Assuming Impossibles

“Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in while, or the light won’t come in.”

Alan Alda

Assumptions are relationship killers. I’ve learned that the hard way. Whether that’s a friend, romantic partner, work client, colleague, or employee—assuming someone will do something (or not do something) with no actual confirmation or proof to back it up never leads to successful outcomes.

Why? Because we can’t read each others minds.

I wonder though—what assumptions do we make about ourselves?

Are there things we assume about ourselves—who we are, what we can or can’t do—that we actually wrong about?

I was making an excuse earlier about not having enough resources (aka money) yet to have the time to dedicate to writing and music like I want to0. But is that really true? Sure I need to pay for things, but is that really an excuse that I’m going to let hold me back?

Have you ever caught yourself saying, “Oh, I can’t do that, because X Y Z”?

Are you sure? Have you tried? Have you given it your full focus?

What if the things we think are impossible would be possible if we started trying and doing them anyway?

Falsely assuming something is impossible only makes it impossible because we don’t do anything about it. But we don’t know, really, unless we give a shot, right?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1309

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User-generated Mastery

Education 2.0

Of course, that’s assuming that society will value a college education as much as in the past. We are living in a transitional time. Who’s to say we won’t be educating ourselves directly from companies, like Google or Amazon? Or going back to a more apprenticeship-style educational system enhanced with modern technology?

Even right now, you can take Design Thinking classes directly from IDEO (if you’ve got the money) or learn how to code iOS apps (for free) directly from Apple Xcode lessons or dive into free resources from Adobe, Unreal, Unity, Figma, AutoDesk and on and on!

Universities will have to continuously innovate and differentiate themselves to keep up with the wave of online knowledge and skills.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1308

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Education 2.0

The nature of education is something that I’ve been thinking about since the pandemic began. (cough nerd cough). From Khan Academy to YouTube, to Udacity, to Skillshare, even before COVID-19, there’s been an inkling of educational disruption.

I’ve been interested in learning and self-learning ever since I started Renaissance Life many moons ago. But this idea that education is on the cusp of being completely flipped over (and ripe for opportunity) hit me early last year.

I had been wanting to reinvigorate my love of coding and start from the fundamentals and begin to work my way up, really diving into how to dream in code and understand how computers work.

Early last year I got COVID and while I was sick in bed I did two things: 1. I rewatched all the marvel movies. And 2. I took Harvard’s CS50 and CS50W programming courses (free I might add) and they were the most insightful coding class I’ve had, which is saying something since I went to my local college for Computer Science. I’m not here to bash reputations or point fingers—I’m just here to learn (and teach). But this really got my noodle thinking.

The question that keeps coming to mind is what will educational institutions do when they have to directly compete with every other institution around the globe?

What will Universities do when they have to directly compete with every other institution around the globe?

Competition between universities has been around since their inception, but the key difference going forward is the Internet has leveled the playing field. (The Internet doez wat the internet doez.) Just as anyone can create something—start a business, build an app, start a YouTube channel, etc.—universities will likely have to compete on value (and cost) without necessarily having geographical benefits as they did before. Put another way, if every college is online, why attend your local university if you could go somewhere more valuable elsewhere?

Recently I found a company that is aiming for this type of disruption: Outlier.org. Outlier was created by one of the co-founders of MasterClass. It is an accredited online learning platform that lets you take courses for college credit at 1/5 the cost ($400 per class) of a regular college course. They currently have a limited amount of classes, but that’s something that they can easily increase over time. The interesting thing about each Outlier class is that they are taught by multiple professors/expertise in the industry versus one teacher.

Prestige will likely still remain a factor (for mostly good and obvious reasons). Competition will (hopefully) lower the cost of courses (at least to the point where students no longer have to pay for physical institution fees/taxes as a part of their tuition. And if there’s high quality plus demand across the board, then prices will go down (…and up for premium pricing too).

Don’t get me wrong, there’s always going to be a need for in-person colleges for particular majors (If I could I’d go to MIT in a heartbeat). But in the future, my guess is that most in-person courses will be focused on specialization, whereas general courses and most majors will all be online.

