Book Review: The Art of Non-Conformity

Reading This Book While Travelling Across India
I actually read this book while I was travelling across India – while riding on boats and buses. The picture above is of me riding a boat along the Kerala backwaters. I attached the corresponding photo, because as I was reading this book, I could really relate the the author.

For one thing, he talks about his journeys around the world. Chris also talked about his experience volunteering for an African medical charity, and it resonated with me as I had recently finished up my term volunteering for 2 years in South Asia. He also talked about his observations of aidworkers, many of whom began to get bitter and cynical about their work, and how he wanted to get away from that to make a difference in the world that was more positive. And here I was, trying to change my own life and chart a new path, similar to the experiences of the author.

I could connect with the ideas of non-conformity, and wanting to change the world. Perhaps you can resonate with those ideas too.

Why You Should Be a Non-Conformist

The book called The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World by Chris Guillebeau began as a blog which summarizes a certain philosophy on life. Using a mix of personal history, anecdotes from other people and plenty of sound advice, Chris serves as a mentor for people to become more successful and pursue their dreams.

Guillebeau’s basic message is that you don’t have to live your life as other people expect you to, and that there’s nothing wrong with being different.

However, he doesn’t advocate fighting authority just for the sake of rebelling. Rather, he tries to convince readers of the value of challenging conventional wisdom when it will allow them to live their lives with more purpose. Unlike another popular book by Tim Ferris, The Four Hour Workweek, Guillebeau is not encouraging people to try to escape work entirely.

Rather, he is suggesting that it’s better to work well at something you are passionate about then to plod away at a job that you have no enthusiasm for.

Highlights of The Art of Non-Conformity Book

The Art of Non-conformity is a book that has intentionally narrowed its audience by honing in on a group of people that are usually single or coupled with a like-minded partner, don’t have significant community attachments, and are highly-skilled yet dissatisfied with their lives. The more of these criteria you meet, the more powerful this book will be for you.

One of the key concepts in the book is that people should not accept mediocrity, or in other words the status quo. By setting big goals for themselves and breaking those goals down into smaller, easy to accomplish tasks then people can accomplish far more then they may have thought possible.

Guillebeau points out that people often let fear of the unknown keep them from pursuing their dreams. He suggests that by dabbling in a given area during their spare time and building a safety net around themselves, they will feel more confident to make big changes for the better.