The Art of Non-Conformity Favourites

I’ve just finished reading Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-Conformity. It’s gold. I hope he doesn’t mind and I hope you can receive something akin with the light and inspiration I garnered, from these highlights written without context below. I’ve recorded them for my use also, as it was a library book so I need to rub out my pencilled circling.

239 – You can start most businesses for less than $1,000, and many for less than $100. To get started, read Pamela Slim’s Escape from Cubicle Nation, which at about $18 is a better investment than most classes you could take for much more money.

225 – Grading could be abolished or modified, and curriculums rewritten to reward trial and error more than rote memorization.

225 – Prisons for non-violent offenders could be ‘open’ centres where the occupants check in every day before going to a supervised job that contributes to society and helps them get back on track. (It’s already being tried in Denmark and the Netherlands.)

224 – …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. Many of us have found the feeling of being alive more than compensates for any negative consequences of living life on our own terms.

223 – “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

219 – Regardless of what you’ve done before or where you are in life now, you can make something beautiful that will outlast you. You can help others in a unique way that couldn’t have happened without your influence. That’s what a legacy project is all about.
Remember: we all get one life to live. You might as well take it seriously, and a legacy project will ensure that what you bring to the world will continue to be valuable for a long time. Are you up for it?

217 – I follow a classic rule of writing and editing: when writing, don’t hesitate to include something; when editing, don’t hesitate to throw it out.

214 – Good questions to ask yourself when planning for legacy work:
In the morning:
* How am I feeling?
* What do I want right now?
* What is the single, most important thing I can do today?

In the evening:
* Who did I help today?
* How much time did I spend creating today?
* Did I move closer to one of my big goals today?
* How much exercise did I do today?
* How much sugar, caffeine, or alcohol did I consume today?
* What do I want for tomorrow?

212- Read Jim Collins’ Good to Great (classic business strategy book)

209 – “How will this (legacy project) really help people?”
* Vision – how will the world be different because of the project?
* Beneficiaries – who will benefit from the project?
* Primary Method or Medium – how will you do the work?
* Output – what will be produced as a result of your work?
* Metrics – how will success be measured?

209 “To change is difficult. Not to change is fatal.” – Anonymous

208 – According to Frankl (author of Man’s Search for Meaning) we find this meaning (fulfillment) in one of two ways: “creating a work or doing a deed, or by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.”

187 – “Through travel I first became aware of the outside world; it was through travel that I found my own introspective way into becoming a part of it.” – Eudora Welty

186 – You can probably have anything you want, but probably not everything at once. Radical exclusion is the process of eliminating things that are unnecessary, or even stepping away from almost everything for a set period of time.

185 – Perform an instant gut check: yes or not? If you have a bad feeling about something, say no. If you feel slightly intimidated but also excited, say yes.

186 – “The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times…the best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limit in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his classic book “Flow“.

180 – The same is true with the information we consume. Try turning off the the TV for a month, and see if you really miss something important. If anything you read, including this book, is not interesting and helpful to you, you should put it down and spend your time in a more meaningful way. Apply this strategy militantly, and you’ll see positive changes in your life almost immediately.

178 – David (Bruno) was troubled with what he viewed as excessive consumerism in America, and he worried about its effect on his own life. To address the concern, he started a personal ‘100 things challenge’. David committed to living with only 100 items in his possession. Since David’s 100 thin challenge was his own, he made his own rules.’Books’ counted as one item even though he had a substantial library, and ‘socks’ and ‘underwear’ counted as one item each even though he kept several sets of each.

176 – The next step is to say no to as many unnecessary obligations as possible. Saying no is critically important for setting the terms of your life, and the further you advance toward your personal goals, the more you’ll have to decline requests for your time. You may even need to devote extended periods of time to what I call ‘radical exclusion’ or shutting out absolutely anything that serves as a distraction from your key priorities.

174 – To achieve convergence, two separate (but related) activities are required: saying goodbye to unnecessary tasks, obligations, and expectations – then welcoming in a wide range of other things that enrich our lives.

173 – To make that happen, you’ll need to look carefully at all of your current obligations to determine which ones are actually necessary and which can be eliminated.

173 – As we’ll consider it here, convergence is the state of being where everything in our lives is in alignment. We have good relationships with family and close friends, we’re excited about work, we’re in good health, we do more or less what we want to every day, and we know we’re making a difference in the world.