All of this has me super excited about the potential of future education (and a little bummed that I’m not in high school right now—which means I’m getting old :). Also, I could also see the entire structure of “attending college” changing. For example, why only attend one school, when you could potentially take a course from Harvard, MIT, SCAD, Georgia Tech, and Berklee at the same time? Who’s to say that a single individual (like Sal Khan or Seth Godin) can’t start their own accredited online courses that are better than 80% of the university courses out there today? To rephrase a William Gibson quote:

The future is already here. The world just hasn’t caught up yet.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1307

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Consistency Takes Priority

One of the simplest (yet hardest) ways to be consistent is to not let other things overtake the thing you want to prioritize.

There are always more ideas, opportunities, books, courses, options we could do instead. But if we keep bouncing from one thing to the next, on the whims of our desires, we’ll never stay consistent long.

Saying no is one of the hardest (yet simplest) things we can do to be more consistent. No to excess. No to filler. No to cramming our schedules down to the minute. Because consistency needs breathing room to work and flourish.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1306

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Consistency Starts with Caring

It’s difficult to be consistent when you don’t care about what you are doing.

Not caring is probably a sign you should quit and find something else you care about. (With a few exceptions, like responsibilities and dips).

There’s many flavors of not caring. Being bored, for example. If you are bored out of your mind at your job, then you obviously try to cut as many corners as you can without getting fired.

There are often episodes of boredom, where you like what you are working towards, but first you have to go through a period of doing things you couldn’t care less about. These are moments we need to stick it out and keep going. Visualizing the finish line helps. Keeping in touch with the bigger picture of why you are doing what you helps too.

Other examples of not caring: feeling obligated, caring less (than other things you care more about), feeling apathetic, and accepting failure as final.

Caring is usually the first step. Caring enough to start your podcast. Caring enough to practice guitar every week. The more we care, the more likely we will stay consistent no matter what tries to get in the way.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1305

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Overstimulated

Seeking a Renaissance Life isn’t easy. One thing you’ll battle as a multidisciplinary is too many inputs (TMI 😜), all vying for your time and energy.

Heck—everyone alive today in this modern age of technology and connectivity is bombarded with Knowledge, information, and possibility—not just Renaissance types like yourself.

Putting aside all the paid ads, opinions, and data trying to get your attention dollars. Even the knowledge we seek out can be TMI and overstimulating at times!

On any given day, there are dozens of books, hundreds of videos, emails, articles I want to consume, and thousands of decisions I could take, but just because I have the options doesn’t mean I should try doing them all (especially all at once.)

But don’t go fetal-position on me yet!

I always feel particularly overstimulated on days (like today) when I haven’t slept well or when I’m not at my best. Noticing this feeling is the first step to counteracting it. When you notice something is off, you can lighten your load and reduce the pressure of the daily fire hose of information by stepping away and giving yourself moments of silence and stillness throughout the day. Instead of whipping out our phones when we are cooking or eating a meal, we could just, well, cook. Do you really need music every time you go for a walk or drive?

Minimalism is a good practice to follow to reduce overwhelm. The last thing you want to do when you are overwhelmed is go shopping, watch 15 shows on Hulu, or stress about all the important things you should be doing.

Separate Consuming from Creating.

There is time for both consuming and creating, but mistake one for the other. Reading a book might be insightful or educational, but it’s not the same thing as sitting down and doing the work. Don’t mistake learning from doing. Hands-on experience is a hybrid of learning plus doing, but don’t forget that learning is a step towards doing. Learning Spanish or how to code in python is awesome! But don’t forget there’s a reason why you learn them—to communicate and create.

Filtering is Key.

Quality over distraction. Fewer options. Remove any visible reminders of todo or potentially todos in your immediate environment. Remove the fluff. Focus on the essentials. Don’t isolate yourself from important things, but not surround yourself with everything either.

One Thing at a Time.

Do what you need to get everything else out of your head so you can focus on what’s in front of you. Prioritize your tasks, but focus only on the immediate priority. Pretend as nothing else exists during this time you’ve allocated.

Remember What’s Important.

Make sure you actually have to do the things you think you have to do. Is this required of me? Is this task mine? Is this my responsibility? Or am I adding unnecessary items to my to-do list?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1304 | Overstimulated Draft #2

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Consistency is Priority

Out of all the things I made so far for the Renaissance Life, my podcast is the one that makes me feel the proudest. It’s still small and growing, but it makes me super happy to do and have done.

But I’ve been inconsistent lately with my podcast and newsletters.

