College Degrees Are for Suckers (Like Me)

College has become a great way to make friends and a bad way to learn how to build a successful career.

I’m generalizing here, there’s always exceptions to the rule:

Becoming a doctor, lawyer, nurse — anything requiring specialized practice.

But wait.. why aren’t all majors set up like those?
Doesn’t every skill require practice to become a master?

Sure, there’s internships (which is a loaded word) but in the current college environment tests and grades are much more important to school. The game is more important than the results. As long as the money keeps rolling in who cares?

Grades aren’t a sign of knowledge: Just the gamification min / maxing of learning.

At least this has been my experience. I have a burning desire to learn and improve myself and skills yet I'm completely put off by the whole system. We’ve been duped. I’m not telling you to drop out — I’m telling you something needs to change.

The worst crime is the fact that the classroom can’t keep up with the industry.

Businesses move quickly, things you learn in textbooks are outdated if not obsolete by the time you started. In my programming classes, certain foundational theories were transferable, but there was no practicality to the exercise. If you didn’t self-teach yourself outside of the class, you were dead in the water. I️ had classmates who didn’t know how to program applications. Imagine that, a coder who knows code but can’t make anything. It’s like knowing the entire dictionary without knowing how to form complete sentences! The same goes for most creative majors.


But what’s are potentially solutions?


The tides are turning. As student debt rises, people are getting fed up.
The smaller the gap between what we learn and what’s happening out in the world the better we will be. I think there will be a Renaissance — revitalization — of apprenticeship. Why not combine an old school mentality to a new age of technology? Apprenticeships meets the internet. 

What if we cut out the middleman? Businesses teach the students. As a student, you learn under the wing of someone who has a job you desire. Mentorship in action. Sure, you still have classes that give you well-rounded wisdom about how the world works, but when you want to get practical, you go to the cutting edge.

I'm sure there are holes to my logic of course. But what would you rather do: learn business from a classroom, or from Arianna Huffington, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos..? learn to code from a teacher who doesn't, or from Steve Wozniak, Paul Graham, Matt Mullenweg..? learn to direct from a classroom or from J. J. Abrams, Tarantino, Christopher Nolan..?

But of course we can't all apprentice under one titan. There's where the internet comes into play. Universities aren't isolated learning silo's anymore: I can be on the east coast and look up exactly what another university is teaching in psychology on the west coast. (There's probably even video too) I think the future of education is the mesh of hands on learning with the internet giving us access to direct insights from the best of the best in what we want to learn.


Let me know your thoughts / outrage in the comments below.

Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner


Related Wisdom:

“Don't let schooling interfere with your education.” — Mark Twain

George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw is my spirit animal:

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

"A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing."

"You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul."

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

"A gentleman is one who puts more into the world than he takes out."

"Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world."

"Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness."

Read, Reflect, Apply. Rinse and Repeat.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Me Me Me! Over Here!

In a world of Me Me Me, what if I did the opposite?

What if I️ lifted other people up instead of me?


Of course, I want Renaissance Life to be huge. I want to create a massive tribe of friends pursuing mastery and living life to the fullest. But is pushing out one more social media post really going to do it for me? 

Binge reading Ryan Holiday’s blog has shown me how timeless our work can be. I’m reading his thoughts from over a decade ago, and yet there they are — fresh as the day they were conceived. What stands out most to me is not the insights (although there are a bunch of them) but the connections he made along the way. And the same goes for us.

My writing is important, but it’s the connections I make that matter.

That’s why I’ve started interviewing Creatives Like Me on the blog.
I want to create deep and lasting bonds with likeminded humans.
I want to surround myself with charismatic and energetic people who are striving to make the world a better place.

Action Steps: Focus on the we culture, not the me culture. Focus on lifting others first.

Who knows what kind of friends we’ll have if we do?

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Wisdom:

"What tribes are, is a very simple concept that goes back 50 million years. It's about leading and connecting people and ideas. And it's something that people have wanted forever." — Seth Godin
"Great things in business are never done by one person. They're done by a team of people." — Steve Jobs
CHALLENGE: What Would You Change If You Were Going to Die Next Week?

Time is a fickle friend.

Used properly we can increase our abundance — skills, ideas, friendships, wealth, experiences — through the power of compound interest.
Used poorly we can haphazardly give our time to things we don’t care about, and even worse we give our time without actually intentionally deciding to do so.

And Death feels like a far off event that happens when you’re old and grey.
But really it could happen any moment.

We can plan our world for tomorrow but die today.
That’s why brushes with death can powerful motivators. You hear stories about people completely rewriting their story after almost dying in a car accident, or from a health scare.
Moments like these can be a lightning rod to what really matters to you.

Death Becomes Me
So what would you change if you were going to die next week? What would you change?
Would you change anything?

Would your relationships be different?
Would you do the same work?
Would you have the same hobbies?

I want to live my life to the fullest every moment, because if I don’t that means I’ve been living my life with a glass half full.

You are going to die, so  why not be ALIVE while you can?
I’m not talking about reckless abandon (and three sheets into the wind)
I’m talking about intentionality. What would your life look like if you did everything to the upmost?

Extraordinary.

My actions will be fearless. Why wait? What would I wait for? How could I possibly be scared of trivial things like failing or standing out when it’s up against.
My wealth will be in the number of people I️ impact, not the number of zero’s in my bank account.
My friendships will be based on quality and care.
More confident, present,  and.. happy.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Let's Assume I'm Right

My biggest mistakes and faults in life tend to be centered around making assumptions about how things work.

