Handling One-Sided Relationships

“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

Hanlon Razor

Not everyone is out to get us. The majority of stress that comes from relationships in work and life is a combination of unawareness, naivety, and selfishness.

Sure, there are people out there in the world who we will encounter that try to take advantage of others. They will con, manipulate, incentives and do whatever than can to get us to do what they want us to do. Sometimes this can be obvious, like email spammers named Solomon sending us business proposals. But the majority of time, people are just doing the best they can do, being naturally self-centered (like we all are in some way or another) and completely unaware they are driving us insane.

Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being self-centered. We all individually live the world through our own eyes with our own perspectives, dreams and ideas. You are you. And I am me. You bring your unique perspective and ideas to the table and so do I.

I think 98.999%* of relationship issues come from various types of miscommunications. (*Give or take… I’m making this statistic up.)

The problems usually begin to arise at the intersection of relationships where one person (or everyone) is unwilling or unaware to put themselves in the shoes of the other and discover each others own goals and values.

If you are working for me (or with me) and I’m doing something that is unnecessarily stressful to you, them I’m partially to blame and I don’t even know it. This comes down to miscommunication or misunderstanding of what we each want out of the relationship.

“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.”

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

At a baseline, a relationship — be it a business, friendship, or romantic relationship — should be a value in / value out that is equal on both sides. Or ideally, our relationships should improve each other, where 1 + 1 = 3. By communicating and investing in each other in the ways we need, we are providing extraordinary value to one antlers and making each other better because of it. At least that’s the kind of relationships I want to cultivate. I want to go deep and invest in people and help friends as much as I possible can, while still saving room for my own dreams and pursuits. I help you, you help me and we both enable each other to go further than we could alone.

This starts with knowing and having a consistent pulse on what the people who you are surrounded with want in life. Otherwise, a relationship where each party doesn’t know the other person’s goals, values and struggles they are working on is a relationship that is open to friction and harm.

Communication is key here. If you are not willing to open up to others, it’s going to be almost impossible to build trust with them. But you don’t have to open the floodgates and list out all your problems and goals in a twenty-point bulleted list. Just have one conversation. Open up a dialogue. Make it normal to talk about these things.

“A true friend freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably.”

William Penn

What do you do if you are in a relationship, work or otherwise, where someone is causing friction or even being hurtful? How do you know if they are doing it unintentionally or intentionally making the relationship one-sided?

This is super-tricky to navigate. Especially since miscommunication and expectations can easily lead us to assume things that turn out to be incorrect. (The easiest person to fool is ourselves.)

But there are a few things we can do.

Look at how they treat other people around them. Are they exaggerating and bending the truth to get what they want out of others? What does everyone (not just one person, but everyone) say about them when they are not in the room?

Open up a constructive dialogue with them. Don’t be afraid to communicate about what’s bothering you. Miscommunications start small, but often unspoken can lead to big harry problems down the road. If they are unwilling to listen to what you have to say or unwilling to change, then you are likely in a one-sided relationship. They likely don’t care about your goals and problems, and would probably saw off your legs if it meant making their own priorities and dreams happen. These are the people to avoid and drop. There are plenty of great people in the world that will enable you, challenge you and want you to succeed. Anyone one-sided relationship that’s holding you back and suppressing who you are isn’t a priority on your time and energy.

The best relationships are two-way streets where each person is giving and getting value out of it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #664

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Going With Your Gut

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Steve Jobs

Saying ‘no’ to opportunities is one of the hardest* things we face in life. (*Relatively speaking. Is it up there with facing cancer or a death in the family? No. But what we say yes and no to ultimately determine our paths in life.) But unbeknownst to most, saying ‘yes’ to EVERY opportunity is a sure-fire way to make yourself miserable. Juggling is fun. Being stretched like a rope in a game of mud tug-of-war is not.

No — as hard as it can be in the moment — should be our default when it comes to giving away our time and resources. This requires sharp instincts and agile decision making skills which we can hone through practice and having clarity in what we want in life. If it’s not something that aligns with your goals, brings value (directly or indirectly) to you and others, or brings you joy and makes you feel alive, then no is the way to go. Sometimes that means making compromises and passing on good things.

But remember why you are saying no. You are passing on good things because you have great things lined up, or currently occupying your focus. (If you don’t, then saying yes to an opportunity that comes your way might be the best option for what you have to work with. Go with your gut.)