171 – After 30 years of writing fiction, Murakami published a nonfiction book that explained his writing process and philosophy.

166 – Hugh MacLeod, full-time artist and author of Ignore Everybody, explained it like this: ‘If you want to make a lot of people hate you, all you need to do is make a lot of money doing something you love’. You could also replace ‘make a lot of money’ with a number of other phrases that reflect success:
‘…all you need to do is have a lot of fun…’
‘…all you need to do is help a lot of people…’
‘ all you need to do is be better than everyone else…’

165 – Consider ‘investing in yourself’ through spending on unique life experiences more than ‘stuff’. 

163 – “It’s pretty hard to tell what does bring happiness; poverty and wealth have both failed.” – Kin Hubbard

162 – To that end, the AONC book and website is actively supporting a Charity: Water project in Ethiopia.

155 – Aside from the necessary exceptions, I’ll work hard to ensure my spending is aligned with the overall values I’ve chosen. The next one is that I generally prefer life experiences to ‘stuff’. Stuff represents things that fill up the house, while life experiences represent things that I do. Concerts, long weekends in nearby cities, dinners with friends – those things are experiences.

153 –  All things being equal, I value life experiences more than physical possessions.

152 – Instead, we want a meaningful life filled with the right kind of work and plenty of time to do other things we enjoy.

152 – As for me, I’ve made as little as $8,000 a year as a student (and then about $12,000 a year as an aid worker), and as much as $250,000 a year as an entrepreneur during a couple of good years. I can tell you from experience that my happiness level was not significantly different when comparing the $8,000 years and the $250,000 years. Some things are certainly easier with a lot of money, but other things become more difficult.

152 – When you make a lot of money, you tend to worry a lot more about losing it.

151 – As the Cheshire Cat said in Alice in Wonderland, ‘ If you don’t know where you’re going, and road will take you there.’ Applied to living on your own terms, if you don’t know what you really want, how will you know how to get it?

148 – Create at least three ways your followers can connect with you – examples include a blog with RSS feed, a profile on a social networking site, a newsletter, or a live event…occasional podcast of video message.

148 – Set a target goal: within the next x months I will have x new followers in my small army.

147 – “Never doubt that a small group of thoughful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

142 – Once a year, David Rowell (The Travel Insider) produces a fund-raiser where he asks readers to contribute. A core group of about 800 subscribers typically responds to the call for help, contributing a range of amounts from very small ($5 to $10) to $250 or more, with $50 being the average. For the rest of the year, David is relatively silent about his need for support…These true fans, and anumber of general followers, are happy to ‘pay’ David for the free newsletter he sends them each Friday.

141 – Instead of selling products, you focus on solving problems.

140 – Wired magazine editor Kevin Kelly argued that it is possible for a musician, band, or almost any artist to earn a good, sustainable income with a fan base of just 1,000 true fans. Remember that a true fan is someone who will buy almost anything you produce. These fans will drive long distances to concerts, actively post reviews of your work, debate critics on your behalf, and regularly tell their friends about you.

138 – Remember that allies are on a journey similar to yours.

138 – When you launch a new project, actively introduce yourself to everyone who has influenced you and anyone in a similar field.

137 – If you are a writer, you can ask readers to help spread the word about your books, stories, articles, or blog posts. Be specific – not just “Please tell someone about this,” but ” Please pass this on to three other people” or “please submit this post on your favourite social network.”

136 – The key principle is to go beyond the expected.

135 – Leo  Babauta…on his popular blog Zen Habits, where he writes about simplicity and goal-setting.

135 – Motivation comes in three forms: inspiration, education, and entertainment.

134 – Putting forward controversial opinions from time to time will also help you gain a following and filter out prospects who aren’t a good match…The point is that refusing to present a real opinion is always the safe road. Instead, take the road of risk by taking a stand.

134 – …consider two things that are inherent in any group of followers: motivation and rewards.

133 – “Your message should be “Come join me. Be a part of something bigger than yourself. There are other people who see the world in a similar way.” …The same inspiration comes about through products and services that bring significant value into our lives…Take the time to make sure you’re converting the right people to followers and true fans…Who are you trying to reach with your message? Remember it can’t be “everyone.” The target market defines who is not part of your audience as much as it defines who is.

