In a competitive world, you must care deeply about something to excel at it. What is also equally important, and relatively ignored, is deeply not caring about several other things.
Time and attention are two resources that are strictly limited. It is passionate indifference, what Mark Manson terms as not giving a fuck, that frees up enough of these vital resources to get really good at something we want to pursue earnestly.
In my own case, I care deeply about my writing and curating information that reaches me – books, podcasts and so on. I am indifferent to what I wear or what I eat for lunch. Those are decisions I don’t make, so that I can focus on the ones I do.
A few related thoughts:
1. Tim Urban makes the distinction about thinking like a cook and thinking like a chef. A cook follows a recipe to get at an 80% solution while minimizing time and risk. A chef invests enough attention on the first principles – to understand the intricate chemistry behind every ingredient to become world class. Thinking like a cook in most situations lets us think like a chef in one or two.
2. We marvel at polymaths – people who are extraordinary in multiple fields. Think of how many things they are indifferent to, that enables them to master all the disciplines they do.
3. If you’re debating whether something is worth deeply caring about, you are in the dangerous zone of mediocrity. The rule of the thumb – if there is a debate, the answer is a no.