Relearning

“We have learned how to do a lot of things. We must try to relearn why.”

Flora Lewis

One important aspect of learning is relearning. As you go about improving in a skill, it’s good to go back and refresh yourself on the fundamentals.

When you started, you were a different person than you are now. But as you improve, you gain clarity and strength in your skills. Things might have seemed new, challenging and perhaps even a little hard to fully grasp. You’ve changed. You’ve improved, however so slightly that may be. Relearning allows you to go deeper. Relearning the fundamentals allows you to solidify your foundational knowledge and go beyond your current level of skill.

By re-approaching the basics—or what you (think you) know—you can compare your more developed mind and skill to where you started with a different perspective.

Perspective is everything and will improve your skills even more. Of course, you don’t want to let your re-learning distract you from taking action.

The goal is to remind yourself —

  • where you started and how much you’ve learned.
  • see what gaps you’ve been overlooking.
  • why you decided to learn it in the first place.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #885

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Initiative

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.”

Amelia Earhart

The only thing that separates those who are successful and those aren’t yet is the willingness to act on their ideas. (Well, that and a lot of good luck.)

Initiative is —

  • Listening to your gut.
  • Figuring out how even when you are unsure where to start.
  • Pursuing your dream, instead of being idle
  • Not only having ambition but putting it into practice.

Initiative is putting your ambition into practice.

It’s tasing your hand in class or speaking up when the opportunity strikes. 

Initiative is seeking opportunities versus waiting for an opportunity to magically come to us. If you don’t ask- if you don’t try- if you don’t act- if you don’t speak out- then who will?

Everyone will tell you how you should live your life. But it’s up to each of us to choose who we want to be and what we want to do.

If there’s an idea you feel driven to try — Go for it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #884

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A Skill is Only Useful When You Use It

“Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it.”

Leonardo da Vinci

As a developer, one of the easiest traps you can fall into is always learning new programming languages, but never using them to build things. There are over 700+ programming languages out there. What happens is you learn one, hear something exciting about a new language, and you start learning that one instead of using the first. And so we hop from one language to the next, without actually doing the thing they were each made for— to create stuff.

But it’s not just programming, anything we learn can get stuck in “learning mode”. Learning is one important part of the equation — using what you learn is the other part. Both are required. And the order doesn’t necessarily matter. You can act first and learn from those actions, or you can learn and act on what you know.

Is a skill still important if you never use it?

Perhaps. Anyone who knows how to defend themselves in a fight is grateful for their training and skills, and even more grateful if they never have to use them in a real toss-up.

But, in most cases, skills are more important if we use them. Otherwise, why did we spend so much time and energy learning them in the first place?

Knowing how to doing something isn’t enough. We must also do something.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #883

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Don’t Let Perfection Win

“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”

Salvador Dali

There was this friend of mine in middle school who would always rip up his drawings in art class. His work was great, but I can’t remember a single piece he finished without tearing it to shreds. Well… that’s not entirely true— he could draw the best Patrick Star you’d ever lay your eyes on. But even sketches of Patrick were in danger of the trash bin. (One time our teacher—bless her— tried to show him that even torn art is still worthy of being art. She took the drawing of a fish he trashed and glued it back together on a piece of black cardboard paper and made a mosaic out what remained)

We and the rest of our friends had a great time in school and didn’t take things too seriously. So I also chalked up his actions as not prioritizing the class and looking for a laugh from the class.

But now thinking back (and probably misremembering everything) I think the opposite was true. He cared. He cared about his art. He cared so much that he wanted it to be perfect, and when it didn’t meet perfection he tossed it aside.

I’m not criticizing. I’m guilty of being caught in perfection grip too.

There are many ways perfection can get the better of you.

  • Thinking your work is not good enough to finish.
  • Never being satisfied with what you do and accomplish.
  • Never starting because you don’t think your “skills are ready yet”.
  • Waiting for the right time.
  • Waiting for inspiration.

Starting isn’t always difficult for me. But when it comes to things that I really care about I put too much pressure on my self to be great before. It’s not until I let it all go and focus on making a little progress each day that I can finally move past perfection. It helps to remember that being perfect really doesn’t matter as long as you are having fun and giving it your best.

Every imperfection in your work is another example of what makes it uniquely yours.

Don’t let perfection stop you from pursuing your dreams. #RenaissanceLife

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #882

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Don’t Force It

Friction. That’s the word I would describe the feeling I get when I’m trying to solve a problem with force. Another choice could be agitation. I feel agitated when I dealing with an issue that seems to have a mind of its own and doesn’t want to be solved.

