Four Components of Audacity

For a long time I’ve wondered how to measure nonconformity. To measure nonconformity I needed to define “nonconformity”. But no matter how I defined “nonconformity” my definitions felt so subjective they could apply to anybody, from a certain point of view. If everybody is nonconformist then nobody is nonconformist because the word “nonconformist” isn’t meaningful.

Today I realized that the opposite of conformity is audacity.


noun, plural au·dac·i·ties.

  1. boldness or daring, especially with confident or arrogant disregard for personal safety, conventional thought, or other restrictions.

  2. effrontery or insolence; shameless boldness: His questioner’s audacity shocked the lecturer.

  3. Usually audacities . audacious or particularly bold or daring acts or statements.

Audacity is bold, daring, shameless and impertinent. Cultivate these qualities and you will cultivate nonconformity.

My favorite technique of boldness is to simply tell the truth. One trick is to never prefix statements with “I believe”. Don’t say “I believe ”. If is true then just say “”. (If is untrue then don’t say and don’t believe .) The unqualified statement is bolder. Crocker’s rules encode boldness into a social norm.

Daring comes from doing things that scare you.

Shamelessness comes from not caring what other people think on short time horizons.

The most impressive people I know care a lot about what people think, even people whose opinions they really shouldn’t value (a surprising numbers of them do something like keeping a folder of screenshots of tweets from haters). But what makes them unusual is that they generally care about other people’s opinions on a very long time horizon—as long as the history books get it right, they take some pride in letting the newspapers get it wrong.

The Strength of Being Misunderstood by Sam Altman

Impertinence comes from treating superiors as equals. I don’t know how to cultivate impertinence because I’m status-blind to begin with. Impertinence is the opposite of submission; it is dangerous to be impertinent when your livelihood is on the line.