131 – The “reason why” refers to the question we all ask when we check out a new person, organization…”Why should I care about this?” or phrased differently, “What’s in it for me?”

122 – Don’t use graduate school, or any other course of study, as a form of life avoidance. Pursue the course only if there’s a good reason.

89 – Your own competence is your best security.

88 – “If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.” – Robert Fritz

86 – It’s tempting to believe that the secret to happiness is less work. Here’s another idea: instead of giving up on the idea of work, why not find a way to make it better?

83 – You need the answers to the two most important questions in the universe. What do you really want to get out of life? How can you help others in a way that no one else can? 

80 – “The person who says something is impossible should not interrupt the person who is doing it.” – Old Chinese Proverb

80 – If you threaten authority, be prepared for a fight.

79 – In other encounters with authority, you can simply nod your head, smile, and then go out and do what you intended.

72 – Understanding that few opportunities are truly democratic is the first step toward successfully challenging authority.

70 – “People will always try to stop you from doing the right thing if it is unconventional.” – Warren Buffett.

68 – “The question is not who is going to let me, it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand

67 – “Progress is a nice word, but change is its motivator. And change has its enemies.” – Robert F Kennedy.

60 – “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie

58 – Bestselling author Paulo Coelho famously wrote, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Similarly, you may have heard the old saying, “leap and the net will appear.”

49 – To break the cycle, the fear of the unknown has to become less than the stale acceptance of the current situation. There are two ways to make this happen: 1) Increase the pain of the current situation. 2) Decrease the fear of the desired situation.

43 – “It is not the decision you make that is most important; it is the degree of commitment with which you make the decision.” – Bo Bartlett

40 – When you do what you love, why would you burn out?

38 – What can you offer the world that no one else can?

37 – As long as what you want does not cause harm to others, you never need to apologize for pursuing your own dreams and big ideas.

30 – “Whatever your dreams are, start taking them very, very seriously.” – Barbara Sher, from Wishcraft.

29 – Life planning begins with an unfortunate fact: many people have no idea what they really want to do or accomplish over the course of their time on earth. Instead of moving toward a destination, they become mired in “life avoidance” by ambling around without a clear sense of objective or purpose.
This is not entirely their fault. Our formal systems of education do not devote much time to coaching young people in how to figure this out.

28 – Most of us have lottery fantasies from time to time. I don’t think they’re necessarily harmful; I just think there’s a better alternative. The alternative is to write your own winning lottery ticket, not by the sudden accumulation of wealth but the gradual reduction to what you decide is essential for your life…
Instead of fantasy land, most of us crave a life of adventure and personal growth. Joseph Campbell understood this years ago when he wrote about the meaning of life. “People say that what we’re seeking is a meaning for life,” he began before clarifying, “I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. What we seek is an experience of being alive.”

27 – I believe that the crazy dreams and big ideas we have when we are young can be more than just fantasies.

27 – …without the energy I derive from being myself, I know that I wouldn’t be of much use to anyone else later on.

21 – Throughout history, most people who have made fundamental shifts in science, humanities, or the arts have been frequently accused of being impractical.

20 – We need money to live in a modern world, and we should find a way to get what we need without harming anyone else. However, by itself, money has no value – the value is produced only when we exchange money for other things. The reason why this is important is because many people don’t know how much money they really need to do the things they want. They often wildly overestimate or underestimate how much money they need to exchange for their desired life.

19 – “The tragedy of life is not so much what we suffer, but rather what we miss.” – Thomas Carlyle.

18 – Have you ever heard about how it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission?

6 – You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.

4 – …you’ll have the ability – and the obligation – to live life on your own terms and help other people while you’re at it.

Check out: the author of these amazing ideas.


    1. You’re welcome. Thanks for visiting wild & grace’s site. Your site looks very helpful and interesting. The meeting article struck a chord. I found “The Art of Non-Conformity” very affirming and inspiring, so much so, I’ve launched wild & grace’s online library possibly 15 years before I otherwise would have done. I’m equally enjoying reading “The Great Disruption” by Paul Gilding, which for some reason I felt drawn to mention. Perhaps, you would find it compelling also?

I love reading your comments, kia ora for taking the time to share your thoughts

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