My next book, The Power of Authentic Leadership: Activating the 13 Keys to Achieving Prosperity Through Authenticity, is set to be published on June 20th – a little more than one month from now. I directly connected with billionaires, politicians, icons, politicians, New York Times bestselling authors, and history makers, featuring their insights in the book. The following is an excerpt from Chapter 6, the chapter world traveler Chris Guillebeau is featured in.
Break Free From the Expectations of Others
As we continue on our journey of activating the keys to prosperity through authenticity, one of the most important steps is to align our actions with what we value. One of the biggest challenges is that so few people practice what they preach. So many people say one thing, and do another. It’s become normal to make false promises and let people down. This is in fact not normal at all, and when people don’t act out of integrity it not only reveals their true colors but also limits their future success.
One of the most authentic and genuine people I’ve ever connected with is Chris Guillebeau. A New York Times bestselling author, speaker, entrepreneur, and world traveler (he’s been to every country in the world, which is remarkable), Chris mirrors the wisdom of the other experts featured in this book: being your most authentic self often means stepping away from the beaten path and from what’s normal. Being authentic means going your own way.
Being authentic means revealing your true self to the world. And in doing so, you will attract the right people into your life. Being authentic looks good on paper, but is hard to put into practice. This goal of this book is not to pay lip service to the “idea” of being who you really are. The goal is for you to actually, in reality, take off the mask and show your true self to the world.
We Choose What We Value
I had a chance to connect with Chris Guillebeau in several email exchanges and his wisdom and insights are legendary, to say the least.
“We choose what we value, either consciously or unconsciously,” Chris said. “Many people, young and old, have no problem happily spending their money and even going into debt for luxuries each week. I’ve chosen to focus my own spending priorities on meaningful experiences.”
There are four types of important questions to ask yourself when aligning your life with your values. The questions are from Chris, and the thoughts that follow each question are my own.
- Am I satisfied with my work? Does it meet my needs and fulfill my desires? We all have to pay the bills. We all have to grind. But you need to really examine your life and find out if you are settling. Be honest with yourself. Are you making daily efforts to create a better life for yourself? Are you looking into career alternatives? Are you thinking outside the box and considering various options? There are countless possibilities – this is not a motivational feel-good saying, but rather a real, practical fact. My Master’s degree is in finance, but I ended up transitioning into digital marketing. You can make a transition as well, even if others think you can’t.
- Think back to the times you have left your home country. What did you learn on those trips? Do you think you have more to learn? These questions are awesome because they not only get you to keep things in perspective, but they also remind you that there is always more to learn. Stay humble. Learn more about your career field and see if there are more aspects to it you may enjoy doing. Learn about new interests and stay fresh.
- If you could go anywhere in the world, where would that be? Chris is an avid traveler, like myself. If you enjoy traveling as much as we do, great. If not, don’t worry – this question applies to you as well. Are you being spontaneous in your daily life? Are you creating new adventures? You don’t need to travel to the other side of the world to do this. It could mean checking out a new local restaurant, hiking a local mountain, or even walking around town and saying hello to new people. Being spiritually prosperous means keeping life interesting. Be independent and never be afraid to do anything alone.
- What are your financial priorities? Take a long, hard look at where you are spending money. Are you living in your own apartment and getting killed by your rent payment? Consider moving in with roommates, your significant other, or back home with your parents if you are younger than 30 and have a good relationship with your parents. Are you tired of having to answer to a landlord? Sell your belongings, find someone else to finish out your lease, and go travel the world (that’s what I did with the last apartment I lived in, and I’m better off for having done it). Yes, you sometimes need to make tradeoffs, but there are also more options and possibilities than you may have initially thought when you really sit down and think about it.
You Don’t Need a Niche
Now that we’ve discussed clarifying your values and evaluating your priorities, let’s take a look at why you don’t need a niche.
“I’ve never had a demographic,” Chris said. “I’ve had a psychographic of people interested in fun stuff.”
The perfect example of this is Chris’s annual World Domination Summit, attended by thousands of people. Over the last five years, more than ten thousand people have attended.
“It’s a strength to not have a niche,” Chris said. “It’s a strength, not a weakness. For my summit I knew I wanted it to be special, so I had to pick something that was deliberately broad. I had to because I knew I had to do a lot of different things to be satisfied, so that’s why it was all about non-conformity. I did this for my own fulfillment, my own motivation, and also to serve the community – to be able to truly serve them.”
When Chris said this, I got really excited. I’ve had a lot of conversations with people who say that you absolutely need a niche. From my perspective and experience, you don’t need a niche. Here’s where some people may misunderstand me, and where I can hopefully clarify what I mean in this chapter: they assume that I’m advocating for them to become a generalist. This is not what I’m advocating at all. Continue to focus on your core areas of knowledge, but don’t be afraid to branch out into additional areas of expertise. I would never, ever encourage someone to speak, write, or talk about a topic they don’t know about. But if you have expertise, experience, and/or knowledge in a given area, why stay away from it just because it’s outside of one particular niche? Some experts will tell you to only ever focus on one niche, but that doesn’t make sense to me and Chris. Make sure to only step into topic areas you have experience with and knowledge about, but don’t be afraid to have more than one niche. Don’t take my word for it: listen to what successful author Chris Guillebeau says.
Chris started with travel blogging, but even then he didn’t focus on a particular demographic. As he mentioned earlier, he simply wanted to connect with people who enjoyed doing fun stuff – and his content and insights could help them do exactly that.
“I wrote a book called The Art of Non-Conformity when I was first starting,” Chris said. “I went on the road to all fifty states and met readers everywhere, doing my own little book tour. In some places there would be fifty people and other places there would be five, and that was cool. I knew right from the beginning there was something special about my community – the community, not just mine. They’re awesome people and I wanted to do anything I could to connect them.
“It’s awesome to see great people in L.A. or Portland, but there are awesome people all over the world. I wanted to bring them together. The initial idea of my annual event was to do an in-person gathering. We didn’t make it all about entrepreneurship, even though there were a lot of entrepreneurs there. And we didn’t make it all about travel, even though there were a lot of active travelers. Or arts, or education. Our thinking was, let’s just bring together like-minded people who share these values. The values we ended up with were community, adventure, and service. It was very organic. We didn’t know what we were doing. We didn’t know anything about running events. And maybe that was for the better in the long-run. The first year was hard in terms of logistics and getting overcharged for things, and not knowing how to do production and all that stuff, but if you have the fundamentals right – if you have the right people – then you can figure out all that stuff later. So we grew from there.”
Jeff Davis is a bestselling author, professional speaker, and authentic leadership expert. To stay tuned for updates on his next book, The Power of Authentic Leadership: Activating the 13 Keys to Achieving Prosperity Through Authenticity, please subscribe to his YouTube channel, follow him on Twitter, or contact his assistant Meg at firstname.lastname@example.org for a FREE three-chapter preview of the book.