In light of the Occupy Wall Street heros, unconventional is the new conventional–for at least 99% of us. I just finished reading Chris Guillebeau’s book, “The Art of Non-Conformity | Set your own rules, live the life you want and change the world.” Although its focus is not political, it can be related, quite easily. Bottom line, and I don’t think this can be exaggerated, you simply don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to. Please take a moment and read that phrase again. Let that one sink in. Then, please read that phrase one more time before you leave this post and go about the rest of your day.
Lately, we’ve been listening to a lot of The Naked and Famous while we work throughout the day. I suggest “Young Blood” on repeat. However, if you’re not into New Zealand Indie Electronic, it’s not for you.
Wow, where to start. I’m not sure if Guillebeau’s book was epic, or just epic-ly simple. I thoroughly enjoy Seth Godin’s take on it, “This is a direct, honest, and truly scary book. I hope you have the guts to listen to what Chris has to say, and not become one of the monkeys he warns you about.” Chris is also the guy you’ll want to connect with if you’re considering leaving the 9-5 cubicle and entrepreneur-ing your way to freedom. The 99% of us that actually want to do what we want are viewed by the large 1% as unreasonable, unrealistic, and impractical. And, these are “all words used to marginalize a person or idea that fails to conform with conventionally expected standards.” Some would call this 99% liberals… the 99% will call the rest afraid of change, afraid of losing their slaving possessions. This keenly reminds me of the humans occupying wall street right now, and many other cities around the country. “Without the determined efforts of unreasonable people, most of the rest of us (including the ‘reasonable’ people) would be much worse off. Martin Luther Kind Jr. was quite unreasonable to suggest that all free men and women in America should be treated equally. Gandhi was quite unreasonable to suggest that India should shake of the chains of colonialism from Britain.”
The Art of Non-Conformity is full of lovely, knockout quotes, REALISTIC ideas, and serious advice to spark your momentum and shift it into overdrive, for the rest of your life. It’s about helping to bring our childhood messages up to adulthood application. It relates to the question, “If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you?” Not only can you choose to not jump off the bridge, “you can also help other people walk away from the bridge, or you can rewrite the rules that brought you to the bridge in the first place.”
Please note, I highly recommend reading this book. My words on it do not compare. Not only is there a plethora of resources but there are lists of ideas for you to visit and think about. And, if you want to be an explorer, drifter, thrill-seeker, creator, artist or just happy the rest of your life, read this book.
So, moving on with the ideas that impacted myself the most.
You must be willing to work hard
Many people do think that the key to an improved lifestyle is less work. “I think it’s better work.” This ends up translating into less busywork and more legacy work. We don’t need to be caged monkeys (see page 18 for reference). “There are very few things you need to ask forgiveness or permission for.”
But, contrary to many self-help books
It’s not all about YOU. “Our lives become most meaningful when we combine our own desires with an active strategy to help other people at the same time.”
With regards, to the future
There’s nothing wrong with thinking ahead, but life does not begin at age 65. This reminds me of all those responses we heard from our American friends and family as we traveled the world. “I have a mortgage, I have a hefty car payment, I wish I could just up and leave, some of us have responsibilities.” Yes, this is true–these conventional responsibilities that YOU have CHOSEN to have, and can still CHOOSE to not have. Most people don’t think about leaving a legacy until they reach the end of their lives. “Start thinking about your legacy immediately. Then, immediately thereafter begin living your life with that vision in mind.” What motivates you?
What hit me the hardest
Our lives are intimately connected with others, some of those people out there are counting on you, and you can improve the lives of others all over the world. Your dreams and big ideas belong to no one but you, and you never need to apologize for or justify them to anyone. As Barbara Sher explains in her book, Wishcraft, “Whatever your dreams are, start taking them very, very seriously.” And, in honor of the 28,000+ miles and counting, round-the-world cycling couple Michael and I had the pleasure of conversing with this morning at the farmer’s market… “It is not the decision you make that is most important; it is the degree of commitment with which you make the decision.”
I used to say
Fear does not exist. This is not the case. We’re not fearless. Fear is what drives us. Chris presents a beautiful story about a girl named Sloane from the Philippines (you must read the book), In Sloane’s case, it wasn’t that she was fearless; it was that she found a way to accept the fear and work with it to do something that mattered more.
And, to quote no one but the best, “Always do what you are afraid to do.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson) Then follow Andy Warhol’s advice: “They say time changes things, but actually you have to change them yourself.” Lastly, adapt to a “no regrets” philosophy.
Let them talk
“A critic is a man who knows the way but can’t drive a car.” (Kenneth Tynan)
You’re driving the car
“No one else will ever be as invested in your development as you. You can’t outsource the responsibility for planning the course of your life.” Are you applying to University because you know the results will yield what you want? Or, are you applying because they told you to? Your own competence is your best security. Don’t just escape from something; escape to something. Whatever it is that you do, does it have value?
“I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” (Ralph Nader)
Airbnb is where I want to be
“Remember that our lives are connected with other people all over the world. By identifying a specific cause and recruiting a small army, you can achieve far greater success that you otherwise could on your own.
Since it’s inevitable, used as the biggest excuse and misunderstood
“Just as you shouldn’t let anyone else determine your goals and values, you should also seek to maintain control over your own financial priorities. More than almost any other aspect of identity, if you don’t have clarity of purpose over how you view the role of money in your life, you’ll likely end up going along with what other people do.” Even the so-called good debt locks people into decisions that they may not be comfortable with for all of the years they hold the debt.
The To-Stop-Doing List
Stop spending time on unnecessary distractions and also, take the 100 Things Challenge if you’re truly real about this. Visit GuyNamedDave.com. Stop going to meetings and stop watching TV. See, if you actually miss anything.
My legacy work
One of the things that separates a goal from a dream is a deadline. “The good news is that the failures have already taken place. There’s no need to combine reliving them in your head. The bad news is that the successes are locked away too. The best time to get to work on it was yesterday. Failing that, today will do.”
“If you choose an unconventional journey of some kind, you’ll probably end up feeling alone from time to time. Thankfully, you will also feel very alive.”
Very important ideas that I didn’t touch on, that you’ll want to read: Gatekeepers, The appeal to a higher power–often unspecified, and when challenging authority, direct confrontation is not always the best way. Instead, use the underdog strategy to change the rules of the game (also, reference Moneyball).
I work with Airbnb – an online open marketplace, connecting humans who travel.
Chris Guillebeau’s blog and where you can buy the book.
Nicole and Tobi, the RTW cyclists who have been on the road for over 2.5 years
Feature photo by Michael A. Nyffeler
You simply don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.