I could easily come up with a hundred reasons (excuses) why, but that doesn’t justify my inconsistent actions.

Consistency is a sign of priority.

Or put another way, inconsistency is a sign that other things are taking priority.

It’s not impressive unless it’s consistent.

And good. (Consistently bad isn’t impressive either.)

If you can be consistent and high quality, you are on to something special.

But it requires you to prioritize and always be optimizing your process.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1303

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The Long Game

Daily Habits are a long game with short term benefits.

Practicing guitar once doesn’t really do you any favors. Practicing guitar 300 days in a row is a different story. Of course, the quality of those practice sessions matters a great deal. Deliberate practice is what most people (Cal Newport for example) call this nowadays. Are you being intentional about your practice, pushing yourself, increasing repetitions, and going outside of your comfort zone?

The longer you stick to your daily habit, the more benefits you will see. Let’s say you master the guitar in five years (complete guess) (plus you really ever master something completely?). In five years, you are really good at guitar. But imagine what your skills are in the years leading up to mastery.

Skill acquisition doesn’t live in isolation. It’s not off (no skill) and then on (professional). Skill is a spectrum.

You’ll be able to play and learn many songs. Maybe you’ll come up with your own songs. You’ll be able to pick up a guitar and jam with some friends.

That goes with any habit. At first, you won’t see much benefit or progress. But as you keep going, you’ll start to accumulate skill, and the more you do it, the more that skill becomes a part of your DNA. You’ll start to think through the lens of your habit(s) and come up with ideas and perspectives that you likely wouldn’t otherwise have.

That’s the true benefit of a daily habit—short term benefits compounded into medium and long term gains.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1302

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Null Daily Habits

One of the hardest types of habits we can do daily are the ones that are beneficial when we don’t do them.

For example, how many consecutive days can you go without eating ice cream? Or—more generally—how many days can you go without sugar?

Every day you don’t do it, you get another day under your belt. As you keep it up, you keep counting up. And if you miss a day, you write down your top score and start again.

I’m sure there’s a better name for these than “Null” habits, but I can’t think of anything at the moment. Anti? Negative? Break Habits? Sober Habits? Leave a comment if you have a better idea.

The Less app is a perfect example of how this can work in practice. Less helps you keep track of how many drinks you have in a week and whether or not you are sticking to that limit. I don’t have a problem with drinks (I enjoy drinking, but my neck pain gets worse so I’ve got an unfortunate/fortunate built-in limiter). But I’ve heard some great success stories with people who use the app.

The goal with null habits is to be mindful of our weaknesses and therefore doing them less. The habitualness is what makes a bad habit bad. One tub of ice cream isn’t going to make you unhealthy. But if you make it a habit it’s going to catch up to you eventually (I’m talking to myself too).

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1301

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The Right Things

How do you know if you are spending your time wisely or not?

Is it better to spend your time working on your side hustle or playing video games with friends? Or is it better to study for your next exam (or dream job) or spend time at the gym?

There are no easy answers here.

First, we can separate entertainment and purpose-driven work. There’s nothing wrong with loving movies or tv. But if these things take priority over our lives (meaning priority over what matters to us, or priority over changing our life for the better) then we are probably not spending our time well.

For example, if all I do play video games and nothing else, what does that ultimately get me in life? Or on the flip side— if all I do is work and think about money, what does that ultimately get me in life? Most of us live in the middle, spending half our day working and spend the rest of our day hanging out with friends and family, taking time off, usually entertaining ourselves, and doing what’s necessary (eating, sleeping, etc.)

I do know that seeking out wisdom is great advice. And seeking out friends and connections with people who mutually want to see each other thrive and be happy. If we keep working on those two, then we’ll gain more insights and clarity on what decisions we should make, based on our interests, goals, and skills.

I also know that if you know what you’re calling is, but you don’t work on it every day, then you are likely wasting your time on things that don’t matter.

Ultimately, we all have 24 hours in a day and so many years to spend. And that means we decide to choose what to do with it.

Where we spend our time tells ourselves (and the world) what we deem valuable.

What makes you feel alive?

What makes you feel accomplished?

What makes you feel like you’ve had an impact?

What would you do if you never had to work another day in your life?

Who is worth sharing your time with (where sharing is mutual)?

What thoughts/emotions/actions are worth your precious time?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1300

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