Don't change who you are. Be more of who you are - Sally Hogshead
The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau
The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau

The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau

Do what you love. If you love what you do, you’ll never work another day in your life. Follow your passion. These are just a few of the phrases. The platitudes. Suggestions. Recommendations. Ideas for living that all too many have pursued without understanding or knowing how. Yet, among all the inspirational memes and Instagram posts, there are a few resources out there that attempt to do more than simply inspire. These are the books that provide actionable concepts and examples of real people that have changed their lives.

One such book is The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World. Chris Guillebeau has written a number of other books (The $100 Startup and Side Hustle to name two) but this one takes us back to his first work from 2010. Guillebeau is a blogger, podcaster, and speaker. His personal story is one that certainly exemplifies the art of non-conformity. He dropped out of high school…to go to college. After college he volunteered with Mercy Ships and then visited all 193 countries in the world by his 35thbirthday.

The opening of the book includes a reminder of when we were children. So many of us heard the question: if everyone else were jumping off a bridge, would you? The obvious lesson is that we shouldn’t conform to the crowd…yet as we mature, we tend to fall into the trap of doing just that…. conforming.  Guillebeau goes on to describe eleven ways “to be unremarkably average” including not questioning authority, thinking about starting a business or writing a book…and not doing it, getting the largest mortgage possible and taking all 30 years to pay for it, and finally jumping through hoops and just checking the boxes!

The book is broken into easy to understand sections – though, they are not necessarily easy steps, Remember, we all tend to have patterns that we have to fight against to change the way we live our lives! The three primary sections are: The Remarkable Life, Reclaiming Work, and the Power of Convergence.

Section one calls on the reader to decide if they really want a remarkable life. That really is the question. We may all say we want to be remarkable…but do we want it enough to make the necessary changes? In fairness, we can live a quite enjoyable life doing what most people do and following the traditional path. There’s nothing wrong with that – unless you sense that you’ve been called to more. If you want more, you have to own the process…take responsibility. Guillebeau writes that you’ll need to decide what you want out of life…asking yourself what is my ideal world?

The second part of this Guillebeau’s book focuses on reclaiming work. Many people have thought the key to happiness is working less. If you have the resources, that may be an option but most of us will need to work for the foreseeable future. Reclaiming work may lead to entrepreneurship or it may be a matter of changing your workplace…or at least reframing the way you see your work. In any case, Guillebeau spends a great deal of this section describing the process of building an army that will support you as you progress in your career. 

Finally, the book focuses on the concept of convergence – putting it all together – “work, adventure, and building a legacy that will far outlast your time on the planet.” We are encouraged to eliminate the unnecessary, and surrounding yourself with an abundance of what brings you true joy – that is doing the most with the time you have here doing that which bring the most joy…it could be running, or coffee, helping nonprofits or so many other things. Learn how to relax. Look for opportunities to learn and grow. One of my favorite pieces of advice is to think about every day as the first day of your life. That really isn’t just a platitude. It’s pushing back against the temptation to not live life until some unknown future date when the stars align, or we have no challenges, or we have enough money …or whatever. Instead, we live each day for the life it is while still looking forward to reaching for our other goals. It is indeed a paradox – live the life you have now while not necessarily settling for the life you have. Enjoy the journey.

This book may serve many purposes in your journey. At times, it is an inspiration – there are so many examples that we can look to and ideas that ignite our internal fire. It is educational and thought-provoking. It is an interesting read as well as an ongoing resource as you build your remarkable life.

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