The Lessons of Fandom: Proper Fanaticism

So fandom teaches you business sense, customer service, entrepreneurship, and courage.  All traits and "metaskills" that are useful in your career once you see just how much you've gained from your hobbies and activities.

So after discussing these over the past weeks, let me add one final thing to the list of what traits hobbies give you (or bring out in you) that you can use on your job.

Proper Fanaticism.

Note I say "proper" fanaticism.  Proper fanaticism is that ability to be worked up over something important in a way that's applicable and useful – it's the drive, the energy, the deep passion that crosses over from interest into making things truly happen.  It's not irrational necessarily, but more the kind of passion that can leap the gaps between hopes and reality by driving you onward, a kind of mixture of love, faith, and sheer bloody-minded determination.

(Improper Fanaticism is straight-up delusion that doesn't get anything done and doesn't really connect you to anything or anyone.)

Fandom is a great place to learn Proper Fanaticism – no matter your fandom.  Baseball, music, anime, what have you – if you're deeply interested in something and that interest drives you to make things real, to embrace what you love, to drill deep in your creativity and bring things out, that's good.  That's Proper Fanaticism.

Those moments where you threw yourself into something because you cared about it, because you loved it, and because you wanted to make things happen are cases of Proper Fanaticism.  It's that spark that drives you to stay up late to help run a con, or work your weekends for a dynamite costly, or create an epic fanfic because "what if" just will not get out of your head.  It's that spark that shows you love, passion, and doing all come together to make something real.

Proper Fanaticism is something you can transfer out of your hobbies and to your career.  Direct that love to goals that further your professional life and you'll be able to expand the scope of what your Proper Fanaticism can do.  Take your love of fanfic to drive you through school so you become an editor, take your love of running conventions and apply it to becoming a manager.  That Proper Fanaticism is a powerful fuel just waiting to fuel you in the right direction.

Proper Fanaticism is also a reminder that you can get worked up, directed, and energized.  In those moments you feel you can't go on, remember that you very well can and have gone on in the past – you just need to make sure  you find how to connect to and direct that passion.

You can be fanatic and apply it. Remember that.

Steven Savage