Are You Crazy Enough to Reach Your Dreams?

by STEVE BLOOM

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If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past few years, it is that to live the life you want, you need to be a little bit crazy. Just a little though. When it comes to craziness the old minimalistic phrase of less is more really works.

Now I’m not suggesting you become insane or push craziness to the point of being unstable. I would never suggest doing anything like that. But when it comes right down to it, some of the most amazing things you can do in life require a little bit of craziness.

My Life, My Craziness

Several years ago, when I was just a few weeks away from a big trip through Southeast Asia, I was at the peak of excitement. I told anyone who would listen about my plans and what I looked forward to doing there. Weirdly though, one of the most frequent comments I received about my plans were about how crazy I was in going there.

I didn’t make much of it at first. But my next big trip to China the following year got similar reactions. And then I started getting that comment again when I told people I wanted to climb a mountain. I heard it so often about so many of my plans that it started to become cliché to me.

But this just made me wonder if I really am that crazy. All I’m trying to do is live life to the fullest. Is that such a crazy thing to do? Perhaps I really am crazy after all.

Amazing Living Begins with Craziness

If you look back on history, you’ll realize just how essential craziness is in order to reach your dreams. Christopher Columbus was notoriously described as being crazy before his historic voyage. Every actor you watch in TV and movies at one point dropped everything in their hometown, moved to LA (or New York) and tried to become famous. That seems really crazy to me. Most artists, writers and explorers are naturally a little bit crazy too.

There are also plenty of modern-day examples. Richard Branson is always doing stunts described as crazy by the press. These stunts include trying to break the world record time for flying around the world in a balloon. Yet he is also the 254th richest person in the world so his craziness is paying off.

The Reason Craziness Works

Imagine you are 100% sane. Would you willingly do something that has a small chance of harming you? You’d probably say no. Unfortunately this means you’d be missing out on some amazing opportunities that require a little bit of risk. All successful artists, writers and actors risked starvation and poverty for their profession, yet that little bit of craziness pushed them to succeed and propelled them out of obscurity.

Without craziness, I might not have gone on those amazing trips. At least that is what was implied by all those people. Because they didn’t have that little bit of craziness to push them, they would not be willing to risk anything to gain any of those unique and rewarding experiences.

Let me put this another way. Would you invest $1 billion dollars into several companies expecting 90% of them to go bankrupt? This sounds like a recipe for disaster and any sane person would easily pass this up. But this is exactly the investment strategy of Vinod Khosla who owns a successful investment firm in Silicon Valley.

Why Being Sane is…Well, Insane

If I didn’t have that little bit of craziness pushing me, I would probably still have a decent life. But I would have missed out on all those adventures I’ve had that have made it a great life. And that would be a shame.

Having the urge to see and do all the things you want to do in life isn’t enough. You need to have that crazy spirit pushing you into risky and frightening areas. Otherwise, you might just miss out on some great life experiences.

Fortunately, I think most people have a little bit of craziness in them. The trouble for some is in accepting that side of them and letting it come out. Too many people suppress their inner desires to reach their dreams because they are concerned about what others might think or they don’t think they “should” do them. I think as long as what you want to do is legal, won’t harm anyone and is what you want to do, you should go for it.

Craziness Taken Too Far

One of the things to keep in mind about this though is about how you need to keep your craziness in check. If it gets too out of hand, you could do some harmful and self-defeating things. Here are some examples.

Remember when I said that actors have this crazy spirit inside them? Well, you can see how some take this too far by just looking at the actions of Tom Cruise and Joaquin Phoenix. These are perfect examples of people going too far. You can see this in the art world too. Vincent Van Gogh cut his own ear off.

But keeping your craziness under check shouldn’t be too difficult as long as you’re careful about it. Even the example about Van Gogh can be explained away because of his recurring mental illness and addiction to absinthe. These examples are meant to caution you, not to deter you.

Even so, I still think being 100% sane leads to a boring and predictable life. Craziness is one of those things you need to push outside your comfort zone and reach your dreams. That’s why whenever people tell me what I’m doing is crazy, I just smile and say, “I know”.
photo credit: stevec77

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Comments

  1. Steve! You forgot the best bit about Van Gogh’s ear…He gave it to a girl in a brothel! Love – eh?
    You’re spot on with the need to be a bit crazy. Though, I think you could also say that the ability to ignore peer pressure frees you from conforming too. I suppose the two go hand in hand to an extent!

    • I knew he gave it to a girl, but I must have missed that she was a girl in a brothel. His whole act is just way too crazy.

      I do think that ignoring peer pressure and being crazy go a little hand in hand. Similar, but not exactly the same. But I can see doing your own thing and not conforming being beneficial to good living too.