Actually, its more like two assumptions: I️ make an assumption about how things work, then I️ assume that I’m right. Or in other words I'm making false assumptions based on nothing concrete.

  • I can assume someone doesn't want to hang out or talk to me, but really they're just busy. (and were assuming you would reach out first
  • If I️ make a mistake at work, it’s usually because I️ made an assumption that bandaids a problem I’m not seeing.
  • With Gabriella, I️ can assume something I’m doing is good, but really it’s annoying the H E double hockey sticks out of her. (Same goes with friends and family)
  • When something negative happens to me I️ assume the worst. (a one-way train to rock bottom)

A great example is first impressions. Sometimes you run into a guy or gal who is a master of bad first impressions. Maybe it’s how they speak, or what they talk about (or their stupid hair). We make assumptions about who they are and that they’re like this all the time. But really they could have had a bad day and came across as negative or boring. (a dinosaur stepped on their kitten, they’re just really hangry or a thousand other reasons). And when you run into them again they usually actually nicer than you thought. (hmm their hair's nicer today)

Assumptions can cause frictions that lead to bigger problems.

A timely example is false news. It's easy to make the false assumption that everything you read online and in books is true fact. (even though we've all heard the classic phrase 'don't trust what you read on the internet') It's hard, because you read something that sounds true (why would it not be? there are hundreds of other people who have liked this post...) but really someone is trying to manipulate us. Psychological factors like confirmation bias comes into play too — we want it to be true, so we see only what we want to see.

I’m not saying that all assumptions are bad. (There are two sides to every coin)

However, assumptions can cover up flaws in our way of thinking that lead us to make mistakes. We assume our way is the only way. 

Assumptions are how we perceive the world around us.

The best way we can stop making false assumptions is to make your intentions clear and keep an open dialogue of communication. Talk it out.

The more we can catch ourselves assuming things, and asking whether our assumptions are correct or not, the better our decision making will be.

 

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

related wisdom:

"Assumptions are the termites of relationships." — Henry Winkler
"It's sad that we never get trained to leave assumptions behind." — Sebastian Thrun
"When you're surrounded by people who share the same set of assumptions as you, you start to think that's reality." — Emily Levine
Daily Challenges

Pushing your capabilities through practice and ritual.

“When you do something every day, you're only going to get better at what you are doing.”

Joshua C. Green , Ep. 10 of The Renaissance Life Podcast


Do you want to be an extraordinary writer?
How about an insanely good artist or musician?
A super-connector? An exceptional conversationalist?
Health Shaman? Master Yogi?
All the above? (Me! over here!)

Then it’s time to take on a daily challenge.

Inspired by a couple friends (Josh Green and Travis Knight) who I’ve interviewed recently on The Renaissance Life, I’ve decided to take on a daily writing and blogging challenge. I am going to write and blog every single day for an entire year. This is day 20.

We all have these dreams of greatness and desires to live an extraordinary life, but getting from where we are to where we want to be can be hazy. It’s like we can see the peak of the mountain but the journey up is covered in a cloudy malaise of discomfort. (Like a kid who needs glasses and can’t see the whiteboard in class) Most people have dreams but not everyone has the belief system and is bold enough to step into their discomfort zones and challenge their capabilities.

Your mountain is your own, I can’t tell you precisely how you can get up to the top — 
But I can show you what you what has worked well for others and what I am going to do to climb my own mountains: 

Deliberate practice and daily ritual. 

Deliberate practice meaning we aren’t phoning it in. We’re pushing ourselves to our limit every day, and practicing and trying out new strategies that will make us smarter and more creative at what we do.

And Daily being the key word here.
My daily challenge is writing and blogging, so the amount of time I will spend will depend on the types of blogs I want to put out and how long it takes me to make them happen.

Imagine yourself one year from now after you decided to take on a daily challenge. You put in the time, energy and effort to practice every day. After practicing every day for an ENTIRE year, where do you think you will be?

Much better than you would have been if you didn’t decide to challenge yourself.
This is how time can be our ally. Time — like money — has a compound interest effect. By investing in small daily practices that add over time to something great. Small actions lead to big change.

This isn’t going to be easy — and that’s the point.  Our goal here is to push ourselves to be something more than we thought possible, and to grow our abilities faster by putting in more time than we would normally give if we were practicing ‘whenever’. I'm writing this at 9:50 PM after finishing one job and about to start another job. (I'm crazy) But I'm taking on a daily challenge because I believe it can change my life, because I've seen it change the lives of others.

I’ll be talking more in-depth strategies and examples about daily challenges soon.

Action Question (AQ): What daily challenge do you want to do?

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Wisdom:

"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now." — Chinese Proverb

"You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great."Zig Ziglar

"Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again."Richard Branson

Grumpy Pants

One thing I’ve learned about myself is I️ need space for Josh time to read, write and have space for thoughts without interruption.

I’d call myself an ambivert — outgoing introvert —  so that makes sense. Anytime I️ don’t make space for myself (like today) I️ start feeling frustrated and put on my grumpy pants.  I’m short, distant and an all-around Scrooge McDuck. It’s like I’m hangry, except I’m hangry for silence and books. 
Reading, Writing, Music, and Reflecting is how to replenish. I️ don’t mean to be a grumpy pants, but whenever I️ don’t make the space to recharge I️ start losing my sanity when I️ try to write or read with a steady stream of interruptions for everyone (and every dog) around me. Don’t get me wrong it’s not them — it’s me. The last thing I️ should be doing is trying to write at my grandparents while my sister is watching a Hallmark Christmas movie, my other sister is asking me for the WiFi password, my dog Ren is nosing me to play with her, and my mom is asking me questions.

