Centered

“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.”

Oscar Wilde

I think we are all inherently self-centered (or at least at some point) in life. Yes — technically I just called you selfish. We do live and experience through our own eyes and other senses. We learn through imitation from our parents and surrounding, but we mirror what we learn through our own hands.

We can see and think about others’ experiences to become sympathetic to their situations, but it’s usually not until we feel it in our own experiences do we truly awake with understanding.

Something has to slap us in the face, so to speak. Both small and large events can do the trick. Each opens us to the bigger picture we are all living in.

Usually, something physical will do it:

  • A flip over the handlebars…
  • A broken bone from falling while rollerblading…
  • Accidentally slamming your finger in the car door…

Something that wakes you up to the idea that you’re not invincible.

Emotional and mental events will do it too:

  • Visit a big city or a foreign place for the first time…
  • Receiving a rejection letter or losing a competition you thought you would win…
  • Seeing someone homeless fro the first time, or even experiencing the pangs of hunger or isolation ourselves…

Something that points to the fact that you are not the center of the universe.

Harsh things happen to us all. Whether we let them control us and close us off to the world or let them shape us, open us up to being more humble, smarter and connected is our choice.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #778


Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Back to the Present

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

Heraclitus

“The value of experience is not in seeing much, but in seeing wisely.”

William Osler

I live in the present. I’m often looping and replaying events from the past (and from my imagination) in my head and thinking about how I can reverse engineer a better future for myself (and others). But the road to a better future lies in the actions we take today.

Every beginning is an ending. Yesterday’s ending was today’s beginning. We naturally feel called to rise when the sun wakes and rest when the sun sleeps. One blank page leads to another blank page. One life-changing event or stage in life leads to another.

It’s easy to forget this in the busyness of life. It’s easy to get stuck on yesterday’s failure than focus our efforts on today’s open opportunity. Every so often I’ve let one day ruin a week, by holding onto something that bothered me, something that made me feel sorry for myself — but what did that give me? Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you have to just feel things out. It’s no good to keep emotions bottled inside like food in a pressure cooker. But we don’t get another day like this one. Today is our chance to follow our hearts and create what we feel called to make and change what we want to change.

Step forward into the light. Seek challenge and new experiences while you can today.

It’s okay to be both nostalgic (or even sad) for the past experiences AND optimistic for the new experience.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #777 😇


Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Is It Worth It?

“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.”

Steve Jobs

“Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia.”

Charles M. Schulz

We often don’t realize how much time and energy we put into something or someone until much later, if we realize it all.

But if we were to do the math and observe where we give our time to, the hour’s stack up alarmingly quickly.

It’s interesting (and frustrating) how much of our time we put into everything BUT the things we feel called to do.

Steven Pressfield calls this The Resistance — a force that will stop at nothing to distract you from what’s most important.

At the end of the day, our time is finite.

And we spend a lot of it carelessly, or rather, unnoticeably, and give our time to nothing-burgers and ti the desires that other people have for us.

Now I’m not saying that the things you enjoy are worthless. By the very nature of enjoying it, it’s providing value to you (…to a point). If you enjoy cooking or putting away the dishes, then enjoy away! But if you don’t have the time to wash dirty dishes (… well first you might want to considered you’ve overbooked yourself with too many things, but secondly) by all means hire someone who does or trade it for something you do find valuable with your significant other (or roommate) who does enjoy it.

Not everything is worth our time and energy.

Helping a friend when they need your help or shoulder?

Worth it.

How about challenging yourself, developing new skills and honing what you’re good at?

Worth every dime and minute, through success or failure.

Putting in the time for yourself and your wellbeing? Going the extra mile for your significant other? Reaching out first to friends and family to keep the connections thriving? Giving your customers genuine respect and care?

Worth it every time.

(I’m going to stop there, this post is starting to sound like a Hallmark commercial —priceless.)

But worry about something we don’t have control over — like someone talking bad about us behind our backs, or an unfortunate misfortune, or the whims of the weather? Not worth the effort.

If someone doesn’t respect you or are just using you to get what they want, they aren’t worth your time anxiously thinking about.

If someone doesn’t like you because of who you are and what you stand for, then that’s their loss.

If you blunder from a stupid mistake, then do what you need to do to learn from it and move on.

Can I change this? Is this in my control?

Will this matter in a year? 5 years?

How long will this bring joy and value to my life?

Do I want to be hanging out with this person (these people) 3 years from now?

Is X (and worrying about X) worth my most valuable resource, time?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #776


Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Start Here

I realized that anyone new coming to this site would only see a giant stream of blog posts and not necessarily know what the Renaissance Life is for and what it is about beyond the tagline: “The pursuit of creativity, mastery and a meaningful life”. So, I’ve creative a Start Here page to highlight the vision and values of what it means to Join the Renaissance.

I’ll be periodically updating the page with lists of top posts, resources and any new content domain (such as email, podcasting or video).

Check out the Start Here page to learn more, and if you want to stay up to date on what’s new and exciting, follow me on twitter or instagram.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #775


Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Unconforming

“Anybody with artistic ambitions is always trying to reconnect with the way they saw things as a child.”