Call it what you will — sacrifices, opportunity costs, hedging, mitigation — great things require us to say no to a lot of fun good things.

Great things require us to say no to a lot of fun and good things.

Particularly when the fun / good things distract us from our true passions and goals we ultimately want (and would like) to say yes to.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #663

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Hobby is Not a Dirty Word

You know the word Hustle has reached the zeitgeist when you see a hustle sticker on the back of a beat-up Ford pickup truck.

There’s a hilariously poignant chapter in Austin Kleon’s book, Keep Going, on the topic of hobbies and how we (and our society) tends to turn our passions we love into jobs we hate:

“The minute anybody shows any talent for anything, we suggest they turn it into a profession. This is our best compliment: telling somebody they’re so good at what they love to do they could make money at it. We used to have hobbies; now we have ‘side hustles.’ … One of the easiest way to hate something you love is to turn it into your job: taking the thing that keeps you alive spiritually and turning it into the thing that keeps you alive literally.”

There’s a fine line between a hobby and work.

A hobby is something you do for the shear joy of it. It’s an activity that’s new and challenging you are learning and figuring out and something that makes you feel alive. Sometimes your hobby might make you some money.

The ideal form of work is something you do for the shear joy of it. It’s an activity that’s new and challenging you are learning and figuring out and something that makes you feel alive. Your work challenges you while at the same time enables or helps others. AND your work is paying for your living expenses (food, rent, water) and your bills. (That’s the ideal, most of us are working jobs we aren’t passionate about or down right hate because we need the money.)

It’s when you have to do your hobby in order to eat and continue living where you passion can quickly become a nightmare. In addition to living, your hobby-turned-job has turned from a stress-reliever into a stress-producer. Also, it’s often the case that you are spending less and less time doing the actually thing you love to do — writing, painting, woodcraft, etc — and more time doing the day to day business dregs, such as accounting, email and meetings.

When all your hobbies feel like jobs and you have no pure creative outlets, you can quickly burn yourself out. (And in the past, I’ve done exactly this. It’s no bueno.)

Austin solution (which I agree with) is to make sure there’s at least some part of what you love to do that’s off-limits to selling. “Some little piece that you keep for yourself.”

Not everything we do needs to be a hustle. Having hobbies are good. They energize us and open us up to be more creative. Delineate what you want to be a hobby and what you want to be work. Or at least delineate aspects of your work that’s off-limits to monetization.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #662

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Classic Chicken and Egg

Starting is hard.

You want to start, but you don’t how yet.
You want to be good, but you don’t think you’re ready.
You want to just do it, but everything feels terrifying and unclear.

The weird thing about starting is —

It’s easier to start when you’ve already started.

Habit and momentum carry you forward.

But when you are starting out (or thinking about starting) you might as well be standing in quicksand. You haven’t built up the creative muscle yet to push through difficult moments.

That’s why getting (forcing / incentivizing, / tricking, / faking) yourself to start is essential to working on your dreams. If you don’t start, nothing happens. Dreams are built every time you step up and go to work on them.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #661

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Creative Excellence

Outputting great work requires surround yourself with excellent inputs.

The goal is to set up your physical and digital environment where you are the most creative and effective version of yourself.

Friends, Books, YouTubers, Habits (good and bad), Location all influence and bend us towards being a little like them. We’re our own person, but we naturally absorb the traits and qualities of the things and people we surround ourselves with.

Surround yourself with excellence won’t make you great at what you do — that requires work and consistent practice of your creativity — but it will inspire you to act and challenge yourself to do things you wouldn’t have thought was possible otherwise.

That’s why joining or starting a group of like-minded individuals seeking a better life for themselves is a great way for each member to lift each other up.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #660

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Harder than it Looks

Pretty much everything worthwhile is harder than it looks. Difficulty is equivalent to the weed out class for life. If you back an idea or pursuit with weak motivations, then what’s going to stop you from quitting immediately when things get hard?

“I want to get fit and lean” works, until you accidentally eat gluten and then impulsive steer that derailed train all the way to the ice cream shop and never look back. Our motivations need to be strong and personal. 

To be able continue when things suck day after day takes clear vision of what you’re after and why.

Starting a business to make money doesn’t compare to starting a business to pay your kids way through college.

