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All great companies have one thing in common. They know who they are, they know what they want, and they understand why they do it.

What’s your first thought when you read the word obsessed?

It’s probably negative, right?

Usually, not many good things come from obsessive behavior.

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with collecting Panini football cards. I did everything possible to get my book completed.

Including the chores I most resented, only to get a little bit of cash to buy cards and complete my album.

A little later in my life, I got obsessed with running. First, I ran to lose weight, and once I was healthy, I started to get interested in running races.

It’s great to do things that are good for you with like-minded people. There are running communities everywhere, and when you prepare for a race, it’s great to connect and know that other like-minded people are going through a similar tough training schedule.

For my New York City Marathon, I had a sixteen-week training schedule with four runs every week. I missed one run in those sixteen weeks. And that run I missed because of a demanding travel schedule.

It was an obsession — a good one.

This week, I finished reading Insanely Simple, written by Ken Segall

It’s a book about Apple’s obsession with keeping things simple. Simplicity was an obsession of Steve Jobs. He ran his company as tough as a leader can get, obsessed with keeping things simple.

Yes, there are many things not to like about Steve Jobs’ behavior, which is well documented. It’s not my style, I won’t lead that way, but I don’t have a problem working for a leader like that.

The key question here is this…

Can a company be as wildly successful as Apple was without being obsessed and relentless about certain values or principles?

My answer is a big NO.

Apple is about being insanely simple and forever challenging the status quo.

Zappos is about obsession for the customers.

Netflix about their core values of freedom AND responsibility.

Cleveland Clinic about world-class care for its patients.

All these companies have one thing in common. They know who they are, they know what they want, and they understand why they do it.

To maintain that culture, they know that focus is more about saying NO than saying Yes.

In his quest for simplicity, Steve Jobs often said No. And often did so in a way that could be perceived as insulting or rude.

But there’s another side of the medal as well.

It’s why so many companies are not successful or just plowing along.

They believe you can be successful by cutting corners and chasing shortcuts.

It’s proven over and over again. Those don’t exist. You make a choice, and you stick with it.

Steve Jobs had no patience for people who tried to cut corners, chased shortcuts, or wanted to add complexity.

He knew that as the company’s leader, you had to be relentless. His challenge was to be relentless and show care for the people he worked with. That was not his strength.

But those who knew him well and worked with him for years, the author of the book being one of them, knew very well how to deal with him.

Being obsessed about something doesn’t make you a bad person.

Your turn: what’s your obsession?

Do more of what makes you happy!


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Erikjan Lantink
Business & Leadership Coach

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