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“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I wouldn’t be who I am if it weren’t for good books and other work from smart and creative people out there in the world (and from the past).

It’s been said time and again that you are the sum of the people you surround yourself with the most. It’s also true that you are the sum of what you read, watch, listen to, and experience.

It’s truly inspiring—and a little frightening when you think about it—how one book, or one podcast, or one video can change your life. There is (and has been) a lot of chaos in the world, but there’s also a huge amount of people doing incredible and impactful work. We can be that too (perhaps you already are) if we take up the call. It doesn’t have to be big.

Small changes and details are often what makes the most impact. But it does require us to seek it out and initiate it.

But first, we have to be willing to see our own faults and change ourselves.

This leads us back to good inputs.

If you want to be an influencer, you have to first learn to be influenced by people doing great things.

We must dive deep. Whatever it is you want to be good at. We must go beyond the latest best sellers or hot trends and find the principles that guide creativity and community.

We need to study the greats—people much wiser and smarter than ourselves.

We need to learn how to think, and truly think for ourselves, versus repeating what we hear and learn.

We need to learn the fundamentals of the universe—philosophy, math, music, physics, statistics, nature—and find interesting ways to combine them.

And we need to seek out deep conversations and friendships. Liking someone’s photo is nice, but reaching out and making friends is impactful both ways.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1693

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Very few failures are fatal.

Even death is rarely failure, more so an inevitability.

It’s really our expectations of success and failure that make our “failures” feel heavy and discouraging.

But failure is also one of the best ways to learn quickly. And every failure is a turning point—a moment of change and learning.

When you fail—you are going to remember it vividly. It sucks.

The majority of the time we shy away from failure and embarrassment, but what if we leaned into it instead?

Take advantage of your failures by doing better in the future.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1692

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Invest in Your Friends

“Things are never quite as scary when you’ve got a best friend.” — Bill Watterson

Loyalty goes along way. It’s always a good idea to get an outside perspective from someone who you admire and trust.

It’s hard enough to go through difficult times and pain, but doing it alone is even worse.

Find someone you can share it with.

I don’t mean to unload all of your criticism and baggage. Share your struggles and problems, and ask for advice. Listen to their own problems.

Sometimes that’s all we need. Someone that will really listen to us. Or someone willing to lift a hand and pick us up out of the mud when we fall.

If you don’t feel like you have that someone right now, pull out your Contact app and reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while. Otherwise, make new friends. Other people are also looking for someone who will listen. Give them that and you’ll find a friend in the process.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1691

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Opportunity Attracts Opportunity

Optimism attracts more optimism.

I’ve had my fair share of negative moments in my life. We all do at some point. Little crumbles, Big blunders. The last decade of my life has been buttered with various difficulties. Health, finances, friendships, betrayal.

It’s easy to fall into a negative lull. But one thing you learn quickly (if you are paying close attention) about being negative is it doesn’t actually get you anywhere.

Negativity doesn’t get you anywhere.

It feels good to complain every now and then. But complaining and negativity are a lot like candy—a little makes you feel good in the short term, but a lot of complaining gunks up your life. It doesn’t make you feel better. It doesn’t solve your problems. In fact, it doesn’t help you at all.

All negativity is good for is keeping you exactly where you don’t want to be.

What does negativity get you?

More opportunities?

More friends?

More success?

No—just more things to complain about.

These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

Let’s look at negativity’s counterpart: positivity.

I think people bristle at the idea of positivity because they assume that being positive or optimistic means expecting everything to work out in your favor. But expecting everything to go your way is an unrealistic ego-driven way to live. Of course, things won’t always go our way. That’s where being positive comes in handy.

The value of positivity is when things inevitably don’t work out the way we want, we can still see the good in the situation.

Positivity is a reliable tool for when life beats you up and steals your lunch money.

When something dump happens, what’s something I can look forward to? What can I do better next time? What’s something good that can come from this?

