When I was first meeting with one of my key employees at XPrize, she explained to me that many of the key donors weren’t specifically writing checks to support one specific prize or even a particular topic area. Rather, they continued to donate because they wanted to “Support the Crazy.”
I was struck by this statement, as it explained my motivations in life perfectly.
Whether it be the money I spend or the way in which I offer my time and talents, I certainly appreciate structure, but I thrive and am happiest when I am supporting the crazy. Making the impossible possible. Running as fast as I can to catch a hair-brained idea. Or a hair-brained person. I surround myself with others who act in the same way, and as I get older, I prefer to avoid situations where this is stifled.
I’ve been in a number of conversations over the past few weeks where process has taken precedent over purpose. Where, in the pursuit of creating order, creativity has been silenced. And I’ve decided that I want to pursue a different discussion. While I love building infrastructure to support the crazy, I want to surround myself with people who are off the wall. Who think differently. Who disagree with me. Because in those environments, we make great things happen.
I remember my first job out of college, when I was working for my local Chamber of Commerce. We had volunteers who ran businesses in every possible industry, with wildly different views on how the world should work. One day, a volunteer of ours came to our board, challenging our stance on tort reform, and made an impassioned two-hour case for the “other side” of the issue. When I walked out of the room, exhausted and frustrated, my mentor, Steve Stevens, said, “Don’t you realize how lucky we are to have Chris on our team? His opinion helps us to build a stronger, more well-reasoned position. We need some crazy people to keep us honest.”
And even as I bring this concept back to my relationship, one of the key reasons that Andrew and I work as well as we do is that he loves and supports my crazy. I’m certainly not the typical wife, and I have a very peculiar way of living life. But Andrew waters and nurtures that piece of me, and appreciates the color it brings to his life.
I’ve learned so many lessons from our six months away, but this is the first that has become abundantly clear. I exist to support the crazy. And if you are a close friend, it is likely that you do too.