Passion vs. Obsession

by Peter Saint-Andre


In my recent post about consuming vs. producing, I mentioned a distinct but semi-related distinction: passion vs. obsession.

The proximate source for my thinking about this topic is an old blog post by venture capitalist Brad Feld, entitled "My Obsession with the Product." Feld is often asked what makes for a successful entrepreneur, and his answer is: "A complete and total obsession with the product."

In my mind at least, this answer leads to more questions:

While thinking about the distinction between passion and obsession, I've realized that there are indeed differences and that these differences are material. For instance, at some level it's easy to be passionate about many things (say: running, travel, fine wine, your marriage, and your kids), but it seems that there isn't room for more than one obsession in life, at least at any given time.

More personally, I've had to acknowledge that I haven't achieved much in some domains that I've always been passionate about (e.g., although I've been playing guitar since I was twelve years old, I never seem to get around to recording any of the music I've written). By contrast, I think I might be somewhat obsessed with wisdom, which is why I'm always reading and reflecting and writing about philosophical topics. In true philosophical fashion, I suppose I'll need to ponder that further...

(Cross-posted at


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