Advice Origins

Everyone is going to have an opinion about your creative work.

Some genuinely want to help you improve and succeed.

Others are criticizing just to tear you down.

Knowing the difference is key to your success and mental health.

Not all feedback is created equal.

It feels weird saying that too much advice can be a bad thing. The fact that people are giving us advice at all is awesome, but not all advice is created equal.

Advice can come from places of pain: jealousy, fear, caution, recklessness, worry, etc.

Advice coming from a place of pain should be ignored or at least heard with a grain of salt.

The advice to watch out for the most is the kind with an agenda. If someone is trying to get you to do something or take a particular path in life, stop and ask yourself if it’s something you really love.

Do I want to pursue this because I love it or because of some external reason?

An older, wiser person who has been through what you are experiencing or something similar should have more weight than an older person who has never been through it.

Experience doesn’t always necessarily mean the advice is correct (advice stuck in the past, for example) but it does have weight and value.

If someone experienced gives you advice, it’s always good to pause and take it honestly. then consider how and if it applies to your life.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1620

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Packaging Advice

There’s advice and then there’s “advice.” (Note the quotation and the italics.)

The two separate pieces of advice might be equal sound. But the problem is advice is coming from different places— one from a place of love and “advice” is coming from a place of fear.

I have mixed feelings about advice that is given from a place of worry and fear.

“You shouldn’t take that job because it doesn’t pay enough.” Is different from “You shouldn’t take that job because you are worth 5x more than what they are offering.” Can you tell which one is coming from love and which from fear?

Advice is all about the packaging.

Packaging and presentation make all the difference. I could give you the same birthday gift but wrap it in a garbage bag or wrap it in thick clean paper and tie it with twine in a nice bow and you’ll feel the difference.

There’s a book called Words that Work, that has a great subtitle: “It’s not what you say, It’s What People Hear.” I haven’t read the book, only that title. But I completely agree with the subtitle.

I could give you the best damn advice in the world—advice so good that it would light your ears on fire—but it wouldn’t mean a hill of beans if I said it with criticism and fear. You would likely listen, say “okay Josh” and then throw it in your new garbage bag gift wrapping and leave it on the side of the road for the next trash pickup.

I can think of many mistakes that I’ve made (you know, 20/20 and all that jazz) and advice I was given but didn’t take because of the way it was given.

It’s hard to override this. I’m not even sure we should override it most of the time. But perhaps if advice is coming from someone we know or even someone we admire then despite the packaging, maybe we should try to take a moment and listen objectively.

I have found it helpful to identify where a piece of advice is coming from. “Is this advice that I’m getting coming from a place of fear or love? Is this person saying this because he or she has personally experienced this too or are they saying this—subconsciously or not—out of envy or embarrassment or failure or conformity?”

The worst kind of advice is advice we didn’t ask for from people we don’t know.

This type of advice should be thrown in a dumpster fire. This is different from the advice we receive from people we know or admire or the advice we seek out. For example, consider all the content you consume—podcasts, articles, books, videos—whether you are looking for it or not, sometimes little tofu nuggets of insights will pop out at you.

The other day I was listening to a podcast with Jason Fried and he said something that I wish I had learned five years ago, it was something along the lines of “You can’t make a sandwich out of equity.” It’s good to work somewhere and have a stake (equity) in the company but it’s also important that they are paying you enough for what you need to live. You can’t eat a sandwich made out of equity. Brilliant! I wish I had learned that sooner!

Advice is good. Seek out insights like they are your full-time job. But be wary of advice that comes from fear. Even if it’s good advice, going with your intuition instead is usually a better choice.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1619

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Changing the Story

There’s very little of our lives that are set in stone.

Birth and death.

But our time here, the living in-between those two bookends is ours.

Things happen to us, things happen at us, things happen because of us, and — of course — things happen regardless, without our input. Flipping that on it’s head —

Things happen for us

There’s only so much we can change with things that happen to us. We can change our inputs. We can change what and who we surround ourselves. A large part of the things that happen to us is determined by where we live and what we do for work.

The things that happen after the things that happen to us, on the other hand, we can change. Our *reaction* might be just as important as our actions.

Others have said this better than I:

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” — Epictetus

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” — Charles R. Swindoll

And related: “It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” — Hans Selye

We are not the sum of what happens to us, but we become the sum of how we act with what we are given.

Some unfortunately don’t see that in time and crash and burn.

Others learn that (usually the hard way) and become better at it.

It’s all about the story we tell ourselves and the world.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1618

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Improve Yourself

It’s quite easy to see the flaws in other people.

