Uncomfortable Truths

“It is wise to direct your anger towards problems – not people; to focus your energies on answers – not excuses.”

William Arthur Ward

A great excuse is still an excuse. That’s a tough pill to swallow but it’s true. Especially if the excuse is holding you back.

Age is an excuse you hear a lot. I’m too old… or you’re too young

Tell that to all the oldies over 50 workings hard, kicking butt, and owning their life.

Tell that to all the twenty-somethings on the 30 under 30 lists.

But I’m not them, I don’t have what they’ve got.

It’s true, you aren’t them (you are you) and you may not be as well off or as connected or smart as they are. No problem. (“Good”, as Jocko Willink, says.) That means you got some work to do.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #988

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You Can’t Escape Yourself

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

Andy Warhol

There are many things you can run away from.

Your town, your relationships, your job…

Sometimes change is exactly what you need.

But you can’t run away from yourself. Meaning, you are who you are. I strongly believe you can change who you are, but if you don’t like yourself—because of your past actions, for example—it’s not like you can getaway.

That’s why covering your bases is so important. Things like cultivating friendships, working on your health and well-being, and honing character and values.

So if you don’t like something, change it. Don’t wait.

Create and hone yourself into something enjoyable.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #987

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Someone To Share It With

“Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.”

Phil Connors, Groundhog Day

I love a good time-loop movie. I have ever since I first watched Groundhog Day a long time ago. If you are familiar (where have you been?) The premise for time-loop genres is having our protagonists stuck reliving the same day over and over again. Live Die Repeat is another great sci-fi time-loop movie starring Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise.

More recently, I watched Palm Springs on Hulu, starring Cristin Milioti and Andy Samberg. Suffice it to say—I loved it! It was a fun movie and brought some interesting ideas to the genre.

A small part of me secretly wishes I could get stuck in a time loop. The thought of having infinite time to learn and cultivate skills sounds incredible!

I would read everything!

I would master everything!

But I would want to be stuck forever.

Because nothing you say or do in a time-loop matters. Everything resets. Anything you accomplish, anything you create, anything you write down, record, solve, communicate… disappears the moment the day resets.

The worst part about a time-loop is you can’t share your life and your dreams with other people. At least not with meaning and sustenances. Because everyone forgets you and what you share the next today.

Permanence is what makes life meaningful.

I think this is why we all secretly (or not so secretly) fear to get Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The loss of identity—at least from

The outside looking in—feel a loss of the meaning of life.

Our memories and shared experiences are just as important as our present experiences. And without a past how can there be a future?

This is why sharing always goes hand and hand with creativity. I create things because I love doing it and find meaning in making stuff, but without being able to share, without being able to open yourself up and bleed for others, what’s the point?

I suppose you could say that life is bigger than creativity. Think of Leonardo da Vinci or Emily Dickinson. Would we feel the way we do if their work was lost to history? What if all of Leonardo’s paintings and notebooks were lost to us? What if Emily Dickinson’s family never found her poetry after she died?

The world might not remember them, but they would have still lived. They had lives and friends and family and experiences.

All that to say, we need both—we need to learn to create and improve our craft, but we also need to go out into the world and live too.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #986

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Is This All That I Got?

“Let us endeavor so to live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”

Mark Twain

If I died tomorrow, would I be happy with what I’ve created and shared with the world?

Honestly No. I’ve got too many songs, books, art, and ideas left unpublished.

That is fuel to the fire to me.

Because I love creating stuff. It lifts my day when I make something. And sharing goes hand in hand with creating.

And so I’ll do what I can to make the most of today. Not just with creativity, but all aspects of life. Time is too short to argue over minor things and waste time on things that don’t ultimately matter.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #985

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That Little Extra

“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.”

Jimmy Johnson

It’s that last 10% effort that makes all the difference no matter the project. Most of the others stop at 90% and say something like “eh, good enough” and don’t give it the full attention and energy they could have given.

Sometimes good enough is exactly what you need to do. Good enough should be the goal when you feel stuck or paralyzed (for whatever reason) and can’t quite find the motivation to start or progress. In this type of mental state, even 1% is better than 0%.

But when you are at “Good enough” and you are looking for that next level of work that will create an impact, good enough won’t cut it. 90% might be “A for effort” but it’s not going to change your life or anyone else’s for that matter.

Excellence requires a little bit more—a little extra past what you thought was possible.

You could stop at 90%, but what would 100% look like? What would 150% look like?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #984

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Step Up

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. … A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.”

Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience and Other Essays

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be.”

“Your life is what you make of it” is one of those wise dusty phrases that’s probably existed since the birth of humanity. I know its truth, but I almost don’t want it to be true. If it’s not true then all the crap, frustration, and problems We experience throughout life isn’t our responsibility.

“Ugh. She is so lucky. She gets everything she wants.”

“What does it matter that I lost my job, it’s not like it was my fault?”

“Wow his company is super cool. I would do something like that too if my parents bankrolled it as his parents did.”

I do think luck (and it’s counterpart) exists. But not all good luck is lucky, and not all bad luck is unlucky (Put that on a fortune cookie). Timing the market is lucky (and possibly something we can hone and train). Yet, making does with what you have is luck. It’s subtle, but one is an external event, and the other is an internal one.

We don’t get to choose what life we’ve come into, who our parents are, what our culture looks like—but we do get to choose who we are.

We get to choose who we are.

Every time you step up and take responsibility for your life, you are choosing luck and choosing wisdom.

Step up.

(No—I’m not talking about the hunky Channing Tatum Dance movie called Step Up.)

Own your life. Don’t wallow in complaints, could-have-been’s, and misfortune. At the end of the day, there’s only so much time have here. At the end of the day, after all the emotions and little day to day problems we are dealing with, if we were just to look up we’d see the massive galaxy we are in, in the unfathomable universe. Our problems are important—but they’re also relatively tiny.

So what do we do?

We get up. We get going. We make the most of the day. We work even if we are still a little bit sleepy. We take care of ourselves—because that’s what we need (and that’s what we would tell our best friends to do too). And we own up to our responsibilities, and expect others to do the same. And if we fail… well, we’ll do better the next day.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #983

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Complaint Box

“There are times in life when, instead of complaining, you do something about your complaints.”

Rita Dove

It doesn’t matter how you slice it—complaining doesn’t work.

If you are looking for sympathy, you won’t get it by complaining to everyone around you. Complain too much and everyone will try to avoid you or at the very least only give you eye roles every time you talk about your ailments.

If you are looking for help, complaining isn’t the best strategy either. It’s not that others don’t care, they likely care a great deal, but to them, you’re a record stuck on repeat. As much as others would like to help you, they know they can’t unless you are willing to do something about what you are complaining about.

If you are looking for a change, complaining will further entrench you into feeling stuck and incapable. Thoughts affect our beliefs and our willingness to act. If we are constantly complaining or looping negative thoughts in our heads that will also reflect in our actions (and/or lack of action). You can change—you can transform yourself and your life completely—but your inter and external complaints are like glue keeping yours from progressing. Thoughts affect actions; Actions affect thoughts. By giving into complaining, you’re cutting off your ability to clean your thoughts and/or desire to get up and make a change.

Don’t get me wrong—It’s okay to feel bad. It’s okay to feel down and out, helpless, discouraged, less than, apathetic, scared, lonely, and all the other negative emotions. We all do, at some point or another. I know I do—a few times a week! What’s not okay is always letting those things constantly control and run our lives.

Smart small. Get some rest. Cover your bases (mind, body, and spirit). Do what you can. Remind yourself that this won’t last forever. Just keep moving.

Write out your complaints on a small piece of paper, put it in a locked complaint box, and then proceed to never look at it again.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #982

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Find Out For Yourself

“Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.”

Leonardo da Vinci

One of the best ways to learn is to teach yourself. While having a personal coach or an online course can accelerate learning, it’s hard to beat hands-on experiences.

(Not that these are mutually exclusive—stacking experience on top of mentorship is a fantastic way to learn if you have the opportunity to do so.)

One pattern I’ve noticed (in myself and in others) is how easy it is to watch someone do something, like woodworking, programming, or dancing, for example, or read a great book on a particular skill, but not actually practice the skill yourself. It’s like second-hand learning. We watch a YouTube video of someone making music or handmade pasta, but we never actually get around to doing it ourselves—even though we want too! We’re already on to the next video, next course, or next book.

Lately, I’ve been trying to avoiding doing it, but in the past, I’ve gone through many books back to back without actually testing and applying them in my own life. What’s the point of reading a business book, for example, if you aren’t going to use it or at least try parts of it out? So we can talk big and be more informed? As if.

Better to not read, then read not apply.

Finding things out for yourself is part of the joy that comes from learning new things. Without experience, you lose some of the passion and drive that comes with learning. It’s the classic phrase “Use it or lose it”. Without visceral experience, our new information isn’t all that important to our brains, and will quickly fade out of our noggin’s, replaced by newer and more exciting information.

All that being said, get dirty. Practice what you learn. Test things out yourself. Cut out some paper. Practice some scales. Make it your own.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #981

Recommended Reads:

Hell Yeah or No

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True Yes

“Saying no frees you up to say yes when it matters most.”

Adam Grant

It’s not that loose threads are inherently bad or good—like many things it depends on the context. On the road to success, there will be many opportunities we could say yes or no too.

The problem is, most opportunities look pretty great! How the heck do you know what’s a good opportunity versus a bad opportunity?

Simple (..but far from easy): compare the opportunity to yourself—who you are, what you value, and what kind of life you want to have.

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

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

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.

Is this yes a true yes or more like an easy/fun 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 self-interest. Self-interest isn’t selfish. You can be caring and compassionate about others AND have an opinion and say what you want your life to look like.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #980

Recommended Reads:

Hell Yeah or No

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Low Hanging Vegetables

When I was younger, I remember the first time I heard the expression “low-hanging fruits” I mistakenly thought of it as a bad thing. Why would you want to go after all these droopy fruits when all those good ones are up higher in the tree?

But, of course, the insight the expression is telling us to focus on the easiest and simplest tasks first before taking on the hard ones.

It’s easy to get lost in the romance of a new idea or creative project and become unaware of the fact that you haven’t actually started it yet. Ideas take work. Focus too much on the ideal way work “should” look and you might find yourself stuck right at the beginning. Or focus too much on the end goal and you’ll flub the opportunity before it even begins.

Do the hundred dollar tasks first, don’t worry about the pennies. Focus on the things that matter first then get the details right seconds. Don’t give me wrong, the pennies matter and add up after a while, but when you’re just starting a project the pennies aren’t going to matter if they keeping you from launching.

There are a process and procedure for any work. I think we can often get stuck when we are focusing too much on the nitty-gritty and instead of narrowing our effort towards what’s going to give us the most momentum.

Not everything is worth the same amount of priority.

For example,

When writing a story, we don’t concern ourselves with the grammar first. Grammar is important, and obvious when we miss it, but first, we must write and put words on the page before we can start editing and thinking about grammar.

The key with any idea is to work your way up to it and focus on the things in front of you.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #979

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