Posts in Mastery
Hurry Up and Wait

Yesterday I️ talked about the idea of self-inflicted stress. Stress that we carry around like an orangutan on our back, jonesing for a banana. (...what?) This could be internal stressors we bottle up, such as anger and frustration towards our work or relationships, and this could be external stressors like

comparison (why can’t I️ have what she has?), 

stuff (I️ have too much stuff / I️ don’t have even stuff / I️ don’t have the right stuff), 

Or pursuits (money, happiness, connections, skills).

But usually its all the above, internal stressors, external stressors, twisting around like earbuds in your pocket, eventually forming into one giant life crisis that floors you and feels impossible to untangle.

I️ mentioned that a big self-inflicted stress that I️ carry is being late / hating rushing. I️ HATE rushing. It’s one of my least favorite feeling. (Did I️ say that already?) I️ want to be on time, but I️ fit so much in my day that I️ don’t have a lot of margin in between doing things. (which is an entirely separate topic I️ need to explore...)

I also live on island time 🏝 This is definitely something I️ picked up from my mom. Her parents (my grandparents) were the complete opposite. They would leave a movie before I­t­ was over just to beat the traffic. I️ think she rebelled into the opposite direction, taking her time, not beholden to it, not afraid of showing up late. My dad, on the other hand, is completely opposite from her (Which makes for regularly hilarious entertainment 🍿). He wants to be on time for everything, but when he can’t — usually because of mom — he goes through the 10 stages of grief.

In the army, they have a phrase for this: Hurry up and wait. You’re either 15 minutes early or your late. I️ learned this from gabriella, who, centuries before we met, was in the army. To them, I️ imagine it’s all about being prepared. You want to be where you need to be, at the right time, the right place, with the right structure and gear to be able handle anything.

Which sounds fantastic. I️ want to be in the right time, right place and have everything I️ need to handle anything. That sounds amazing!

Putting that mindset into practice starts with the level of commitment you have on your goal. You can’t be 15 minutes early if you keep hitting snooze. If you are 10 minutes away, you need at least 25 minutes to get there early.

The same is true for entrepreneurship and creativity.

Deadlines are not restriction, they are margins of time that give you (ideally) flexibility and space to be your most creative and effective self. Of course unrealistic deadlines are restriction. They are the equivalent of rushing or cramming. Without structure, work doesn’t get done. Without margin, creativity isn’t at its best. There’s a tight balancing act between island time and chronic panic.

It’s impossible to be creative if you’re not actually in the habit of creating. And it’s hard to be creative with a banana crazy orangutan for a backpack.

How to find this balance all depends on how you want to live. What you do for work, Who you work for, spend time with and surround yourself with, What types of content you consume and what principles and values you hold all add up in a big, and unique way. There is no one way, because there is only one you. I️ can show you how I️ live my life and you can be inspired and challenge by that or not. But trying to be me doesn’t mean that will work for you. Making I­t­ (dreams, passions, experiences etc) work comes from making I­t­ work for you.

The thing to be watchful of is the question: do you feel good about how you act?. When you’re actions don’t align with who you are and your aspirations / intentions / values, then you’re adding stress to the ‘I hate myself’ bucket.

Do you feel good about how you act?

If you do then you're on the right track. If you don't it's time to change how you feel or change how you do things.

Being on time is great, and being late is fine — unless your stressing yourself all the time by carrying around two opposing beliefs: 

I️ should be early, 
I️ am never on time.

Should being the key word here. Our ‘should’s’ are the very core of what our self-inflected stresses are. We should be doing something, but we are not.
we want to be doing something, but we haven’t.  We wish we could, but we are not trying. 

I️ try my best to live my life by the things that I️ do, versus the things that I️ should do.

I️ hardly succeed at it, and easily fall pray to comparing myself to others, but as long as I️ reaching for the goal, I️’m better off than I was.

The more ‘should’s’ you can remove from your life, the greater life you will have.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
And wherever you are, keep smiling :)
Josh Waggoner

Feedback: What did you think about today's blog post? Did it spark any insights for you? Thoughts? Outrage? Email me: josh@renaissancelife.com. Join the Renaissance Email List below for more content on creativity, mastery and life.

