Great Entrepreneurs Are Addicts
I’ve been labeled compulsive, a work addict, obsessive, out of balance and impossible to work with. People have told me I’m unreasonably demanding and have unrealistic expectations for myself and others. Solutions have been proposed to “cure” me of this problem. Doctors throw labels at me like ADD, ADHD, OCD and more. Friends and family have asked me to chill out, relax, calm down, take it easy.
The problem I discovered is not with me, but them. What is killing America is the disorder of being obsessively-compulsively average.
Even if I have ADD or ADHD, this isn’t a “disease” that is abnormal, nor is it something that requires medication. As kids, we all are obsessive. It’s only when society teaches us to tone it down that we give up on the things we crave. My success started when I gave myself permission to fully own my obsession and harness it for good.
Denying my obsession nearly killed me when I was a young man, trading in my dreams of being super successful for a daily drug habit. I spent a month at a treatment center. When I was leaving the counselor told me, “You have an addictive personality. You have a disease you can never recover from. You have no control over your disease or your life, and the chances of you never using drugs again are next to nothing.”
While the treatment center gave me the opportunity to get off drugs, it didn’t fully rehabilitate me or address the reasons I started drugs in the first place. I left the place fragile and broken, just as I had come in. Since I was no longer under the influence of drugs, my uncertainty about life and my abilities were heightened, but I understood that denying my obsession caused my problems because drugs became an alternative.
It was then I commited to using my “addictive personality” for success. Thirty-plus 30 years, five companies and hundreds of millions of dollars later, I can attest that you must embrace your obsessions to be a great entrepreneur.
Here are two tips I want to pass along today:
1. Stop blaming others.
In the late 1990s, it became popular to explore your to figure out the cause of your problems. A huge industry had grown around the idea that your parents gave you either too little attention or too much. The focus became your so-called dysfunctional family and your eternal search for your “inner child.” People were constantly talking about how broken they were and how their parents had messed them up.
Everything was labeled an addiction and a disease: work, sex, love, pets, drugs -- there was even “addiction to addicts.” Since I have always been interested in improving myself, for some time I went to group meetings and looked for counselors who could help me find the root cause of my “problems.” This industry, regardless of your label, teaches that you are powerless and you were destined to never get over it.
This is a myth. Assigning blame to parents and factors outside your “control” and being focused on how broken you are will never improve your life. Stop blaming and making excuses for your life.
2. You have control.
When I started to turn my life around, I was surrounded by what seemed to be the whole world telling me I was powerless because I was an addict. People told me my obsessive nature was part of my genetics. If it’s part of my DNA, then what can I do? Luckily, this is false. Everyone has the ability to control things in their life.
My friend, Gary Vaynerchuk, says entrepreneurs are born, not made—as if to be a great entrepreneur you have to have the right DNA. I completely disagree with this. Being a great entrepreneur is about giving yourself permission to be obsessed, something that every child has but is squashed by well-meaning but misinformed teachers and parents. I have control, and you can too. Choose to be addicted to success.
Realize that you have control in life, stop blaming others, and simply give yourself permission to become obsessed with the right things in life. Every great entrepreneur is an addict—and this isn’t a bad thing at all. People turn to destructive addictions when they give up on their hopes and dreams of being super successful.
If you have been labeled or drugged or are addicted to the wrong kind of obsessions, I recommend checking out my new book Be Obsessed or Be Average and get addicted to success! I will be donating 100 percent of my author’s proceeds to two non-profit charities that empower youth and adults with factual information about drugs so they can make informed decisions and live drug-free. Pre-order here.