Boldly existing outside the box through conscious living and constant learning.
Recently I had the pleasure of meeting and listening to Chris Guillebeau, the creator of The Art of Non Conformity and author of the books “The Art of Non Conformity” and “The $100 Startup.” In addition to being a well know author and unconventionalist he is also an adventure seeker who has the goal of visiting every country in the world. I have been reading and being influenced by Chris for a long time now and have found so many things that have improved my life and helped me find my own path to freedom from his work. Chris is a writer, world traveler, and ardent advocate of thinking outside any and all boxes.
After listening to Chris speak in Seattle recently I asked him if I could interview him about how he has made a life out of leaving behind tired, pre-determined methods of success and finding freedom in life outside the box. He graciously agreed and below you will find the interview. What I most wanted to find out was how Chris not only took the first step to an unconventional life, but how he continues to be enriched by a life spent in constant learning and expanding of his mind. After the Q & AA (questions and awesome answers) we will recap and see what Chris’ answers tell us about Unboxed Living. Enjoy!
1. What first led or inspired you to look at life differently and leave behind the pre-determined path society has for us all?
Well, I got my start as a juvenile delinquent, so I’m not sure that’s the best path for everyone to follow. Thankfully, I eventually improved after I got out of the detention center and stopped stealing cars.
2. Why don’t more people seek an Unboxed Life?
Some of them don’t know it’s possible, and others don’t know what to do to make it happen. This is why it helps to have examples of different kinds of people who have found their own unconventional life, in their own way. It also helps to show how those people have done it, and what obstacles they overcame on the way.
3. What are your most important tips for someone looking to break out of conformist thinking?
Ask why. Always be thinking about motivations — what do you really want to do? Who do you want to become? Next, think about what’s stopping you, and how you can make deliberate choices to get closer to your ideal life.
Ultimately, though, it all comes down to action. You have to do something different, not just think about it.
4. What role does service play in living a life that matters?
Service is essential and shouldn’t just be an afterthought to everything else. First, anyone who reads this post has tremendous privileges and opportunities that are unique to our time in history and our place in the world. We do indeed have a responsibility to do everything we can for others.
Second, pursuing service isn’t a sacrifice; it’s something that improves our own lives as well. I use the phrase “selfish generosity”—as we seek to engage, we also benefit.
5. You have made a goal of visiting every country in the world. How have those experiences helped you expand your mind?
Great question. In the beginning, the quest was mostly about self-discovery and my own love of adventure. Over time it evolved to a sense of learning about the world and being willing to be changed through it. As I come to the end of the journey, I’m still unpacking some of the lessons and what it all means.
6. If you had to choose one, what would be the greatest benefit of living life unbound by the confines of mental boxes?
If I had to choose one benefit, I’d choose the benefit of freedom itself. The desire to live life unbound is a powerful motivation; the ability to actually do so is addicting. Once you experience it, watch out! It’s hard to go back.
First of all I would like to thank Chris for taking the time to answer these questions and giving us all some insight into how to build a unique and unconventional life outside the box. Just as he said above it is so valuable to look at people who are blazing the trail to freedom and learn from what they have achieved. I think that Chris has some valuable advice and powerful experience to share here that we can all utilize on our journey to an Unboxed Life.
I would like to pick out a couple of points and expand on them. In question #3 Chris talks about the importance of both thinking about the life you want and then taking action to make it happen. We have talked about this idea before and I don’t think it can be overstressed. The importance of turning our desires and passions into tangible action and steps is often our greatest challenge. That is a lot about what Chris’ book The $100 Startup is all about. Action coupled with honest, critical thought about what drives your passions will lead you closer to the life you want.
In questions #4 Chris talks about the importance of service and our collective responsibility to take care of each other. One of the core principles of Unboxed Life is the pursuit of true service to others and experiencing the full spectrum of the human experience through serving. I think Chris sums it up when he says, “We do indeed have a responsibility to do everything we can for others.” I couldn’t agree more.
Lastly, Chris talks so much in almost all of his work about the idea of freedom. Each person will have their own definition of freedom much like we all have our own definitions of success and happiness. Freedom really means having how you spend your time and live your life be in line with your passions and desires and be able to pursue those things with the majority of your time. An Unboxed Life is one where the freedom from constricting mental boxes allows us to pursue a life that matters and to create a better world through our life’s work. But be warned, “The desire to live life unbound is a powerful motivation; the ability to actually do so is addicting.” Perfectly said Chris.
As we all pursue our own version of freedom and seek to expand our minds through a variety of avenues there is one idea that binds it all together: The life you are told to live doesn’t have to be the one you choose to live. Be willing to work hard and take your freedom back, go out there and make your extraordinary life happen. Though it will be a lifelong pursuit, today can be the birth, the moment when thoughts turn to action, when desires become reality and the box becomes obliterated. Thanks again to Chris Guillebeau and to all of you for reading.
Me and Chris photo: here
Freedom pic: tim phillips photos