Related Insights

"Your best ideas, those eureka moments that turn the world upside down, seldom come when you're juggling emails, rushing to meet the 5 P.M. deadline or straining to make your voice heard in a high-stress meeting. They come when you're walking the dog, soaking in the bath or swinging in a hammock." — Carl Honore

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving." — Albert Einstein

"A broad margin of leisure is as beautiful in a man's life as in a book. Haste makes waste, no less in life than in housekeeping. Keep the time, observe the hours of the universe, not of the cars." — Henry David Thoreau

Book Pairings

Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

Play It Away: A Workaholic's Cure for Anxiety by Charlie Hoehn

It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden

 

Preparation: Rules of the Game

Preparation brings up many emotions for me.

Not Good Enough: Sometimes preparation stops you from starting.

The first thing to note about preparation is to ask yourself, “does this preparation get me where I️ want to go effectively and help me avoid common pitfalls or is this just excuses and laziness in disguise?” Often times, preparation is really just excuses you have to delay yourself from doing something that scares your butts off.

I’ve felt, and I’m sure most of us have, that I️ was unable to take on something new because I️ didn’t know enough yet. "As soon as I️ take this second online course, I’ll start executing my idea." "As soon as I️ finish school" "As soon as I️ have the right equipment" "As soon as have more $...."

Excuses excuses. 98% of this is BS. A disempowering belief of “I’m not good enough yet” that’s wrapped in a shiny gold ‘someday’ that never comes. I­t­ took me a while to understand, but here’s honest truth: You will never know enough. You will always think you’re not good enough. Even if you know more about music than anyone else you know, you’ll still feel inadequate. Unless you try I­t­ and go after I­t­.

Too Much Info For Your Own Good: Something I­t­ hinders you and muddles your ability to see and think clearly 

The second thing to note about preparation is too much preparation can actually be a bad thing depending on your goal. Ask yourself, “Is this preparation a requirement?”
If you’re studying to be a doctor — you need to prepare. No one in their right mind would let you be their surgeon on your first day of medical school. You can cover a bad tattoo or haircut, but you can’t recover from a bad surgery.

But if you are trying to do something new by piecing together commodity types of thinking, you’re shooting yourself in the foot before you even leave the starting point. No about of reading is going to make you a better public speaker. I­t­ can inform you on certain arts like how to tell a great story, but becoming a great speaker requires you to speak, and get up there and fail.

There have also been people I’ve known who just know too much for their own good. You probably know someone that is so smart and wise, yet they never do anything that they want to do. They know too much about the negative side of what might happen if they try, so they never try at all.

They learn and understand so much — usually narrowly focus in one area — that they’ve completely thrown out everything else about how to live. 

Some of the best programmers in the world would become even better if they also actually knew how to talk to other human beings. Some of the most outgoing and connected people can’t even stand to be by themselves and alone with their thoughts for more than 5 minutes. They've learned to be great about connecting. They suck at connecting with themselves. We need both to make a real impact in the world.

Being too narrowly focused makes you top heavy. And one thing leads to another and you find yourself unable to reach higher levels of performance.
Unless you start working on counterbalancing your knowledge.

Life’s emergency kit / Batman’s toolbelt: Sometimes I­t­ takes you higher than you thought was possible.

The third note about preparation I️ want to close with is just the right amount of preparation might be exactly what you need to become great in your endeavors. What’s the right amount? I️ have no idea.

What I️ do know is adopting and creating systems and principles will put you in the right margin of having the right amount of information.

Take applying for a new job, for instance. If you send your resume to a company that you know nothing about, whose employees or values you haven’t gotten around to yet, with a resume you haven’t updated in 2 years, you’re not gonna get that job. Even just 20 minutes of preparation might have shown you that a friend of yours actually knows someone who works there. And reaching out through that channel would have dramatically improved your odds of getting a job, even with an outdated resume. 

Another example is learning. Do you really need to learn the entire worlds knowledge archive about photography, before you even purchase a camera? No! You just need to read a Wirecutter article on which camera to buy. And after you buy a camera, you need to learn how to turn I­t­ on. Then you can learn how to shoot I­t­ automatic mode. Then you can play around with lens. And so on and so on, chipping away at a skill on curious step at a time.

Takeaways:

If it’s an excuse, start immediately.

If you know too much for your own good, start immediately if you’re holding yourself back, while learning other life skills you’ve been neglecting in your thirst for knowledge.

If it’s not an excuse, and you’re looking for ways to avoid common pitfalls and to have the clearest path to your destination, then start seeking systems and principles to keep in your toolbelt. What is a toolbelt, after all, but a set of instruments you curate, for just the right types of needs or emergencies.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

 The Magic’s in the Micro

Micro isn’t as sexy as macro.

