Bless This Mess

I’ve been learning a lot about entropy this week.

Crash Course: https://youtu.be/ZsY4WcQOrfk

TedED: https://youtu.be/YM-uykVfq_E

https://jamesclear.com/entropy

Trying to compare thermodynamics to our personal lives is like trying to compare car mechanics and peanut butter, it’s better to not. But it’s hard to resist. In simple terms (perhaps too simple), Entropy is a measurement of disorder. In life, order is more likely to move towards disorder. Order becomes disorder. It’s equilibrium in a way. A hot cup of coffee becomes cool, roads grown worn, we grow old.

What I’m really looking for are systems to live by. I know what I want. Now it’s a matter of discovering how.

It’s sounds minor, but it’s helpful to know that things tend to get discorded over time, because we can build checks and balances into our lives that help stay focused on what’s important to us, instead of lost to the whims of, well, everything else.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh W.

Josh Waggoner
Dobby is Here to Serve

A ‘yes’ is like a boss. Even when it’s something you don’t mind doing for someone, or you actually enjoy doing, a ‘yes’ still has absolute control of your time and attention.

Even saying yes to things you care about and love still uses a portion of your limited time force.

That’s why it’s vital to give out yes’s very carefully, and no’s more easily.

Of course things aren’t cut and dry. The tricky bit is some yes’s are mandatory, or put more softy, worth doing because it brings joy in your relationships. These types of yes are best done with a smile on your face and later counterbalanced with your own things you want to say yes too.

Find yourself in a schedule of too many yes’s to things you have to do instead of things you wish you were doing, you’ll end up miserable, complainy and anything but great at parties.

A undesired yes is really just a half-yes, which isn’t a no, but rather a yes where you are wasting everyone’s time.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh W.

Josh Waggoner
The Gift of Hope
 

“Where there's tea there's hope.” — Arthur Wing Pinero

Even the smallest ounce of hope can brighten up the unlit attic of despair and misery.

If that’s not a line straight out of a Batman movie, then it should be.

When I get lost in stress or moments in life that feel almost hopeless, I find my mind chit chatting away with itself. Running through recent conversations in my head. Running through things I want to say in the future. (Conversations with myself that aren’t based in reality at all) Playing things over and over. The kind of self-talk that leads to nowhere, but you keep catching yourself doing it.

Where does negatively lead but to more negativity?

Despair to more despair? Anger, bitterness, loneliness ... to more of their kin.

And the worst of all it starts to absorb in your pores. It’s easy to spot a discouraged face. (At least it is from one person who’s experienced it, to another.)

But negativity doesn’t suit us. We’re more capable than that.

Hope is a way to reset the loop.

A small act of kindness is a small gift of hope. It’s like a breath of fresh air where you realize you’ve been holding your breath for awhile. This could be monetary in nature, but usually its just a small act of goodwill or a tip of the hat in the general direction of someone who needs it.

Everyone has their own problems they’re facing, their own insecurities looping in their heads. Everyone will face a version of the same problem some point in their lives.

You’ve probably already bought your Holiday gifts and have them wrapped neatly under the tree. But think about how you can add a few more gifts of hope to those around you. You never know, they might be the most memorable gifts you give!

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh W.

Josh Waggoner
Renaissance Minute

Multitasking is the ability to do many things poorly. 

Q: Are you multitasking your time into a thousand little uneffective blocks a day?

Q: Where should you be monotasking and giving all your focus in the moment?

Action Step: Read Deep Work, by Cal Newport

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh W.

Like this itty bitty renaissance minute post? Would you like to see more like this, maybe even 1 / day? I’m considering starting a Renaissance Minute email list. shoot me an email, let me know what you think. or join here.

Josh Waggoner
Pay to Play

Would you still work at your job if YOU had to pay to work there instead of getting paid?

We all need to eat, have a place to sleep, and everything that goes along with living (which I’m sum up with “Ice-Cream Money”.)

This is how it is with our hobbies. We pay for the gear, lessons, and resources needed to do our hobbies.

We pay for college. (In hopes of getting paid later at a great job / career.)

What about our jobs though? Or our friends or dreams?

Would you do what you are doing if you had to pay money to do it?

Because if you look at in another way, this is what we are all doing — paying to play. Sometime that actually does mean $, but more importantly we are paying with our time.

Time is our most valuable currency.

We tend to only recognized this, unfortunately, after we giving it up (myself included) to distractions, to others and or to inner insecurities. Time is our most finite resource. You can always get LESS money (and become as broke as you want to be) or you can always get MORE money (and become as rich as you want to be), but you can’t get more time than you have right now. (no take-backsies).