The feeling is like being the Kool-aid man and jumping through a brick wall only to find another wall blocking your way. That probably makes zero sense.

Here’s an example, just now—literally as I was typing this post out—my laptop froze and reset. I turned it back on but it looks like my laptop cable is dead. Now I’m using my phone to finish. This is just a tiny example, but a comedically timed one.

Have you experienced this type of problem before? Maybe you’re trying to drop off a package at the post office, but every traffic light conspires to prevent you from getting there. Red light. Red light. Red light. Or maybe you’re working on a project at work and nothing is going your way. Where every obstacle is blocking you from doing what you are trying to do.

The problem itself doesn’t matter, what matters is how we handle it. In my experience, brute forcing it never helps. It just leads you to make irrational decisions that take you nowhere fast.

Expecting things to go our way was our first mistake.

Honestly, sometimes the best solution is to sleep it off if you can. A fresh mind can give you a vastly different perspective and level of energy to handle anything.

If that’s not doable, then taking a break is the next best solution. As they say, time heals all wounds— even the dumb ones. Go for a walk. Go ride your bike or run off the frustrations.

By force, we get more stuck and agitated. But by taking things calmly and focusing less on brute effort and more on presence, the more we flow.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #881

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Habit Strategies

“Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own.”

Bruce Lee

A daily habit is just one strategy. I prefer because it allows you to live your life and practice multiple things.

When you’re practicing you need to be 100% focused on what you are doing. It’s like micro-moments of immersion. Practicing daily uses time as an asset and compounds your skills over a long period of time.

If you’re learning French you won’t likely be able to speak fluently over the weekend, but what about 6 months of consistent intention practice? Or how about after a year worth of daily practice? C’est top!

Same with any skill, whether you want to be a great guitarist, speaker, chef or painter. The more you practice over time, the better you get.

But daily is just one approach.

Another strategy is total immersion. The classic example of this is moving to another country to immerse yourself in learning the language and culture.

…But most of us can’t pick up and move. Another way of utilizing total immersion is to learn one skill (either with a full-time job or not) and focus all your energy on that one thing.

By focusing your efforts, you’ll have more time and energy to dedicate to learning. Which means if you’re working hard you’ll become better at it much faster. Maybe you want to try other skills, but you hold off on those until you’ve mastered the focused skill. Then, you use the lessons you’ve learned and brought them to the next skill.

These are just two strategies — a daily practice or total immersion — out of many. What strategy you take (or mix together) is all about priority.

For example, if you need to quickly learn something to get a new job, then taking a total immersion, boot camp style approach makes sense.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #880

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3 Things To Ground Yourself

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”

Marcus Aurelius

Nowadays stress seems like a prerequisite to living. What do you do when everything is up in the air or when you are juggling too many things?

You ground yourself. (Either that or go get a massage.)

Every morning I —

  1. Read,
  2. Write Down 3 Things I’m Grateful for,
  3. And Move.

Right now I’m reading Writing Down The Bones and The Daily Stoic (a daily meditation book) and movement is a combination of Ashtanga Yoga, body exercises (pushups, planks, etc) and a short walk near my place.

It doesn’t sound like much, because it isn’t. It doesn’t take much effort, but it makes a massive effort on my day and sets me up to feel good and take on anything that gets thrown my way. How you ground yourself doesn’t matter. You could adopt my ground practices, or you could choose ones that work better for you. The key is doing something for yourself that makes you feel good and that touches upon your mind body and spirit. (No not morning cake.) Making your bed, meditation, journaling, going for a run—whatever. Just make it you.

And then get ready for a calmer day despite whatever life throws at you.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #879

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Read Above Your Pay-grade

“The book you don’t read won’t help.”

Jim Rohn

The first book I enjoyed that was a little above my reading ability was Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. Our class read it in middle school, but I don’t remember enjoying it very much. Probably because it was assigned. Written around 1813, it’s language and flows feel thick and difficult to read unless you are familiar with that level of reading comprehension.
But a couple of years later on a family road trip down to Savannah GA, I randomly decided to give it a second read on a whim. And I loved it. It had me at the first line:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Unlike the first time I recall reading it, I understood it. I didn’t feel like I was swimming in banana pudding. Sure, I couldn’t read it as fast as something like Harry Potter. but it felt possible. So I pushed through and ended up loving it.

Reading is a toolbox of skills. There’s a lot of hidden sub-skills you hear but also explicitly taught—vocabulary, muscle movement, speed, comprehension, reason, attention, making connections and memory. The expectation (assumption, perhaps) we will pick it up ourselves, but just because you can read, doesn’t mean you want to read.

