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The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau

Let me start by saying that this is not a formal book review, but more of a discussion of the book.

Another Harajuku Moment

I believe that the world tells you a message by having certain people or ideas pop up in groups of three. If I come across a certain concept on several different websites or books, that’s a clear message to me that I should probably write about it and share it with others who may not have come across it yet. Over the weekend, several things aligned that could not have been more coincidental for me.

It has been a bit of a whirlwind for me this weekend. I bought AoNC (the acronym Chris uses in the book and on his website) on Saturday, and finished it Tuesday night. Considering that my daughter had a bad fever and cold during that time, it’s rather incredible that I was able to finish it so quickly. The ideas found within it resonated so much. I kept thinking about my grandparents’ adventures overseas as missionaries with the YMCA, how my uncle and his wife went to Nigeria to work in schools, of my brother heading over to London to work for non-profits, and so on. My family has a history of traveling the world and working, while helping people in some capacity. And here I am, in Western Canada, sitting at a Starbucks typing all of this. I read Murray’s vision post and had two streams of thought happening at the same time:

I really liked how he laid everything out and is extremely focused on achieving results. It made me think more about the lack of structure with my own sites and ventures. I am organized in terms of tasks and drafts of ideas for the blog, but I have not been thinking longterm for either venture nearly enough. I had Murray’s ideas of a vision sitting in the back of my head as I worked my way through AoNC when I came across this quote in the book:

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, Artist

That message hit me hard. I realize that some of my frustrations in life right now could all be centred around commitment.

I look at other writers online and realize that they have a lot more time to commit to their blog or business ventures, but they are still more deeply committed to it than I am currently. I have been receiving a bit of a lack of commitment on the part of my first client for my business, waiting to hear a response about revamping the website and images, some feedback on some of the ideas I provide, etc. That lack of commitment on their part makes me question what level of commitment I should give them (of course, I am still committed to them at this point considering that they are my only client). I start and leave alone too many books, articles, blog posts, or even other ideas about how to market the blog or earn a bit of money.

The only part of my life that I am fully committed to right now is my daughter. That is in itself great, but I need to be committed to more in a deeper fashion. A commitment towards my business and the blog will help me build up a legacy for myself as I grow older.

Leaving a Legacy

A part of the reason why I write online is so that I can archive my writings to share with my daughter (and maybe other children) when I grow older. I imagine myself bundling everything up into a book, and passing it down to her on her 18th birthday (or maybe on her 30th when she can appreciate it more and I hit the magical 60 – I have a feeling that there will be lots of tears about “getting old” for both parties).

The idea of leaving a legacy is hinted at in the book, but not explicitly mentioned. I think about how often Dr. Gary Parker is mentioned in the book (a surgeon working on a medical cruise ship sailing around Africa for the past 15 years). The legacy of Dr. Gary Parker is going to involve how many people he has been helping throughout his lifetime.

My grandfather has left a legacy throughout southeast Asia with the number of YMCA’s he helped develop and the life-long friendships with other ex-patriots in China, Indonesia, and elsewhere. My own father helped develop and teach a University degree program at a college from a total of one student to a program that graduates at least ten students a year (it’s a small college in a small city). One of his former graduates went on to complete her Master’s with his encouragement and came back as a colleague. I could list other examples from my family about this, but in the end, it comes back down to what I am doing.

If I were to die tomorrow, my legacy would be about helping a couple of hotels earn a lot more money, or a community theatre going to the next level with the organization, safety, and technology of the physical theatre. Both are alright, but they certainly don’t have nearly as much of an impact that I believe I could have. A lot of questions were opened up to me while reading AoNC, and I am busy seeking some answers to the more important questions he asks towards the end of the book. I would rather not outline everything that he asks or my answers, at this point (really, go read the book if you haven’t already), but here are the two questions I would like to highlight:

  1. What do you really want to get out of life?
  2. What can you offer the world that no one else can?

Go Out and Get Busy

It would be easy for me at this point to set this book aside, forget about what Murray wrote about, and scrap my blog. It is easy to conform to finding a full-time job working for someone else and forget about Why I am here in the first place. The main lesson I took away from reading The Art of Non-Conformity is that I need to conform less and get busy. I have a lot happening in my mind right now, and I want to continue to zero in on the items I outlined in my first post of the year: Improve, Don’t Move:

  1. My young family – daughter and girlfriend
  2. My health – mind, body, and spirit
  3. Four Sides blog

One other item needs to be added to that list, my business. I want to start thinking more about my legacy with this blog, my business, and myself. They are all related to me, but I want to treat each one separately and then bring them together in the future (the Power of Convergence at work). I hope to outline more of the legacy for this blog by the end of the month, and I hope to include the legacy of my business with my next guest post at The Big Red Tomato Company (it should be published around April 1st, hopefully).

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