The moment you realize this, no matter what age you are, you have a choice:

1. To keep on doing what you’ve been doing. Ignoring how you spend your time, or at the very least spending it like its an unlimited resource.

Or —

2. To say yes to the things and people you value most.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh W.

Josh Waggoner
Drop It Like It's

What if you dropped everything? Stopped all that you were trying to achieve, broke all commits, cleared out your calendar completely.

If you could start fresh with your life, what would you want to add back in and keep?

That’s what you should be pursuing.

Of course, we can’t drop everything, and if we did responsibilities wouldn’t just disappear. But this exercise is a great way to learn what you should be focusing your time on.

Drop everything in your mind. Your job, your hobbies, your stuff, your habits and patterns, your routines.

What will you add back?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh W.

Josh Waggoner
Gradualism

Most sharp turns,

like dying your hair pink, selling everything and moving to Spain, or buying a Maserati, happen much sooner than the point of decision. Things bubble inside. Desires, insecurities, frustrations. From an outside view, it looks like you changed or succeed overnight. In reality the ideas have been shaping up within all along, you just needed to work up the nerve.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh W

Related:

“Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve.”J. K. Rowling

Josh Waggoner
Little Things

Sweeping grand gestures are great, but it’s really the little things that add up to create real change.

What’s more special: one person giving a million dollars to charity, or a million people giving twenty five dollars to charity? The solo millionaire couldn’t possible keep up with the mass amount of goodwill.

Sometimes I feel really small. I’m just one random person out there trying to figure out life. I struggle with work and money and balancing my time for what matters. I think a lot of people think this way. They think, ‘how could I possibly make a difference? I can barely do X ... or I can’t even do Y, how could I possibly help?’

I’m not so sure having X or doing Y really matters. What matters is you’re going through things and life, and other people are experiencing things like you too. Sharing your experiences and truth could have a massive impact on someone’s life. One little act is nothing much to look at. Nice, cute, but not very substantial. But one act every day for years? Multiple little gestures every single day over a lifetime? That is true impact.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh W.

Josh Waggoner
3 Things That Are Changing My Life Lately

1+ Daily 6AM Ashtanga Yoga class

Not only is this a great way to work on my body and flexibility, it’s also a great reason to get up early and start the day. I feel much better afterwards, and have a little more space in the morning to read and think before work.

2+ No food after 7PM, 8 PM — Max

This one is really hard to do, but I sleep so much better when I do. When you eat a late meal, you’re body is focused more on digestion than it is quality sleep. If you wake up feeling like you got slapped, this is a good place to start.

3+ More Intentional time with friends

This is a work in progress to be sure, but I already feel more connected with the intentional time I’ve been putting in so far. Life moves so fast sometimes, we hardly notice that we are skipping or flat out neglecting the best parts.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh W.

Josh Waggoner
Measuring Up

What are you measuring yourself to?

You’re measuring yourself to something, even if you aren’t fully aware of what or who.

It’s easy to get lost and measure your ability or worth compared to others expectations of you or of other great creatives out there. If you’re looking for an excuse to give up your art, there’s plenty out there to choose from. But to do so cuts your true capacity and genuine strength. You are capable of being great at what you love, it’s just a matter of sticking with it long enough to see your match your taste and desires with your reality.

Unrealistic expectations are overwhelming, exhausting, and causes unnecessary stress. This goes from expectations pushed on us and expectations pushed on ourselves.

I’m continuously cutting my progress off at the knees because of my unrealistic expectations I put on myself.

But what do those expectations get me? A whole lot of nothing. Nothing butter sandwiches.

The best person to respectfully measure yourself to is your past self. Am I better today than I was yesterday? Did I put in the effort today? If so then I’ve succeeded all measurements. Was today a suck-fest? Okay, then. Take a nice long shower or sauna session, sleep it off, try again tomorrow.

Today was good, tomorrow will be even better.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh W.

Josh Waggoner
Embracing "Ya'll"

I haven’t always been the biggest fan of my southern heritage.

It’s not I so much ‘hated’ where I’m from, more like I wish I grew up living in a big city like NYC, or next to shore of Cali.

There’s so much interesting things going on out there, and so little going on here.

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve changed my tune. (which is something only an old person would say)

There is benefits and downsides to every place, and as long as we refuse to let the downsides control our thoughts, we can embrace any place we call home (...with in reason of course :).

