What I love about online networking sites is how you find out about the most interesting stuff that you would never otherwise have learned of. Whether it's mundane but insightful information about friends and acquaintances that would otherwise have passed-by in the daily grind of life, a special event in your local area you might have missed, a charity or cause that you hadn't heard of but are compelled to support, or a website that someone else became a fan of and that provided you with entertaining or interesting information, it's one of the few ways that technology has actually helped to enrich my life. I love it!
Today, for instance, I learned about The Art of Non-Confirmity, a blog and website that follows the travels and thoughts of one man, Chris Guillebeau. I would summarize what it was about this one man and his ramblings that drew me to him but I think it's best that I take the words right out of his mouth, from his blog. However, suffice to say, this man is my alter-ego in a parallel universe. He lives the life that I would have if I had been braver 10 years ago and made different choices. Of course, it's not too late for me to make those choices at some point in the future but, clearly, for many reasons, now is not my time.
Until it is, I shall live vicariously through his blog posts, which I'm sure are going to become a weekly favorite.
Here are the stated goals of Chris' blog and vocation....
The Art of Non-Conformity (AONC) project chronicles my writing on how to change the world by achieving significant, personal goals while helping others at the same time. In the battle against conventional beliefs, I focus on three areas: Life, Work, and Travel.
Twice a week (every Monday and Thursday) I write on at least one of those topics, and once in a while I profile other revolutionaries who are also changing the world through unconventional ways. You can follow along by RSS, email updates, or just by checking in here at the site.
I write about personal development and life design, with the conviction that you don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.
I write about entrepreneurship and other kinds of unconventional work, with the belief that the work we do should be both fun and meaningful.
I write about international travel, travel hacking in general, and my journeys to more than 25 countries every year.
The key theme that links each of these topics is nonconformity. I define non-conformity as “a lack of orthodoxy in thoughts or beliefs” or “the refusal to accept established customs, attitudes, or ideas.”
If you’re looking for specific examples of what this means in practice, take a look through the archives or most popular posts. Check it out for a while; you might like it. Or you might not, and that’s OK too.
All of the writing on the AONC site is presented freely with no advertising. If you’d like to support the project, join the small army.
Every Country in the World
The site also tracks my own stated goal for world travel. In my journeys so far I have visited more than 100 countries, and over the next five four years, I plan to visit every country in the world. You can view my current progress here.
I’m interested in the convergence between highly personal goals and service to others. I use the metaphor of world domination (ruling and changing the world at the same time) to highlight all the things we can achieve when we choose to live with gratitude and purpose.
You can learn more about that subject in the Brief Guide to World Domination that has now been read by more than 100,000 people in 60 countries. The sequel, 279 Days to Overnight Success, provides a case study for anyone interested in building an alternative career using new media.
The essence of my philosophy is this:
1. You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.
2. If you don’t decide for yourself what you want to get out of life, someone else will probably end up deciding for you.
3. There is usually more than one way to accomplish something.
4. You can do good things for yourself and help other people at the same time.
The Reason Why
At the University of Washington, I paid $32,000 over five quarters of graduate school to learn a lot of trivia about governance in Africa (my chosen subject) and this one important fact: it is always very important to carefully examine someone’s motives in communicating.
Whenever you read something, ask yourself, “What are the author’s motivations? Why did he or she choose to devote a great deal of time and effort to one particular thing in exclusion of others?”
On balance, I think this lesson is probably worth at least $32,000 in the long run, but if you can learn it for free and in less time, good for you.
As for me, I started writing for three reasons:
1) I felt I had something important to say.
2) I wanted to transition from helping a few people on an individual basis to helping more people through a broader platform.
3) I wanted to sleep at night.
In the nine months before I began this project, I kept waking up at night with more ideas. If I didn’t write them down, I couldn’t get back to sleep. I learned a while back that when you wake up feeling excited about an idea and can’t shake it, there’s usually a reason for it. It’s a good idea to pay attention to what you’re being told by the universe.
Since I started writing these things down, I’ve been advancing the vision of unconventional living, helping more people, and sleeping great at night.
I mean... oh-my-freakin'-God! Isn't that just AWESOME!? How incredibly inspiring!