Feature Friday Interviews will now run weekly. These interviews feature rare and wonderful individuals who embody characteristics of The Liberation Artist: living outside the status quo while writing their own rules and carving a unique path to self-defined success. This week I am thrilled to feature author, entrepreneur, publisher, and full-time traveler, Colin Wright.
I discovered Colin a few years ago. I was thrilled to encounter someone living so many of my own core beliefs, and sharing them so generously and confidently with the world at large. While we embraced location independence and minimalism in different ways, it seemed we shared many values. Clearly he was a man of integrity, living according to a code he internalized to his core. A mover and shaker, this Jack of Many Trades is a creature of idea, inspiration, and innovation, a true kindred spirit. Most impressively, his many talents and achievements haven’t left him resting on his laurels, either – you can sense the eternal spark ever-at-the-ready to burst forth into full blown manifestation of his vision-of-the-moment…and the next…and next.
This innovator has been running businesses since he was 19. A student of design and illustration, he operated a successful design business in LA until he and his girlfriend began to plan their breakup (and break-up party) four months in advance. This freed Colin to develop the next incarnation of Colin’s world: he embraced minimalism and started a blog, Exile Lifestyle, where he allowed readers to vote on where in the world he would spend the next four months. Of course, he blogged his adventures, allowing others to simultaneously be inspired and live vicariously. He’s also managed to write ten books along the way, the latest of which is “Act Accordingly.” More recent adventures include co-founding a publishing company, Asymmetrical Press, with Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Milburn of The Minimalists.
So there you have it folks. It is with great pleasure that I share with you this interview with Colin today. If you haven’t yet discovered his work, I encourage you – don’t miss out – check out the links at the end of the interview. In the meantime, let’s find out how this Mr. Wright is quite living up to his name, doing all the Right stuff – a true Liberation Artist.
Colin is an author, entrepreneur, and full-time traveler. He moves to a new country every four months based on the votes of his readers, and writes about the new experiences he pursues and people he meets along the way.
I know many look at you and see you in terms of labels and roles: minimalist, adventurer, author, blogger, publisher, etc. However, I get the feeling that while those are all part of who Colin Wright is, that those things are superflous, that it is really about a deeper “code” you live by, and that these are really roles or choices you have made that were merely informed by something bigger: your code, and a sense of mission to create value in the world. If this is correct, can you share a bit about the interplay between your personal (code, rules, mission) and the roles & rules you have subsequently created, that shape your life (»minimalism, adventure etc).
Honestly, most of what I do these days is aligned with the deeper sense of morality and philosophies that I hold dear. There’s still work to be done on that front (and I think there always will be — anyone who claims they are living their philosophies perfectly probably either seldom adjust their philosophies based on new information, or haven’t deep-dived to understand them fully), but I feel more aligned today than I ever have before, and a little more so each day.
As for what that ‘code’ is, it’s based around a few key ideas like the fact that life is temporary, but worth living, and that in order to be the best member of the human community you can possibly be, you first need to be a strong individual. Simple things — ideas that many people would consider to be obvious, I think — but important, foundational ones. Things I really focus on, because although they may be obvious, many people ignore them as too basic to worry about, and end up leaving them by the wayside, getting caught up in less-important things in the tradeoff.
Everything that I do (the experiments, my lifestyle, my work) stems from ideas like that. They’re my philosophies made manifest.
When living life as an experiment, one must be ready to correct course when new information arrives. You’re clearly a master of adaptability, a rare trait. In my experience such flexiblity is typically sourced from the marriage of one’s code to the practice of ‘living the examined life.’ This allows quick adjustments based on new information, without creating a ‘sliding integrity.’ How is it that you are so readily adaptable when you encounter unexpected opportunities or circumstances?
It’s actually amazing how few things truly matter to a person once they’ve figured out which things do. In my case, I’ve identified some key things that are important to me — things I need to focus my time and energy on — and as a result, the other things I can be more casual about. That’s not to say that I intentionally allow any aspect of my life to decrease in value, but I do tend to roll with the punches and plan less, giving me more adaptability and allowing me to be more mellow and less intense. Every small matter is not of vital importance. Every failure is just a rock in the shoe, not a boulder on the foot.
Adaptability — the way I do it, at least — is the result of being aware of these things and then allowing yourself to enjoy life.
You are known as a risk-taker: you allow others to vote on where you will travel; you embark on numerous life experiments. Did this always come effortlessly? How do you push through moments of fear and hesitation, so you could embrace risk?
No, it didn’t always come effortlessly. Though it’s been a lot more effortless as time goes on because of how I spend my time (however I want) and my long-term goals (to experience new things — therefore, taking risks is part of what makes me happy).
There’s going to be fear any time you aspire to try something new, but recognizing it for what it is — your body’s way of telling you you’re about to do something unfamiliar — helps a whole lot in pushing through the moment of “Ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod” and into a period of calm acceptance. There are plenty of things in the world worth worrying about, but in most cases, the things we are afraid of are not those things.
And at the end of the day, I know not facing those fears will hold me back more than anything else. I didn’t like flying when I decided to start traveling full-time, but I knew if I allowed myself to be afraid of it, I wouldn’t be able to achieve my dreams. Many of the ceilings we have in our lives are self-constructed. All you have to do is take them apart, or at the very least build a trap door in them so you can climb up on top and use them as floors, instead.
Have you always lived this way, challenging the status quo? If yes, when did you realize you were different, and what challenges did this present?
I haven’t always lived this way, at least not to an extreme, but I have always been a little bit abnormal (not always in a good way). That being said, I don’t think too many people consider themselves normal, so my assessment of this is likely skewed by my bias!
At the Liberation Artist we often discuss the economy of life, the idea that we are born with a treasure chest filled with our one real asset, our life moments, which we are literally ‘spending’ as we shape our lives, and we never know when we are nearing bankruptcy. As such, we focus on the import of using one’s moments well – not in a ‘type A’ way, but in terms of shaping the story we want to leave behind us in our chapter of the Book of Life, so to speak. As someone exploding with ideas and wearing many hats, how do you prioritize the allocation of your assets, be they your life moments or material ones? It must be hard, no?
I tend to look at the time I have as a finite resource — something I can use up very easily, but can’t get back (a similar metaphor to yours).
In that context, I check in with myself frequently to make sure I’m having a good time, and am genuinely happy. If I’m not, I need to reassess how I’m using that resource. If so, all is well and I can carry on however I like.
From what I know of you, it appears that while you value success you use different metrics in assessing it than others do. How would you say you measure succcess, and not just in work, but in life in general?
To me, success is being able to do what I want, when I want, and for any reason at all (or no reason).
That means freedom, and that means having some control over my financial well-being, as well as my health and relationships and so on. If these puzzle pieces are in place, then I’m in a good position to achieve what I want now, and to change direction if I want to try on another hat, or explore another avenue.
That’s success to me, and though it incorporates some of the traditional metrics of measuring such things (money, influence, health), the reason for wanting to have solid numbers in those fields is a bit different than the norm.
What words of advice or encouragement would you like to give to others?
There’s very little you can’t achieve, so long as you want it bad enough and act on that want. Very few people have an arch-nemesis in their lives who will stop at nothing to defeat them — in most cases the only person who can stop us, is us.
Recognize that. And also recognize that you don’t have forever to make your dreams a reality. Then act accordingly.
To connect further with Colin, check out one of his many books, including the recently released, “Act Accordingly,” and don’t miss his websites at:
You can also find Colin on Twitter at: twitter.com/colinismyname, and on Facebook at: facebook.com/colinwright