New York Times best-selling author Chris Guillebeau is someone who doesn't believe in conformity. His first book is called 'The Art of Non-Conformity' and every year he hosts the wildly popular 'Word Domination Summit' in Portland, Oregon. Tickets for this event usually sell out in hours, and there's a wait list every year.
When Chris talks about non-conformity, he's not talking about rebelling against the world, he's talking about how to change the world by each of us achieving our personal goals.
Chris accomplished a major goal by traveling to every country in the world (193) by his 35th birthday. This quest started when he left a comfortable life here in the United States to spend four years working on a hospital ship in West Africa.
He's a very inspiring person, and he lives what he writes. His second book, "The $100 Start Up' gave us stories from people around the world that refused to conform, and chased their dreams no matter what.
On September 9th, 2014 Chris' third book, The Happiness of Pursuit will be released to the world. I received an advanced copy of the book, and had a chance to interview Chris about the book.
Let me just tell you upfront that the book is fabulous, in my opinion of course. Again he shares stories, but this time of people on "quests." He goes into detail in the book about what that means. The book is well written, entertaining, and inspiring.
Here is the conversation between Chris and myself.
Your book is called the The Happiness of Pursuit. What does happiness mean to you?
Chris: Happiness is continuously improving my circumstances, as well as the circumstances of others. If that sounds too complicated, let's break it down to what matters: I like pursuing big dreams and making the world a better place at the same time.
I also like forward motion and progress. In pursuing a quest to visit every country in the world, I really enjoyed the incremental nature of it. Every time I went to a new country, I got a little bit closer to the goal. These small accomplishments helped me keep going all the way to country #193.
This is a loaded question, but what's the hardest part of any pursuit?
Chris: I think it varies depending on the quest and the quester. But for a lot of people, the long, hard slog in the middle of the quest is the most challenging. When you're just starting out, everything is new and fresh--and as you approach the end, victory is in sight. But in the middle, you just have to keep going.
Having your own motivation to keep moving forward is critical. It helps to clearly understand why you're pursuing the dream or adventure, so that when times are hard you have something to fall back on.
With accomplishing such huge goals what's next for you?
Chris: Going to all 193 countries was a good start, but I hope that's not the only thing I'll ever be known for. Perhaps much more important is the work I'm hoping to do with my community and other remarkable people in general. I want to encourage people to live unconventional, creative lives--in whatever fashion they choose to do so, but with the knowledge that they're not alone and that there are others they can help out along the way.
I may also want to visit the moon at some point.
What motivates you to keep writing?
Chris: Writing, art, and music are the only creative expressions that allow creator and audience to intersect. I'm not a good artist and I gave up playing music years ago, so I write. It's a ritual and an obsession. I also feel very grateful to be able to write for a living, and I don't take that for granted.
When you started your quest how did you deal with the doubt and fear? What advice would you give those struggling with doubt and fear on their quest?
Chris: Great question. I don't think those things ever go away, at least completely. But for me, and not just me but also many of the people I talked to for the book, I knew that if I didn't pursue the quest, I'd regret it later. If I tried and failed along the way, that would be hard but I could deal with it. What I *couldn't* deal with was the notion that I had this big idea and didn't go anything about it.
I'd tell anyone who's reading that if they have a dream, they should think about the long-term. Years from now, how will they feel if they decide to follow it, and what if they decide against it? The fear of regret can be a powerful and rewarding motivator.
How do you deal with the haters?
Chris: I try to keep in mind that most people are good, and that the audience of critics isn't worth focusing on.
I want to thank Chris for talking the time out of his busy schedule to speak with me. Again, the new book is the Happiness of Pursuit and if you're on a quest or chasing a dream, this book will appeal to you.
Life is too short to settle, and live with regret. I'll end with two quotes from the book: "Courage comes through achievement but also the attempt" and "If you want to achieve the unimaginable, it starts with imagining it."