In his book ‘The Art of Non-Conformity’, Chris Guillebeau reveals that when you set out on an unconventional journey, you’ll attract attention and criticism. If you succeed in your quest, you can expect more of both. There are many people who like to put down winners, sometimes referred to as ‘tall poppy syndrome’. These people don’t contribute anything to the world, but enjoy trying to stop others from making a difference. When this happens, you can feel good knowing that you are on your way to pursuing your true path in life.
People will criticise unconventional ideas, arguing that they are unreasonable to implement, for example:
“We can’t all do what we want all the time”.
“Some of us have to be responsible”.
“That doesn’t work in the real world”.
Guillebeau suggests that great movements forward in society have happened as a result of those who question authority and the status quo. Most innovations were judged to be impractical at first glance. Provocative ideas that challenge authority are almost never welcomed by the people who control the access to the power.
We see this all of the time with the authority figure in a family who doesn’t want a young family member leading an alternative lifestyle. It limits the authority figure’s ability to exert control. No wonder they want us to stay in Shouldland, it helps maintain their power within the family.
In his book ‘The Social Animal’, David Brooks notes that when you do make moves to lead a truly free and independent life, you will find the primeval callings from your family and friends (your tribe), reaching out and claiming you in ways you never anticipated. Your tribe will often not understand your move upwards on onwards. They might be proud of you, but beneath this pride are layers of suspicion, fear and resentment that they will never understand. You must understand that you are your own project, and your goal in life has to be to fulfil your own capabilities. You can love your tribe with all of your heart, but you will perceive the world in a different ways.
People who live in Shouldland have a code of loyalty based on the belief that their tribe (family, friends, work colleagues) should act in predictable ways, as they would act. If you don’t act in predictable ways, they feel betrayed by your violation of their loyalty code.
These citizens of Shouldland talk warmly about those that live up to their apparent loyalty code, and coldly about those who do not. They gossip about each other and lay down millions of little rules about what behaviour is to be sought and what behaviour is to be avoided. Don’t be foolish by giving in to their bullying.
People want you to join the ‘club’ that they are members of. People who settle for a partner to marry, and have a less than happy life, want you to join them in this life of mediocrity. Its like when you were a teenager and your friends who smoke want you to join them in being a smoker. You and they both know that it is an illogical decision to smoke, but they have chosen it, and they want you to join them so that they don’t have to feel regret about their decision when they hang out with you. They want you to join the ‘club’. You can have a chuckle to yourself (keep this private) when you face this attempt to get you to join their ‘stupid club’.
As Chris Guillebeau advocates, practice ‘the art of radical exclusion’ with people who waste your time. This is NOT being impolite – it is showing respect for the people you have committed to serve.