But what’s a grumpy pants to do?
I️ don’t know if I️ have a great strategy to overcome the grump grumps, but here are two things I’m trying to improve upon:

1. Let go of what I can’t control.

Focus on only things you can control, and let go of what you can’t. What’s important to you is important, but it’s not as important as the time you can spend with your loved ones.

2. Make space for what’s important to me.

We tend to fill up idle time with todos. If it doesn’t get scheduled, it doesn’t happen. If you don’t *make* time for what’s important to you, you’re not going to have the time. (Extra free time won’t fall out of your 👖ss)

Certainly a work in progress for me, but necessary for myself and the sanity of those around me. Ha :)

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Wisdom:

"Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and can’t control that inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible.”Epictetus
Unwilling to Learn

I think a lot about learning and teaching (waaaay more than someone should)
One idea that jumps out at me is you can’t teach to someone who is unwilling to learn. Not truly. They might listen and nod there heads in agreement, but they aren't real in it. And if you force them to learn it anyway they will resent you for making them. (who does this guy think he is anyway?) Forcing ideas down people throats (even for the right reason) backfires into the opposite of your intentions.

Have you ever had a doctor that smoked?

It’s difficult to teach about health & wellbeing, values, relationships, business, life and more without a willing and openness to improve and learn in those areas yourself. To teach a topic, you must first live the example. Or in other words — You must do it. 

You can’t teach someone about health if you don’t practice what you teach. They will take one glance at you and know that you are phoning it in.

This is amplified even more so when you're trying to help friends or family — someone you have known for a long time. In my experience, sometimes you can be too close to someone for them to take your advice. They painted you as a happy-go-lucky person, watched you make mistakes, or have seen you in your boxers — not as someone who has valuable insights on life.

Everyone has something to learn and everyone has something to teach.
Some teaching requires a handshake. It takes two to tango. 
Without a willingness to grow on both sides, neither will learn. (Don’t leave me hanging bro)

If you desire to teach someone, they will listen when they are ready to be taught. And if you're too close, guide them subtly by pointing them to other resources (books, people, etc) that have helped you on your journey. 

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Wisdom:

"The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires." — William Arthur Ward
"You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul." — Swami Vivekananda
Complaining Isn't a Strategy

Why am I working so much?
Why don’t I have what they have?
Why does my health feel worse today?

Complaining isn’t a strategy of success. (If it’s even a strategy at all)
All complaining will do is keep you from the truth: 
    What to do.

Anytime I catch myself complaining I feel worse and worse about my what’s happening.

The mind is a powerful force. It can take your vision and make it reality and it can take your nightmare and make it come true. 

Not everything will go my way, but that doesn’t mean I’m powerless. It just means I have more growing to do. It means I need to be more aware.

When you are going tough times, be it pain, failure, anxiety, frustration.. complaining will only give you one thing: nothing. 

Nothing except exactly the situation you have plus the weight of your negative mental strength pressing down on you.

So what can you do?

Do the opposite of complaining.

Silence your voice, quite your mind, be grateful you’re ALIVE and take small actions one at a time on finding solutions (opportunities) to the problem at hand.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Wisdom:

Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining - it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems.
— Zig Ziglar
What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.
— Maya Angelou
See if you can catch yourself complaining, in either speech or thought, about a situation you find yourself in, what other people do or say, your surroundings, your life situation, even the weather. To complain is always nonacceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in your power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.
— Eckhart Tolle
Are You Phoning It In?

Plot Twist: There is an actual limit to how much we can do at one time. 

I️’ve always been late to this party. (Mostly because I️’m in permanent denial) ‘Wait, you mean I️ can’t do everything all at once?!’

Right now, Somewhere in time and space, an economics class is talking about opportunity costs. (Pour one out for all the economic homies) The term describes the idea that choosing one opportunity prevents you from choosing others. And it’s true, there’s only so much time, energy and work you can give in a day. If you want to master basketball, you’re not going to have the necessary time you need to master guitar too. (Well.. you can try but you’ll be a jack of all trades master of nada)

I’ve been experimenting with where my line in the sand is when it comes to how much and how many pursuits I️ can have at once. (Because I’m crazy) What I’ve learned is I️ can be quite resilient with the amount and variety of things I️ can hold in my head.. however (like everyone and their mamma) I am limited by the 24-hour cycle. But more importantly, doing too much at once gives me the opposite of want.
More more more doesn’t give you peace of mind, happiness, creative space — it sandblasts away all of those and leaves you as a shell of a human. (aka about as interesting as a broomstick in a vacuum cleaner world) And it's just not a great way to live. On the worst days you feel rushed, overwhelmed and like you're making zero progress in a million things.

Whenever I️ fall into the fallacy of  ‘I can do everything all at once’ my life becomes a nightmare and I️ need to re-evaluate. (before I implode) Life isn’t about how much you do, it’s about how much you give to what matters to you.

 

How do we know what matters most to us?

Look at everything in your life and ask yourself, ‘Am I️ phoning this in?’
‘Is this important to me or just distracting me from what’s important?’

If it’s not important — if it’s a distraction from what you really want — why are you doing it? Because it’s easier to do more than do less.

