Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (a little) Craziness and (a lot of) Success in America by John D. Gartner

Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (a little) Craziness and (a lot of) Success in America by John D. Gartner

The core message by the writer in this book is just finding the critical edge that made America’s successful figures and embracing our hypo-tendencies. You are not crazy, you are just wired differently and few people can see that.

Hypo in sociology means less than normal sub-bar what society sets as standards to social norms. The opposite would be “hyper” which is high energy behavior. In sociology, hyper-behavior is mainly conformity to what is considered a norm or upright. You can see it play out in political, ethnic, religious, among other leanings.

Maniac is a person characterized by an inordinate or ungovernable enthusiasm for something. In sociology, society may categorize such a person as madman or a lunatic.

When you combine the two above, you get a hypomanic individual; one that may be super driven towards something but moves like they are nothing in society because the society sees them differently or abnormally or downplays this ability. Hypomania is therefore, just a mild form of mania that Gardner argues drove many of America’s most famous leaders and entrepreneurs to succeed in their endeavors.

After couple of thousand interviews on successful figures in America and high end CEOs who were running multi-billion dollar companies, he came up with roundup characteristics of the hypomaniac from the hypothesis. Know someone with these qualities?

  1. He is filled with energy.
  2. He is flirty and fighting with ideas.
  3. He is driven, restless and unable to keep still.
  4. He channels his energy to achieving a wildly great ambition.
  5. He often works on a little sleep.
  6. He feels brilliant, special, chosen; perhaps even destined to change the world.
  7. He is euphoric or can be euphoric.
  8. He is easily irritated by minor obstacles.
  9. He is a risk taker.
  10. He overspends both in his business and personal life.
  11. He acts out sexually.
  12. He sometimes acts impulsively with poor judgment in ways that can have painful consequences.
  13. He is fast talking.
  14. He is witty and gregarious.
  15. His confidence can make him charismatic and persuasive.
  16. He is also prone to making enemies and feels he is persecuted by those who do not accept his vision and mission.

The statements above are true to the hypomaniac. You may not tick all of them but if more than two thirds resonate with you, guess what? You may be hypomanic. And that’s an edge in life NOT necessarily a curse or problem.

The main reason I picked this book is coz there is a big misconception about entrepreneurs and some of those weirdos who don’t know how they are wired tend to think they are crazy or perhaps have problems. Because nearly everyone in society terms them as being; obsessed, stupid, crazy, silly, over thinkers, deluded….

People pursuing paths like entrepreneurship, investments, politics and such like matters early in life can be subject to mockery and treatment with contempt. For instance, your friends may ask questions like, “where are your millions? Better look for a job and stop wasting time on nonsense 😂”

A hypomaniac may move in a reserved way in the face of many but don’t underrate him; deep down is a fire willpower. He always gets down to things he desires. They may succeed or fail; their edge is they at least tried.

The rest of the chapters in the books gives brief psychobiographies based on the interviews by successful figures in USA and high-end CEOs of multi-billion dollar companies. Be it; Alexander Hamilton, Andrew Jackson, David O. Selznick, George Washington, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Christopher Columbus, John Winthrop, Craig Venter, the genome entrepreneur,…, name them.

In the book, Gartner also asserts that hypomania is a peculiarly American trait when applying terms like “depression” and “hypomania” to Winthrop’s spiritual ups and downs, for instance. This trait is somehow captured in the gene of immigrants who fuel the American society with their work ethic with statistics showing, over 60% of America’s Fortune 500 companies have been started by immigrants.

Female readers, especially the modern day “feminists” may take issue with this book as Gartner does not seem to have any qualms about framing his case for an “American temperament” solely in male terms – no citation of female characters. Nonetheless, for the modern day woman not sucked into baseless patriarchal arguments, she just needs to follow Steve Harvey’s lead in “Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success” and in turn should, “Act like a lady, think like a man” when reading through this book.

Figured it’d be good to point that bit for female readers who I find synonymous with criticizing this book based on most reviews I’ve gone through. This is an awesome read!

This book is neither motivational or some psychological fix – it’s just a real connection to those who may resonate with the message. For others, it may pass just as another read on history. For that, some critics may view the style of this book as anachronistic and reductionist. To me, it’s really just about seeing how great achievers were wired to help you discover who you really are, kinda. Coz I’ve seen many people wobble in their quest for identity hence why I picked this one today. I think after reading this, you may want to make a bold choice where you belong.

A friend recommended this book to me last year – a moving book. Highly recommend to budding entrepreneurs, risk takers and anyone with a greater mission in life.

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