Giving a Damn

Some days all we need to do is show up. And some days showing up is the hardest thing to do.

But showing up on the hard days is everything. Every action we take ripples out into our corner of the world, but more importantly, it also informs ourselves about what kind of person we are.

Our actions point inward and as much as they direct outward.

For example, if I start acting lazy—avoiding my work, mentally checking out wherever I get the chance—then I start becoming lazy. My actions convince myself that I am a lazy person. Which feedbacks in on itself and causes me to continuously act lazier.

The same is true for practically everything, good and bad.

Do something tells the world and our inner world what kind of person we are.

That’s why we need to show up and give a damn on days when we don’t feel like it. We are training ourselves into being the kind of person that shows up no matter what.

There are simple ways we can practice this:

• Hold the door for someone else.

• Take back your grocery cart to the store after you’ve unloaded your car.

• Give a generous tip to a good server.

• Return a smile with a smile (or if you’re wearing masks—a nod with a nod).

• Be on time when you’re planning to meet someone (This is a hard one for me).

• Stand up to a-holes.

• Reach out to friends first.

Do something, not because you have too, but because that’s the kind of person you want to be.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1064

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Advice Mired in Fear Vs. Advice Rising From Love

There’s advice and then there’s “advice.” (Note the quotation and the italics.)

The two separate pieces of advice might be equal sound. But the problem is advice is coming from different places— one from a place of love and “advice” is coming from a place of fear.

“You shouldn’t take that job because it doesn’t pay enough.” Is different from “You shouldn’t take that job because you are worth 5x more than what they are offering.” Can you tell which one is coming from love and which from fear?

It’s really all about the packaging. Packaging and presentation make all the difference. I could give you the same birthday gift but wrap it in a garbage bag or wrap it in thick clean paper and tie it with twine in a nice bow and you’ll feel the difference.

There’s a book called Words that Work, that has a great subtitle: “It’s not what you say, It’s What People Hear.” I haven’t read the book, only that title. But I completely agree with the subtitle.

I could give you the best damn advice in the world—advice so good that it would light your ears on fire—but it wouldn’t mean a hill of beans if I said it with criticism and fear. You would likely listen, say “okay Josh” and then throw it in your new garbage bag gift wrapping and leave it on the side of the road for the next trash pickup.

I can think of many mistakes that I’ve made (you know, 20/20 and all that jazz) and advice I was given but didn’t take because of the way it was given.

It’s hard to override this. I’m not even sure we should override it most of the time. But perhaps if advice is coming from someone we know or even someone we admire then despite the packaging, maybe we should try to take a moment and listen objectively.

I have found it helpful to identify where a piece of advice is coming from. “Is this advice that I’m getting coming from a place of fear or love? Is this person saying this because he or she has personally experienced this too or are they saying this—subconsciously or not—out of envy or embarrassment or failure or conformity?”

The worst kind of advice is advice we didn’t ask for from people we don’t know. This type of advice should be thrown in a dumpster fire. This is different from the advice we receive from people we know or admire or advice we seek out. For example, consider all the content you consume—podcasts, articles, books, videos—whether you are looking for it or not, sometimes little tofu nuggets of insights will pop out at you. The other day I was listening to a podcast with Jason Fried and he said something that I wish I had learned five years ago, it was something along the lines of “You can’t make a sandwich out of equity.” Meaning, its good to work somewhere and have a stake (equity) in the company but it’s also important that they are paying you enough for what you need to live. You can’t eat a sandwich made out of equity. Brilliant! I wish I had learned that sooner!

So advice is good. Seek out insights like they are your full-time job. But be wary of advice that comes from fear. Even if it’s good advice, going with your intuition instead is usually a better choice.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1063

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Testing Dependencies

“Success is dependent on effort.”

Sophocles

I’ve written before about how it’s easier to acquire tastes than it is to get rid of them. Something normally that’s exotic or saved for special occasions can quickly become our new normals. Instead of saving that delicious Italian restaurant for your birthday, you start having it once a week.

For me, that’s amplified with a personal tendency to overdo it. A cheat “meal” turns into a cheat “weekend”. Or instead of one newsletter, I make three.

But do we really need our “needs”?

I don’t consider myself a minimalist. I related to some of the core values of minimalism, but I wouldn’t label myself as a minimalist. I’m more of a… “essentialist” “practicalist” “intentionalist” something along those lines (semantics, to be sure, but still).

It’s helpful to put things in perspective. In five years, all of the technology you and I use will be obsolete. Five years is generous. There’s a lot of new and exciting gadgets coming out right now. It’s more likely every piece of tech we own will be obsolete in a few months.

It’s good to test your dependencies regularly.

For example, taking a break from social media or swearing off coffee for a year.

Dependency aren’t evil. But they do make us reliant on them. Once you get used to having a certain quality of something, it’s hard to go back. I think that’s why people in third world countries are so happy with very little. It’s not the stuff that they have or don’t have, it’s the knowledge that something “better” is out there. 

This feeling is what I want to resist. I love luxury, but I don’t want to *need* it to be happy. I want to test my dependencies because you never know what fate my take of you. I’d rather be happy and healthy than rich. But if I can be happy, healthy, and rich that would be great too 😉. As long as that money isn’t controlling me.

What are other things we are reliant on? What are your crutches? 

Clothes? New technology? Habits?

Action: Make a list of things you need and use every day. If you forced yourself to give them up for a month, or six or a year, could you?

To live an unconventional life we must do unconforming things.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1062

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Start Something (Even When You’re Not Ready)

So I did something new yesterday…

I’ve been wanting to get into film for a while now, but I just… haven’t. Fear has likely been a big factor. Not fear of embarrassment or failure, rather fear of not being ready.

Not knowing how to edit. Not knowing what to say. Not being enough.

But all of that is silly talk. “Readiness” is a mindset. I don’t have to know how to edit to be ready, I just have to shoot something and learn and practicing editing. There are a countless number of Adobe Premiere and After Effects tutorials, I can watch.

I don’t have to know what to say to be ready either. I can script out stories. I can just say what I would normally say in everyday conversation. I can learn to be comfortable with communicating verbal on camera as I go.

And of course, I’m enough. As long as I’m being genuine and having fun, that’s all that matters. We are all more than enough. You are more than enough for what you want your life to be. Don’t let anyone (including yourself) tell you otherwise. Everything else is just a skill of piece of knowledge we can learn.

I want to put some time into each video, so I’m not going to do a daily video (at least not right away).

It took me five times as long to edit this video that shoot it ha!

Right now, my aim is one film a week. I’d like to experiment with different things I’m interested in tech, books, creativity, music, ideas, art, acting, etc.

Well, I guess like and subscribe and don’t forget to ring that bell! 😄😅😆

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1062

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Embrace Uncertainty

“You create your life, and you can recreate it, too. In times of economic downturn and uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to look deep inside yourself to fathom the sort of life you really want to lead and the talents and passions that can make that possible.” — Sir Ken Robinson

Pain is an interesting sensation. It hurts, obviously. Even small pains can sting—like burning your hand on a hot pan on the stove, or whacking your funny bone while closing the bathroom door. Sometimes pain lingers, and we are left to pick up the pieces while also continuing to preserve in the face of a feeling that doesn’t know when to leave. But despite the discomfort, pain also is a signal.

A sign that something needs to change. Or a moment of healing. Or a lesson and story that enables us to grow.

Not that I’d wish pain on anyone of course. Nor is all pain an “opportunity” or a good thing. Caveat caveat. But when we are personally facing pain, we have to do something with it. If not healing then what? If not a chance to change or help others change then we just what? Give up? No. It won’t be an overnight change, but gradually we will move forward, day by day until we find a way to use the pain.

One flavor of pain is uncertainty. We try to avoid uncertainty. But forcing uncertainty to be certain is like wearing a two-sizes too small sweater—half of you is still cold, you’re still stressed and uncomfortable and everyone is in on the joke but you.

2020 has been anything but certain. Personally and culturally. But if you’re reading this, you’re still alive. And if you’re still alive there are endless opportunities you can take.

Recently I was not chosen for a job opportunity. I had three rounds of solid interviews and ultimately someone else was chosen. I asked for feedback, but there wasn’t really any. There was no reason I wasn’t chosen—I just wasn’t. There was only room for one. Their intuition choose someone else. Good. I’m happy for that other person. The company is great, so I’m happy for them as well. Again, there are plenty of other opportunities out there. Now I can focus on them.

There’s very little in life that is truly certain. And many things we deem as certain, such as our career or direction in life, are only certain at a surface level. I’m not trying to be pessimistic. Once you realize that the unexpected is normal, then you have room to embrace all aspects of life and let go of the outcomes.

There’s a difference between external and internal certainty. Just because the world is shaky doesn’t mean we have to be.

Are we focused on our personal essentials? Eating clean. Moving and exercising. Surrounding ourselves with good books and good friends. Meditating. Sleeping well.

Are we making intentional decisions? Choosing work because we want to be, not because the money is good. Hanging out with friends that lift us up instead of tearing us down. Standing for our values.

Are we prioritizing what matters to us?

Part of being a creative person is turning uncertainty into something new and different.

Original ideas are built from uncertain outcomes. We can stack the decks in our favor, but it still takes a leap of boldness to pursue a dream.

Ironically embracing uncertainty makes everything certain.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1061

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Amplifying Effect

“The first wealth is health.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are many types of skills and knowledge in general that, if learned, can amplify everything that you do.

Improving your ability to communicate, for example. What part of life doesn’t involve some form of written, graphic, or verbal communication? Think about it: blogging, writing emails, tweeting, caption, website copy, speeches, journaling, wit and banter among friends, sharing stories about yourself with relationships, getting your ideas across, job hunting, pitching clients… communication is at the heart of what it means to be human.

Health is another great skill that has reach across your life. Eating well, exercising, and resting can all increase the quality and longevity of your life. How can you put a quantifiable impact on that?

