Six Learnings from The Art of Non-Conformity
I heard about this book many moons ago at a networking event. A vibrant and self-proclaimed successful young man announced that this reading changed his life. I don’t profess to remember the entrepreneur, but the book title stayed with me, and on his recommendation, I consequently purchased it.
There are ideas a-plenty in this book, and different lessons will resonate with people differently. To follow are my favourite points made in The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau.
1. Do you meet the Criteria?
Firstly, the author is bold enough to list the criteria he would like you to meet to ensure that reading the book won’t waste your time:-
Must be open to new ideas. Must be dissatisfied with the status quo. You must be willing to take personal responsibility. You must be willing to work hard.
Do you want to continue reading?
2. Tell me what you want, what you really, really want.
Most useful is the “Design Your Ideal World” exercise. It entails writing down what your ideal day would look like, in as much detail as you can fathom, and even from hour to hour. Once this step is complete, you can plan and set goals according to what needs to change to achieve that ideal. I found this a great way to list the tasks I would like to delegate rather than continue doing myself, resulting in a “To Stop Doing List.”
3. Radical Goal Setting
The book subscribes to the idea of creating a “Life List,” often referred to as a bucket list. Once made, break it down into categories, such as work, travel, family, leisure, etc. After breaking it into categories, go ahead and divide it into annual goals. The annual audit of the List will keep you on track to prioritising and achieving your life’s purpose.
4. Characteristics of Good and Bad Business
Don’t be put off by this section if you find your business plan has some attributes that sit in the Bad column. The hope is that you’ll have enough in Good for your idea to be worthy of continuation.
• Trades time for money.
• Dependent on the economic climate.
• Fixed location.
• Fixed hours, for instance, as with a shop or service where customers drop in.
• Someone else owns the intellectual property.
• Creates assets that sell on their own.
• Independent of the economic climate.
• Location-independent and can be operated from anywhere.
• Flexible hours, so the owner can decide when to put in the time.
• High-Profit margin and regular cash flow
• The business founder owns the intellectual property.
5. The Power of Your Own Small Army
No-one achieves greatness alone, and the book provides information on how to build a team, broken down into the following steps:- Step 1: Recruit Your Small Army Step 2: Train and Reward Your Army Step 3: Ask Your Army for Help The Take-home lesson from this section is that you want people to feel encouraged by participating in something greater than themselves or in something that connects them with others.
6. Changing the world is not always practical
Finally, in keeping with the “non-conformity” title of the book comes a reminder that critics who want to marginalise your freedom are often the endorsees of practicality. The pioneers who made fundamental shifts in our world were once regarded as impractical. Once you’re clear on what you want to achieve and start doing it, not everyone will understand. That is ok.
Reading this book did not provide any epiphany or the level of inspiration gained by the referrer, but it was an easy read and generally uplifting book, with practical application and real-life example stories. Particularly useful if you are planning a change or find yourself at a crossroads in your business or career.