Act Accordingly delivers a strong message in its opening lines:
YOU HAVE EXACTLY ONE LIFE in which to do everything you will ever do. Act accordingly.'Act accordingly' is the mantra that weaves its way through this concise book. This book is like no other self-help book that I have read - Colin's message is direct but there are no rules or exercises to follow and no right or wrong responses to the book. Instead he writes about the personal philosophies that guide his life and also the insights he has gained from his many travelling experiences. By sharing his philosophies the reader is invited to question their own attitudes and values and to choose whether to act upon them or not. The chapters are as diverse as his experiences and give an insight into the open 'think outside the box' mindset that have enabled him to redefine his life and create a simple and successful life; a life that is defined by freedom. Colin Wright leads an enviable minimalistic and free lifestyle but he is hugely supportive of others' quest for self-improvement. His chapter on confidence is truly inspiring. This is what I like most about this book - it suggests that change is possible for all of us if we 'act accordingly'. Change and risk are intrinsic to self-improvement but can often paralyse us. However, this book may change your view of challenge - you may just wonder what has been holding you back for so long.
So, my interview... this was a personal challenge. My first interview... with Colin Wright....
First of all thank you for allowing me to interview you. It's a real honour to be able to share your work and views with my readers. I hope you enjoy answering my questions and can excuse my British spelling!
It's my pleasure — thanks for putting these questions together (and I actually prefer the English spelling of most words!)
1. Act Accordingly is a philosophical framework with a series of concise and distinct chapters that knit together providing the reader with the opportunity to explore a range of issues such as confidence, fear of failure and personal growth. The book is dedicated to “all the people with massive potential but little idea how to use it”. How do you envisage this book helping others?
My hope — and you never know how a book received, so it's just a hope at this point — is that people will take it for what it is, not what it might have been. It might have been a philosophy book, with me explaining how I see the world and convincing people they should think the same way.
That's not what I want readers to take away. Instead, I hope it's seen as a framework — a container of sorts, into which you can pour whatever philosophies make sense, and then see them more clearly, refining them into even more distinct, more perfect versions of what they started out as.
In other words, it's not my intent to convert, but instead to provide tools for folks who want to improve themselves without losing what makes them unique in the process.
2. Act Accordingly is, I believe, a deliberately short book and I gather you wrote the first draft in one day. Is this true? Where did the idea and title of the book come from?
Haha, yes, I did write it in a day, but that figure is misleading, because there were months of revising and editing and packaging that took place afterward, to make sure it was the most refined message possible; and doing that kind of work is even more difficult when you're aiming to keep things concise.
And I really did want to keep it super-short — under 100 pages, and as closer to 50 as possible — so that even people who don't read much can pick it up an ingest it in no time flat. Far more important to me than producing a book that looks like a normal book (the average page count for published books hovers around 150 pages) was producing something I thought would be useful to people, and easy to take in and share. Depending on which format you buy (ebook, paperback), Act Accordingly ended up having 60-80 pages. Not as short as I wanted to make it, but just about there!
3. This book pulls no punches. You explain that dreams are achievable but that challenge and change are essential to building a new life. I admire your honest and direct approach and find it refreshing compared to the tone of many self-help authors. Is this tough stance deliberate?
It is, and it's not and easy one for me to take, honestly. I want to be encouraging and fluffy and happy when explaining things I'm passionate about, like developing a personal philosophy. But without that little push — the edge that comes with having a friend who isn't afraid to tell you there's spinach in your teeth — it would be a whole lot of happy words and sunshine without any action behind it. And I really, truly, want people to read the book and feel like they know what to do next. Without that hint of toughness, I don't think that would ever happen.
4. In your chapter On Confidence you suggest that confidence is about “enjoying what you have, but always striving for more”. I find this very empowering as you suggest that confidence is a journey and that being open-minded is crucial to finding confidence. I think your approach will inspire many people to believe in themselves. Have you always been confident?
Absolutely not! And I still struggle with it sometimes, truth be told. It gets easier, and it's something I've got a solid grip on most of the time, but it is a process you're never quite done with, and as you learn more, or get better at certain skills that are important to you, every new horizon conquered brings yet another horizon — a new starting point in which you're very small again, and everything is new and scary. I define confidence in this way because it's the element that a lot of definitions leave out: that you're never simply confident in an absolute sense, you're just more confident than you've been before. And that's growth worth being proud of.
5. In previous interviews you have listed gaining knowledge and travel as your two main passions. Is writing also a passion of yours? You have an enviably relaxed but forthright style that immediately engages the reader. Have you any tips for aspiring writers out there?
I absolutely love writing, but it's really just one means of communication among many others. I also love creating art and design work, even singing and playing guitar, though that's more of a private habit than something I engage in publicly. The point there being that creativity transcends media, and if you can get a grasp of your creative side, all you have to do to jump from painting to writing to singing to interpretative dance is learn the technique. And that's the easy part — you just train and train and train!
