Crazy or Disciplined? – by Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert
There’s a fine line between crazy and entrepreneurial. If you bark at the moon to make it go away, you are considered crazy. But if you start a business for which there is less than a 5% chance of success, you are considered an entrepreneur.
If you feel the need to turn a light switch on and off exactly seven times before leaving a room, you have OCD. If you need to run exactly five miles every day before breakfast to feel right, you are considered disciplined and athletic.
On one hand, it is clearly different to engage in activities that have no practical value versus ones that do. Or ones that might. But what if the reason you engage in practical activities has nothing to do with your ability to reason, and everything to do with being lucky that your particular brand of crazy has some utility? That blurs the line.
I often think I was one lucky break away from being the crazy uncle who couldn’t stop drawing pictures. For me, drawing was as much a compulsion as a career decision. From my earliest age, I drew on everything that would stand still. It’s an extraordinary bit of luck that my compulsion turned out to be practice.
Warren Buffett modestly says he was lucky that his brain is wired in a way that suits the times. A few hundred years ago he would have been the crazy peasant who was always talking about ways to increase crop production if only he had the capital.
A Muslim, a Christian, and a crazy guy walk into a room. The one thing you can know for sure is that at least two out of three of them organize their lives around things that aren’t real. And that’s the best case scenario. Atheists would say all three have some explaining to do. And atheists are the minority, which is the very definition of abnormal.
My wife and I often have very different recollections of events. And not just the little details. Sometimes our shared memories don’t even feature the same mammals, themes, or points. The scary part is that we don’t realize these differences until we have some reason to compare memories, which doesn’t come up that often. Every now and then there will some independent way to verify whose memory is accurate, and it is sobering to discover how many of the problems are on my end. A lot of my so-called life is apparently a patchwork of delusions.
The best you can hope for in this life is that your delusions are benign and your compulsions have utility.