Reading is one of the most valuable habits you can cultivate in life. What you read can have a direct impact on the quality of your life. A great book is like a great life mentor—all for around ten bucks.

The key is not to completely overwhelm yourself, but to reach for just a little further than what you are currently comfortable with.

When you think about reading is taught to kids, we don’t just plop Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky into their little laps and force them to understand it. Rather, we meet them on their level. We start with the literal ABC’s. In the early stages, books are more drawings and pictures with a few words here and there. You give them The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Dragons Love Tacos. They work their way up to Green Eggs and Ham, Charolette’s Web and The Little Prince. Maybe you show them Winnie the Pooh and Matilda. Eventually, it’s The Hobbit, The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe and Coraline. Each book has new words, new worlds, and new challenges. Each book takes you from one level of comprehension to the next.

A lower level isn’t something that is demeaning or less than. It’s just the level they (or we) are currently at. We’re all learning here. If you don’t understand Hemingway yet, that’s okay. But know that building up the ability to comprehend his and others’ work is possible.

If Moby Dick isn’t doing it for ya. Give the Great Gatsby or The Picture of Dorian Grey a try.

If you are befuddled by most of Shakespeare’s work, don’t sweat it— so I’m I!

Find where you are at, and then reach for that next level. and then go a little bit above it after that too.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #878

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Creative Soul

“When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.”

Walt Disney

I honestly haven’t figured out yet why I enjoy creating so much. There’s a sense of wonder and joy I get every time I create something. There’s a great quote by John Lennon (from the Beatles duh) in a Rolling Stones interview that goes, “I’m an artist, man. Give me a tuba, and I’ll get you something out of it.” Perhaps creativity is built into our DNA. Does everyone have it? Probably. But it needs to be nourished.

Creativity comes in many shapes and colors, but at the heart of all true creative work is the joy of making stuff. It’s taking an idea and making it a reality. It’s following your curiosity, where it may lead.

To be creative is to be someone who lives to make stuff. Forget money, forget fame—those are only tools (and sometimes hinders) to live a life where you can create more.

I have a full-time job. I don’t have to write and work on this blog. I don’t have to play music. But then again, I have to do it. I would feel stale and less happy if I stopped. Creating isn’t all of who I am, but it’s a part of me. Some people ask why I do so many things. Why not stick to one thing and focus all your effort on that? It’s true. That does work for some. It’s not a bad idea. But that’s not me. I would be giving pieces of myself away. Pursuing multiple things takes much more effort. But the rewards outpace the effort. Idea’s cross-pollinate between the different crafts you are learning. You start to see and think differently. You start to see how things are all connected. Ideas create more ideas. Which gives you more opportunities to learn and make stuff.

You having a creative soul when you:

  • Live to makes stuff.
  • Can’t not create.
  • Find meaning and joy in creativity.
  • Always experimenting and challenging yourself.
  • Are relentlessly curious.

Curiosity is what feeds the creative soul.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #877

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You Need A Practice

It took me a long time to realize how very little of life is in our control. We go through life feeling like we are in control—until we aren’t. Something happens that shakes us. A broken arm or health issue that shows us we are not invincible. A random circumstance that knocks the wind out of us. A realization that changes how we think about the world. These are turning points that can either keep us scared or lift us to a new level of understanding.

At its fundamental level, control means having power or influence over something. With just one hand, I could count how many things I have controller over:

  1. My thoughts.
  2. My actions and reactions.
  3. What I prioritize, focus on and/or value.
  4. Where I spend my time (and other resources).

In a way, what’s in our control are all related to one another. Thoughts lead to actions, and actions show what we prioritize our time on. These give us a credible amount of agency over our lives, but at the same time we are are in the midst of things outside of our control—an island in the middle of an untamable sea. But chaos doesn’t mean we are powerless. By focusing and honing what we do control, we can handle any life circumstances that come our way.

One great way to channel what’s in our control is to start a practice. Having a practice grounds you when everything else is up in the air.

Having a practice grounds you when everything else is up in the air.

What practice(s) you do is up to you. It could be something creative, like writing, dance, pottery, painting, drawing, making youtube videos, calligraphy, guitar, etc. It could be something nourishing, like yoga, mediation, cooking, running, swimming, etc.

What matters is making it intentional. And, ideally, it’s something you put into practice daily. But I’m not yo mama. I’m not going to tell you how you should live your life. We each have our own choice here. We could go about life rocking with the ship and whatever wave hits us. Or we could learn how to sail.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #876

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Related:

Having A Practice – Steven Pressfield