Strong motivations are the fire that pushes you to want it so badly you’re willing to take action on it every single day.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #659

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Beauty Arises From The Mix

“Repetition is an endless feature of the human environment. Like melodic consonance and fervent discord in music, repetition and change awaken life’s visual juxtapositions. Beauty arises from the mix.”

Ellen Lupton & Jennifer Cole Phillips

If you could pop immortality into a pill, and buy it at your local drug store like aspirin for a headache, would you take it?

I don’t know if I would. I’d love to be able to stuck in a time-loop, like Groundhog Day, and spend decades learning and mastering the things I love. Or become a vampire and see centuries of change. I’m one of those nuts who is naturally (or perhaps habitually become) self-motivated and disciplined, but the question is, does life lose its meaning and shine when you can live forever?

There’s something inherently beneficial in knowing that we are going to die one day — likely sooner than we think. Death and near-death experiences highlights Life (with a capital ‘L’) like nothing else can. Death lights a fire underneath you to live a life truth to yourself, and choose to change when things are out of alignment and stale.

I don’t fear death. I fear not living. I don’t want to wake up one day when I’m 80 and feel as though I was never truly alive and myself. I try to live and make decision around that.

It’s interesting that the anti-, or the opposite of what we dream and desire about — death, poor health, injury, hunger, debt, failure, loneliness, pain — shines a light on how valuable the good things are. The opposite shows us the way. I know first hand how valuable health is to everything, when you experience poor health (in my case a chronic neck injury). Bad highlights good.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #658

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Vacation

“Rest when you’re weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.”

Ralph Marston

I’m at the beach this week with the family, for some much needed R & R. I’ve been overworked and stressed the H.G. Loving Wells out the past couple months. Money, health, friendships, calling, all swirling into bickering problems. Which usually leads me working more than I should.

I also secretly love working. Especially when I’m working on my own ideas (like this blog for example). But always working doesn’t equate to feeling refreshed and the most clear headed in wise decision making. It’s usually when I’m overworked when I’m the most grumpy.

Working more has diminishing returns. The more you work, the less quality you get
Hard work is incredibly important. But working from both ends of the candle is not going to do you any favors.

No matter how small, we need downtime to feel our best.

I’m itching to work on something right now, but I’m not. I’m going to get as much rest and renewal out of this vacation as I possible can.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #657

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The Process

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’”

Muhammad Ali

Creativity is hard.

Everything that can get in the way of your work, will.

But that’s part of it. The creative process is not just our ideas or imagination — it’s acting on our ideas despite life pulling at us from multiple angles, and despite the bad cold we’re getting over, or the break up we are dealing with. Or in other words,

The things that challenge our ability and willingness to create, is a component of the creativity as well.

It’s all apart of the process.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #656

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Shhh

“The best part about being alone is that you really don’t have to answer to anybody. You do what you want.”

Justin Timberlake

How much time in any given day do you spend un-distractedly alone?

No phone, no tv, no people…. just you, yourself and you.

One of the best ways to get to know yourself (and what you want for your life) is practicing the art of being alone.

If you started lip-sweating at the thought of being alone, then you might be a people person.
Five minutes to yourself, and you’re texting your friends about doing something. Of course, nothing is wrong with spending time with people you love (it’s an essential part of cultivating a meaningful life). However, fearing along time is a great way to ignore yourself and who you want to be, which can lead you to saying yes and taking turns in life that you don’t want.

Because sometimes (often) we do things that goes against what we really want. Our hearts and minds say one thing, but our body does another. The more in-sync (NSYNC) you are with your mind, emotions, spirit and body, the greater your ability to act with gusto on your dreams and desires in life. Solitude is a great tool for this.

Solitude is also a great way to uncover problems in areas of life that are bothering you, which opens up a dialogue with yourself to find the next steps to resolve them. Problems in life usually start out like a leaky faucet, hardly noticeable at first — drip, drip — but overtime — drip drip drip — quickly overtake your life and flood your apartment.

When things go wrong, I turn to friends, but I also spend a lot of time in solitude, listening and checking in with what’s wrong, what’s missing and what I can do next to start to fix it.

There’s nothing quite like sitting down to a blank sheet of printer paper and giving yourself all the solitude and time you need to fill it.

We often know what we want, know what we are doing wrong, know what’s the problem and the solution, but we aren’t listening to ourselves long enough to hear it.

Spend some time alone today.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #655

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