You Don’t Have to Be Sane to Succeed in Life

You…you’re just special!

You’re weird.

I don’t think of you like I do other people.

You deserve your own bell curve.

You’re not normal!

Are you normal?

You’re crazy!

Crazy goat

Do any of the above apply to you? (Except the goat) Do you hear them regularly? If so, you have cause to rejoice. Gal africana, consider this article, a promise fulfilled.

The Madman of the Village is Dead

Gone are the days when being crazy was a debilitating handicap which held you back from any joy or meaningful achievement in society. The days when the ‘madman of the village’ was held as an example of what we shouldn’t do are long gone. The reason why begins with the definition of craziness in this day and age.

What Does It Mean to Be Crazy?

Go to (where else would you go really, the search results are usually so comprehensive) and they define craziness as…as…..insanity?! OK, that doesn’t help. So what does insanity mean? Insanity is:

Serious mental illness or disorder impairing a person’s capacity to function normally and safely

That’s the technical definition! Now we all know that 9 times out of 10 when people label others as crazy, this isn’t what they mean. They usually mean:

They are not normal, with normal being defined as what majority of people (or just majority of your peers) think, say or do.

That Brings Us to the List of 7 Reasons Why Craziness May Just Be Synonymous With Success

1) ‘Normal People’ Do the Wrong Thing…..A Lot

Social proof has always had power and in truth will probably always have some control over our decision-making as human beings. However, the underlying idea that it’s based on ( “If other people are doing it, it must be right.”) is so far from accurate. Among the things that majority of people have done or continue to do:

  • Jim Crow laws
  • The Colonial empires of the world
  • Thinking of women as inferior
  • Women wear heels
  • Drug abuse
  • Consumption of junk food (Mcdonalds is the most successful restaurant on Earth, isn’t it?)

Not exactly the smartest herd to follow.

Kinda like a straitjacket....right?!

2) The Great Names of the Last Century are All Crazy People
Once upon a time there was a man called Rolihlahla born somewhere in Africa. In the later parts of the last century, Rolihlahla, as well as some of his peers, including Tambo and Steve, began to propose what was a preposterous idea at the time.

He proposed that all black people were….gasp, shock, horror, equal to people of other races. Even worse, he and his peers were demanding that since blacks were equal they should actually have equal rights.

Now many decades later, we all know that because the Brits were too lazy or too incompetent to learn his name, they called him Nelson and his surname is Mandela. We also now consider Nelson Mandela to be one of the great statesmen of our time.

What is interesting though, is that all the way until the early 90s, people like Mandel, Biko and the ANC were considered (you guessed it) stark raving mad by the West.

So much so that Nelson and the ANC were classified as notorious terrorists(actually they still are apparently) as were the Mau Mau and many of the people we consider great freedom fighters today. As a further example, the head of the FBI hated Martin Luther King and called him all sorts of foul names.

In short, if you have a crazy ideology centred on improving people’s lives in the political arena, you may just end up being one of the great minds of the early 21st century.

Crazy sign

3) Movements started as marginal movements:
Lest we forget, all movements start as a bunch of weird or misguided people in the fringe of society. The civil rights movement didn’t begin at the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Rosa Parks had been part of the struggle long before she refused to sit down. Martin Luther King was also in the game before the boycott. But once those two elements combined in the middle of the last century, they acted as the catalyst for what had been brewing under the surface for a long time but had not been the popular thing to do.

Fashion trends always begin with the crazy people on the margins of the community experimenting with a new way to dress. Once their trends become popular these fashionistas tend to ride of into the sunset looking for the latest weird trend.

Hip Hop began as a niche trend in Jamaica Queens in the late 1970s modelled on the Jamaican toasters and MCs. This niche trend, complete with its own culture, which began as a way of expression for marginalized black youth has now spread, not always in good ways, all over the world.

All movements must begin with one person who is willing to try out something crazy. One person becomes two, two become three, three become ten and before you know it, what was once a crazy, niche idea is now a mass movement that’s taking over.

4) To solve the problems of today you must think and act in a different way
Alby Einstein once said something to the effect of,

“Problems of today, cannot be solved with the thinking of yesterday.”