You have this desire to do something big, but in order to make that happen you must live in the micro and act with a granular focus. Which is muddy and labor intensive and comes with a high probability of failure. It’s the equivalent of wanting to big your own TITAN like Elon Musk and build rockets that tear into space and light the atmosphere up like it’s the second coming, but with your current level of knowledge and resources, all you’ve got to work with are bottle rockets.

You want the FLASH but all you’ve got is the fizzle.

It’s like you have Step 1: Learn Japanese, and you have the Last Step: Go to Japan and have fluent conversations with natives, but all the steps to get there are question marks. ???? In fact, you don’t even know what number the last step is! Step 10? 100? And in order to get to step X you have to practice and consistently work towards the unknown question mark each and every day.

Your the kid and all you want to do is fight and protect, but all Mr. Miyagi tells you to do is wax on and wax off. How will doing this, help me do that?

You’re the fat, sick and lovable chub in the group and all you want to do is change and feel and look like your 22, but all you’ve got is questions, discouragement from yourself and everyone around you and a blitzkrieg of conflicting opinions telling you what you ‘should’ do. You know that this green spinach stuff and this thing that ancient Greeks called ‘exercising’ would help, but all your mirror tells you is ‘nothing's happened.’ (Mirror: hmm... you still look the same fat *ss. Scale: I️ agree with Mirror, would you mind getting off of me? I️ can’t breathe because of your fatness.)

On a micro level, everything is confusing and uncertain. When you’re in the moment, you don’t feel like you are making progress towards success. Everything at best is fuzzy and at worst overwhelming. Your pain is still there. Your problem hasn’t gone away. You still look/feel fat, or skinny, or your bank account is still telling you that you are broke, or your back still aches like you’re wearing a backpack made out of a porcupine, or your relationship is still shattered in pieces on the floor, or your business is still sinking and you’re going down with I­t­.... So you want to avoid the micro, numb the micro, ignore the micro and do everything but the micro, instead of realizing the micro is exactly what you want to be doing.

Success happens in the micro. I­t­ isn’t massive BOLD dream that gets’ you there, it’s your daily actions, decisions and habits that you preserve through consistency and intentionally, day in and day out.

Every next step you decide to do instead of not do is a win.

Even if fail or go the wrong direction and have to turn around, you’re still making progress. You’re doing more for yourself today than most do in a lifetime. The magic is in the micro.

A large life is built one daily stumble towards you goal at a time.

However, no one tells you that. the micro where 80% of us drop out.  We see that work is involved and we opt out. And it’s not just because doing the thing is tough (I­t­ is), there’s also external and internal wars raging on.

My typical internal battle:

Am I️ better today? No.
Am I️ better today? Still no.
Am I️ better today? No stupid your worse.
Am I️ better today? No, but your friend Sam is. She’s killing I­t­. Why can’t you be more like Sam
Am I️ better today? I️ think so! .... but it’s probably just a fluke.

And external battles (which turn into internal skirmishes) are even vaguer. They can sometimes derail you without you knowing it:

“The Kardashian’s do this, so I️ should do this...”
“My teacher says I’ll never be able too...”
“The weather is so bad today, I️ guess I️ won’t exercise...”
“My doctor says I️ can’t...”
“My partner doesn’t believe that I️ can...”
“I’m on vacation so I️ guess I’ll go back to my only eat ice cream diet...”
“I’m working so much and exhausted afterwards. I’ll start when things calm down...”

Takeaway: LIFE NEVER CALMS DOWN FOR YOU

Even if you're on island time at a beach somewhere, your days are still counting down. Someone somewhere is doing similar things you wish you were doing.

Of course, comparison isn’t the objective here and isn’t going to help you. But I­t­ will open your eyes to yourself. Jealousy won’t bring you happiness, but underneath the surface level of your jealousy, there might be a string you can follow that leads you to a truth you want to live or a better person you want to be, and which doesn’t currently align with the life you currently have. 

Being jealous of someone’s bestselling book is superficial. But underneath that is the truth that maybe you want to be a writer instead of a construction worker. Which leads us back to the micro.

Dream big, yes.
Think moonshots, also yes.
Act bold, always.
Believe you can, even on your worst days.
But in order to achieve your goals, go small.

Go Small.

It’s the little humble micro changes that does. Not the big lofty ideas that should or could.

Small intentional strokes, fell Goliath and bred the Mona Lisa.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
And wherever you are, keep smiling :)
— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights

Book: Own Your Day, Own Your Life — Aubrey Marcus

"The secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda." — John C. Maxwell

"The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine." — Mike Murdock

"If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work." — Nhat Hanh

1%

Think of something big you want to accomplish in life.

Create a successful business, write a well acclaimed book, go to mars, learn 5 languages... 

Whatever I­t­ is you’ve set your mind on,  there’s you, your goals, and a bunch of unknown, terrifying, exhilarating, rock bottom, uncomfortable things standing in between of where you are and where you want to go.

Big picture goals are like a large realistic painting you view at a distance. When you get closer, you realize the picture was made from dabs of different colors and strokes of movement. Mistakes, creative epiphanies, techniques and layer and layers of work and expression are what turns stretched canvas and some tubes of paste into a masterpiece that resonates through time.

It’s the same with our big goals in life. It’s hard to see how a BIG goal is made when you’re starting at ground zero looking up at this looming mountain, lacking a Sherpa to guide the way. You want to get to the top, but how?

1%.

Doing even just a tiny amount of consistent and deliberate work dedicated to accomplishing your goal will accumulate up over time.

1% doesn’t just add up, it multiplies. The more consistent and good you get at something you love, the more you’ll want to do it.

What’s one small thing you can do today — right now — to get you one step closer to your goal?

Start with 1%, Stick with at least 1%, and one day you’ll be in the top 1%.


Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Confident Amateur

I think I come across as naive more often than not to people I connect with.

Maybe I am, maybe I am not.

To me, they mistake naivety for my beginner’s mindset.

You have to be an amateur first — and be okay with it — to become a master at what you do. That’s one of the big reasons why I pick up on things rather quickly. I’ve had friends comment on how frustrating it is that I can learn skills so easily. That I’m just “disciplined” or "talented”, but the honest truth is I’m not. I’m no smarter nor better than the average person working at Starbucks. I’m just open to new experience and opportunities for learning because I know it will upgrade my performance faster.

I put curiosity first (and wear it on my sleeve).

Ping-pong for example. 

I barely played ping pong growing up. Just wasn’t my thing. Every time I picked up a paddle I felt like the ball was completely out of my control.

Late last year I started playing a lot of ping-pong because there happened to be a table at the office. I sucked at first. Could barely keep the ball on the table. And if you had thrown a curve at me, I would have immediately hit it straight into a game over.

But I kept playing. Kept improving. I was open to failing because failing gave me instant feedback on what not to do.

Now, I can play. I’m not going to win any international tournaments any time soon, but I feel confident in my game.

Without curiosity, without a beginner’s mindset, without being okay to kneel down and bend the knee towards someone who is better than you at something, there’s no chance of learning or reaching mastery.

Pretending to know all that you need is closing yourself off from becoming better at what you love. Faking it helps build confidence, but it doesn’t help build skill. That takes practice and the curiosity to absorb lessons from success and failures.

And if you do fail, and look like a bubbled-boy idiot, who cares? At least you’re not boring. I’d much rather look like a goof and keep improving my skills and performance, over never trying because I might fail.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
And wherever you are, keep smiling :)
— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few." — Shunryu Suzuki

"You can learn new things at any time in your life if you're willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you." — Barbara Sher

"I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life." — Steve Jobs

A Little Goes A Long Way

You don’t need to already be great, in order to learn to be great. Yet, we default to treating skills like that.

"Oh, I'm not good at this, I guess I'll stop..."

No! Don't stop because you're not good, if you really want it, keep going because you're not good yet.

I don’t care what your genes say, or how much talent you have or don’t have. Mastering a skill requires effort and persistence. If you practice those and are willing to put in the time, greatness is inevitable.  

Daily habitual challenges make the master.

Even a little effort done consistently goes a long way towards greatness.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

IG: @Renaissance.Life

Plant Your Flag

“Distractions will do you in” — Drake

Rich Roll picked health.

Josh Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus picked Minimalism.

Sophia Amoroso picked fashion.

Tim Ferriss picked optimizing work.

Elon Musk picked online finances.

Jeff Bezos picked books.

They all have dozens of interests but they started with one.

It’s hard (maybe impossible) to build a personal brand or company around multiple interests when you’re at the beginning (I️ know, I’ve tried). It’s too confusing to your audience.

Trying to be all things to all people leaves you with nothing to show and no people. To rally fans around your ideas, you must first plant your flag into ONE thing you love.

Q: What’s the main cause behind what you do?

Plant your flag in a category you love, make it a lifelong pursuit, and as your audience grows to expand into your other passions.

Lifestyles aren’t made in a day, they’re made with consistent actions each day. Huge difference.

The biggest creativities and entrepreneurs didn’t start by doing and knowing it all. If you want to build your own unique lifestyle similar to who you look up to, plant your flag. Become really good at what you do, then expand into other interests. Your fans will follow. Eventually, your fans will love you for you (your weird, eclectic, quirky self), not just what you do. They come from what we do but stay for our personalities.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursing,

— Josh Waggoner 

IG: @Renaissance.Life

Related Insights

"The whole secret of life is to be interested in one thing profoundly and in a thousand things well." — Horace Walpole

BOOK: The One Thing by Gary Keller

Gear Doesn't Make The Artist

You don’t need the latest and greatest gear to become an exceptional creative.

A $3000 guitar will certainly sound better than a $50 one you bought at Walmart, but buying I­t­ won’t make you a better guitarist. 

An $8000 Leica camera over a beat up iPhone 6 won’t make you the next Chase Jarvis if you don’t even know the fundamentals of photography.

Equipment is expensive (especially if you are like me and want to learn EVERYTHING) and I­t­ adds up. And don’t forget about the lifestyle that is attached to each item. The maintenance, the accessories, and other costs to entry. While I️ love a shiny new instrument as much as the next Shmoesph, I️ don’t need I­t­ to play brilliantly. The equipment doesn’t make the creative. A well-made instrument will enhance the creator’s ability, however, it’s still a reflection of their hard work and time they’ve put in.

To be a better creator, we must hone and practice our passions. Over and over again, until they­ become instinct. 

Focus on what you have, instead of what you don’t.
Work with what you can afford right now, versus waiting to express your creativity when riches fall from the sky into your bosoms.

Be the person who sets the stage on fire with a crappy beat up instrument rather than a ten thousand dollar one with no skills to back up the luxury.

Essentially, what I’m saying is 

Don’t let your gear be better than you are.

Own your beat up gear with pride. And don't let lack of resources stop you from pursuing your art. Get creative, find ways around it. Make lack of resources a part of your art form.

As long as I­t­ works, you’ve got what you need. In the meantime, hone your passion and save up for something beautiful and elegant, worthy of all your hard work.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing
— Josh Waggoner

Follow the Renaissance on Instagram

I Wont Stop

When something goes wrong, I️ tend to default to being discouraged. If someone reprimands me or tells me I️ can’t do something (you can’t accomplish x, you’ll never be able to do Y), its easy to fall for their point of view or, at the very least, let I­t­ effect my mental performance. But this is not a successful mindset.

Complaints, criticism, disbelief, or hate towards you is inevitable when you’re doing something out of the status quo. (Something the hater wishes they would do themselves) 

The status quo is the collective agreement of the way things are, from the people and culture that surrounds you. The funny thing about status quo’s is that they are different depending on who you surround yourself with. What’s normal and expected from your typical college student is wildly different from what’s normal and expected from billionaires changing the world. What’s abnormal for your circle when you break the status quo can be natural to another groups point of view. Reading, for example. If you are surrounded by people who hate reading or saying something like ‘what’s the point of reading when you have a TV?’, you’re going to be shamed into the same mindset. And if you start reading they’re going to give you hell for I­t­. But on the opposite spectrum, point out to me any billionaire who doesn’t have a massive library and are constantly soaking up knowledge.

Once you realize that status quo’s are not all created equal, you can begin to take BOLD actions and create massive improvements in your life.

Instead of being discouraged, a successful mindset takes what the person says and turns I­t­ into fuel. Coal to the fire. It’s an “I won’t stop” or “I’ll prove you wrong” mentality. Although you’re not doing I­t­ for them — you’re doing I­t­ for you. I️ won’t stop — no matter how hard or scary I­t­ gets — because I️ know that I️ am capable of achieving my goals with enough time, effort, and intent.

By thinking this way, not even pain can stop you.
By adopting the mindset of the type of person you want to become, your dreams are inevitable.\

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing

— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights

"I like criticism. It makes you strong." —  LeBron James

"In criticism I will be bold, and as sternly, absolutely just with friend and foe. From this purpose nothing shall turn me." — Edgar Allan Poe

"To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing." — Elbert Hubbard

Small Ways to Reset

Falling off the treadmill is inevitable. Someone’s bound to bring in a box of donuts 🍩 to work. You’ll inevitably miss a day of writing (insert your own pursuit here) because you were sick or traveling. But jumping off the boat doesn’t mean you should say in the water. In fact, getting into the habit of reinforcing your passion and reason why you are making habits and going after goals in the first place is key to achieving them.

I used to have a binge mindset. Dang, I ate a cookie... oh well might as well eat 100 more. I told myself I wasn’t going to watch TV today... oh well, guess I’ll watch THE ENTIRE CATALOG on Netflix. But just because I mes up shouldn’t give me permission to go crazy. What if I messed up every day this week? What would that do to my health or long-term progress? If I binged watch shows an entire week I would end up being a vegetable, unable to do anything my heart desires.

Missteps are a part of the learning progress. Mastery comes to those who fail and yet keep going anyway. 

When you catch yourself doing bad habits that don’t build your long-term dreams, here are small, practical ways you can reset yourself:

MOVE: Reset your physical state by going for a run, swim, sprint (name your poison). It doesn’t have to be long, even 5 minutes of moving can reset your mental state.

Cold exposure: Reset your physical state splashing water on your face. (Or more hardcore: take a cold shower or ice bath)

Check yourself: Are you hungry? When’s the last time you took a mental break? Take time to rejuvenate yourself.

Small actions: Doing a small incremental action can reset your mind to do the bigger tasks. Win small to win big. 

Change your location: Moving your body to another place (think coffee shops, outside etc) can shift your mindset as well. 


Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Next Level Pursuits

“Nostalgia is denial - denial of the painful present... the name for this denial is golden age thinking - the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one one 's living in - it's a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present.”

Midnight in Paris

Sometimes it can be frustrating to do so much, yet feel so far away from where you want to be.

Wherever you are, whatever you are aiming to do, there’s always going to be that next level. 

A place where you’re smarter, better, more connected...
more ______  than you already are. And the more you do, the more there is to do.

There’s always a level up you can climb and a level down you can atrophy. That goes for every aspect of your life too:

Money:
Working at Starbucks for minimum wage > working at a 9 to 5 for 10k a year > 50k > 100k > Becoming a millionaire, Billionaire >

Connections:
Having no friends > having a friend > groups of friends > online following > deeper friends > nationwide connection > global network > super-connector >

Business:
Bootstrapping a startup > Getting your first client/customer> Making a profit > Growing your team > Exiting or IPO > Becoming the next Amazon, Google or Apple >

Loving the process

The next level is a lifelong pursuit. Striving for greatness is a fine balance between being good with where you are while pursuing a better you (and life). In our connected world of follows, downloads, likes, and shares, you have to have the right intentions — personal growth, helping others, making deep connections etc.— behind your actions. Pursuit, with the right intentions, can be a fun process of striving for the next level of performance. However with wrong intentions — for personal gain (money, power, attention) — will be a nightmare and leave you in a cycle for wanting more more more and being miserably unhappy. Growth vs. Greed. Passion vs. Dissatisfaction. Happiness vs. Longing

So the question is where will you plant your flag?

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights I'm Thinking About:

“Excellence is being able to perform at a high level over and over again. You can hit a half-court shot once. That's just the luck of the draw. If you consistently do it... that's excellence.” — Jay-Z

Learning Playbook: Resources on How to Master Learning — Part 1

Yesterday I made a list of the micro-skills of mastery, skills that if mastered will create massive improvements in all areas of our lives.

Tonight I want to talk about learning. My aim here is to start building a master learning playbook to teach myself (and anyone like me) how to master the art of learning. Why learn how to learn? Because learning is a universal skill that affects all aspects of our lives. By becoming a more effective learner, you will be able to develop any skill, trait or habit you desire.

Questions I have:

Q: How can we teach ourselves to learn? (Learning how to learn — or meta-learning if you want to get fancy pants-y)

Q: What are the books, blogs, courses, tools and other resources we can add to our learning playbook?

Q: Who are Masters of Learning that we can learn from? How makes learning look easy?
    What resources do they recommend?
    What questions do they ask?
    What habits do they have?
    Who do they learn from?


Here’s what I’ve found so far:

Books baby, booooooks:

The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance by Josh Waitzkin 

Learning How to Learn by Joseph D. Novak and D. Bob Gowin

Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown and Henry L. Roediger II

The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything . . . Fast! by Josh Kaufman

The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life by Timothy Ferriss (A learning book disguised as a cookbook)

How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey

How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer

A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra) by Barbara Oakley

The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less by Richard Koch

Teaching Smart People How to Learn (Harvard Business Review Classics by Chris Argyris

The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. by Daniel Coyle

Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys To Transforming the Way We Work and Live by Tony Schwartz

The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization by Peter M. Senge

Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella H. Meadows and Diana Wright

 Learning, Creating, and Using Knowledge: Concept Maps as Facilitative Tools in Schools and Corporations by Joseph D. Novak

How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey

So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love by Cal Newport

Mind Mapping: Improve Memory, Concentration, Communication, Organization, Creativity, and Time Management by Kam Knight

15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John C. Maxwell

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

 

I've started reading Be Excellent at Anything, and have read The Art of Learning and I'll be diving into these in the coming months so expect full reviews here on the Renaissance Life.

Did I miss any books? Let me know.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Fundamental Skills of Mastery

Q: What are the foundational skills that affect all areas of our lives? What are the micro skills that other skills/pursuits are built upon? (design, entrepreneurship, writing, public speaking, etc)

Or perhaps a better question: If I learned how to ________ would it completely change my life?

The ones I can think of at the moment are:

  • Learning: Going from A to Z on a topic.
  • Understanding: Absorbing what you learn for use.
  • Reading: Reading to learn; Learning to read.
  • Thinking: Connecting ideas, analyzing, memorization, remembering, applying and questioning everything.
  • Health & Wellness: Understanding how your body, mind, emotions, and spirit works. Knowing what foods work for you and how to use them well.
  • Moving / Exercising: Knowing how the body moves. Knowing how to move your body.
  • Teaching: Restructuring what you understand and have learned for others to understand.
  • Psychology: Knowing how humans think. Knowing how you think.
  • Mindset: Positivity, affirmations, belief. Vision, power, confidence determination, resilence.
  • Talking: communicating your thoughts and ideas eloquently. witty, thoughtful, clever, agreeable.
  • Connecting: relating with others. Building community.
  • Hearing: Listening, feeling music and soul. Intuition.
  • Dancing: Expression through music and moving. 
  • Seeing: Observing others and yourself. Seeing what others don't. Making interesting connection.
  • Acting: Charisma. Facial and Body Expression.
  • Playing: Letting lose. Having fun. Knowing what you like. Washing away anxiety and friction.
  • Applying: Taking action, executing, taking calculated risks, minimizing fear.
  • Creativity: Imagination. Expressing your ideas and mind. Seeing, making connections and applying them in new and interesting ways.
  • Ideation: Creating, brainstorming, making connections with other ideas, or from observations yet to be seen.
  • Pattern Recognition: Seeing and connecting ideas that make up larger themes about how the system/world works.
  • Numbers: talking and seeing with mathematics. Understanding probabilities. 

I'm sure I've missed some. What's interesting is the interconnection between these skills. By improving and mastering the fundamentals, we can apply it anything we want to learn going forward.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Wisdom:

"A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer."Bruce Lee

"I can't say it enough that learning how to learn is one of the greatest skills anyone can have. It's why I advocate that everyone go to college."Mark Cuban

"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen."Ernest Hemingway

Origami Life

I want to get to the end of my life and be like a piece of origami paper.

Worn, folded, and forged from a thousand lives lived.

A lifetime of learning, pursuit, and adventure. A life of meaning and worth. A life filled with friendships, creativity and boldness.

Otherwise what was I living for?

Sometimes we have to take a good hard look and ask ourselves, 'Am I ALIVE or am I just existing?'

Complacency is insidious. It creeps into our lives through comfort and success.

I'm not telling you to throw out your blankets and sleep on a pile of hard candy. I'm saying make sure what you give your time to — what you do on a day-to-day basis — aligns with the vision of the life you want to have. And if you don't have a vision for your life there's no better time like the present. It's hard to see the macro when you're living in the micro, but our lives are the sum each day we have on this earth. What does your day look like? If you're going through setbacks — keep going. If you fear something — do it. If you're experiencing pain or failure — Reset your mind, body, and focus. Start living for the extraordinary.

 

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Action Question:

  • Am I ALIVE or am I just here?
  • If I was an origami shape, what would I be?

