Friday, November 9, 2012

7 Takeaways from The Art of Nonconformity

There are more creative ways of approaching "life" than I ever imagined and Chris Guillebeau in his book The Art of Non-Conformity has introduced me to a few more possibilities!  I've boiled it down to a crowded index card of 7 key takeaways:

  1. All those good things that you've done before are nice, but the future can be even better!  Focus on that. After years in a particular school, job, function or company it can be easy to get "stuck" in the sunk costs and the glory of those days.  But if you're reading this you're not dead yet so there's more good to come!
  2. Increase the percentage of your work that leaves a legacy as opposed to busy work or even just good work. Does laundry leave a legacy?  No, but it sure does make our clothes smell nice.  Some things are just plain necessary.  But, if you're doubling down on legacy work, even sacred laundry can be outsourced to the local laundromat.  I'm not recommending this per se, just saying, take a look at where you spend your time and figure out how to scoop more of it into the legacy category even if it means a novel approach for the good work.
  3. Set up a continual metric so you know if you're on track. Having a metric helps you either make an express decision to not do or helps you figure out how to take a few precious moments to do it anyway.
  4. Take your ambitions seriously. They may not pan out and probably will end up looking different but by taking them seriously you'll learn more about yourself and what you actually need and can do. 
  5. When you start doing what you really want, not everyone will understand.  This is OK. This can be a novel thought for people-pleasers.  It's okay.
  6. Pursue radical exclusion. What can you stop doing?  What's your "Stop-Doing" list?
  7. It's not all about me.  Be sure to leave a positive impact on others. This is a great reminder to include a continuous metric that addresses your positive impact to others.  Clayton Christensen uses number of people he has helped per day.  Even a day where he helps only one person is a success because that's his goal.

I hope this summary helps you too get a little closer to making progress on what's important to you and on leaving a legacy!


Anonymous said...

Hello Jennifer, I especially like your sixth point: "Pursue Radical Exclusion." This is a crucial step that many businesses and individuals overlook in seeking expansiveness, relevant tangents, and "adjacencies." I discussed a similar idea in my post on "The Considered Pursuit of Less," . I think that "Radical Exclusion" may capture the idea more effectively. Thank you for sharing this succinct summary of key reminders in navigating life.

Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson said...

Hi Kathryn, thank you! And thanks for sharing a link to your post! I appreciate how you've taken several books and put them in conversation with each other. I particularly like the idea of a "life audit" and the practice of intentionally eliminating an old activity before adding a new one. Thanks for the shortcuts!

Nils Davis said...

Jennifer - I just stumbled upon your great post, and it really resonated with me and my 2013 resolutions (such as "be more helpful"). I have a little metric living on my wrist now - a Nike Fuelband - so I have #3 covered for at least part of my goals. My list of legacy goals is far too long to accomplish all of this year, but your reminder about radical exclusion is key to getting anything done along those lines. And thanks for reminding us, with #4, that our ambitions are important and serious, even if only for us.


Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson said...

Hi Nils, thanks for stopping by! I had the chance to pursue radical exclusion myself last weekend when I chose not to run a 10k with 1200 feet of elevation gain on a steady training diet of flatland. I got a lot of writing done for my other blog instead and was very happy. Your Nike fuel band sounds like a great way to keep on track physically. Loved your blogs . It seems that through them, you take your passions seriously. Here's to 2013!