But expressing myself and communicating is absolutely a passion, and writing is a part of that arsenal. The best advice I can offer people who want to write better is to just write a whole lot. Like, even more than you're thinking is a lot right now. Write write write, and then write some more. Don't be afraid to break rules, but know about as many of the rules as possible. Read as much as you can stand, but don't mimic those whose work you enjoy. Be yourself and allow your voice to flourish and grow with you.
6. You are an entrepreneur, author, full-time traveller and blogger. How do you manage your time and different interests?
There's a good deal of minimalism built into my philosophy, and that means I focus hardcore on the things that are important to me, and allow the unimportant things to drift away. That applies to possessions, activities, relationships, and just about everything, really. That means I can really throw myself into what's left: I've got the time, money, resources, and energy to do so, because I'm not wasting any of it. Well, as little of it as possible (like confidence, this is an ongoing process, and always will be).
So I actually have tons of free time. More than most people I know. And that means I can delegate it how I like, which some days means I meander around town, reading on park benches and taking in the landscape, while other days I'll sit in a dark room and write. Or build websites. Or design something cool. Or just draw while listening to music. It's a marvelous thing, have the freedom that comes with having control over your day. It allows you to be insanely productive, without ever getting overwhelmed.
7. What role does your blog, Exile Lifestyle, play in your life now?
It's still the central hub for my work, and I write blog posts that go there any no where else. More than anything, it's kind of the base of my online network — it's where people vote on where I move next, it's where they sign up for the newsletter, and it's where they read about the most important things I'm writing about at the moment. There are other places I write as well — Exiles, Let's Know Things, the newsletter, my books, even the stuff I post on Twitter and Facebook — but Exile Lifestyle is still square one for people who are wanting to know more about my work, or keep in touch over the long haul.
8. As a creative person, what inspires you? Where and when do feel most creative?
Novelty. New experiences and people and places and knowledge. I love knowing things and adding facts to my mental web, making connections between new information and old information I picked up elsewhere.
This is why travel is so inspirational to me. It brings me all of those things, all the time, along with plenty of time alone to process it all. I feel most creative while on a stuffy bus full of chickens and goats in the middle of nowhere. Or wandering around a new city, or experiencing something for the first time.
9. Can you tell us a little about how you came to co-found Asymmetrical Press and work alongside Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus from The Minimalists. Is it right that you inspired Joshua on his minimalist journey?
Joshua started reading my blog several years ago, and he contacted me when I was in NYC (where he was going to be visiting) to see if we could meet up. He told me he wanted to write more, and I suggested he start a blog. He was thinking about minimalism and applying it to his life even more than he had already done, and I told him that perhaps he should write about that kind of thing. The rest is history — he and Ryan started up The Minimalists and really redefined the space (for the better) in a very short period of time.
I kept in touch with them over the years, and came up with a business model that I thought could really help change the indie publishing landscape, but I knew I wouldn't be able to do it myself, so as I rolled through Ohio (where they were living at the time), I showed them what I had in mind and suggested we work on it together as partners. I wanted to partner with them because they had an amazing work ethic and very similar ideas about publishing, business, and dealing with people. They were also just genuinely nice guys, and I'd had enough of working with jerks!
10. As a minimalist what's your most valued possession?
My cop-out answer is 'freedom'!
My answer that's more in line with what you're probably asking is my laptop. If I have a laptop, I can do anything, from anywhere. It's the one piece of equipment I need in order to survive, and if I started from scratch — no money, no other gadgets, no clothes — I could rebuild, so long as I had a computer and an internet connection.
That concept is actually what led to the cover of my first memoir, My Exile Lifestyle. Just me and a laptop!
11. Finally, after several years of travelling to different countries every four months how are you finding your current sojourn in Missoula, Montana? Are you looking forward to your next travelling challenge towards the end of the year?
I was actually really concerned about holding still this long, even though it's been about the same amount of time I spend in the countries I visit. It just seemed so strange to come back to the US for this many months, which is the longest I've spent in the country in about four years.
But Missoula is an amazing city — just the right size, with tons of culture, great food, friendly people, and a low cost of living. It's one of the more beautiful places I've been in the US or the world, and the people have been so welcoming.
I am looking forward to hitting the road again, though, and I feel great about the work we've managed to do while setting up Asymmetrical here in Montana. This is my new permanent address, too, so I'll definitely be coming back from time-to-time, enjoying the city and relaxing for a bit, after the sometimes high-octane lifestyle that I live in general.
Thanks to Asymmetric Press for this opportunity and thanks for reading my review and interview. I'll be back later in the week with a worldwide giveaway of this book.