Choosing less is HARD (Believe me I️ know more than anyone)
It’s something I️ need to work on. It’s just hard for me to say no to opportunities when my previous year was so difficult and rot with no’s. 

But more won’t bring me a meaning life filled with Renaissance, friendships and purpose.

Action Step: Choose What’s Important to You; Learn to say no to everything else.

Action Question: Am I phoning this in? 

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner


Related Wisdom:

“Most people don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing. They imitate others, go with the flow, and follow paths without making their own.”

“Don’t be on your deathbed someday, having squandered your one chance at life, full of regret because you pursed little distractions instead of big dreams.”

“Just pay close attention to what excites you and what drains you. Pay close attention to when you’re begin the real you and when you’re trying to impress an invisible jury.”

“If you’re not saying “HELL YEAH!” About something, say “no”.

Derek Sivers, Anything You Want

iPhone X and AirPods, First Impressions

It’s insane how simple it has become to transfer your data between two devices. That’s the first thing I noticed when I got my X. And with everything offloaded to the cloud, you’re data goes where ever you are. (Wherever you go, there’s you’re data)

After playing with the X for a few days I can easily tell you that I don’t miss the home button. Face ID quick and painless. (Much quicker than you expect) It’s scanning your entire face, but it’s looking for your eyes. If you’re not looking at the screen it won’t unlock. I wonder if the what the long-term health effects (if any) of getting blasted with minimal IR waves to unlock your phone 100+ times a day. It’s probably nothing to write home about.  I’ve had more problems with Touch ID than Face ID. (Wet hands from cooking for example)

The notch disappears immediately after you start using the phone. (I would still like to see the cameras put behind glass next iteration) I’ve read online that the notch could be seen as a design statement from Apple to differentiate the X from all the other slabs of screen out there.  It’s a valid idea, but notch or no notch, the iPhone is already distinct. 

I haven’t had a chance to try wireless charging yet.

Benefits

  • The OLED screen is gorgeous.
  • The cameras are top of the line.

Cons

  • Unlike Touch ID, You can only input one face into Face ID.
  • Price
    • But if you’re crazy and what that new newness like me, it’s not too big of a leap in price from a 7, or 8 plus

AirPods

I might be enjoying Apple’s AirPods even more than the iPhone X. Anytime I’ve seen someone wearing them out I’ve thought they looked kind of goofy, but now that I have a pair they don’t look that bad (I guess I’m part of the goofy club now) They come in a little charging case that looks like a mix between an egg and chiclet gum. It pops open like a lighter (who needs fidget spinners) and keeps each Pod locked in with magnets.

Benefits

  • Easy to pair (and pair with different apple devices). 
    • These pods are so easy to connect and to switch between devices you’ll want to slap your momma (sorry mom)
  • Well Thought Out
    • Take one AirPod out of your ear and they will pause your music. You can also personalize each pod to different tap gestures in settings. (Play/pause, next song, Siri, etc)
  • Sounds good
    • They are about on par with the wired EarPods.

Cons

  • If I lose one of my AirPods I’m going to cry.
Daily Focus on Your Vision

If you’re like me, you have all these big aspirational goals and visions in your head of what you want your life to be.


These goals are clear-cut and motivating on paper. Buuuuut then life happens. Responsibilities, commitments, debt.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the freedom and flexibility yet to build a writing cabin in the woods so I can write my novel.

I have to find ways to do it in between two full-time jobs, time spent with loved ones, and a side business.

Things come up. Some of them truly important, others that feel important at the time. Everything and everyone around is vying for your attention and energy. So there your vision of the future sits, in dream status. 

How many dreams of a better tomorrow exist only in people’s heads?

But if you are reading this, I know you have a desire to be more. You want to make change in, not only yourself, but the world.

You here the phrase, ‘life is a marathon, not a sprint’ but that leaves an important piece out:
Life is a marathon where at the finish line, you die. Morbid, I know, but vital. (Pun intended)

We can’t just jog our way through life. 

Sure, we are making progress and doing important things, but are we giving it our all on what’s important to us?

Vision is longterm thinking, but lived on a daily basis.

Vision is not fixed. Your future desires can change and improve as you grow and expand into a better person.

Here's how:

Write and Read your goals everyday

Keeping your vision in your mind will paint how you see the world. Everything you do will be viewed through the lense of how to make your goals happen. Opportunities and ideas will be abundant.

Hone your vision by honing yourself

Read. A lot. Learn from people if different circumstances and walks of life from you. Study the greats. Craft your vision of your future around what has worked for others before.

Make small, yet bold moves towards that future every day.

We make think on our past experience and have our thoughts towards a better tomorrow, but the vision of what can be happens in the actions of our today. What we do in the present not only defines how we feel about our past going forward, but creates the future we all desire. I’ve said it a million times, and will say it a million more until everyone in the universe hears it — Small action leads to big change. Take bold moves towards your future every opportunity you can today.

Whatever obstacles and pain you’ve faced in the past, your future is determined but what you do in this very moment. You have the opportunity to write your own story.


