The other day I overheard the founder of my agency talk about building companies. He referred to Elon Musk talking about how no great company was built on a 40-hour workweek. I believe his point was that nothing great can be built with a moderate work ethic – greatness requires obsession.

I agree with this logically, but isn't it destructive in practice?

It made me think about other really hard things: relationships, weight loss, and reading.

I can see that all of these can be achieved with obsession, but from my limited experience, it seems that all of these things are achieved through a slow, grueling, and patient process.

The one I can speak to most is weight loss. I’ve lost about 70 pounds, I’ve gained back around 25, and I’m on track to lose it again and more.

Weight loss is a very difficult thing to do. I’d say it’s pretty similar to building a company – something that I’m also doing.

Weight loss takes over your life. Most of your conversations will have weight loss included. It’s an impressive thing. To radically change your body chemistry and to reorient your way of living in pursuit of a single goal. Your day begins and ends with it.

I’ve been obsessed with it. I’ve given hours to it. I’ve given my entire wellbeing to it. When I did that, I began to see a stall in my progress. You can see it in the data.

You can see that the months leading up to the wedding (where I was most stressed about the weight loss and hitting my goal) was where I hit a plateau.

Now, I don’t want to contrive or abstract some larger meaning from my single data set, but it begs the question, what is the most impactful way to approach really hard things?

Is it a compulsive obsession or is it a peaceful slow burn?