Addiction is usually considered a pariah in the public dialogue, but I think it gets a bad rap.
The Necessity of Focus
The truth is addiction can be good or bad for you, it just depends on your focus. More than anything, it’s a force multiplier. The human mind gets addicted very naturally, and spectacular success and failures usually have one thing in common: the protagonists in each story have addictive behavior.
I used to strive for balance in my life until I realized my best achievements usually came not from balance, but singular focus. In my life addiction has brought me varying levels of happiness, but yearning for balance has only brought me one thing: frustration and endless ball-juggling.
For me success has always brought tranquility, and addiction has always been the forebearer of success.
So do we need addiction to get to where we want to go?
More and more, I think the answer is yes.
Thirty years ago you didn’t have to be good at anything to make money, because companies knew they would have to train you for whatever it is they wanted you to do. They just needed to know you were smart and hardworking.
That’s different now, because the things companies need help with are the things they don’t know about. For someone to pay you money they have to know you’re really good at something, and the best way to be really good at something is to channel your addictive tendencies, but use them for good.
An article written in Study Hacks recently talked about Ken Rogoff, a prodiguous chess player who chose to exclusively focus his attention on economics and nothing else. He deliberately chose addiction and he’s now the chairman of the IMF.
Tyler Cowen is one of my favorite intellectuals, and his book Create Your Own Economy was a revelation for me. He described his path to autism (I’m mildly autistic) and described how addictive tendencies are increasingly becoming beneficial to people if used in appropriate quantities.
The story of high achievers always has a familiar ring to it. A dash of addiction usually greatly increases your chances of success.
The key is securing the necessary environment to make sure your addictive tendencies get channeled in the right way.