Good things that come from struggles and unfortunate circumstances are the worst *best* lessons we can have. Worst because if we could change the past we’d likely go back and make sure they don’t happen. Best because they are life-altering. They change our life’s trajectory and story. In my case, a chronic injury helped me become interested in health, medicine, and wellness.

Positivity also attracts luck. And abundance. And don’t forget opportunity. There’s a lot of upside to living positivity, but I can’t say the same about being negative.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1690

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Believe In Your Gifts (Even If Others Don’t)

“The gift given to us by God must not be relinquished to those who speak ill of them and who are moved by envy or ignorance.” — Filippo Brunelleschi

Opinions don’t automatically equal truth.

Just because someone tells you that your art sucks don’t mean it does. And even if your art does suck, it doesn’t mean it will stay that way forever.

Play the long game. Keep challenging yourself. Push past the suck phase. Recognize it takes time and practice to master something.

Make art because you love it. And improve your skills because it’s important to you.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1689

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Finding Space for Solitude and Companionship

We often know what we need, before we think we need it.

Put another way, we often know what decision we need to make, way before we decide to take the steps to make it. We may go ask someone for advice, but it’s like our heart (soul/spirit / inner-self ) knows exactly what we need to do instantly.

Meanwhile our outer, critical, overthinking self wants to know 100% that we are making the right decision.

Sometimes we need space. Sometimes we need connection. Life is a mixture of both.

I have this tendency to check out whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or under the weather.

All I want to do is crawl away from all the noise and find somewhere quiet to be with myself.

Vegging out is a tempting mistress (and I find myself marathoning random shows more than I care to admit) but what I’m really seeking is a silent place to be alone with myself. I’m not checking out of myself, I’m checking out of the world.

I’m checking out of the external and checking into the internal.

So, I’ll avoid responding to texts. I’ll be more reluctant to answer emails, and more reclusive to going to events or friendly invitations. Even if it’s something I’d normally love doing, I’ll avoid it. Because what I know I need is space and breathing room to be alone.

Ask yourself, when was the last time you were alone with yourself? No phone. No tv. No distractions. Just you and you. (And maybe a notebook and pen.)

Whether we know it or not. We all need solitude. Our best ideas come from giving ourselves space. That’s why all great ideas happen when you are driving alone in your car, going on an early walk, or standing in the shower as the sound of water drowns out the outer world.

There are other occasions, usually, when things are tough or sour, where all we want to avoid people (particularly the prying people closest to us), and yet we know (and try to ignore) we need help and the only way we are gonna get that help is to be around people (again, particularly the prying people closest to us). We don’t want to show that we are hurting. We don’t want to show our weakness. And yet we all know that’s exactly what we need to do.

Better to rip the bandage and reveal our wounds early, otherwise, they might fester and become worse.

Sharing our weaknesses and scars is a part of what being a human being is about. It’s a shared connection of pain.

I think it’s a component of storytelling that’s built into our DNA. Your story connects to my story and vice versa.

You might not always get the reaction you were hoping for, but you at least likely won’t get the reaction you are expecting.

The difference between needing space and needing people is subtle. It takes some time (and a lot of patience) to be able to listen to yourself and figure out what you need. I think what we are seeking is similar — a level of clearheadedness or balance — but what drives each comes from different things. Whatever you think you need, it’s usually the opposite. Unless you are extremely in tune with your emotional wellbeing. If you are like the rest of us emotionally unintelligent work’s in progress(es), there are road signs you can watch out for —

Loneliness. Isolation. Feeling like you need to do and take care of everything yourself. These are signs that you need to be around people. Ideally, people that are smarter than you, care about you, and what to help and see you succeed.

Overwhelm. Overstimulated. Grumpy and feeling like everyone in the world is an idiot or out to get you. These are signs that you need to be alone with yourself. Ideally in nature. Or in a quiet place, you won’t be interrupted.

Ignore these signs at your own peril.

Ask yourself, do I need alone time right now? Or do I need companionship?