It’s like that old saying (which I will now enjoy butchering to pieces), Be it time or space, the farther away you are from where you grew up, the closer you feel to it and miss it.

I miss the endless days of summer. I miss cul-de-sac games, and living without the need of worry and anxiety that adults tend to worry about.

There’s comfort and peace of mind in heritage, these are the things we should embrace and cling to when our world is spinning us like a top.

There’s also things which we disagree with about our heritage, and that’s okay too. This isn’t an all or nothing. Cherry-pick the good, remove the bad.

I think my big qualm with my southern heritage (to use big-sized words for kid-sized problems) was that heritage is painted in broad strokes: You’re from the south so you’re expected to live and be and certain way, and that way sets your limitations.

But if you think about it for a moment, that’s not true. Why else would the majority of stories we tell and enjoy, from Lord of the Rings to The Holiday, feature soon to be heroes / protagonists coming from small origins doing big things in their world?

Heritage doesn’t define you, nor what you are capable of.

It’s more like heritage paints accents on who you are, and adds flavor to your character and charm if you let it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh W.


Related Insights

"Courage is found in unlikely places." — J. R. R. Tolkien

Josh Waggoner
Drunk on the things we must do

Why is it that the things we want to do the most, become the things we do the least?

Interests we don’t do (or do last), friends we don’t see, self-care we put off…

Is it because they are harder to do? Too close to home? Too distracted? Disorganized? Discombobulated?

Drunk on the things we must do?

Probably a little of everything.

I think if we’ve finally figure out how to align our actual day to day to working towards our impossible dreams we would all feel better, a little brighter, a little more hopeful.

When you hear about someone online or from days long before who overcame their problems you can’t help but feel inspired and envious at the same time.

How did they figure out how to do it?

How how how?

I don’t know.

I think you only learn how in the heat of the moment you decide to go after it and figure it out yourself. To move your legs like you know how to run, until you learn how to *run*.

That’s the dirty secret about how:

It comes later. It comes from doing. It comes in the act and the experience/ experiments you try yourself. You can get a good picture of how from others — secrets of the trade — but you don’t really know how until after you’ve already done it.

The best example comes from you. Think of something you learned recently. You’ve learned and done something, and now you know **how** . Ask someone who wants to learn what you just learned and they’ll say the same things: how?? Luckily you have the answers now they’re looking for.

Someone likely has the answers to the how you’re seeking right now, it’s just a matter of asking for what they know, or figuring out yourself.

STAY BOLD,

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh W.

Josh Waggoner
Shiny Object Syndrome

Having the ability to focus and stick with practice will make or break any skill or habit your trying to cultivate.

The last thing you want to do is follow the trends. As soon as you do, there will be another shiny object to take its place on the distraction gerbil wheel.

 
 

You’ll never go deep enough to master something if you’re jumping from one shiny object to the next, following whatever’s exciting in the moment.

When you love learning new skills, and want to pursue many things, shiny objects are easy to get distracted from, and every skill has it. Languages, coding, design, writing, athletics… there’s always something else you could be learning instead of what you are.

Why are we so drawn to these shiny derailing devils?

My guess is that everything looks easier to do from a far. While you’re knee deep in learning Japanese, yoga sure does look appealing too. And the practice in front of us is hard and feels like, well, work.

But once you recognize that, you realize it’s all work and that ultimate that work is worthwhile and what leads to mastery.

Avoid the shiny object syndrome. That’s a state that leads you to nowheresville fast.

Yoga will be just as difficult to master as the Japanese you’re learning. But that’s what makes each special and exciting to learn.

And hey, learn both if you want, just as long as they are not distracting you learning each and you have the time and energy to do so.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Josh Waggoner
Gift Experiences

Stuff is great.

But how long does it really last?

Of course, this is hilarious coming from me. My wishlist is a mile long and half of the items are above the $500+ range.

I have nothing against things. I love opening presents, I also love giving presents. My favorite part about giving presents is thinking of exactly what the person would like, gifting to their personality.

But maybe things shouldn’t be in the top spot?

I mean, if I really think about it, how much of the things we want will still be relevant in a year?

Technology cycles out quickly. There’s always a new shiny hotness a month away. Why buy AirPods now when there’s some shiny new ones coming early 2019, for example.

Clothing gets old. Even cars and homes lose their freshly purchased smell after awhile.

Experiences, however, last.

Memories fade, but the feelings don’t.

Experiences stick with you always, even the bad ones become laughable or stories to tell given enough time. They become a part of who you are, in fact they help define who you are.

Think about how you can give the gift of experiences this year.

STAY BOLD,

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Josh Waggoner
Top 5%

I sometimes the type of people who can dedicate themselves to JUST ONE THING. To give oneself to a single passion, and spend all effort in pursuit of it. 

I’m just not that guy. (At least not where I’m at in life right now.)

And thus I’ve chosen a multi-disciplined life. I don’t want to be just good at one thing, I want to be great at a handful of things. (still finite, still countable, just less… singular.)

Depending on who you’re talking to, I often get the response, ‘Ah! I see. A Jack of All Trades. Very cool.’

Ah jack. My old nemesis. A master of none. How I loath you.

I’ll typically nod and try to lead them into more of a Renaissance Mindset, they are after all, usually saying it with a complementitive tone (definitely a made-up word). 

No, I don’t want to be a jack of all trades, good sir. I’m probably overreacting, but there’s subtly in the language. I want to be a master of few, not a master of none. A Jack / Jill of All trades is someone who jumps from one interest to the next, bouncing around towards too many things — shiny objects — which ultimately highlights and leads to an indecisive life.

How about we compare a one thing life, with a multi-thing life.

Let’s start with the baseline: Going 1 to 0%. Let’s face it, a lot of us are just goofing off and just playing. As much as I’d like to help others go all in on what they love, there’s a lot of people out there who are living life going through the motions, giving only 0% on what they actually care about. There’s many reasons for this. There’s a lot of people hurting out there, without the empowerment and believe to overcome their pain. My heart goes out to them. Going just 1% puts you above the fold.


Going 100% doesn’t inevitably lead to your success. It can, but without the effort, consistency, dedication and luck involved, it might not. Go 100% AND put in the effort, and with a little luck you might be in the top 1% of your discipline. But do we really need to be in the top 1% to be a master of something?

Going 20% into 5 areas gets you further than the majority and leads to a level of mastery in your skills that can rival the top 1% er’s. I’d rather be in the top 5% in multiple areas, than in the top 1% of just one.

The added value of 20% & 5 is the interesting ways you can connect and combine the 5 areas your great at.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s value in each. Going after ONE pursuit gives you focus and clarity. You have a better idea what to yes and no to. You’re less likely to feel disorganized (compared to multi-lites like me).

The big idea I want to impart is that you can choose.

A life of one, or a life of many

If you want to pursue multiple things — do it! Don’t let others tell you that you can’t. We can’t do everything all at once, but we can do a few things well.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh W.

IG: @Renaissance.Life

Josh Waggoner
Mental Clutter

Everything we surround ourselves with has a gravitational pull on our minds.

A pile of dishes, a stack of unread books, instruments, equipment, toys…

They aren’t just objects in our home, they are subconscious todos.

And when it comes to our digital lives, nothing ends — everything is a scrollable bottomless pit of entertainment. Every app, every note, every email… more todos you could be doing right now.

Having too many todo’s is a great reason why to run away and join the circus.

I’m guilty of this as much as the next guy. I’m sitting here writing this with a guitar in front of me, a bag full of podcasting equipment, a stack of books and about 4000 tabs open on my browser.

On one hand, this is good. These are the things I want to spend my time doing. (well, not the 4000 tabs bit). I want to feel drawn to play my guitar. That’s why I have it out. The more in arms reach it is at all times, the more likely I’ll pick it up and play a tune.

But surround yourself with too many of these mental reminders and they stop becoming reminders, and more like energy-sucking clutter on your mind.

THere’s only so much time you can realistically give to things you want to do at once (a lesson that’s hard for me to hear). And battling time is not a fun way to live.

If you feel mentally cluttered, or creatively stuck, perhaps it’s time for a mental spring cleaning. See how removing things (todos) from your daily life feels. You don’t have to get rid of them, although that’s an effective way to refocus. What are your essentials'? What can you live without?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh W.

Josh Waggoner
The Benefits of Friction
 

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” — Marcus Aurelius


What if everything we experience is for our own benefit in the end? No, that’s too naive. 

What if everything we experience can be for our benefit?

Failure sucks, but it doesn’t have to ferment into regret. Failure can be a connection point, a story to tell for those you are trying to reach.

Pain, well, hurts. But it doesn’t have to consume our entire lives. It can, if you let it. But it doesn’t have to. Again, pain can connect you to others on similar life paths as you, and become your motivational fuel on the fire to reduce or even heal your pain (and the pain of others).

Fear suppress us or motivates us to change and stand for something.

Is everything to our benefit? No, but there is a silver lining from even the darkest experience. 

A sunrise: hope for a better day.

