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Remarkable Book Review: The Art of Non-Conformity

This is my first ever book review on Dynamic Life and I couldn’t be more excited to share with you one of the coolest, most get-you-off-your-ass-and-do-something-with-your-life books I’ve ever read.  I’m talking about blogger and globetrotter Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-Conformity:  Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World.  The title alone is enough to pique most peoples’ interest.  But if it’s not, read on for my humble review.  Chris is a remarkable writer who writes regularly for thousands of non-conformists at The Art of Non-Conformity Blog and is currently pursuing an ambitious goal to visit every single country in the world.

Whom It’s For?
This is an awesome catalyst for anyone who either isn’t satisfied with his life right now or is satisfied, but wants more.  Chris challenges you to examine your life.  Are you actively living your life?  Are you creating something remarkable?  Are you pursuing goals based on your passions?  Are you creating and leaving a legacy while enriching the lives of others?  Or are you just floating through life, not “doing too bad” just like most other people?  Chris urges us to take responsibility for our own lives, set big goals, conquer our fears, and cultivate awesome ideas.  If these ideas sound even remotely exciting to you, then read this book.  If you’re fine just subscribing to a life of the culturally accepted norm, then don’t bother.  Chris isn’t a zealot.  He even says that he’s rather preach to the choir than evangelize the unconverted.  Again, if you think there may be something better out there for you, then dive in to this book right away.  It will certainly inspire you.

What It’s All About?
The theme of Chris’ life, blog, business, and book is a coherent and sensible one – you don’t have to live a conventional life like everyone else; instead, you can (and should!) challenge the norm and live a remarkable life in pursuit of your dreams and passions.  Chris is a writer, a businessman, a family man, and a globetrotter who has been living an unconventional life for years now.  In his book, he outlines how exactly he has done this so successfully for so many years.  But he’s careful not to tell you that his is the only way.  He’s just opening our eyes to possibilities, albeit ridiculously rewarding possibilities.

Chris starts out the book by recommending we set the terms to our own unconventional lives.  We have to take a serious look at where we are and where we want to go.  We have to define huge goals for ourselves.  We have to live the life of our dreams, not someone else’s.  He cautions that when we do this, we will be faced with opposition from friends and family who think it’s dangerous to live an unconventional life.  Don’t apologize for pursuing your dreams.  It’s okay if people are uncomfortable with it.  You have to do what you want.  While many may think it’s impractical, Chris believes that the safest, most secure thing you can do is take responsibility for yourself because, at the end of the day, no one cares about you and your future as much as you do.

The middle chapters are all informative and eye-opening.  The chapter titles include:  Smashing Through the Brick Wall of Fear, How to Fight Authority and Win, Competence is Your Security, and The Personal Finance Journey.  They are jam packed with good information, some of it biographical, some just great thinking, and some resourceful.  In the interest of your time, I won’t get into the middle chapters as much because the chapters that really resonate with me are Chapters 9-11 & the Conclusion.

Chapter 9 is titled Radical Exclusion and the Quest for Abundance.  Radical exclusion means shutting out anything that distracts you from your key priorities.  In this day and age, we’re all so busy and we all have so many things competing for our attention.  I think it’s absolutely necessary that we eliminate the unnecessary to make room for the things, people, and ideas that matter.  It’s just like building financial wealth.  You can increase your income, but if your expenses continue to grow, you’ll never create wealth.  Similarly, if you want to get more out of life, you need to cut your life expenses.

What Makes It So Different?
It’s not a get-rich-quick book at all.  It’s a book about finding your passions and creating a tailored life based on those passions.  Chris attempts, with much success, to open our eyes to other options we have in life.  Sure, there are always options A, B, & C.  But what about D, E, & F?  Why not invent your own?  Chris has done it, he tells us how he’s done it, and he offers ways that we can do it as well.

A central theme of this book that I love, and a central theme of Chris’ writing on his blog, is the idea of helping others and enriching other peoples’ lives.  It’s not enough just to kick butt in life; we have to do so abundantly and in a socially conscientious manner.  This is really important to me and I hope to most other people.  Chris backs up this theme by donating a portion of the book’s proceeds to one of his favorite charities, Charity Water.

Are You Still on the Fence?
Buy the book.  It’s inexpensive, it’s a quick read, and it’s fun.  If you don’t learn anything about what I’ve discussed in the review, at least you’ll learn how to get an MBA-type education for only a few dollars or fly around the world in first class for free or how to create your very own blog in a matter of minutes.  What am I saying?  There’s something in here for everyone.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this review and if you’ve read the book, I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have.  Please feel free to share your favorite parts of the book in the comments…

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