Related Wisdom:

“If I’m not saying ‘Hell Yeah!’ to something, then I say no.” — Derek Sivers
"Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me."Carol Burnett
"Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking."Marcus Aurelius
"To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone."  — Reba McEntire
How to Turn Your Worst Setbacks Into Your Greatest Triumphs

For the Last 8 Months, I’ve been sleeping on my parent's couch. (Hard to say, but it’s true)

But in all honesty, life couldn’t be better.

Okay, you might be wondering how have I adopted this mindset?

My life imploded into oblivion after my health continuously became worse.

Here’s what happened:

I sprained my neck about 3 years ago. The first year was hell and it put a lot of things in my life on hold.

I burnt myself out at a job where I was barely making enough to pay rent let alone anything else.

I was unintentionally exposed to bad mold from my apartment which led to weird health issues that were hard to pin down.

Every day I felt more tired than the last. When you go to bed tired and wake up tired you know something is wrong. (But the question is what?) Continuous Signs of Fatigue, Do I have CTF? The worst part is not knowing what’s wrong.

I attempted to make my side-business more than a side-business at the worst possible time. It worked at first, but after having some bad-egg clients, things got worse. (And cue financial problems.) My girlfriend was also having job issues, so I was helping her as much as I could.

I kept talking (complaining *cough cough*) circles around fatigue, ache, money, and other problems that made me and everyone else blue in the face. I started identifying who I was with the problems I had.

I felt isolated and alone. Unable to keep up with my friends, be that energetically or financially.

It’s difficult to be yourself, your whole self, when you’re tired, broken, broke, despairing and on the verge of tears.

All of these setbacks were a one, two, PUNCH on my psyche and on my desire to be the best version of myself I can be.

But here’s the punch line:

I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned the past few years, it’s
Your greatest triumphs come from your worse setbacks.

What separates those who use setbacks to their advantage and use them to surpass where they were, versus those who give up and never recover? (And how do we become the former rather than the latter?)

You are not your problems.

Having an injury or bad job, or health issue, or anxiety, or ______ (insert pain-point here) doesn't me you are that experience. Everyone has issues, even the larger than life characters we look up to, but that doesn't mean that's your identity. Pain is a shared human experience. It's not meant to be bottled up instead. It's meant to be shared and relieved by the hands of others. Pain is a touching point to guide, inspire, and related to others through there own pain.

Every moment in my life where I’ve been broken down and beaten to a pulp by failure and setbacks, Has been the path to my greatest success and growth. As much as I️ would rather not feel the anxiety, frustration, pain, illness and all the negative outcomes of facing setbacks, I️ now see the value and blessing of going through hard times. Once you see the blessings in disguise, you having something to focus on besides the pain itself. Knowing there is a kernel of truth in pain and that truth will help you achieve your wildest dreams is how we can take advantage our worst experiences and allow us to build an extraordinary life.

There are hard-earned lessons in pain. (It’s hard to see this during, and might be impossible to really know what I’m talking about unless you’ve gone through your own share of setbacks) There are also opportunities and abundance in pain too. 

Where am I today?

I’ve got a new apartment, one that I’ve always dreamed of. I’ve got a great job working on Pass It Down and working with Paul Cummings. My business started to thrive when I️ made it my side business again. My relationship with Gabriella and my family has improved. And best of all, I’m thinking less about me and more about you and how I️ can make an impact on your life and on the lives of others everywhere.

How did I get here? What do you do when you are facing down the barrel of a setback?

I️ asked for help. I️ reached out to friends to see if they knew of any work available I️ could take on.
I️ said yes to opportunities that came my way, big or small. I took chances. I created challenges for myself.
I pitched ideas to others to collaborate. Not all of them said yes, but one, two, three yeses are better than none. One yes is all you need to get going.
I️ invested money in going to the doctor and have started to unlock the solutions to my health and energy problems.

I’m still working on my health, my friendships, finances, spirit, creative pursuits (like this blog) and other areas of my life. But as long as I️ focus on improving in each area every day, and remember the lessons learned from my experiences, I️ know any setback I️ face I️ will be able to turn it into my greatest triumphs. And you can too with yours.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Action Steps:

  • Share your pain
  • Look for opportunity and truth when you are facing down the barrel of a setback.

Related Wisdom:

"Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life's search for love and wisdom." Rumi

"The struggle of my life created empathy - I could relate to pain, being abandoned, having people not love me."Oprah

"A lot of what is most beautiful about the world arises from struggle."Malcolm Gladwell

"Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward."Henry Ford

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
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

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

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."