Time and again I discover that people with passion and desire can make anything seem fascinating!  It is not important that you are fascinated by their craft itself. You can even ignore the end product or service that they are creating. But just watching people beating on their craft, day after day, year after year, and having the necessary passion and desire to do so, is humbling and enlightening at the same time.

People with extreme passion and desire

Let’s be honest, most of us are merely mediocre at our job. We do the best we can, we study a certain craft to the degree that people pay us for our skills and we keep improving those skills over the span of our life time. But besides our “job”, we also have a lot of other passions. We do sports; We hang out with our friends;  We spend time with our family; We read and go to the movies…

So we do all these things on the side, trying to find a balance that fits our needs. This is how most people are. They do have passion and desire for their profession, but it is limited by the passion and desire they have for activities outside of work. There are however some people that are different.

passion and desire

Some people get so immersed into their passion that they barely have room for anything other in their lives. They wake up in the morning determined to improve on their craft and spend almost every waking hour trying to do so. They devote their entire life to mastering that one skill, letting their passion and desire to be the best consume them.

While this certainly isn’t a balanced life, or even a necessarily better life than the one of the average person, it certainly is a life that requires a lot more discipline and dedication. Woody Allen once famously said:

80 percent of success is showing up.

But what he knows is that showing up is often the hardest part. You need extreme passion for what you do in order to show up whether you feel like it or not, whether it is good weather or not, whether you actually have other plans or not.

The fascination with extreme passion and desire

The fact that attaining mastery requires so much sacrifice tends to make it all the more fascinating for “normal people”. The devotion with which some people focus on their craft can be inspiring and uplifting. Furthermore, there are many underlying principles that can be learned from these extreme cases about how to master any skill.  Whatever their passion is, their way to mastery always follows the same rules. Above all, it comes down to putting in the hours (learn here about the 10.000 hour rule).

I personally find it extremely helpful to choose those people with extreme passion and desire as mentors for whatever goals i have. Even if I don’t share their singular approach for this passion (I usually focus on many areas of my life at the same time that I want to improve in), I want to learn from the best in order to cut my learning curve and avoid making stupid newbie mistakes as much as possible. So the best way to do this is to find a real guru in your field of passion and watch him celebrate his craft. Watch him, consult him, imitate him and repeat this cycle until you have reached the level of proficiency that you want to attain.

An extreme example

Of course there are countless examples of people with the kind of extreme passion that I am describing. Pretty much any expert and many celebrities (like sports stars or actors) show this obsessive dedication. Otherwise it would simply not be possible for them to stand out from the crowd.

But the one example I want to choose is a little bit different. It is the now 90 year-old Jiro Ono, a sushi chef from Tokyo. He states that he started working in a restaurant when he was 7 years old and after founding his own sushi restaurant in 1965 has been running it ever since (yes, he is still working). His restaurant has three Michelin stars and Jiro Ono is regarded by his peers the greatest sushi craftsman alive. To eat at his tiny restaurant in a Tokyo subway station one has to sign up on a waiting list that can be up to 3 months long.

In 2011 there was a documentary produced about Jiro Ono – Jiro dreams of Sushi – which is how I first learned about him. I am not particularly fascinated by Sushi, but I am fascinated by people with passion and the desire to constantly improve. So I watched the movie and was blown away by the attention to detail and the strive for perfection that Ono has. It is incredible to see how someone can be so deeply in love with his craft for so long.

Once you decide on your occupation… you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success… and is the key to being regarded honorably.

Here is the full documentary to watch:


Look closer to see the fascination

So the lesson here is this: anything can be fascinating! Once you immerse yourself a little deeper into a craft, you will start to understand it more deeply and you will start to appreciate the process and skills that are needed. We nowadays tend to be so superficial and judge so quickly that not many take the time anymore to develop a true passion for what they do.

You don’t have to become as obsessed as Jiro, but you can certainly learn from him how to have more passion and desire for what you do, so that you too can love your occupation for the rest of your life.


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