Tim Burton

“When I was a little kid we had a sandbox. It was a quicksand box. I was an only child… eventually.”

Steven Wright

As we grow older and experience the world, it’s easy to build walls around you to protect yourself from harsh realities life throws at you.

A broken heart before knowing what love is. A naive blunder you were tricked into. A mistake of genuine thoughtlessness. A moment of angry that backfires. Broken bones or injuries that show you how un-invincible you are. Shopping sprees on things you don’t even own anymore. Detours from your calling.

Been there, done that.

Layer by layer — without actually learning how to live well (in school for example) — we fortify ourselves from our mistakes and challenges we face in life. Sometimes this is good and keeps others from taking siege to our castle (the little bit of land of control we are holding onto). But it also puts a barrier between us and the world. And often it puts a barrier between us and ourselves. We separate who we are (what we like, what we dislike, who we aspire to be, what we enjoy doing for fun) with who the world wants us to be (or who we think we should be).

You could sum this long-winded sentence with the word ‘conformist’. We conform to what society wants for us, what our parents want for us, what our friends want for us and even what our moments of pain and setbacks want for us.

You break your arm skateboarding and you never pick up a board again. Or you do but you lose interest and eventually stop.

You feel betrayed in a relationship and the next time someone comes into your life you guard yourself against their potential betrayal. (Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!)

Instead of going to college for dance — the thing you’ve done since you were 3 years old — you play it safe because your parents tell you to do and you become a lawyer instead.

I’ve spent a lot of time working the last decade, and not always on the right things (for me).

We build up these walls to protect us, but ultimately they mostly just keep us locked up. But we don’t have to cage ourselves up to experience life. Hard moments are part of what life gives us. They are the lessons and detours that show us what is meaningful to us. Difficulty shows us how rad the good times are.

This past year, I’ve been slowing adding more and more childlike curiosity, wonder, imagination and play into my daily living. Creativity is a large part of my job. But this goes beyond increasing my creative abilities for work (although I do want that too).

By adding more and more of who we were and what we enjoyed growing up, we’ll begin to peel our ‘protective’ barriers, like layers of an onion, and find pieces of joy to keep.

Life is too short to take everything too seriously and conform to everyone around us instead of creating our unique path.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #774


Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Untangling the Spider’s Web

“Behind every beautiful thing, there’s some kind of pain.”

Bob Dylan

“Face your life, its pain, its pleasure, leave no path untaken.”

Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

Pain has a strong tendency to inflict more pain. The more pain you experience, the more pain you want to release from yourself. Sometimes that means lashing out to your co-workers and sometimes that means picking a meaningless fight with your significant other.

You can see this in families, each passing on unique generational pain to the next. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. You can see this in relationships. We can easily cast blame, criticism, and frustrations on others around us, usually because we are tired and scared and disappointed in ourselves. Likely the worst victim is pain and self-loathing we inflict on ourselves. We can internalize painful moments we experience and hold it in, ricocheting like bullet fragments within our psyche.

The problem is, even if there is clearly someone we can point the finger too, blame and dwelling on mistakes and what’s wrong don’t heal the pain. Rather, dwelling on past mistakes or unfortunate circumstances only roots us in deeper into loss and regret.

But if we take our lives into our own hands through responsibility and ownership over what’s in our control, we can find a way forward that breaks the cycle and untangles the web of pain we (and others) weave.

Pain can sometimes make us better. Not all pain, but some. The hardest experience in my life has defined who I am more than anything else. I am who I am because of the pain I’ve experienced and the path’s pain has lead me on. It didn’t always start positive — I didn’t enjoy the pain when it happened. But with the right open perspective and surrounding myself with knowledgeable people and books, I found the good in the difficult. There’s beauty in that, in a somewhat sideways half-glance sort of way.

We all feel moments of disappointment, anxious, sad, regretful, bitter, fearful, uncertain, broken-hearted, lonely, hopeless, melancholy and meek at some point. The key to living well is to not let those tiny moments become you.

We all feel moments of disappointment, anxious, sad, regretful, bitter, fearful, uncertain, broken hearted, lonely, hopeless, melancholy and meek at some point. The key to living well is to not let those tiny moments become you.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #773


Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

But What’s My Motivation?

Some years ago, I made several poor work decisions based in the need of money. Money wasn’t the desired outcome, rather, money was the resource I needed to use to help heal health issues I was facing.

Motivator(s) <—> Decision

Health problem > knowledge/expertise/healing > $ > work for money instead of value and meaning. 

Scratch that. It’s not just motivators that drive us to make decision, but motivators seen from the lens of our perspectives and mental/emotional states that lead down certain paths.

Motivator(s) <—> Perception <—> Decision 

I pushed a lot of important things aside in the desire to become healthy and whole again. I found out the hard way that doing something just for money alone is rarely a good idea. It’s often as the opposite effect you we’re looking for. I don’t blame myself for making poor work decisions. But in hindsight, I was not thinking clearly about why I was feeling like I needed to make certain decisions.

Every decision we make has driving factors or a motivator behind it. Before making any rash decision in a moment of anxiety that go against who we are, it’s health to take some time to think about why you want something.

What is motivating this decision?

What are the driving force behind this action?

What are the potential downsides to this?

This is good to do before small tactical decisions and large strategic decisions. When you feel like a certain decision is your only option, its good to pause and consider everything and open yourself to other potential opportunities. There’s always another possibility. 

Why do I want to go pound some ice cream and what will happen if I do? Why do I want to take X job? Why do I want to go to Y school? If I buy Z, what are the potential downsides?

Why do I want to go pound some ice cream and what will happen if I do? Why do I want to take X job? Why do I want to go to Y school? If I buy Z, what are the potential downsides?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #772


Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Follow Through

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Not everything we do, or want to do, is on an equal level of priority. Time, by its very nature, is most finite resource. When we prioritize on thing, we un-prioritize another.

I tend to get lost in what I call ‘shiny object syndrome’ and sidetrack myself with other interests and ideas I have in the middle of what I’m doing. However, at the end of the day I’ve done a bunch of different things without actually accomplishing what I wanted to do.

Does the immediate take priority over the important?

Does the shiny take priority over the meaningful?

No. We need to put our meaningful tasks / desires first and follow through with what matters to us.

Follow Through with what’s important to you.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #771


Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Rocky Road

“Of all possessions a friend is the most precious.”

Herodotus

The worst mistakes I’ve made in life could have easily been avoided if I had the wise advice and counsel of people around me.

Maybe I’m just wearing my 20/20 glasses too tightly and misperceiving all mistakes as easily overcome-able when in reality it’s difficult to make the right decision at the moment without all the cards on the table.

Also, It’s worth noting that I’m not blaming the people around me for me flubs and failures. The decisions I make and the consequences of them won’t always be my fault or intent, but they are my responsibility. We are rarely truly in control of what goes on in our lives. All we have a grip on is the decisions we take and the reactions we make. Even our thoughts will some times run away from us. But taking responsibility is the first step towards taking control of our lives. Own it.

Wise counsel is always a good idea too. Companies have board members, advisors and mentors giving the leaders advice when faced with challenging problems, why don’t we? What if we built our own personal advisors — not just for our businesses but— for our lives.

If we can cultivate a group of friends and community around us that care’s about our success and wellbeing in life (and vice versa), then we will be much more likely to avoid the big pitfalls that can derail us in life.

Cultivate a group of people around you who’ve got your back.

Wise advice from people you can trust highlights blind spots and gives you different angles on the things you are going through right now. Plus, the fact that you are going through something likely means there’s been someone else out there who has been in similar shoes you are in and could help you navigate forward.

The path forward is often unclear. Intentional thought and wise advice can shine a flashlight on the rocky terrain.

We can additionally cultivate our thinking, intuition, and knowledge so that we will also be a good judge of the challenges and decisions we need to make.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #770


Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Accept; Improve.

“Improvement at anything is based on thousands of tiny failures, and the magnitude of your success is based on how many times you’ve failed at something.”

Mark Manson

At some point on your journey in creativity you realize something:

‘My previous work sucks.’

As self-deprecating as that sounds, the ability to be aware of where you’ve come, where you currently are and where you need some improvement is a good thing.

I wonder if we also remember ourselves being better than we actually were?

Or perhaps as we hone and improve our skills, we gain an ‘eye for it’, a greater level of clarity that we had previously?

I think the first time I noticed this was through Frogger. Yes, the lovable Frogger game where you control a frog to hop across the screen and save his friends while avoiding traffic and crocodiles. Growing up, my cousin and I would have a blast playing Frogger for hours (among many other games). I remember us being good at it. But when I revisited it one day I realized we had never made it past the first area. We spend hours thinking we were good, but in reality, we were barely past level 1.

A similar aha moment happened when I was a senior in high school (give or take) and I was flipping through some of the old sketches I had drawn in middle school. I had pages of sketches of various characters from games and tv shows, as well as random imaginative and sometimes goofy things. They all were kind of… bad. I remember people complimenting me on them at the time. But as I leafed through the pages, I saw flaws and tiny mistakes I was unaware of when I drew them.

In a way, as we are trying something new or learning our craft, it’s a good thing we can’t see with a ‘mastery’s eye’, so to speak. It’s that cocky, beginner’s can-do attitude that pushes us forward, but it’s a thin tight-rope. It’s almost better we don’t know how bad we really are at design or programming or playing guitar in the beginning, otherwise, we’d likely be tempted to quit with barely trying. But as we mature in our craft, we get a little better than we were. And as each day passes, we start to open our eyes to new insights and capabilities we didn’t know previously.

Sucking is part of the creative process. Everyone sucks at the beginning. The only people who don’t are the ones who misremember themselves being better than they were.

One way we can speed up the process is to seek. out honest feedback and criticism.

Genuine feedback and criticism are harsh friends, but make us better at what we do. I say ‘genuine’ feedback because it needs to come from someone you respect, someone who is your peer or someone who has experience in the creative pursuit. 

Taking advice from negative comments online is rarely a good idea.

Criticism stings in the short run, but it enables you to get better faster in the long run because it allows you to see your blind spots and what needs Improvement.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #769


Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify