Crazy is Crazy

A few weeks ago my neighbor decided to cut down about 20 established trees in his front and back yard. Established trees. Red Oaks, Live Oaks, Pines, a gorgeous Magnolia, etc. I'm assuming some of these trees were here 50-75 years ago. His entire plot of land was covered in one huge canopy of shade. A rare sight in the concrete jungle we call Arlington, Texas. My wife, a landscape architect, noticed the spray painted red x's on the trees. Oblivious to these things, I noticed the red x’s once the industrial sized wood chipper began to purr. This dumb bastard decided to cut down all but two trees on his land. Ironically the two trees he left are in decline.

I tried for days to understand the rationalization for such moronic behavior. Did he not want to deal with the leaves? Did he want to have a grass yard again? I played out every possible reason for leveling huge, gorgeous trees. I tried to justify his decision. I talked with my wife about it. I talked with my neighbors about it.

Truth is, he's effing crazy. Or stupid. Whatever. Case in point, he kept two trees that are dying and leveled perfectly healthy trees. That's crazy. I don't give a s#*t what his reasoning was. Crazy. It's his land and he can do whatever he wants… within reason of course… but, the moment he decided to hire a crew to massacre those trees is the very moment he became crazy in my book. Crazy is crazy… no matter how we try to call it something else or new age it up… mofo is cray cray.

You know… we all have crazy in us and we all have crazy around us. I've personally completed three lifetimes of crazy s#*t. I get it. Don't worry… I'm not going to put grapefruit in a pillowcase and visit the a-hole next door. The trees are gone… I can't, he can't, and you can't bring them back. But, his stupidity can give us all a reason to pause and think critically about crazy. Yuup, a silver lining of sorts.

Let's talk about crazy and how to identify in our lives. Personally, I believe life is a game of avoiding crazy at all costs. But avoiding crazy is easier said than done. Once you identity crazy… what's your next move? Here's my do's and don'ts with regards to crazy.  Note to self: Crazy is a shape shifter so you might have to use multiple moves.

The Shun 

One of my all-time f

avorite moves. The Shun. Act as if crazy never happened. Look the other way. Never engage crazy. If crazy wants attention, look the other way. If crazy emails you, delete. If crazy calls you, never answer or hang up. For every action that crazy makes, don't respond in any way. Shun crazy.

Out Crazy Crazy

Admittedly, this is difficult move. Occasionally, crazy can have a conscious and/or even know what they are doing. In those instances you might want to consider being more irrational than crazy. If crazy acts weird, you act weirder. If crazy cusses, you out cuss them. If crazy is inappropriate, you Andrew Dice K them. If crazy is drinking, you get hammered. At the end of the day, you want crazy to think you are crazy. You know that you've won when crazy won't return your calls or emails, etc.

The Pity Party

Everyone has a sob story. Guilt is albatross we all carry around with us. The goal with this move is to get crazy to feel sorry for you. So, you might have to invent some real serious somber s#*t. Use your imagination… combine the last seven pitiful stories that you've heard and make them your story. I know, I know… doesn't seem right… I get it. Remember the mission. We're trying to rid ourselves of crazy. Even crazy doesn’t want to be around pitiful.

When dealing with crazy, here are a few nevers…

Never shout at crazy. Crazy is crazy for a reason. And, folks around you won't be able to discern normal from crazy. In some ways, if you yell at crazy you are now on the same level as them. Pat em on the head but never yell at them. Never.

Never try to outwit crazy. Key word… outwit. And wit assumes crazy has some. Which, of course, crazy does not. Don't over think it. Crazy is crazy… not smart. Crazy like a fox… horses#*t.

Never bully crazy. Truth is… never bully period. That is especially true when it comes to crazy. Crazy doesn’t respond to violence because crazy doesn’t have a rational mind. Crazy doesn't connect the dots or get subtly. Walk away.

When “cray cray” shows up at your doorstep… have a plan. When you have to manage crazy… find a way to make them less crazy or, better yet, find a way to rid yourself of crazy.

Funny… this all started with crazy's decision to level a bunch of innocent trees. That's crazy.


FOT Background Check

William Tincup
William is the President of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He’s written over 200 HR articles, spoken at over 150 HR & recruiting conferences and he’s conducted over 1000 HR podcasts. William prides himself on being easy to find on The Internet, Google him and connect with him via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Not up to speed in the social media game? Reach out via email. William serves on the Board of Advisors for Talentegy, Wellocity, GlitchPath, Talent Ninja, Universum Americas, Engagedly, Echovate, VibeCatch, Continu, Hyphen, Bevy, Happie, RolePoint, Causecast, Work4Labs, Talent Tech Labs, and SmartRecruiters. He was previously an advisor to PeopleMatter (sold to Snagajob Q2 2016), Good.Co (sold to StepStone Q1 2016), Smarterer (sold to Pluralsight Q4 2014) and a board member of Chequed (merged to create OutMatch Q3 2015). William is a graduate of the University of Alabama of Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


  1. Julie (BentBNB) says:

    This post hit home because our neighbour did the exact same thing – he clearcut his entire 2 acre wooded property, which happens to back onto our wooded property…I couldn’t believe that he did this so I asked, “why?”.

    His response – “to improve the view”…Except that all of MY tress are still in the way…which he offered to pay me to cut down. Yeah…conversation ended right there.

    So, I would add to your list of “nevers’…don’t ask “why?” Because you will never understand their reasoning.

  2. Suzanne Rumsey says:

    There is a lesson in there about how some people think about talent, yes? I’ve seen organizations eliminate healthy, contributing employees while keeping “declining” ones, for whatever reason. Another from of cray, cray, and one that adversely impacts the organization. Just like taking down the healthy, beautiful trees will impact the neighborhood.

    In the talent case, it’s a good idea to understand the why, even if one doesn’t ask directly. In all likelihood, the reason (and person doing it) is just aa crazy as the tree masacre-er, and requires much care when approached.

  3. laurie says:

    In my family, we triangulate crazy. If someone is being bat-shit crazy, they call for help. An outsider then jumps into the fray and uses your outcrazy-crazy maneuver to create a distraction. Suddenly there’s a new crazy moment — and a new conversation — and the original victim gets a break.

    This all happens via Facebook, by the way.

    And this will be in my autobiography. I WILL NAME NAMES.

  4. KD says:

    You’ve got them pretty well spelled out here. Shun and Triangulate from Laurie get my vote. +1

    Nice post WJT…


  5. Jacque Vilet says:

    I can top this. When I lived in Singapore, homeowners regularly called the government to demand they cut down trees near their property because the leaves dropped in their yard and “made a mess”.

  6. D2 says:

    Trees are the answer…

  7. TheresaMC says:

    I’m a little jealous. I’ve got some seriously treacherous pine trees that are just way too close to my house… I wish I had his clear-cutting budget.

  8. Steve Levy says:

    As maudlin as this comment is, I recall the use of wood chippers to dispose of people. So don’t argue with crazy, wood chip’em…

    Now I realize we are talking Texas here but aren’t there any local ordinances pertaining to clear cutting?

  9. Larry Engel says:

    I don’t know if that tree-cutter is crazy or just a dumba$$. Either way, I’d steer clear of him (especially that wood-chipper).

  10. This post makes me sad. I believe in embracing your crazy 100%. Letting it in. Letting it out. It’s part of you, part of your brand, part of what makes us all interesting, human, REAL. To quote one of my personal favorite crazies, Kid Cudi: “We’re all troubled in a world of trouble.” That’s real. I’m crazy and I love me some crazy people and my world would be boring as hell without crazy. Let’s not manage it, let’s learn more love and acceptance and openness and grace.

  11. As an Alaskan, I am supposed to love the trees but I’m sitting on an acre up here and I took down nearly 1/2 of my trees to let in some frickin’ sunlight. In Texas, it would seem strange to eliminate shade but in your neighbor’s defense, perhaps he was afraid some of those gorgeous trees would spontaneously combust as you’ll are damn near the surface of the sun! 🙂

    I, too, see many HR lessons in your post. Organizations need to start culling the employees that are on the decline, no longer adding value, threatening the overall performance of the the team, etc. Identify those employees who have the bark beetle of sorts and chop those suckers down!

    And while organizations should also “manage the crazy” – who’s to know what is crazy and what is genius? I have probably been labeled bat-S%&* crazy multiple times in my career and shoot, those haters may have been right! But I’m a darn good HR professional and leader!

    Finally, to continue the clear cut analogy as it’s oh so fun, I think organizations can and should create a place where grass can grow, new seedlings can develop, etc. And sometimes, that means starting over. Granted, it appears your neighbor chose the wrong trees to stay in his lawn but organizations, if they are wise, will identify when they are in a state of decline and do something to reinvent themselves or otherwise catapult themselves into the start up or growth life cycle again. Sometimes this means tipping the sacred cows, eliminating tired or resource sucking services and alas, clear cutting what has provided shelter for years in an effort to recreate the landscape.

    As always William, you make me smile and think…so thanks for the post!

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