Summer Reading: The Art of Non-Conformity

First up off the summer reading list: the Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau. Last summer I received my introduction to Chris’s world and the quest for World Domination when I attended the World Domination Summit, and I thought it would be good to revisit some of what I learned through this book.

The essence of Chris’s work is this: live free, be your own boss, and make a difference in the world. More simply stated: live intentionally.

I love Chris’s ideas and agree with almost everything he has to say (who doesn’t want to live a remarkable, unconventional life), and I find a lot of crossover between ministry (especially para-church, fundraised ministry) and entrepreneurship.

However, I also experience a rub with the ethos behind Chris’s ideas. There is an inherent individualism in the quest for “world domination” (read being awesome and doing your own thing instead of working for the man) that runs counter to being married, being a parent, and being a follower of Jesus.

Chris would argue, and I’d mostly agree, that all too often we are encouraged to step in line and live conventional lives because it is the responsible thing to do. We, as a family, have chosen to live unconventionally, so I totally understand that it is possible.

But, I cannot make the same radical commitment to personal autonomy that he has made without sacrificing some of my relationship to my wife, daughter, or the ministry I lead.

The more important point here, though, is the call to live intentionally, and this can, and should be done, no matter what stage of life we are in.

Far too many of us drift through life, expecting other people to give us a shot, hoping that we might, maybe get what we want. Few of us take matters into our own hands, and go for it.

To quote Chris Martin (of Coldplay): “We can’t dance like Usher, we can’t sing like Beyonce, we don’t write songs like Elton John, we just do what we can and go for it.”

And that is Guillebeau’s point: stop worrying about not being Usher, and instead know who you are and go for it!

Chris does a great job of laying out some important areas of life where intentional choices matter: work, money, time, travel, passions, interests, and leaving a legacy.

The book is inspiring, but practical; challenging, but quickly applicable.

I’d highly recommend it for anyone needing a reset, trying to get some clarity on life goals, or for recent college graduates.


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