Ready to live up to your own standards of success? Chris Guillebeau, author of The Art of Non-Conformity and one of the writers at the Escape Velocity blog talks about what it means to him to carve his own path:

CR: How do you define “The Art of Non-Conformity”? And why did you write this book?

CG: The central message is: You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to. You can do good things for yourself and for others at the same time — and here are the stories of people who have done that in different ways.

Part of the answer about why I wrote the book is admittedly circular: I wrote it because I always wanted to be a writer, and traditionally, writers have written books. That’s changing now, of course, but I still believe that old-school print books are special and reach a different group of people than those of us who live online.

I was also challenged by the longer format, and forced to (hopefully) create a broader narrative instead of just a blog post

CR: Why do you think so many people are afraid of challenging the status quo and settling for mediocrity?

CG: Because the status quo is comfortable, and no one will ever question for you for doing things the same way everyone else does.

CR: You believe that more people are held back by fear and insecurities rather than circumstances. How can people go about changing that?

CG: First of all, acknowledge the fear and don’t try to be fearless. I was terrified of leaving home and moving to West Africa eight years ago. I was terrified of starting an online project with my name on it for the world to see. I hate criticism and take it personally even though I shouldn’t. But yet, I just keep doing things. So I think that’s the second part of the answer — first, acknowledge your fear, and second, don’t let fear make your decisions for you.

CR: What about the people who don’t really know what they want out of life? How can they define success?

CG: I’d start by asking questions. What are you excited about? What did you like to do when you were a kid? Then I’d take it farther and ask What bothers you about the world? There are plenty of problems out there; which one bothers you the most and how can you work towards fixing it?

This kind of thinking is helpful if you’re trying to figure yourself out.

CR: You focus on an abundance mindset. In the area of personal finance, why do you advocate increasing income over cutting expenses? Do you think this applies to everyone?

CG: If you have a low income, there’s only so much you can cut. You’ll gain much more freedom and opportunity by finding a way to increase income. I think of it as a general rule, not necessarily something that applies in every case.

CR: How do you decide what to say yes to and what to say no to in business and in life?

CG: My strategy has been to say yes to everything! I hate the idea that you must be selective, say no 10 times for every 1 yes, etc. Perhaps it’s not truly everything, but whatever success I’ve had has come from being open and excited about new adventures.

Thanks to Chris for sharing his insights on how you can pursue the art of non-conformity. His book by the same name is available everywhere!