The answer is rarely at the bottom of a bottle, or in the taste of an indulgence.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1688

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How to Tell Distractions from Opportunities

It’s not that loose threads and rabbit holes are inherently bad or good—like many things it depends on context.

On the road to success, there will be many opportunities we could say yes or no to.

The problem is most opportunities look pretty great! And they usually come in fast and without a complete picture of information.

How do you know what’s a good opportunity versus a bad opportunity?

By comparing it to yourself and what kind of life you want to have.

The question is whether it is leading you towards or against what you’re looking for.

Is this opportunity/obligation distracting me from what I actually want to do?

Is this yes (a true yes) or more like an easy distraction?

Of course, in order to answer questions like these you have to know who you are. And, equally important, you have to learn to act on them (while a dozen other opportunities hit you at the same time).

If someone is dangling money or fame In front of you, but it doesn’t align with who you want to be, will you take it or turn it down?

Tough call. Knowing what you want, no—discovering what you want through experience and practice will make tough decisions much easier.

For me, it’s seeing money as an outcome of following true values and passions. If I decide to do something just for the sake of money, I’m likely doing it for the wrong reasons.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1687

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Anything is Better than Nothing

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.”

Walter Elliott

One of the hardest things to do for any habit is to keep going.

A habit is a collection of engrained small actions done consistently. While the work is still working, the need or desire to do the work is automatic.

But it doesn’t take much to derail a habit.

Inconsistency kills habits.

No matter how much we may want it, if we don’t continuously work at our habits, they’ll eventually be replaced by something else (something easier and more convenient).

“Use it or lose it”. Our brain prioritizes immediacy.

This is especially true when it comes to creative habits. Making stuff takes intentional work.

Sitting down to code your app, taking time to write a few pages of your novel, grabbing your iPad, and spending an hour drawing—these things may sound simple, but they are not easy.

Consistency is what it takes to succeed.

There’s a natural ebb and flow when it comes to the quality of our daily habits.

But the key is to keep going and strive for high quality. Maybe today that means only 20 minutes of work.

Well, that’s still 20 minutes more than nothing (if you decided to skip today). 20 minutes might not seem like a lot (and perhaps it’s not from a granular perspective). But 20 minutes adds up when looked over a long period.

Even if the 20 minutes of work is garbage, we’re greasing the creative wheels for future attempts.

At the end of the day, even a little bit of effort done consistently adds up to something meaningful.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1686

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Practice is Free

If I won the lottery today, I’d be investing a lot of it in learning.

Tools. Gear. Books. There are a ton of great premium ($$$) online courses I’d love to take. Companies, Colleges, individuals. Music, Design, Engineering, Film, you name it. If you had the cash, you could take Product Design from SCAD and music production courses from Berkeley, and an animation course from the School of Motion all at the same time.

Pretty amazing time we live in!

Of course, there are also plenty of things at our disposal that don’t require us to pay to play.

Khan Academy, EdX, not to mention the juggernaut of free resources: YouTube.

There’s great premium knowledge out there, but if you can’t (currently) swing that, there’s always another path, another way forward.

Practice is free, of course.

Some of the best minds have been forged by observation and figuring out how things work on their own. And figuring out how to get scrappy, and make do with what you have.

Finding a clever, underdog approach to creativity and success make for better stories anyway. Don’t let lack of resources stop you from building the life you want.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1685

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Life Happens in The Trenches

If you don’t know who you are or what you should be doing in life, remember:

Who you want to be is built over time.

We are expected to know what we want to do for a career fresh out of high school. (A career for the rest of our lives, I might add.)

I could barely even navigate to find the mall when I got out of high school, let alone what I wanted to be.

Many years later, I’ve got closer to who I want to be, but it’s always a work in progress.

Sure, there are goals to hit and things to strive for, but life is more than hitting your goals.

It’s what happens on the days before and on the days after. It’s what happens when you don’t. It’s what happens when your expectations of what should be get the better of you. It’s what happens after you succeed in one goal.

You don’t have to know who you are. You just need to be curious and live life to the fullest every day. (And sleep off the bad days.)

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1684

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