You have a friend that would be killing it… if only they would put in a little more effort. Or you have a family member who would be so much better off if they would stop worrying all the time. Or you strike up a conversation with a random person and notice exactly the things they could improve.

But that doesn’t matter. Are they asking for help? No—they are just living their normal life.

It’s much harder to see the flaws in ourselves. Let alone seek out ways to improve our weaknesses.

We don’t see ourselves from the outside perspective. We don’t know what we don’t know.

And what’s easy for you to solve might be difficult for me, because we’ve experienced life in different ways through different experiences.

People growing up today with social media might have a better sense of it, but not necessarily in a good way. Everything is styled and curated. If something’s wrong, they notice. But they don’t use it to try to improve themselves (or learn to accept their flaws as a part of what makes them who they are). Instead, we see waves of self-loathing and anxiety.

It’s alright to be flawed. No one is flawless, even the people that tell/show us they are. We all have things we are great at and things we need to work on.

One insight I found helpful on my journey is to think about yourself as a work in progress. If you don’t like something about yourself, then change it. If you want to be better, then be better. You are a blank canvas waiting to be painted and repainted. You can change. And you can change your mind over time too.

And if you want to help others, begin by helping yourself. Take the lead. Live the example first. Don’t just shout advice like you have a clue what you are talking about when you don’t. Advice on what you do know, or examples of who does.

When I’m looking for inputs — information/knowledge/content/things we consume — I’m looking for things that will expand me.

What can I do/see/experience that will examine my perception of the world and in so doing my ability to create and impact my corner of the world?

In essence, what can I take in that will make me a better person?

How can I use X to add more meaning in my life and in so-doing the people I care about? And what are the meaningless things I can remove?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1617

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So Extra

What are you willing to give up to make your dreams happen?

Time? Tv? Saturdays?

Some people give up their sleep so they can go to night school, or work on their business in the evenings.

Some push aside their fears and possibly embarrass themselves so that they can keep stepping up on stage, or so they can pursue their dreams in photography.

To have an extraordinary life, we need to put in extra-ordinary work.

Extra work means working hard, but it also means optimizing our health, relationships, and spirit.

It means working smart and efficiently, rather than working ourselves into the ground. No energy equals no extra to give. That won’t do.

Giving extra effort doesn’t mean giving up our essential needs. The key is understanding what is essential and what is a luxury. And then the part is removing the no essentials.

We have to be smart about what thoughts we allow rent in our minds.

Thoughts that others tell us.

Thoughts we tell ourselves.

For Example, what does looping a negative thought do to us? Thoughts like “I’m bad at writing / I’m bad at money” or looping a past mistake “I wish someone had helped me make a better decision about school…”.

Quantitatively, I’m not sure. But, intuitively I know I feel more tired and drained on days when I’m stuck in my head, looping an unhelpful thought, or overwhelming myself with a mental checklist.

We have to be smart about what we eat and handle our bodies.

Leaning over a laptop all day with poor posture without a break is only contributing to our back-aching-life, not our extraordinary one.

Ask yourself: How is this helping me?

How is this ice cream helping me? Sure it super tasty, but is it helping me accomplish my goals? Is it giving me energy? Or is it stressing my body out of nutrition and adding a new pant size to my wardrobe?

To be extra, we have to act, think, value, and live in the ways that get us where we want to be.

Giving extra effort means getting rid of the nonessentials, so we focus on the essentials.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1616

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Because Why Not?

We all have ideas of things we want to build.

We want our idea to be real. We feel a jot of energy and enthusiasm for its potential.

Unfortunately, our ideas quickly become assaulted by realistic expectations.

Everyone is going to tell you why it won’t work.

And there will be many self-doubts and reasons why you shouldn’t or can’t.

There’s always some negativity or fear swirling around creativity (from those around us, those against us, or even from ourselves), but that’s not what your idea needs right now.

Does your creative idea solve your problem, or someone else’s problem?

Do you want to see it exist in the world?

Would you regret not doing it?

Then ignore everybody and give it all you’ve got.

Show them that your idea is possible.

Not everything we do will succeed. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

At the end of failure lies lessons to enable the next creative idea, and at the end of success lies lessons to enable the next creative idea AND hopefully a few more resources to make it happen (and likely more doubts why you shouldn’t).

What all ideas need in the beginning is a bit of optimism to see what’s possible, a bit of naivety to ignore how impossible it will be, and a bit of boldness to do it, despite all doubts.

Because, why not?.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1615

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The Courage to Look Foolish

“What would life be like if we had no courage to attempt anything?”

Vincent van Gogh

Most of our decisions (and the decisions of people around us) are made from a place of fear.

Fear of failing. Fear of succeeding (and losing everything to do it / or fear of succeeding and still not being satisfied.) Fear of looking like an idiot. Fear of opinions. Fear of wasting our time/life/money / etc.

Most of our decisions are born from fear.

The problem is we often don’t realize we are making fearful decisions in the moment.

We avoid being uncomfortable. We avoid starting (because of x y or z reason) and never have the chance to potentially fail or succeed.

We avoid wasting our time by doing nothing—aka wasting our time.

But if you replace the word fear with courage, the entire story changes—

We have the courage to fail—and let that failure become a stepping stone, a lesson, a story for our next act of courage.

We have the courage to succeed—because we put in the hard work, helped and improved others lives and enjoyed the process.

We have the courage to look like an idiot—because embarrassing ourselves is a part of challenging yourself to be more, to be original, to stand out and to do what others won’t.

We have the courage to spend our time / money wisely on the things we care about, and not dwell too harshly on our past selves decisions / time we can no longer get back.

We have the courage to say yes to what’s important to us and no to everything else.

Because at the end of the day, doing nothing gets us nothing, fear gets us more fear, pain gets us more pain, and negativity attracts more negativity.

It is only through trying and the willingness to embarrass ourselves, can we hope to achieve greatness.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1614

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Prioritizing Happiness

Priority doesn’t happen on its own. If we don’t actively engage in what’s important to us, then something else is going to fill that space. Usually something that other people want us to do.

Priority requires choice. It demands us to “sign our name”, so to speak, and put our money where our mouth is with our time and energy. This isn’t easy. Especially when you have a lot you want to prioritize.

Trying to prioritize everything is the same as prioritizing nothing.

Lack of priority is usually a sign of us being unclear with what we want or unwilling to plant our flag.

Sometimes that’s okay because we’re still trying to figure out where we want our flag to go. Do I plant my flag here or there? Well, which would bring you the most joy?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1613

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Happiness + Ambition

I find that most often in creativity and life, the more I try and force it, the less it works (whatever it is).

It’s a hard life, being a try-hard. 😆

It’s an interesting counterintuitive idea that wanting something so much brings you the opposite results. Or you get what you wanted and the results aren’t worth what it cost to get it.

It’s not that hard work doesn’t pay off, it does pay off, usually ten-fold. But working hard doesn’t automatically mean we are working smart.

Nor does working hard doesn’t always mean getting what you want, exactly how you want it.

Which can be a good thing. Usually what we start out with is limited by the information we have at the moment. In the beginning, we don’t know what’s possible (or what’s normal) so anything is possible. And as we grow we discover the layers of an idea, skill, business, etc.

But if we stuck with our original goal/definition of success or what it means to be great at something, we’re missing out on what’s in front of us.

The passion and desire aren’t wrong, it’s the tight mindset around the finish line that needs some adjustments.

The problem isn’t that we move the goal post, it’s that we don’t appreciate the successes (and failures) along the way. We’re so focused on the goal, we forget to enjoy the moment.

Instead of taking every challenge and opportunity with a tight fist, always clenching and squeezing with all our might to make something happen, we can open up our hands, let go of the outcome, and be agile and flexible to obstacles and change.

With an open palm, we can let go of what should be, do our best each day, and create an outcome with the greater potential of what *can* be.

This is how we can be happy with where we are, yet simultaneously always push ourselves to be better.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1612

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Landmarks

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”

Zig Ziglar

“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”

Confucius

There’s so much busy-ness in our day, it’s easy to lose sight of our goals and what truly matters to us.

It’s also easy to get so caught in the task list, and never take the time to think about what’s it all for.

Why are you doing the things you are doing? Because I enjoy them? Or because this is what I’ve always done?

Are we aiming for something meaningful or just collecting a paycheck, or spinning our wheels.

Reaching a goal is difficult. (Duh Josh.)

We need something to aim for, otherwise, we’ll get lost along the way. Even if what we are aiming for is just a landmark—something temporary that we can see further off in the distance as we are walking forward. The goal might be further from the landmark, but it will help point us in the right direction.

That’s assuming that our main goal is something we actually want. (Otherwise, why the h*ck are we going this way?)

That comes from knowing what drives you and how you want to spend your precious time here on earth. (Easy, right?)

“If you’re bored with life – you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things – you don’t have enough goals.”Lou Holtz

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1611

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