People are complicated, subtle, and unpredictable.
That’s why I can sort all of humanity into three easy categories. First up,
Solid Citizens care what you think. Sometimes they are sweet and unambitious, sometimes they’re loudmouthed self-promoters who only care about moving up in the pack, but they always play by the rules.
The Solid Citizen stays on the well-traveled roads, and they know who’s on the road with them. “Who cares what other people think?” is not a thought that would occur to a Solid Citizen. The Solid Citizen can be a trend setter if they jump on a bandwagon before it takes off, but if no one else is jumping on, they’ll bail out fairly quickly. They’re the ones who tend to say things like “you only have one chance to make a great first impression”, and “what are the job prospects with that major?”
Solid Citizens are super conformers. They may be leading the pack, or they may be bringing up the rear, but they won’t be setting off into the jungle accompanied only by a
machete. They started working out when that became a thing. They stopped eating gluten when everyone stopped eating gluten. They’ll gain 300 pounds and become wrestlers when that’s the path to glory. They stay home and click coupons if that’s what’s happening in the trailer park.
Solid Citizens are by far the most numerous group, and that’s a good thing for everyone.
Sometimes Solid Citizens are schemers or spineless cads, but most of the time they are dependable folks who are the backbone of society. They can be warm and attentive to others and make great hosts…because they care what you think about them.
Mavericks march to a different drummer. They know the rules, but don’t care about them. This is not the same as knowing the rules and breaking them intentionally – those
people are still Solid Citizens…they’re just citizens of a different group than yours (think goths and S&M club members. They have rules just as iron clad as the mainstream, and if you break them, you’re out).
Mavericks are the ones who think outside the box, but that’s because they can’t find the box. They tend to be difficult to categorize, and because of this, they are often overlooked. Mavericks are not usually financially successful, but can be spectacularly so if they are in technology; less so if their talents lie in the arts.
Mavericks generally get through life fairly well.
Every now and then, one changes the world.
Last but not least…
Most of you haven’t ever met Functionally Crazy. Oh, you might think you have. “Bob is really crazy! Did you see the way he does jello shots?” No, my friends. I’m talking about a whole different realm. You may go for years and not meet the Functionally Crazy in the flesh. This is because they’re rare, and also because they tend not to hold down a job where you’re working.
Me, I’ve met it fairly often because Al (The Hub) is a magnet for Crazy. (Sidebar: what’s that say about me?) Al has a high tolerance for Functionally Crazy. Plus, he worked for years as a photographer, and crazy is baked right in.
It’s hard to describe Functionally Crazy, as it can take so many, many fascinating forms. You’ll know it when you see it.
Let’s try these real-life simulations, shall we?
You’ve been invited to a brunch, and are the first to arrive. The hostess is finishing up the preparations, and you ask “can I help with anything?” The answer is….
Solid Citizen: no, not a thing! Everything’s ready. Have some champagne!
Maverick: Can you slice the strawberries into this bowl? I was too lazy to do it last night.
Functionally Crazy: Yes you can! Please prepare my taxes.
You’ve just arrived at a cocktail party, and people are socializing. You find yourself standing near someone you’ve never met, and you ask “so, what do you do for a living?”
Solid Citizen: (describes current job and some accomplishments)
Maverick: Data analyst, but you should also read my blog. It’s amusing!
Functionally Crazy: I made a million dollars as a model but had to spend it all on wardrobe.
Ikea has just delivered the bed, but they sent two box “B”s instead of an “A” and a “B” What happens next?
Solid Citizen: Sigh. That’s what I get for buying something cheap from Ikea.
Maverick: Can I make a different bed with two “B” boxes? Or, maybe I can get two box “A”s for free and then I would have two beds and one could go in the living room. Then I won’t need a sofa.
Functionally Crazy : (this becomes a metaphor for all that is wrong in the world, causing Functionally Crazy to beat head against a counter and then pass out).
Bad news – your three friends just got fired. Who does what?
Solid Citizen: Got three interviews lined up, bought a new suit, and am looking into going back to school to get that MBA.
Maverick: Maybe I could start my own business selling clever inventions?
Functionally Crazy: I’ll stop paying rent and live with people I met at Burning Man.
Career goals. Your three friends want to reach fame and fortune on Broadway! Or in the movies. It doesn’t matter, but Plan A is to be a famous actor! What is Plan B?
Solid Citizen: Real estate broker, or possibly financial adviser.
Maverick: I’m sure something will turn up. Maybe open a pottery studio?
Functionally Crazy: Be a famous actor.
Fact. An important clue about a person you’ve just met is how much distance lies between how he sees himself and how others see him.
Solid Citizen: I’m an important member of my community, a pillar of strength at home, and I make beaded tee-shirts in my spare time.
Others: check, check, and check.
Maverick: I don’t always play by the rules, but you never know when one of my crazy ideas will hit the big time!
Others: Yes indeed on Item One, and the jury is still out on the rest of it.
Functionally Crazy: I’m a vastly talented guitar genius with a quicksilver energy and a new song that’s just minutes away from going viral.
Others: Can I get some cinnamon on that cappuccino?