Remember, dreams don’t just happen, they are made. And ‘future’ ‘vision’ are words that elicit powerful emotions and motivations, but your future lies in your today. Getting things right today and the next today, compounds into a life where your vision is a reality.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Inspiration +

Ryan Holiday, 2007 The Business of Running:

"You run to define yourself, and when you allow a short term challenge to alter your pace and long term strategy, you’ve just been defined by someone else."
RenaissanceLife.com

After going under the name Renaissance Man Life for the last year and a half,
I am officially the proud owner of RenaissanceLife.com

I’ve been agonizing over not having it for a long time now. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent on hover.com, name.com — and every other domain registrar on the planet — looking for a domain close to it. (TheRenaissance.co? RenaissanceLife.blog? RenaissanceJosh.com? Close but no cigar-scented candle) 

I hoped I would get RenaissanceLife.com, but the seller wanted $10,000 for it. (That’s a lot of donuts.) After a year of negotiating it down from who owned it (sitting on it like a troll under a bridge), I couldn’t be happier.

For me, Renaissance Life is an investment in myself. A commit to keep pursuing and pushing my abilities. It’s a promise and affirmation saying I can and will build the RL into a media company focused on helping us reach mastery and create an extraordinary life.

Names are important.

Any idea I have that I think has potential, I immediately come up with a name for it. Names give your ideas a grasp of reality. With a name, you are own step closer. You have edges you can grab hold of, climb up and plant your flag on.

Consider my flag planted.

What are you planting your flag on?

Why Renaissance Life? What does it mean?

Renaissance means rebirth.

From the combination of the French verb /renaître — ‘to revive’ and the noun
/naissance/ — meaning birth comes a word that lives near and dear to me.

The historic Renaissance was a time of innovation and human potential from the revitalization of Roman and Greek classics. To put simply: It was an age of discovery, creativity and pursuit of excellence.

Today we face a new renaissance — The Renaissance of Ourselves.

Your renaissance life begins the moment you decide you want to recreate yourself and grow into a better person. Modern life changes at break-neck speeds, so too, must we. We must become more resilient, adaptable and creative to be who we want to be, to do what we want to do. Dreams of a lifetime don’t happen with wishes. We must create them happen.

Maybe for you that means doing something you fear. Starting a restaurant, building an app, running a marathon. Or maybe it means a rebirth from a past failure. A bad break up, lost friends, a poor career.

By choosing to live a Renaissance Life, you’re choosing to believe that you can and will turn your trails into triumphs, and learn how to become a master at what you do, despite setbacks, pain, and fear.

My greatest moments of pain and failure have become the most defining moments of my life. Isn’t that crazy (stupid) to consider? I would never wish bad on anyone, but through my own troublesome experiences I come to appreciate more, desire to be more and to life my life to the upmost.

We all go through dark moments in our life:

Injury, health issues, financial meltdowns, friendships, frustrations, body issues, brokenness, bad decisions (to name some of mine).

Ultimately, what matters is what we do about them in the aftermath.

Do I give up? Or do I find a better way?

Your Renaissance has unlimited potential. Choosing the pursuit of better is how you begin.

Welcome to the Renaissance.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Follow @Renaissance.Life on Instagram

Related Wisdom:

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” — George Eliot
“Life isn’t about finding yourself, Life is about creating yourself.” — George Bernard Shaw
Motivation of Champions

Where does your motivation come from? 

I know that because you are reading this, you must desire change in your life. You want to be different and create a meaningful life for yourself and your loved ones, but you just quite haven’t figured out how yet. How do I motivate myself to do the things I want to do, but just can’t seem to get myself to do them.

When I think about the people who do, versus those who don’t, they have intrinsically linked their desires and values to their actions.

They don’t just talk about things but do them.

In my mind a champion is not someone who wins, a champion is who does. They have already decided they are gonna win in their mind, and then they go out and do the best they can do.

Despite whatever comes their way, setbacks, failure, fear — they are going to do something anyway.

Where does this motivation come from?

It’s early, not even 6 AM yet, you get out of bed, put on your shoes and head to the gym.

That’s Motivation.

It’s soo early, the suns still asleep and so should you, you swat your alarm clock and go back to bed. Rinse, repeat. It’s 7:49 so you know you can’t prolong it any longer. You roll out of bed and head to work.

1. Motivation is a Skill.

The first insight on the motivation of champions is understanding that — like most things in —motivation is a skill. We aren’t born with the champions value to motivate ourselves to pursue, that must be learned and forged from experience.

2. Know what you want.

Motivation comes from a goal driven mind. If you don’t see the end in mind, how can you possible get to your destination?

3. Set yourself up for a win.

Small nuances in habits can dramatically increase your chances of success. 

For example, If you want to start getting up at 6 am to write, don’t just go to bed whenever you want — Set a get-ready-for-bed alarm for 30 + 60 mins before —

Put your alarm clock across the room or better yet in your bathroom. You have to get up and walk to it, rather than just leaning over and slapping it. By setting your phone alarm next to the sink, you’re in arms reach of splashing a little cold water in your face to wake up your senses.

That's the key — Champions do the hard things, by making the small things easy. Always always always keep your values in arms reach.

In my office, My guitar is out in the open and ready to for me to play. I can just go over and grab it and start working on a song.

I keep some version of a notebook or notecards with me at all times, so If I have a writing idea I can jot it down and revisit it later.

By keeping your habits and tools within arms reach, your success will also be in arms reach, ready to be grabbed.


4. Adopt the Do It Anyway Mindset.

 What most successful champions won't tell you is that the work itself sucks. It’s hard to start a business or blog every day or write a book or work on your health and fitness.
The best things in life are difficult and downright painful. But the reward for doing them far out places the anguish of not doing them. Don’t become the person who does nothing for their dreams. (You know the ones) The way they talk, their dreams are the most important thing to them, but they haven’t done a single thing to make them happen. When things feel hard — Do it anyway. When you’re tired, lonely, unmotivated, lazy, embarrassed, scared, and all manner of difficult feelings — Do It Anyway.

There’s no reward like the one when you don’t feel like working towards your dreams but you do it anyway. You feel good.
Once you have that, nothing can stop you.


Inspiration +

Ryan Holiday, 2007 The Business of Running: “I lace up my shoes each night because it’s precisely the opposite of what my body tells me it wants–that’s my motivation.”

CHALLENGE: Binge Reading Blogs

How did Tony Robbins become the Tony Robbins?
How did Tim Ferriss become the Tim Ferriss?
How did Seth Godin become the Seth Godin?

Lewis became a master of connecting.
Maria became a master by connecting ideas from across time.
Paul became a master of speaking, teaching and emotional intelligence.
Ramit became a master of money and psychology.
Pat became a master of podcasting and business by helping others.

We all have our influences in real life and on paper. Titans of our industries. 
But no one starts at the top. (And if they did they wouldn’t have the values to stay there.)


The question is what strategies and insights can we learn from them and apply to become our own thought leaders. How do we get from 0 to 1?  (H👺ll, how do I get from 0.01 to 1?)


I see writing as a direct window into the soul. Our thought process, fears, strengths, ideas — who we are, etched a period of time. (Even lies give us valuable insights into their psyche.)

That’s why I’ve decided to start binge reading blogs of thought readers I follow and enjoy. To know where they started, and understand how they become who they are today. I don’t want to be Tim Ferriss, or Pat Flynn or whoever, but I want to similar things they have created for lives. I want to be able to learn, create, and connect without being encumbered by if I’ll be able to pay rent next month.

Of course a blog is just a piece of their life, but even a small slice of what it takes to be successful is enough to create radical change in our lives.

And I figure, If I’m going to binge something, might as well make it something that improve my life and makes me a better person. (… …. okay fine fine, I’m still going to binge Stranger Things too. :)


Here are 5 ground rules I’m following:

1. I am binge reading at most two blogs at a time. (Two because I want to find connections and correlations between the two influencers) 
2. I will read every relevant post, but if they seem useless to my life I’ll skim them.
3. Any time a blog sparks an idea, be that a writing prompt for Renaissance Life or an idea I can use for my work (at 60Watts, boldsheep, Pass It Down or Paul) I will immediately start working on the idea until completed.
4. If any blog post mentions something I should do (action steps) I will immediately do it before moving on. Whether that’s a challenge, business advice, or anything that resembles increased happiness and wellbeing.
5. Some Influencer don’t JUST have a blog but a podcast, books or other areas of interest. I will binge those as well.

I’m looking for patterns, insights into life and how they become who they are today.

If I am every going to be worthy of the title of a Renaissance Man, I’ve got to learn from the best.

I’m starting with Ryan Holiday and Tim Ferriss.

Here’s a list of people I know I’ll want to read of the top of my head:

Ryan Holiday
James Altucher
Pat Flynn
Ramit Sethi
Brain Pickings
Seth Godin
Hugh Macleod
Tim Ferriss
Chase Jarvis
Lewis Howes
Penelope Trunk
Copyblogger (Brian Clark)
GrowthLab

Feel free to make any suggestions to any influencers you enjoy in the comments below or via email. (I’ll periodically update this list)

I’ll keep you updated on my binge reading journey as I go.

Join me on this CHALLENGE —  if your crazy like me.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Fear and Desire
“Having wandered some distance among gloomy rocks, I came to the mouth of a great cavern, in front of which I stood some time, astonished. Bending back and forth, I tried to see whether I could discover anything inside, but the darkness within prevented that. Suddenly there arose in me two contrary emotions, fear and desire — fear of the threatening dark cave, desire to see whether there were any marvelous thing within.”
Leonardo da Vinci, excerpt from Walter Isaacson's Leonardo da Vinci Biography

Like many things in life, creativity, and pursuing your dreams creates a juxtaposition of fear and desire. We have a desire to be, do, and become what we dream, but at the same time fear starting, continuing, and succeeding. We desire the outcome, yet fear the outcome.

When we give into fear, we train ourselves to live without the dream, accepting that it will never happen. This is my life as it is. Yet, even so, we live with a longing that by some turn of fate, we will chance upon our dreams on a morning walk. How many of us are waiting for our big break? Waiting for your dreams to happen is like waiting to win the lottery when you haven't even bought a lottery ticket.

Have you ever heard yourself say or think, ‘oh that could never happen to me’ or ‘I could never do that, only they can do that.’

This is what Paul would call a negative mindset. No matter how much you want something to happen, if you don’t believe that you can do it, it’s not going to happen. A positive mindset is essential. (You don't have to be overly-happy all the time, but you do have to believe that you will find a way to your goals.)


What happens when we give into desire instead of fear?

When we push through the fear, anxiety, and uncertainty, we step into our discomfort zones and change our capacity of what’s possible. We open our minds to new possibilities. 

You step on stage, sing your heart out, and.... well. That's it. You did it. You did something.
You didn’t die, you probably could have done better, but better comes with experience and deliberate practice.

To make your dreams reality, you must let curiosity win.

In creativity and life, there will always be a choice of fear and desire. Who you become — your potential — will be determined by those choices.

Will you choose to give into fear, or will you give into curiosity?

I could let my writing, music, or ideas slide because of fear. Fear of putting myself out there, fear of rejection, or fear of failure. This always reminds me of George McFly from Back to the Future (Marty’s Dad). He’s always saying the line, ‘I could never put my work out there, what if they don’t like it? I don’t think I could take that kind of rejection.’ An extreme example ha, but applicable to our lives. What does giving into fear do to George's life? He has a mediocre job and life. He never publishes his novels. He get's pushed around by Biff (and probably everyone else).

Ultimately, what is giving into fear is going to get us?

What is fear going to give you?

The same thing you’ve always had. The longing and desire for change, but not enough bravado to take the leap. Best case scenario, fear only gives you mediocrity. (And mediocrity is the opposite of a Renaissance Life)

Fear and desire will never be an easy choice. 
At best its going to be a grey area. Sometimes fear is good. The fear of being attacked by a lion is useful when you’re in Africa. (Fear of being mauled in Washington is not very useful) But when it comes to creative fear, curiosity must always beat out fear. If you want to help change the world and be a mover and shaker, you must not let fear stop you.

So back to young Leonardo. As he looked into the depths of the black, villainous cave, did he choose fear or desire?

‘Desire won. His unstoppable curiosity triumphed, and Leonardo went into the cave. There he discovered, embedded in the wall, a fossil whale. “Oh mighty and once-living instrument of nature, your vast strength was to no avail.”... “You lashed with swift, branching fins and forked tail, creating in the sea sudden tempests that buffeted and submerged ships. Oh time, swift despoiler of all things, how many kings, how many nations hast thou undone, and how many changes of states and of circumstances have happened since this wondrous fish perished.”'

Walter Isaacson, Leonardo da Vinci

To be unstoppable, we must let curiosity drive us.

And as morbid as it sounds, we are all going to die and only have one life to live in this world.

Whether we choose fear or desire, time waits for no one.

“Get busy living or get busy dying.” — Andy Dufresne, Shawshank Redemption

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

My Personal Vision Statement

What do you want your life and actions represent?

What do you want to be remembered for?

Who do you want to be?

It's a life-long work in progress, but here is my personal mission statement. I read and say this aloud every day.

 

I live a meaningful and extraordinary life. I make Bold Moves. I challenge all assumptions. Failure, fear, and setbacks are challenging opportunities waiting to be turned into life lessons. Above all, I value time, freedom, learning, creativity, love and friendship. I stand for my beliefs.

I do what I say I will do. I lead by my actions. I have a can-do attitude. I persist. I know when to say yes, and when to say no. I listen to what others have to say and respect their views. I care deeply for others.

I am ALIVE and full of energy. I live with charisma and gusto! I am healthy, fit and active. I make goals and achieve them. I value rest and play and stillness. 

I pursue mastery and excellence in all that matters to me, every day, no exceptions. I am constantly pursuing multiple disciplines and striving towards a Renaissance Life. I am at the forefront of disruption and innovation.

I enable others to be their best selves. I am a catalyst for change. 
I will make the world a better place.

 

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

The Lie of 'You Are Not Good Enough'

One of the biggest battles you will face pursuing a Renaissance Life is mediocrity.

Every so often I will have a strong feeling of being mediocre. It comes in waves, a feeling of less than. 'Am I good enough to do this?'  'What if I don’t have it in me to be like the influencers I follow?' 'How can I possibly compete with the Tim Ferriss’s and Seth Godin's of the world?'


But then I catch myself because I’m ‘comparing my inner life to their outer life’.

They have been in similar shoes I'm in. They have faced and overcome their own challenges to get where they are. 
They put in the work. They have forged determination and made it happen, with skill, belief and a little luck.

Stop comparing yourself to others, instead start comparing yourself to who you want to be. Strive to be the best you, and live up to it. The more we care, the better off we are. Never give in to mediocrity, or to the lie that you are not good enough to make your goals happen.

You are not made to live a mediocre life. You were made for an extraordinary life.

So go out and make your life extraordinary.

Our mentors battled mediocrity and ultimately become who they set out to be. And so can you and I.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Inspiration +

Ryan Holiday: What its Like to Chase While Others Are Resting

 

Related Wisdom +

"You were designed for accomplishment, engineered for success, and endowed with the seeds of greatness." — Zig Ziglar
"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." — Charles R. Swindoll
"Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start having positive results." — Willie Nelson
Count Your Wins

Do you ever catch yourself saying, “I wish something would go right for a change..”

Or find yourself in lose-lose situations? ‘Why do this keep happening to me?’

I found myself in a defeated mindset this past week after multiple situations were stacking against me. Issues with finances and some no’s I was expecting to be yes’s.

I was tired too, work-lagged from a lot of exciting events happening at Pass It DownPaul Cummings Enterprises and 60Watts.

A defeated mindset is not what a Renaissance Life is about.

I keep coming back to the idea that winners keep getting back up. They don’t shy away from failure; They see failure as part of the process of success.

This is the ideal state we want to be in. All it takes is the right mindset.

A winner is a winner all the time because they have a ‘keep pursuing’ mindset. They’re going to lose, and probably lose a lot (because they take more risks), but they always get back up. That's who they are.

A loser loses all the time because they have a ‘give up’ mindset. ‘Oh this sucks, I guess I’ll stop while I still ahead’. When a loser loses, they expected it (and ultimately created that reality). And when a loser wins they think 'it’s too good to be true' and self-sabotage.

The question is, how do we Win no matter what we are going through?

 

Count Your Wins.

One small thing yet life changing thing we can do is count our wins.

It’s easy to lose out on the good things around you, when the bad ones keep slapping you in the face. At the end of a day are you counting your loses or your wins? Our minds tend to bend towards the bad things that happen to us. If one-hundred great wins happen, one lose can completely wash it all away.

