Friday, September 1, 2017

Outside the Box

Image result for the art of nonconformity

Any book with a subtitle this ambitious has to be good, right?

I enjoyed Chris Guillebeau's The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World as a respite from my usual reading fare, and blissfully knocked it off in an afternoon, feeling mildly inspired along the way.

Because I'm not all that interested in becoming self-employed again, I'm not really within the author's target audience -- his focus is on setting goals and making the life you want, within a do-what-you-love-and-work-for-yourself context -- but it was still pleasant to receive a charming can-do pep talk from someone who's living an extremely interesting life and sounds like he'd be a hoot to talk with over a beer.

In fact, the pep talk inspired me to write down some goals for this year, for the next three years, and for my lifetime (some extremely ambitious!) -- which is rare for me. I'm not particularly good at deciding what my future will look like; I usually just wing it, or I set a goal on impulse and then make it happen by starting immediately. But Guillebeau's assertion that we tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in a day and underestimate what we can accomplish in longer periods of time got me thinking. I figure it can't hurt to write down some ideas and put them to a long-term test.    

I particularly like his emphasis on contributing to the community through non-profit work. So many entrepreneurial folks seem to be all about making a lot of money for themselves without giving much thought to spreading it around to the less fortunate. Guillebeau, on the other hand, includes that facet of meaningful success at every opportunity.  

Moving on from this book, Guillebeau's current focus is on the strategically small side hustle, which anyone can start on a shoestring while maintaining their current work schedule and time commitments, but which might morph into their own full-time business. It's very cool stuff if you're interested and comes in various forms, including podcast. And I do have an idea for a project that might give me a little extra cash now and then, so . . . .

Check out Guillebeau's website, or pick up this book and see for yourself. It might just lead to something. 


Authority figures don't know it all. You know that, and I know that -- but many of them devote a great deal of their time to convincing us that they are the experts who must be listened to. Chances are, a series of gatekeepers and other authority figures lie in the way between where you are now and where you'd like to go.

Resisting authority is largely an active process. If you threaten authority, be prepared for a fight. You can try to kick authority in the teeth like Keith Richards [quoted earlier], but if so, you'd better use two feet. Alternatively, you can get creative and find a way to change the rules of the game . . . . Use stones and a sling instead of a sword. Go around the obstacles.

Either way, keep the words of an old Chinese proverb in mind: the person who says something is impossible should not interrupt the person who is doing it.

Note: This book counts toward the 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge.

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