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The Art of Non-Conformity book review

I want a book to both inform and inspire me. And being a consummate non-conformist as well as an avaricious reader, I wasn’t sure if The Art of Non Conformity would offer anything new in the information arena. But when my good friends sent me a copy of the book, it got my attention. It evidently inspired them. (They too are big readers.)

It didn’t take but a few pages to understand why they recommended this book. Yes, much of the content is not new; anyone who reads Seth Godin and the like will be familiar with the admonitions: Plow through your fears, put legs to your dreams and live a remarkable life. (Or to use his subtitle- Set your own rule/Live the Life you want and Change the World.)

What captivated me first was this guy’s unorthodox trip through the educational system. He skipped high schooled and fast-tracked his way through college earning two Bachelor’s degrees and a Master’s. He decided to forgo the PhD. realizing all his work would be read by the sum total of a few academics. (Vs. a worldwide audience with his writing.)

His conclusion- while college is certainly a worthwhile pursuit for some, most of the content is superfluous. He gives some suggestions for a self-directed Master’s program for the motivated. (It includes listening to a 20 minute foreign language podcast once a day, a year-long subscription to Economist, memorizing all the countries of the world and their capitals and leaders.) He says, “It is often quicker, cheaper and easier to become your own expert.” (Applause, applause, Chris.)

I loved how he talked about a “guru-free philosophy.” As a free range believer and educator I’ve learned to use caution when it comes to following gurus. I’m all for relationships/mentorships that help me in my life’s journey but too often, those end up in an unhealthy pursuit of approval and control.

I found myself nodding along reading this book. Guillebeau values experiences and relationships over stuff. And to that end, he has a goal of traveling to all the countries in the world by the age of 35. (And he’s coming darn close to accomplishing just that.)

Overall, this book has put a fresh wind in my sails in looking at the goals I have in my life. Particularly with writing and “Free Range Education.”

I highly recommend hopping over to Amazon and plopping down the few bucks this book costs. Read it. Highlight it. Jot down notes like I did. And then go do something remarkable.

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Comment by Jordan Peterson on December 6, 2010 at 1:41pm
What is a “guru-free philosophy.”?
Comment by Brandy Woldstad on November 30, 2010 at 7:03am
This sounds like a book I'll have to pick up. Since I started homeschooling my kids I've been questioning the whys for all the things I was forced to learn in public school. I love the idea of a not conforming. :)
Comment by Theresa on November 26, 2010 at 5:48pm
Sutton, I only just now saw your comment. Thanks for leaving one and yeah, that self directed master's thing was pretty cool!
Comment by Sutton Parks on November 23, 2010 at 10:39am
Thanks for reminding me some of the principles in Chris's book. I loved it! I especially like the self-directed masters program.
Comment by Theresa on November 22, 2010 at 6:33pm
Glad to hear it, Matt! Enjoy!
Comment by Matt Rise on November 22, 2010 at 2:34pm
Thanks for the review! I have this on my "to read" list and it's coming up soon. Sometimes with books like these, it's not that I'm looking for ground breaking new information, but (as you noted) some encouragement and motivation. I am looking forward to reading it too.

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