Teaching Yourself to Live

We go through life like we know everything, but the majority of what we know has been learned.

We weren’t born knowing how to walk; We learned how to walk. Our legs were made to walk, but we still had to learn how to use them. Yet, today it feels natural. Maybe your family recorded your first walk on video, so you have a less vague sense of learning to walk, but most don’t remember actually learning how.

The same is true for many things.

There’s a lot of important knowledge in life we are just somehow expected to know and be good at. School and parents teach us many things, but how to live is usually not one of them… or at least there’s a lot that can, unfortunately, fall through the cracks.

Posture / Movement

So many things we are just expected to… be great at.
I could say that I ‘wish’ I was taught more essential life skills, and I could complain that I’m bad at these or more…. or

I can become a self-starter and teach myself what it means to live.

We are the ones most effected by not knowing how to be great at life skills.

If we want to live a meaning life, we need to teach ourselves how to live.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #552


Better Tools

There are many times where we try so hard to fit a square peg in a round hole.

At least I’m guilty of it.

I’ll beat my head against a problem, or loop it over and over in my mind, expecting it to result in something new.

It’s like that old saying goes, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

That goes for how we think and feel too.

Self-defeating thinking isn’t going to solve Self-defeating thinking.

What we need are better tools.
Tools that match the patterns we go through.

When you have a screw, you use a screw driver. When you have a nail you use a hammer. You can try to use a hammer to beat in a screw, but it’s not going to be as effective. And trying to use a screw driver to push in a nail sounds exhausting.

The next time you are facing a problem, think — “What kind of problem is this? What tool would help me solve this?”

Tools like:

  1. Questions:
    Who has been through something like this before? What did they do?
    Who is an expert in this type of area? How can I set up a conversation with them?
    What has been written about this? What resources are out there for this problem?
    Who can I talk to? (Problems are worse when you keep them to yourself.)
    What’s the next thing I can do to start solving this?
  2. Space:
    Meditation, retreats, rest, journaling, any way to clarify the problem.
  3. Communication:
    Friends, therapy and community.

There’s nothing wrong with a square peg solution. It’s best when dealing with a square hole problem 😉

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #551


Getting Started is the Most Important Step

Otherwise, all we are is talk.
And talk is cheap unless its combined with action.

So what if we fail.
So what if we look dumb.
At least we did something, unlike 80% of the world.

There will be a thousand important things we need to (should / could) do, and a thousand more after that, but without the first step, none of those things matter.

We need to be bold (or naive) enough to try.
Obviously I’d rather do it ‘right’ (whatever that means) and do everything I can to ensure my ideas will succeed, but success isn’t assured (nor inevitable, just because I want it). A lot of people have ideas.

What’s the probability of success? What can I do to make it more likely to succeed?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #550


Little Moments

Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.

Vincent Van Gogh

The most important moments in life are the little moments.
Things easily overlooked or undervalued.

Holding hands with your significant other.
Remembering a stupid joke between you and an old friend.

I heard it once said, we rarely remember the big events in life, rather we remember the little moments that come before or that follow. I barely remember what I learned in school growing up, but I remember the little things. Smiles with friends. Creative expressions. Lunch room conversations…

So what happens if we intentionally focus on the small things? What if we value the overlooked? What if we get the details right first? What would that look like for our relationships or work?

It’s the little things that make us successful in the end.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #549


How to Grow an Idea

Think of your idea like it’s a plant.

It starts with a seed. It grows and changes over time. It provides something for the ecosystem around it. It has a shape and form.

What does your idea need?

Just like a plant needs sunlight, water and good soil, your idea needs energy to become something more than an idea in your head.

‘Energy’ for your idea comes from at least two places:

1. Energy from You.

How much time, attention and other resources are you giving to your idea?

Without attention, your idea won’t grow as vibrant as it could. And too many ideas at once can potentially crowd out one another

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” — John Steinbeck

Are you dividing your resources between multiple ideas you are trying to grow?

There’s only so much time and energy we can give to each idea. Adding more people to your mission can amply your ability to grow it faster and farther. But when you are just starting on your idea and its just you, make sure you are giving it the time you need and not stretching yourself too thin.

How much enthusiasm do you have for your idea? How much does it mean to you? How much does it resonate with you?

Without a good reason behind your idea, it will be difficult to keep at it when things aren’t growing as you wish they were.

How much action are you giving your idea?

“Ideas Won’t Keep. Something Must Be Done About Them.”– Alfred North Whitehead

Are you nurturing your idea as much as possible?
Every idea needs action to grow — planting, watering, pruning, nurturing, replanting, debugging, etc.

It’s worth noting that ideas can die.

You can imagine and plan the best tomato garden in the world, but if you don’t plant any tomatoes, then you have no tomato garden. No tomatoes. And no matter how much you talk about them, nobody really cares about your imaginary tomatoes.

We must act on our ideas to make them reality. Or others will grow a tomato garden instead.

Or if it’s an idea you don’t feel driven to grow it, give it away.

2. Energy from others.

Does your idea also resonate with others?
Does it solve a need?
Or put an interesting twist on the ideas that came before?

Ideas don’t have to resonate with everyone, nor do they have to be big. Big ideas can have massive impact on our lives, but small ideas can be just as potent, respectively. And a small idea that impacts one person is better than a big idea that resonates with no-one.

For example, you don’t need to build a billion dollar idea to change your life. Even a small idea acted upon can have a massive impact on your life.

Even if you want your idea to be massive, big ideas need to start somewhere. Small ideas done well can grow into big ideas.

I could keep going, but I’ve ran this analogy into the ground I think. (pun intended).

Go plant something.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #548


Daily Decrease

“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”

Bruce Lee

I talk a big game about the power of daily habits. Investing a small amount of your time and effort each day towards a habit compounds into 10x, 100x or even 1000x the benefits later on. Usually without you even noticing the benefits occurring.

But there’s one thing I’d like to highlight:

The why and the action behind the habit is what ultimately matters. The ‘daily’ part just so happens to provide you with the momentum to improve faster (… and actually improve at all).

If you look at my daily habits (and the things I haven’t started doing daily yet) you’ll notice 3 patterns:

  1. Health
  2. Friendship / Community / Connection
  3. Creativity (and the freedom to create)

These are my essentials. In some form or fashion, each habit I have on my daily list is helping me become better in these 3 areas.

What’s your destination?
Who are you? Who do you want to be?
What daily actions can you take to align your destination to your reality?

Adding a habit to your life just because someone tells you its good for you, or because I do doesn’t mean you should too. Adding multiple daily habits is not the point either. Our days can only get so full.

My most anxiety-filled days are when I’m running around like a crazy person, attempting (and failing) to fit 4 lifetimes into one day.

Scheduling a hundred meetings. Reading forty books. Jumping from project to project to project. Burning through my most precious resources. For what? More stress? Thanks bye.

We need to remove the unessential to make breathing room for the essential.

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

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #547


The Shape of Your Life

Time is weird.

We live our lives in fixed moments in time, yet also see our lives stretched into the past and potential future, almost as if we were observers looking in on ourselves. (Very woo woo)

And over time, our life has a shape. Just like how we as a society point lens to the sky and can observe galaxies in the universe, we can also take a look at our own lives and see all the decisions, lucky encounters, changes and freckles that add up to who we are right now.

I am the sum of all my past moments and all my future hopes lived out in daily experiences.

Yesterday: This is who I was on that day.
Today: This is who I am today.
Tomorrow: this is who I could be.

Or in other words:

I can’t change who I was.
But I can change who I am.
Therefore, I can change who I will be.

And at any moment today, there’s a chance of change. We can choose to act differently. Or even life can choose things for us. That’s right folks, a lot of who we are was decided by outside influences — parents, culture, environment, God (insert your own beliefs here). But it’s not worth dwelling on.

Focus on the inputs you can change — how you react, how you think, how you live, where you live, who and what you surround yourself with. (And set yourself up to be lucky.)

What’s the shape of your life going to be?

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

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #546


Big Ideas From TechStars

Last week was my final week in the TechStars Austin 2019 program.

Austin is an incredible city.
The people and mentors I’ve had the chance to meet are exceptional. (My favorite part, by far)

And I won’t lie, the pace of work was intense. But there was also something refreshing about only having a very finite amount of things to focus on.

Here are the lessons I learned along the way:

(Note: These are my observations, not official endorsements of TechStars)

1. The people you surround yourself is a massive factor towards your success.

The people you surround yourself matter.

When it comes to business and all creative endeavors, there will be ‘good’ people and ‘bad’ people.

