About seven months ago, I took a big time leap. I left a full time job with a company that was very much invested in me to strike out on my own and pursue self-employment. As I tipped out of my ‘9-5’ and into the world of entrepreneurship, I was met with as many waves of sheer excitement as I was with strokes of full on fear of the unstructured and largely unexplored world I was embarking on.
I was stepping into uncharted territory. And, while armed with my ‘It’s all going to work out’ attitude, there was a nagging voice of doubt that was craving the comfortable structure of a traditional employment situation. In starting to talk to other creative friends about the catch-22 of the world of entrepreneurship, a friend recommended a book that blew my mind, scared me a little bit and at the same time, lit a fire under my butt to relentlessly pursue the vision of being an internationally-wandering writer with clients across the globe.
The book: The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want and Change the World by Chris Guillebeau. My copy was once a pristine paperback from the shelves of Chapters. It’s now a dog-eared, over-highlighted and note strewn manifesto of thoughts, goals, ideas, inspiration and more.
The book celebrates creating and living an unconventional life that’s fuelled by passion driven work that creates lasting change in the world. Chris, speaking from his own experience of a non-traditional education and work experiences, has taken a radically different approach to living his life and generating success – on his own terms.
He’s chosen freedom as his “highest personal value and learned to construct a life around that choice.” Chris has built his life as an entrepreneur by piecing together his passions, curiosities and inherent abilities—e-Bay, traveling to and working in West Africa and continually following his curiosities to lead him to life and world changing experiences—into a life and lifestyle that’s completely supported by innovation and breaking out of ‘norms’.
Shy of being a ‘creative’s manual to making an unconventional life work’ (which it can act as), it’s an introduction to a new way of looking at the question “What do you want out of life?’ The book addresses personal priorities, leaps of faith, fear, personal responsibility, finances – essentially every almost-argument that’s been quick to be made against stepping out of the pack and taking a divergent path from the masses. Along with action-inspired stories, it’s laced with encouragement to explore passions and find purpose in life, on any scale.
And, that’s truly the gist of the book: looking at motivations behind why we do what we do. Exploring our day-to-day activities, our work, our relationships and the reasoning involved with the choices we make. If anything, The Art of Non-Conformity challenges us to think about our one, precious life and create some choice about how we experience it.
The back of my copy of the book is filled with chicken-scratched notes, numbers and names, concepts, creative ideas, goals and acronyms that somehow made sense in the moment and are now completely lost on me. The book created a fire of excitement throughout me. Now, it’s my job to keep that fire stoked and see what comes from finding focus through the piece-y beginnings of my unconventional life.