If you find yourself constantly butting against the same wall over and over and over and over again, perhaps take that as an indication that you have gotten to the edge of your current experience and it’s time for you to move on to something new and out of the norm for you.

The Straitjackets

5) It’s the essence of innovation in industry
Without craziness there would be no industry.

Can you imagine if Larry Page and Sergey Brin decided that the way information in this world was organized was just fine and could not be improved upon. A lot of y’all would have no idea this little blog exists (and I wouldn’t even know your blogs exist ;) ) if these men didn’t decide to create Google to improve on the way the world organizes and consumes information.
Can you imagine how much of the world’s technology would not exist, if men and women had simply accepted what was the status quo and not tried to improve on something or solve a particular problem. No light bulbs! No electricity! No cheap cars! (Hmmm, considering the impact some of this stuff has on the enviroment, maybe not such a bad thing)

6) It’s only crazy until it’s popular, and then it’s just normal
So, who knows, maybe you’ll be the one who’ll improve on the design and do something new. Yes, you may be derided, chastised and mocked. But can you imagine if you succeed?…Well then one day your idea will be just a normal idea that was once thought of by this absolute genius but was derided, mocked and chastised by a majority of people who were obviously crazy and misguided :D

7) Being Crazy is Exciting
When you make the conscious decision to no longer live within the boundaries and rules of ‘ordinary conduct’, there go the safety nets of life. Without these boundaries, you now have to beat your own path, a lot of the time with no idea where the road will lead. Sure it’s scary, but it’s also exciting. When we are scared out of our minds, but still act, isn’t that what courage is all about? Isn’t that when we are most alive?

Before I leave,allow me to direct your attention to a nice, short article written by the First Lady of the blogosphere, R. It’s somewhat related and definitely worth thinking about.

With that ladies and gentlemen I hope I have made the case for living an uncoventional lifestyle that others may not approve of. I meandered, I twisted and I weaved, but I hope you and I arrived at the same place. I hope a few of you will release yourself from the shackles that others may chose to place upon you or that you may place upon yourselves and just go nuts (in a good way ;) ).

If you are begining to see the sense in being crazy, make sure you subscribe to the site via RSS or email so that you can learn of more abnormal ways to change the world.

Be blessed and bless others,

Crazy lady


  • By gal africana, May 19, 2008 @ 5:48 am

    Great post. I started off a bit amused and a little startled at seeing my name right after the “you’re crazy” and the funny goat pic lol

    I especially agree with “It’s only crazy until it’s popular, and then it’s just normal” .

    Cheers to having the courage to be uniquely and nicely insane!

    Have a lovely start of week :-)

  • By Mwangi, May 19, 2008 @ 5:53 am

    @gal: Glad you enjoyed it. Sorry about the juxtaposition…I simply had to have that goat pic to start things off….it looks way too weird for me not to put it in. Who knows, maybe one day blogs such as this and other +ve blogs will be the norm and places where people use the cloud of anonymity to emit useless bile all over the net will be the minority? Hmmmm….
    Have a magnificent week too.

  • By acolyte, May 19, 2008 @ 3:27 pm

    I aim to be rich and eccentric……

  • By Mwangi, May 19, 2008 @ 3:48 pm

    @acolyte: I don’t know if you have read the 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. The book has very questionable morals, but apparently one of the things that is recommended to acquire power is to constantly do eccentric things such as order food for no good reason in the middle of the night and make sure it’s a very specific food so that people think you’re crazy.
    A fresh chicken slaughtered for a mid night snack everyday at 3 a.m. is a way to get power…..go fig

  • By Kelly, May 19, 2008 @ 8:06 pm

    About the thing of crazy ideas becoming trends, Malcom Gladwell wrote a book on this called The Tipping Point. Great read.

  • By Mwangi, May 19, 2008 @ 8:11 pm

    @Kelly: You will never believe this, but I just heard about the book the Tipping Point some time yesterday or the day before, in spite of it’s huge success ( apparently still on the best seller list). Me thinks this is far from coincidence so am taking this as a sign I need to get up on that book with the quickness. Thanks for the recommendation….actually let me get the Amazon link in case anyone is interested in getting the book….hold on………..The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

  • By Mo Ma, May 19, 2008 @ 9:57 pm

    Why would ANYONE want to be normal? In my 22 years (and one month), I have, in five languages, been called every variation of eccentric and unhinged. And I wouldn’t be normal if I was the last man on Earth No, wait; that phrase doesn’t work that way too.

    Here’s an excerpt from a major rant / blog post I did about 2 yrs ago (on old blog):

    “…one of life’s minor irritations is prematurely old people…

    People who just can’t seem to enjoy life, people who look askance at you and think you’re ‘childish’ just because you want to enjoy life and make the most of your youth …who are just content being safe and boring and view anything different as weird/stupid…who’ve forgotten what it feels like to run and dance in the rain…who have a sourpuss expression on their faces any time of the day…who think you’re eccentric just because you’re the opposite of everything they are. Label us fun-loving people eccentric; label us weird if you will….it’s a tag we will wear with pride if it means that we know how to lead a happy, nay, ecstatic fun-filled life as opposed to your sedentary, passive, boring, serious prematurely old lives.”

  • By Mwangi, May 19, 2008 @ 10:16 pm

    @Mo Ma: You are my new best friend…I couldn’t have put it better myself, post the link to the article or repost it, the truth must be shared.
    There you touched on something that really bothers me…..people who are supposedly young in age but in their head are so old, some times even complete with beer gut. By old, I don’t mean wise, but rather emotionally dead and wilting as day’s go by.
    Anyway, your comment for some reason, resonated super deeply with me today, so cheers for making my day.

  • By Kelly, May 19, 2008 @ 10:39 pm

    Thats great! I hope the book is as interesting to you as ‘advertised’.

  • By Mo Ma, May 20, 2008 @ 2:36 am

    Birds of a feather, BFF!

    I deleted the old blog; just had a few posts saved in word format but that was the gist of that particular one.

    Normalcy is so 1950’s.

  • By Mwangi, May 20, 2008 @ 2:38 am

    @Mo Ma: In the words of the great sage of old, Alicia Silverstone, “Like totally!”

  • By seinlife, May 20, 2008 @ 2:54 am

    Crazy is what crazy does, no?

  • By Robert A. Henru, May 20, 2008 @ 9:41 am

    It’s just like what Ken Robinson shared in TedTalk.
    “If you are not prepare for mistake, you will not able to come out with something authentic”
    It’ good to be unique! and dare to be unique!

  • By Mwangi, May 20, 2008 @ 12:51 pm

    @seinlife: That one went over my head…….(and with hand on chin, our hero retreats to deeply reflect on what that could mean…..hmmmm)

  • By Mwangi, May 20, 2008 @ 12:54 pm

    @Robert: Interestingly enough, I listened to that TED Talk some months ago….btw to everyone reading these comments check out his talk, it’s short and it’s brilliant….

    The part I really feel gels well with this article is when he spoke to that lady who was in the dance industry and she talked about her reaction when she first stepped in dance class. To paraphrase:

    “After being made to feel weird or wrong for being fidgety all the time while in “normal” normal school, I looked around the dance school and realized I was home because everyone was fidgety like me.”

    Perhaps the key isn’t to condemn those who are different but discover where they can fit within the tapestry of society. Thanks for reminding me of that talk and cheers for the Stumble
    (To people reading this ,feel free to Stumble this article by clicking on the Stumbleit link at the bottom of the article)

  • By JoLynn from The Fit Shack, May 21, 2008 @ 3:11 am

    It’s only crazy until it’s popular, and then it’s just normal ….. that is soooo true, thanks for a great article! (this coming from someone who doesn’t fit the “normal” mold either ;) )

  • By Mwangi, May 21, 2008 @ 3:17 am

    @JoLynn: Well then you’ll fit right in over here….I hope you enjoy your stay :D

  • By R, May 23, 2008 @ 1:46 am

    First lady of the blogosphere, Mwangi? :-) . I blush.

    I love a little edge. It flavours the world.

    And, so true, innit, and then it’s normal.

  • By Mwangi, May 23, 2008 @ 1:55 am

    @R: A man never forgets his first time……I came searching for an African blog and found out What an African woman thinks.

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