  2. love being crazy man (not too much though) and i couldnt and wouldnt cut my own ear LOL… love being daring and free spirited and i deeply admire people who just go and achieve what they want in life… i hope i could do the same in the near future… still have a long way to go….

    • Being free spirited and daring are qualities that I admire too. There’s just something about people who live their life in their own unique, crazy way that can be so inspiring.

  3. Yes…yes I am!

  4. This reminded me of a book i read a while back called “the madness of kings”. totally unrelated because most kings were crazy i think because they were so inbred. LOL.

    I agree with you that you need to have a little crazy to really go for your dreams. Not too much though. I actually think craziness might be a sign of intelligence. In the wrong hands, craziness and intelligence is a really bad thing. Remember Hitler?
    Thanks for an inspiring and entertaining post.

    • Craziness as a sign of intelligence…that’s very interesting. I can see how in some cases it would make sense. It depends though. Many scientists and businesspeople are intelligent, but I would hardly describe them as crazy. On the other hand Einstein is someone I describe as crazy.

  5. I know what you mean! I get called crazy a lot too and for a while I kept asking people why they thought that. When their reasoning was just that I was trying something new, I stopped letting it bother me. Cause really, I think they’re crazy in being the same. Love this topic!

    • That’s funny. For me, people didn’t call me crazy because I was trying something new. It was more for wanting to try the things to begin with. Eventually I stopped letting it bother me too. That’s all you really can do.

  6. Steve,

    I sometimes think I am too crazy to realize my dream. I just get so excited that I jump on chairs doing the Oprah show or make a rap album and retire from acting. I really do what is necessary to stay in the headlines and don’t focus on my dreams at all. :-)

    Truth be told, you are spot on. In order to reach for some of the things we really want we have to do some things that other might seem as crazy. Leaving a safe job to create a business of your own will seem crazy to others. It’s all about the life you want and what you are willing to do to create it. Great post!

    • I think your examples are great. Leaving a safe job to start a new business means leaving safety and stability for uncertainty. It’s crazy to do that. Creating the life you want and living your life on your terms sometimes means doing some risky things.

  7. Steve, I like to think of it as having a high risk tolerance rather than craziness. My ex-boyfriend alerted me to the fact that I have this high tolerance when I started making plans to move to the Middle East. I think a lot of people, most people probably, like to be safe and comfortable. I do too, but I also like excitement and uncertainty. Without it, my life just isn’t as interesting. I don’t want to think that everyone who travels is a little bit crazy. We’re just in need of a lot more than everyday at-home life.

    • Seeing it as a high risk tolerance is interesting. I suppose if you can’t tolerate much risk than you probably wouldn’t want to go much beyond being safe and comfortable. And since uncertainty comes with excitement, you’ll need to be more willing to take risks. Having a good tolerance to risk would be a great attribute in order to make your life more interesting.

  8. I think that many of us that are getting out there and achieving our goals are considering crazy. My friends all thought I was nuts when I packed a bag and headed to Europe by myself. It ended up being the most amazing adventure I’ve gone on so far.

    If crazy is synonymous with “living” then call me crazy!

    • Crazy and “living” are close enough for me. I guess that makes you crazy. I’m glad you had enough craziness to get to Europe. It sounds like it was a great adventure.

  9. Hi Steve,
    It seems to me that normal is not normal, sane is not sane and so on. In order to live a exciting life and experience all that there is we have to let go of “normal” and in a state of controlled chaos.

    Thanks for reminding me of this.

    • Hey Justin, you make a good point. Maybe being crazy is really just what it means to go outside what most people consider normal.

  10. Steve, enjoyed this read and yes I agree 100% you have to be just a little bit twisted to get the most out of life. What mountain did you climb Steve? Have you lived that dream yet?

    • Hey Jason, I haven’t lived that dream yet. I was going to do it this year, but I’ve been spending a lot of money on my upcoming wedding. I have enough money to travel through Ireland this year. Next year I’m planning on climbing either Mount Whitney or Mount Rainier. I haven’t decided yet.

  11. Awesome post! Though I don’t think there is much harm in going too far. For all the ‘out there’ crazies, there is 100 more normal crazies.

    Though give me an crazies and I’m happy.

  12. Yes, you have to be crazy enough to do things you want to, but not that crazy to do stupid things 😉

  13. This post is very inspiring, Steve. I do a lot of crazy stunts in my travels and it might be misconstrued as if I’m just clamoring for attention but I agree that you have to be ‘crazy’ to stand out and take that risk in order to achieve something more than what you have in life.

    Although at some points now, I’m trying to calm my craziness because there’s a borderline between losing respect as well. So long as nobody gets harmed in the process, then I’m all for crazy. 😀

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