By actively counting what goes right each day, you can prevent any negatives from taking over.

Stack your wins.
Where they are small wins, silly wins, big wins or stretch wins, they all count towards a meaningful day.

Did you make your bed? Win!
Did you complement some one today? Win!
Did you NOT have a piece of cake? Win!
Did you do something towards your dreams? Mega Win!

Any time you have a setback or loss, learn from it, and move on. Never count your losses. Only wins baby.

Think of this as a number-lovers version of Tim Ferriss’s Jar of Awesome, or Tony Robbins 3 gratitudes. (In fact I like to do all three. Win Win Win!)

In the morning, write out three things you are grateful for.

When something good happens, write it down on a piece of paper and place it in your jar of awesome.

And count how many wins you have each day (Remember, even one small win means your day was a success)

There’s nothing sweeter than seeing your win count stack up.

All of this might sound absurd to you, but this is how you develop a winners mindset. 

When we stop dwelling on the things that go wrong, might go wrong, misfortunes and things out of our control, the more we can focus on succeeding and living a life true to ourselves.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner


Inspiration +

Ryan Holiday circa 2007: Self-Fulfilling Prophecy:

The only real thing separating the winners from the losers is if they get back up. Am I going to appreciate these events for their extreme improbability or am I going to delude myself into thinking I am cursed forever?’

‘Risk can lead to total failure but cautiousness just the absence of success.’

‘So I didn’t quit.’

‘there is a difference between accepting responsibility and burdening yourself with blame.’

Related Wisdom:

"Winners never quit and quitters never win." — Vince Lombardi
"The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence." — Confucius
The Hidden Costs of Things
“The value of a thing sometimes lies not in what one attains with it, but in what one pays for it — what it costs us.” — Nietzsche

I am not a minimalist. 
I’ve got too many books to be considered minimally hip. (do people still say hip?) But I do follow some minimalist principles.

For example, over the past few years, I’ve adopted the principle of only buying things I love. (Socks. My sock game is strong.) If I don’t find an item useful, enjoyable, motivational, and relatable to who I am, what I'm learning and what goals are, then I’m going to get rid of it.

 

Hidden Costs

Everything we own has an undercurrent of powerful hidden strings attached. I call it the hidden costs of things. 


When you buy something — say for a hobby or skill you’re learning — you’re not buying the object — your buying the lifestyle. We don’t just buy a thing, we’re investing our time, attention, emotions, energy, money, opportunity, health and a host of other things as well. Even throwaway items have a hidden weight to them.

If I commit and invest myself into photography, I’m not just buying a camera. I’m buying the additional necessities. Lenses, straps, a bag, different kinds of cameras. (Gotta have me some sweet-sweet drone shots yo) Photography books, perhaps lessons. I’m investing in attention to the art of photography. I’m investing into the world of photography. And if I'm building a business around photography, I'm investing time in clients and relationships.

You are what you own.

Well, not really. 'You are what you own' is a good headline (or poster), I'm generalizing here. But you are influenced by what you own and how much you own. Not being aware of the hidden costs attached to your purchases can turn you into a slave of what you own. I'm not talking about bad purchasing impulses (although bad habits contribute to your amount of hidden costs). There is an emotional, physical, mental and spiritual weight to what you own and how much you have. The more you have, the more your attention is split. There's only so much time and energy we have give to what we own. You're time spent writing away on your computer is time you could be practicing piano or washing your car.

 

Space Costs

How much stuff do we own that we never use? Not only do thing take up physical space, they take up emotional and mental space as well. Are you holding onto something from your past? A photo of lost love, mementos you don't love, but don't want to get rid of. Go around your house and you will find closest and garages full of things you don't need that are taking up mental space.

 

ToDo Costs

When you surround yourself with skills you want to learn, businesses you want to build, activities you want to pursue, you’re surrounding yourself with subconscious todo lists. Everything you own demands your attention. Some things weigh heavier than others, but everything has at least a piece of your attention. I don’t know about you, but when I have too many things demand my attention I feel completely overwhelmed and end up dropping everything.

One of the key benefits on minimalism is it keeps you focused on what matters to you. 

When you’re attention isn’t split between a thousand things you wish you would, could and might do someday (something I struggle with a lot), you give yourself space and clarity to be sharp and focused in on your most important things. Most of the time we're not even aware of how much the weight our todos are barring down us and holding us back.

 

Lifestyle Costs

Unless you can afford it, buying into too many lifestyles at once is a great way of setting yourself up for not being able to give the time, money and energy each skill requires. It’s better to focus on one or a few pursuits at a time, that way you are able to give each the attention it requires to reach mastery.

I’m not wealthy (...yet). I don’t have multiple houses (h👹ll I don’t even have one house) but if I did, the weight of all of my stuff would pull me in a thousand different directions. I would worry about my stuff in my one house, forget my stuff in the other house and be everything but present in the moment.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not telling you to forgo all of your belongings and run naked in the streets. Instead, focus on what’s important to you. There’s nothing wrong with buying things you love. But Its good to pause and reflect on the hidden costs of what you have and are thinking about buying. By surrounding yourself with only the things you love and need, you will free your focus and energy to what truly matters to you.

Consider the hidden costs before buying. "Am I buying this because I want to, or because this is important to me?"

Touch and pick up things you own. "Do I love this?" "Do I find it useful or enjoyable?"

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner