A few years back I got a call from an old friend. I hadn’t heard from him in years.
“Vlad, I’m starting a business and it’s gonna change the world! Let’s get you out of your corporate hell and make a difference!”
At the time I was in the mailroom, and those words were magical.
I know sounded insane. I don’t even remember what the business was. It didn’t matter. He had so much enthusiasm and conviction, that I believed him. His reality became my reality.
Then he disappeared.
I’m reading Elon Musk’s biography, and it’s amazing. He’s amazing. Before his success, objectively, he sounded insane. Like in 2002, when he flew to Moscow with an accused spy to buy 3 ICBM’s to start flying to space.
But his enthusiasm and conviction sucked those around him into his reality. And slowly, his reality changed the world around it.
This week he promised a manned mission to the moon. In a decade, to Mars. And the wonderfully crazy thing is, we believe him!
Months later I found out that my friend had a severe bipolar episode. He lost everything he owned on his crazy idea, wound up in jail, then (I think) he was institutionalized.
Part of me wants to believe that he wasn’t crazy – where does that leave me for believing him? Maybe his beliefs were real, but the world wasn’t ready for them?
Or maybe all the visionaries are insane. They con the world into their reality more effectively. Maybe you need that insanity to see the world differently. One man’s visionary is another man’s nut job.
Maybe crazy and visionary are two distinct groups, but at their extremes they’re more similar than different. Who knows.