A sunset: hope for a better tomorrow.


I’ll admit, It’s a little cheese to say but —

In life, there is friction. And with friction comes fire. What you do with your fire is up to you. Will you let it burn you? Or will you shine it on something meaningful and worthwhile?


STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh W.

Josh Waggoner
Limited Pursuit

There’s power in honing your focus. Which doesn’t mean to say you can’t do many things, more like you increase your effectiveness the deep you go. 

The more you do, the harder it is to keep all of it in mind, the less time you have for each and therefore the less importance each becomes.

Think about doing a mental or creative task like you would a physical object, like a piece of fruit.

Holding one apple,

Would you try to hold 10 apples at once? How about 20? You scoop them with your arms, and gather cling to them with your chest, doing your best not to drop them. You’re 20 apples stop becoming apples and starts becoming ’them’ too. 

Would you try to eat 20 oranges? no you would get sick.

Yet why do we try to eat 20 projects / goals at once?

Not only do you have less time on each, you have less intentional focus needed to accomplish them.

But somehow, in the act of narrowing your focus, you begin to see more of the big picture.

Go small to go big.

Focus on one to focus on many.

Win the day, win your life.

Do it for you (or have one person in mind), and you resonate with more people.

Limited pursuit is unlimited pursuit.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh W.

Josh Waggoner
Flip It

The things we are most passionate about tend to be the things we spend the least time doing.

What kind of bs is that?

To end up doing everything except what you want to do, and to live a life without doing what makes you feel alive.

But How? you ask. How do we pursue our hearts while still making ends meat (or ‘ends veggies’ for all you vegans out there)?

By doing both.

By providing for yourself and yours the essentials of living, while providing your soul and sanity the essentials for being ALIVE.

Learn, work, master, connect, market, share, contribute, pour until you flip the tables and no longer need both in order to live.

Will it be hard? Absolutely.

Possible? Of course.

Worth it? Every ounce.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh W.

Josh Waggoner
Inefficient Headline

Inefficiencies have been ruling my life as of late.

I’d like to say that it comes with the territory of pursuing multiple disciplines, but that feels more like a cop out.

I need to overhaul how I write and blog, and my way of podcasting needs to be completely flipped on its head. How I’m balancing time with passions, critical paths, work / rest, side businesses, family and friends, all need to be rethought out.

The problem is, like the quote contributed to Albert Einstein, “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”, it’s difficult to become efficient using the inefficiencies you’re used to.

Why do I feel inefficient? Am I really inefficient or do I just think I am? And if I am inefficient, does it really matter?

Trying to pinpoint it in a pinch, I’d say it stems from my character trait of wanting to help others and give to those around me. Which seems like great traits to have. Who doesn’t want to be helped and given to? A question that highlights the issue: if you say yes to everyone who needs help, you no longer have a life. You become the errand boy / girl on your day off. Picking up and dropping off things. Driving to the airport. You run around all day doing and helping everyone except yourself, and then wonder why you had a low grade sense of dread and anxiety.

Saying Yes to Everyone Means No Longer Having Your Own Life

The act of giving isn’t the problem here. What’s bad is you’re not balancing giving with getting what you need. And from not getting what I need, I’ve limited my capacity to do the things I want to do. (And this the inefficiencies).

Does it matter? Probably not if I just wanted to go about living the way I have been. But if I want to meet my potential and continue seeking the things that make me excited and free I need to learn how to build effective systems of action. And ultimately, learn to say no when I need to say no too.

All that being said, I am no more effective than I was at the beginning of this blog, but now at least I’ve highlighted the issue. From here it’s taking the time to research and ask myself the questions:

Who is efficient that I can look up to and model?

Who is efficient and shouldn’t be? What are they doing to do so?

Where can I start experimenting on adding small components of effectiveness? Where are small actions I can start taking immediately to practice being more inefficient?

Where do I need to balance myself more when it comes to helping others?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh W.

Related:

“The ultimate goal of a more effective and efficient life is to provide you with enough time to enjoy some of it.”Michael LeBoeuf

“The system is that there is no system. That doesn't mean we don't have process. Apple is a very disciplined company, and we have great processes. But that's not what it's about. Process makes you more efficient.”Steve Jobs

“If I get stuck, I look at a book that tells me how someone else did it. I turn the pages, and then I say, 'Oh, I forgot that bit,' then close the book and carry on. Finally, after you've figured out how to do it, you read how they did it and find out how dumb your solution is and how much more clever and efficient theirs is!”Richard P. Feynman

Josh Waggoner