Bad people will tell you every reason why your idea won’t work, but won’t have an alternative solution. Surrounding yourself with these types of people can create doubt in what you are doing and stifle your progress. They may even want to see you succeed, but the way they can talk to you drains you of wanting to try.

Good people will challenge your assumptions and push you forwards forward. They can rip your idea apart, by giving you alternative solutions to try and different perspectives to think about, all in the name of making your ideas better. They believe in you, despite the potential negatives.

Communities enable individuals to succeed. When you surround yourselves with likeminded individuals fighting for their own dreams, you naturally want to help each other become better.

2. You need people to talk to openly

Starting a business is hard on the easiest days. Without help to open up to about problems you are facing and pressures you are feeling, you’ll eventually implode. Or at the very least you’ll feel isolate. ‘I feel so alone’ ‘I feel like no one is helping me’ ‘I’m so stress out’. Take a break. Find someone to talk to, be it a therapist or someone else in your community who is trying to build their own dreams. Hard work makes a difference, but shouldn’t come at the expense of your mental wellbeing. No one gets anything accomplished if you stress yourself into oblivion.

3. It doesn’t take much money to start

Don’t get me wrong, money can help. A lot. Especially when it comes to peace of mind and wellbeing. But it doesn’t take much to validate your ideas. Anyone with the will and a couple hundred bucks can set up a website and get making.

Money isn’t a barrier, it’s an amplifier. There are exceptions, of course, but exceptions aren’t great excuses to not try. You can be flat broke and still be creative and innovative. In fact, you’ll probably be more innovative because you’ll have to think differently and come up with interesting solutions to your problems, beyond just throwing piles of money at it.

The question to ask yourself is, “Is money what’s really holding me back or is it fear?”
Sometimes it might be in fact money, but often it’s the latter.

4. Your idea doesn’t have to stay the same

Or in other words, you can change your mind about it.
Actually, you need to be open to changing your idea.

Because ideas aren’t fixed. They morph and grow based around the market, the information you have, and who you are. All good things.

But if our idea need to grow, yet our mind is fixed and made up about it, then we’ll likely get nowhere. Everything changes, eventually. So must we and our ideas.

And last but not least,

5. Give First

The biggest lesson of them all.

givefirst is even on the walls of the TechStars office.

Give first means to help others without expectations of anything in return. Helping shouldn’t be about what you get out of it. You might naturally benefit from helping others, but that shouldn’t be the reason why you do it. It’s the same as donating to charity. You should just be giving to charity just so you can get a tax right off. If you do your missing the entire point (and benefit) of giving.

Giving first is the reward. To see others succeed and to be grateful that you made a small invisible contribution to make it happen.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #545


Creative Doubt

We all have ideas of things we want to build. When the idea hits you, you 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 (as well as a few more doubts and reasons 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 #544


Energy o’ clock

Why do we schedule our days around hours instead of hours AND energy?
Obviously, I get why. We need to keep track for when events occur and when we are running late to the morning meeting. Nothing like trying to schedule two or more people to meet at the same time and place to show you that we need schedules in our lives. But imagine a world where we only worked within the window of energy we had to give. Didn’t get a greats night sleep? No problem. Work as effectively as you can, for as long as you think the quality is sound. Spend the rest of the day resting up. Feeling amazing today? Let’s go to some great work.

I know, I know… of course, this is massively subjective, easily abused, and hard to determine how much ‘energy’ we have at any given moment in our over-caffeinated, over-stimulated world. But is it such a crazy idea to give your mind, body, and spirit the nourishment it needs at the moment? Are another 4 hours of pounding energy drinks and clacking away at our computers really going to be as effective and worthwhile as we think it’s going to be? Will it matter in a week from now? Probably not.

Imagine what we could do if we were well rested, well fed, and mentally, emotionally and physically ready to take on the day.

This can only be fully realized on the individual level. I don’t see how our ‘move fast and break things’ culture could adopt a ‘work when you feel like it’ pace.

The fundamental concept comes down to a question:
What matters more — the quality of the work, or the hours we put in?

In an always on work environment, something’s going to break… eventually.

To me quality matters. Sometimes that means putting the hours in. Quality hours. Not all hours are created equal.

I want to have the health and energy to do my best work each day, and still feel alive by the end of it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #543