Guest Post: Why Successful People Are Crazy — and You Should Be Too — by Eric Lunsford

Uluwatu Temple - Bali

Uluwatu Monkeys - Bali

Greetings from the road! The pictures above were taken at the Uluwatu Temple in Bali, a magical place filled with monkeys who will give you (and your stuff) the side-eye, waiting to pounce to steal what they can in exchange for peanuts that you buy in order to get it all back. Thankfully my phone stayed with me, and I could upload these pictures for you! Next travel stop: The Yoga Barn in Ubud, then Chiang Mai on Sunday. Quick shout-out to the amazing Adam for sending me off with a killer music playlist and list of places to see.  

Eric Lunsford HeadshotToday’s post is from one of my rock-star coaching clients Eric Lunsford. Eric writes at his blog Coffee & Warm Showers where he has one goal: “to help others wake their true self up and transform into the person they’ve always wanted to be.”

My travels in Bali have been amazing so far and it’s only just the start – hanging out with people like Dan (founder of The Tropical MBA), Tommy (professional travel photographer) and Elisa (blogging BFF and TMBA goddess) are proof of exactly what Eric talks about below: that the best way to live life is bat-shit crazy, baby 🙂

Why Successful People Are Crazy and You Should Be Too (Plus: The 5 Best Times To Go Crazy) — by Eric Lunsford

“When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.”
–Mark Twain

It’s okay to be crazy. In fact, if you want to live the life you dream of, it’s required.

Take a minute to tap into your memory bank and think of a time when you were considered crazy for making a choice or taking action.

You may have been a child, you may have been a “naïve” teenager, hell, it may have been yesterday.

How did it feel? What was the result of you doing something that was viewed as “crazy” to others?

I’ve had my crazy moments.

Times where I’ve decided I’m going to make a big change to better my life. I was going to quit my cushy job and move without a real back-up plan. I was going to get rid of the majority of my “stuff.” I was going to jump out of an airplane at 12,000 feet.

I was a pre-determined failure in the eyes of my boss and even some family when I quit my job. I was looked at as a kook by my fiancé when I recommended we get rid of 98% of our stuff. I was told I was testing fate by my mom when I told her I would be skydiving (who, coincidentally BOUGHT those tickets to jump out of a plane. She gets my crazy. Thanks mom!)

But my life is better after making those decisions.

I’m one step closer to my dream life now.

I realized I didn’t need a secure job to make me happy or a bunch of crap around my house to fit in and experiences, by far, are the best things to spend your money on.

Crazy is different. Crazy makes a difference.

And that’s exactly why the people who truly succeed in life choose to be crazy. Those that don’t take chances are stuck. Stuck in a life they don’t enjoy – waiting for the day their dreams magically come true.

Not. Going. To. Happen.

Not without crazy choices at least.

Take a minute to think:

  • If Ben Franklin didn’t have the “crazy” idea for Night Riders to deliver mail between colonies at night, the mail system we have now may not exist. In fact, the entire fate of the American Revolution may have been different.
  • If Richard Branson didn’t make the “crazy” choice to sign the (at the time) unwanted band the Sex Pistols, he may have never grown to the position he is at now with over 400 Virgin companies affecting the entire globe in more industries than you can count.
  • If Yvon Chouinard didn’t go on the “crazy” 6 month trip to Patagonia his friend recommended, we likely would not have the brand Patagonia or any of the environmental initiatives we have today created by him and his employees.

But don’t get overwhelmed or frustrated by these more famous successes.

Anyone can be crazy.

Anyone can make decisions that are so crazy it affects their lives in the most positive way.

  • Jenny quit her job at Google to move toward a life full of spontaneity, travel, independence and freedom. And she’s helping others do the same along the way (me included — thanks again Jenny!).
  • Adam Baker and his wife got rid of over $18,000 of debt, sold everything but two backpacks and moved to Australia with no set plans. Oh yeah, with their 1 year old daughter! Now he’s making a living doing exactly what he loves.
  • Steve Kamb has combined fitness and…wait for it…nerds! Steve is a self-proclaimed nerd who is obsessed with fitness. He’s making “crazy” decisions almost daily including traveling the world, trying unheard of workouts, and inspiring people to do the same in some of the most unique ways.
  • Therese Schwenkler just recently made the “crazy” decision to quit her job and travel around the U.S. indefinitely. What I like most about her is her posts bring her “crazy” personality to life and inspire her readers to “go for it” just as she’s done.

So you see, in order to be successful, you must be crazy.

Here are the 5 best times to be crazy:

  1. Immediately after waking up – It’s early in the morning when your mind is the clearest. You have the most optimism at this time as well. Clarity + optimism = a perfect time to make a crazy decision. As an added bonus, it’s much easier to continue something when you start first thing in the morning before you let the everyday hustle and bustle bog you down.
  2. After being inspired – I’m sure you’ve had that moment. You watch an awesome documentary or read an inspiring book. You feel a fire inside you. You want to get out there and do something big! Capitalize on the inspiration and let the craziness begin right away!
  3. After “damaging” news – I use “damaging” because often things that happen to us unexpectedly are initially viewed as negative. However, there’s always a silver lining. Maybe you were just laid off from your job of 15 years. Well, now seems like the perfect time for you to take that severance, new found free-time and create something big!
  4. The status quo just isn’t good enough – This is one of the things I love to do most. Question why we do what we do. If you don’t like something or don’t understand why you do it, make a radical change. Ask questions, push the boundaries, and raise the bar.
  5. When you’ve got support – There’s nothing better than a crazy idea that at least one other person agrees with. For example, just the other night I told my buddy that I was planning on building a tiny home and traveling around the country for at least a year, snowboarding and surfing every chance I got. I asked if he wanted to come along and he lost it. As we talked about it, I was running around the house in excitement while he was texting, “I feel alive!!!” A crazy idea gets even crazier when someone else believes in it too.

We all have dreams. It’s just the crazy ones who see them come alive.

We’d love to hear in the comments: 
What can you do to honor your crazy?


Video: Here’s to the Crazy Ones

Note from Jenny: On the subject of embracing your crazy, here is one of my all-time favorite videos from Apple.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify and vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as crazy, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Update: This Just in! 8 Free Kindle Books from Scott Ginsberg

Right after I hit publish on this post, I got a (totally unrelated) rebel-rousing email from my friend Scott Ginsberg, who is known as “The Nametag Guy” — he has been wearing one for 4,205 days and even has one tattooed on his chest! I’m sharing it with all of you since Scott is a brilliant, well-known author — and this is an awesome ballsy move on his part. From Scott:

Help me prove that thinkers don’t need permission to do so. Help me show which of the mainstream hoops aren’t worth jumping through. Help me lead the charge to risk our faces and step across the lines of artistic safety. Help me reject the invisible jury who no longer needs to stamp our creative passport. Help me make a global statement about the state of the mainstream publishing industry. Help me end the shipping of easy, predictable safe work that appeases our corporate masters.

Tomorrow, I am releasing eight new books on Kindle. All digital. All daily devotionals. And the best part is, all books are $0.00 for the first five days, then $0.99 after that. Grab them here.

  • In his book, The Hypomanic Edge (Simon & Schuster, 2005), John Gartner establishes a link between craziness and success in America. Gartner, a psychologist at Johns HopkinsUniversity, claims many of today’s successful entrepreneurs and business people exhibit hypomania, an energetic and ebullient state, which is a milder form of the mania associated with bipolar illness. Moreover, he contends that leading figures in American history, including Andrew Carnegie and Henry Ford, had the condition as well.
    All things considered, a bit of craziness is good for business. While many successful entrepreneurs are not entirely crazy, they are not entirely normal, which leads others to believe they are crazy. Talk to America’s successful entrepreneurs and you will findthat most of them had at least one friend or acquaintance, even a spouse, who thought that they were crazy to attempt what they did. Yet it was their willingness to be a little bit crazy that allowed these entrepreneurs to achieve creative success.

    Everyone thought I was crazy when I wrote and self-published my first book. They thought the same thing when I wrote and self-published my second book “The Joy of Not Working.” This book has now made me around $675,000 in pretax income and continues to sell around 5,000 copies a year twenty years after it was published.

    As Mark Twain said, “The radical invents the point of view. When he has worn it out, the conservative adopts it.”

    Ernie J. Zelinski

    Best-Selling Author, Innovator, and Prosperity Life Coach

    Author of the Bestseller “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free”

    (Over 150,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)

    and the International Bestseller “The Joy of Not Working’

    (Over 250,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages)

    • Eric

      Ernie – The info. about hypomania is super intriguing!  I can definitely say I’ve known more than one successful person who seemed a bit “bipolar” at times.  I think it’s that natural drive to always be creating, thinking outside of the box, and innovating.  One second you’re proud of your work the next second you’re plotting ways to improve it.  

      Congrats on the book as well.  That’s amazing.  Perfect story to go with this post.  Thanks for your comment.

    • Stacie H

      Hmmmm, I have not gotten past the first picture in this post yet….  Women having their period cannot go into the temple.  Think we need to be working on the crazy people perpetuating sexism around the world.  That’s my first priority.  

  • Here’s to the crazy ones…love it!

    I would agree, successful people definitely are crazy. I see them every day! It’s funny though…really successful people have a calculated craziness about them. Sure they do stuff that seems NUTS to everyone else, but they see the payoff in dividends. I know fewer successful people who “just do stuff” that might be crazy that see it actually pan out.

    Of course there are always exceptions! 

    • Eric

      Here’s to the crazy one! 🙂

      I agree Elisa, it seems that the first move or two an entrepreneur makes may be a bit lofty and crazy but after time they get used to that feeling.  They get a sense of what to expect so their “risks” become much more calculated.  Although they do still seem crazy for anyone not willing to risk much. 

      Richard Branson is a perfect example.  If you watch any of his interviews about companies he starts now, he just goes for it.  His motto: “Screw it, let’s do it.”  I’m sure that hasn’t always been his motto, but you gotta start somewhere!

    • Eve Ellenbogen

      Depends on the definition of successful.  There are plenty of people who will never make a lot of money from their craziness and never be known by the world, but who are as happy and successful as anyone would ever want to be.  The ones who are calculated may be more well-known, but that’s different from being more successful. 

  • Yes!!!! We have to be more crazy!!! This video made my day. I just reposted it on facebook, twitter, google plus. 

  • Justrealhappy

    This is great. Thanks so much for this. I think, for me, it’s hard to be crazy because I can be such a fearful person. But I’m learning to break that. Even more than successful, I want to be happy…and I think in order to do that I need to live outside the box. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Eric

      I heard something awhile back that I always think about when I’m afraid of something “crazy.”  That is, we have to be willing to do something we’ve never done before in order to achieve what we’ve never had before. 
      It seems so simple and obvious, but for most of us that is much easier said than done.  Keep taking smaller chances and eventually the happiness and success will come.

  • Love this– great post, Eric! (& I think I’ve already honored my crazy plenty 😉

    • Eric

      Thanks Therese! 🙂  Hey, the more crazy the more successful, right??  Hope the trip is going amazing!

      • Yes, if the craziness is grounded in a deep understanding rather than delusion 😉

  • I would point out that you’re talking about taking actions that go along with your values and also happen to go against the mainstream.   So I don’t think you’re talking about just doing any random crazy thing, like streaking through the quad a la Old School.  You’re talking about doing things that are meaningful  to you.

    • Eric

      No…I’m talking about streaking through the Quad.. 🙂 

      You’re right on, Alison.  Doing things that may seem crazy to others but in your heart you know is right because it’s inline with what you value, your dreams.

  • superrubikscube

    so great post. many thanks for you

  • Can you please provide a reference for this claim?

    “It’s early in the morning when your mind is the clearest. You have the most optimism at this time as well.”


    • Eric

      Jason – This is more of an observation and commonality many people share rather than a scientific fact.  I think the important message is that many of us have a certain time of the day when our mind is the clearest, usually that being in the morning.  

      Whatever that time is for you, the tip is still true.  Making sure you do your most important work at that time will ensure you give it appropriate attention.  

  • Financial Samurai

    I’ve got a couple important question:  How do we know when we are successful?  Do we need to be successful to write about being successful?


    • Eric

      Those are great questions.

      Really, I view success as completely different for me than it is to you or to the other person walking down the street.  The thing that I believe is true for many of us though is that success is not a destination.  It is more of a journey.  

      For example, for me personally, I feel successful when I am consistently trying new things, challenging myself to grow as an individual, and helping others.  

      As for the second question regarding needing to be successful to write about it, absolutely not.  I think you can view that someone is successful and recognize that it is in fact success.  

      A person who has not succeeded anything can look at Michael Jordan and see that he was successful.  They may even be able to pinpoint some of the reasons he was so successful (i.e. practiced a ton, had great natural talent, had enough heart to carry an entire team, etc.)

      Hopefully that shines some light on your questions.  Thanks for asking!

  • I love to meet more crazy people! 🙂 awesome post!

    • Eric

      Thank you!  It’s the people that step outside the box that change the world.  They’re all a bit crazy until they succeed and prove everyone wrong. 🙂  Then it’s on to the next challenge.

  • Amen to that. Success means different things to different people, but in general it’s all about achieving your goal.
    I agree that you have to crank up the craziness in order to achieve that. But most people confuse being crazy with being a bit quirky. It’s soo hard to push yourself into that craziness, but it’s sooo vital for a remarkable lifestyle.

    • Eric

      Mars – Thanks for commenting.  I think what you’re doing is a great example!  I think if you just walked by someone on the street and told them what your goal with your site was and how you did it, it’d come off a bit crazy (no offense 🙂 )  But when you actually see it, it really works well.

      Crazy is different and people are not naturally drawn to different.  But that difference is what makes a successful person, I feel.  

  • Great post! I have to say I LOVE Benjamin Franklin. His inventiveness is inspirational.

    • Eric

      Thank you Melissa!  Ben Franklin was AMAZING.  Truly a master of many trades and one of the most imaginative people in our history for sure.  He set a benchmark we can all strive for. 😉

  • I loved this post, and completely agree. Crazy is what makes the world go round & makes things change. People like MLK and Gandhi were certainly considered ‘crazy’ but they did big things because they believed in them. Today, many social entrepreneurs I admire were considered crazy for  trying to change the world in innovative ways. I hope to be just as crazy someday!

    • Eric

      Akhila, great points.  It’s the “crazy” people who are usually standing up for something that is not the norm at that time.  Actions and words may seem crazy to the outside world, but because you believe in it so much it’s not crazy, it just has to be done. 

  • Daniel Troutman

    Very good blog post! I really enjoyed it. Thanks for what you do.

  • Eric,
    This is Awesome! Lately, I have been thinking a lot about this exact idea. I believe that if anyone wants to make the most of their lives they have to embrace their crazy! Crazy allows us to do some weird things that few may buy into, but are meaningful to ourselves.

    I can use my own situation as an example. I was working at a job that was insanely painful a few years ago. I finally had it. I made a plan to quit and follow my childhood dream: to become a ninja 🙂

    I quit my job, have no moved to Japan and am transitioning to go full time into martial arts training. I am trying to figure oute creative ways to make money doing this. I don’t know how it is going to work out but I welcome whatever arises from it.

    Great post man.

    • Eric


      This is the best story of “crazy” I’ve heard!  Good luck with your change.  I think it’s awesome that you follow your childhood dream.  Who knows if you’ll become a “ninja” but with a massive life-change like that you’ll learn so many things you didn’t even think to ask about earlier on.

      Looking forward to following your journey.

  • Zoe

    Eric, I did something similar, when I gave up employment to start my own business and have never looked back. Although it is extremely tough, it is great not having somebody above me dictating what I should be doing, I am the holder of my own destiny now and that is the way it will always be from now on! No regrets!

  • Pingback: 43 things I loved on the internet in May « by.dana.sitar()

Previous post:

Next post: