in multiple areas.

I personally prefer to be mediocre in multiple areas than an expert in one, so I hated the book, but if your philosophy is the opposite you may enjoy it!
posted by brook horse at 8:45 PM on November 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit is along these lines, although focusing more on creative professions (she's a dancer/choreographer, but her book could apply just as well to writers, visual artists, etc.).
posted by yhlee at 9:19 PM on November 15, 2018

Moby Dick ? If you want to consider fiction, that is the classic example.
posted by JonJacky at 9:40 PM on November 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

Fitzcarraldo, if you will consider movies. The film is based on a real person and a real incident.
posted by JonJacky at 9:48 PM on November 15, 2018

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (1937) is the 80 year old grandaddy of that kind of book:
He stood by his DESIRE until it became the dominating obsession of his life and, finally, a fact.
Features supporting life stories for innovators like Carnegie, Ford, Wilson, Edison, Wrigley, Woolworth, etc... The similarities and differences with the more recent books could be useful in understanding the genre.
posted by haemanu at 2:42 AM on November 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

I went to an archery class recently that was taught by a devotee of Lanny Bassham. Let me tell you, this guy had 15 middle-aged women hitting bullseyes in our second round. I'm taking the class again in a few weeks just so I can listen to the teacher speak (plus it was a lot of fun!).

The premise that he teaches from is that you will perform to your self-image. You've heard this one before; if someone tells you that you will fail ("you probably won't even hit the target, let alone hit a bullseye"), that will become the image of yourself in your mind, and you will likely fail. But if someone tells you that you will succeed ("look at that, you hit the target! Focus on shifting your aim to the right a little bit and you'll hit the bullseye for sure") you will likely succeed.

I've been meaning to pick up a couple of these books for a few weeks now, but I (cough, cough) haven't had the time to devote to reading them. I see what I've done is convinced myself that I would fail at reading them. Thanks for the unintentional reminder.
posted by vignettist at 8:01 AM on November 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

I think you'd really, really like the movie The Founder. Yes, it's a biopic about McDonald's founder Ray Kroc. Trust me on this one.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:54 AM on November 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Aly Raisman's memoir hits exactly those criteria. You feel impressed by her drive but also aware of how isolated and hyper-focused she had to be and what kind of life that created. Unlike some athlete memoirs she's very introspective and kept a journal of her thoughts and feelings so I'd highly recommend.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 9:35 AM on November 16, 2018

Clearly, the former #1 book on a Wall Street Journal best seller list, The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.
posted by qsysopr at 9:38 AM on November 16, 2018

Tim Ferris is into this stuff. Tools of the Titans is interviews with many interesting men (and, like, two women) about what they do obsessively to reach their goals. I found it was worth skimming -- some people were irrelevant to me, but some of them were interesting and had good advice.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:57 PM on November 16, 2018

You all have actually brough me to tears with some of these recs. Most of them are exactly what I'm looking for. Just the summaries or a skim of a top amazon review tells me this is the sort of thing I've been looking for for years.
This is literally only my second MeFi question. I'm so glad I joined this site.
Please, carry on.
posted by adelaide at 6:27 PM on November 16, 2018 [4 favorites]

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