The Intricate Balancing Act Between Ambition And Insanity


Shoot For The Moon

I must be completely out of my mind.

The past 3 weeks I’ve been busy blowing up my previous limitations of what I thought this blog could be and remaking it into an adventure bigger than myself. I’m busy expanding things, making them bigger, making space for others to join in, but that means I’ve got a ton of things on my plate. Here’s a brief (incomplete) list of some of them at the moment:

My day job. The Blog of Impossible Things. The Impossible League. Impossible League Challenges (First ones start Saturday!). Impossible T-Shirts. NerveRush. ImpossibleHQ. The Impossible Manifesto (yes, that impossible manifesto, is literally in the editor’s hands as we speak). Half-Ironman Training (am I really still doing this?). Freelance Projects 1, 2, and 3. Doing what I can to help Mark & Jeremy make chicago parking better with SpotHero. All the while laying the groundwork for 3 more unannounced projects.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. They’re projects I love doing. After all, doing is pretty fun. It can get addicting. But you have to be careful (and not just from overdosing on Red Bull either). If you just do a lot of things, but don’t ship any, then you just have a bunch of unfinished work that does nobody any good. Just a bunch of partially finished things that nobody wants and are sitting taking up physical, mental, and emotional space.

So when I have 3 projects at 90% or greater done and more on the way, sometimes I just stare at myself in the mirror and ask myself: Are you insane?


That’s the most likely answer after all. I am standing there talking to myself. I should be out of my mind to do some of the things I do. But, I keep pushing, and whenever I want to give up, David Goggins pops into my head:


So I refuse to accept what I tell myself my limits are. Because you never really know until you actually find them out for yourself. 

I’d rather be insane, go big and fail spectacularly with a small chance of succes, than play it safe and never take a shot at seeing if the impossible could be done.

And my mirror self could be right. I could be going completely out of my mind, but as Karol told me the other day, “There’s no point in going partially out of your mind.”  Good point.

Some people call it insanity. I call it ambition. The first evidence of which one it is comes next week. Let’s Do This.


What are you doing? We’re starting 30 Day Impossible Challenges in the Impossible League in October (Saturday!). Get in on it and win some sweet swag. I’ll be posting the guidelines tonight and the challenges officially start October 1st. GET ON IT! Join The League and meet 130+ people doing the impossible.*


Image by Flipkeat



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  1. A says

    It is exciting! Congrats Joel!
    I would say this counts as my my “delusional/insane” goal; that is, to score an A+ on all my courses this term after failing university 2 years ago. I’ll let you know how it all pans out! Your blog inspires me every day, pretty much in all facets of life.

  2. says

    You have such an impressive attitude! From now on, whenever I feel like not doing something, because it sounds insane, Joel Runyon will pop into my head:

    “I’d rather be insane, go big and fail spectacularly with a small chance of succes, than play it safe and never take a shot at seeing if the impossible could be done.”

    Thanks from Germany for this awesome post!

  3. says

    I won’t go as far as to say we don’t have limits (the need for sleep being one I hit too often), but it’s amazing to me how often I’ve thought I was at my limit, only to fit 2-3 more things on my plate. The key is that they had to be the RIGHT things – the things that really motivated me and made stuffing that plate worthwhile. When I was a 20-something bachelor, I’d get stressed out at the thought of doing laundry AND grocery shopping on the same day. Now, I run a business, have a toddler, and have a more active social life than I ever did back then.

    • says

      It’s amazing how you can re-prioritize and schedule things out and get things done, isn’t it? Good point about doing the right things. Doing more isn’t always better (often, it’s worse!), but a lot of times we can handle much much more than we think we can.

  4. says

    Sarah already commented on this quote, but you said: I’d rather be insane, go big and fail spectacularly with a small chance of success, than play it safe and never take a shot at seeing if the impossible could be done.

    Yeah, my thoughts exactly. One of my favorite quotes is in the same vein: “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs

  5. says

    Yes, now you’re talking my language! Juggling the conflicting feelings of overwhelm and responsibility, side projects, athletic pursuits, and trying to sleep somewhere among the madness is my way of life. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  6. says

    I was just obsessing on the notion of striving–of ambition–throughout most idle moments today.

    This is partly because I’m preparing to teach Shakespeare to a bunch of international students (speaking of the impossible).

    Macbeth speaks of “Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself,
    And falls on th’other. . . .: In other words, he doesn’t know how or why he wants to murder the good king and become King of Scotland.

    Later his psycho “unsexed” wife says “naughts had, all’s spent / when our desire’s got without content.”

    I think taking your pulse is wise: “am I content.” We can push ourselves to 100%, perhaps, as we can redline a car. But this is nothing without contentment.

    Thanks for echoing in the ether.

    • says

      Good points. I think it’s good to stretch in bursts, but constantly operating at your limits can be taxings. I think there are definitely times for both. Like most things in life, finding balance is key.


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