One big part of being multidisciplinary is to cultivate these types of foundational skills.

  • How to learn
  • How to think
  • Health
  • Writing

Even just one of these could improve your life in immeasurable ways.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1060

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Creative Friction

One of the big reasons I’m driven to learn so many skills (besides just being curious about many things) is to remove as many barriers to creativity as I can.

What does that mean?

Think of it like the engine of a minivan versus that of a sports car. A minivan might take dozens of seconds to reach 6o mph, whereas a high-performant sports car can go 0 to 60 in 1.9 seconds.

Humans are naturally innovative. We all have ideas all the time. Usually, we’re hanging out with friends and someone will say “Dude. What if beer cans had handles? Like a beer koozie but with a handle like a mug?” — or something like that. We have ideas, but we rarely act on them. Typically, that’s because we don’t have the skill to make them (or we don’t want to put in the time and other resources to acquire those skills.)

But when you have a skill (for example, you have mad Adobe Premiere and After Effects skills) the barrier from going from idea to reality is less.

Imagine a world where you had all the skills and knowledge to create (in the ways you enjoy creating) at your disposal. You would be ready to create —0 to 60— in a moment’s notice.

This is very doable. But in order to become creatively effective, we need to start where we are.

We just have to start learning the skills and tools now and hone them every day. We might be terrible at it in the beginning, but that doesn’t matter. Lower the steaks. Keep improving.

Even just thirty minutes of writing, or designing, or editing can add up in a tremendous way over time.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1059

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Creative Tinkering

“The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.” Leonardo da Vinci

One of the first toys I remember playing with as a kid was legos. I assumed that LEGO was invented around the 80s or 90s (I’m a 90’s baby) but actually The LEGO Group has been around awhile. It was established in 1932 by Ole Kirk Kristiansen in a Danish carpentry workshop.

The original name for the LEGO brick was Automatic Binding Bricks (1951). The bricks where iterated and refined into what we know them as today. Kristiansen’s toy business had many ups and downs. Fires, economic upheaval from a post World War—not to mention WWII and the fallout from it as well. But despite it all, Kristiansen kept creating and tinkering.

One of the worst things about lego sets is that they come with an instruction manual. One of the best things about lego sets is you can break the rules and build whatever you want. Growing up, I would usually building by the instructions first (achievement unlocked) and then I would tear it to pieces and then build things from my imagination.

It’s easy to go through life living by an instruction manual. We live by the expectations of the people around us. Family. School. Society. We conform without always thinking about what we are signing up for.

Sometimes this works really well. Instructions by themselves are bad. It’s nice to know exactly how to fix a tire or how to learn illustrator or how to start an online business. The problem is it’s easy to follow instructions blindly, without completely thinking things through or experiencing things yourself.

A part of being a creative is thinking differently and getting your hands in the mud. Book smart only gets you so far. Hands-on practice and experimentation unlocks a new level of creative ability. There’s knowing something from reading or hearing about it, and then there’s knowing something from hard-earned discovery and tinkering.

How to Learn by Tinkering:

  • Don’t read the instructions.
  • Play first.
  • Try it the wrong way.
  • Make your own rules (add limitations).
  • Approach the world with childlike curiosity.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1058

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If Everything is a Priority…

If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority.

I’m reminding myself this more than anything. I have so many ideas that I could see becoming something real and magically, but that doesn’t mean a lick of salt if I don’t prioritize one and create it. Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, said it best “First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.”

The logic is fairly straight forward:

Divide our time into too many “buckets,” and we’ll have a whole lot of unfinished, mostly empty projects. In the immortal words of Jar Jar Binks, “Dissen gonna be bery messy! Me no watchin!”

Or we can choose one project, a few at most, and pour all our time and energy into them until we’ve finished them and then work on the next one.

It’s like wanting passive income or multiple revenue streams. We don’t just start right out the gate with a dozen income streams at once. First, we’ve got to get one thing going super well. Are we creating something valuable? Are we creating something worth buying? Are we sharing what we are doing? Good. Once we find one thing that works, then we start another. 

I’m always tripping on this because I love making things, and there are always new ideas and interesting avenues to take.

You can use a thousand boards of wood to being building a thousand houses, or you could use all the wood to build a single killer house.

Ask yourself: 

  • “Out of all the projects I start, how many do I actually finish?”
  • “What’s one thing I want to prioritize and finish right now?”

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1057

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Being Smart is Not Enough

We also need accountability.

“Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.”George Bernard Shaw

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” — Scott Adams

When I think of the bigger, tentpole mistakes I’ve made over the last ten years, 100% of them come from a lack of forethought and accountability. I don’t give much weight to regret,(because regret doesn’t help us move forward, only keeps us stuck looping our past) but I can’t help but feel that if I had only had another “me,” (someone who sees the world objectively and desires to live intentionally) then the major dum-dum decisions I’ve made would have never happened.

One of my mistakes a few years ago was staying too long at a company that wasn’t the right fit for me. I joined for the wrong reasons and there was miscommunication from the get-go. But I was strung along, and convinced to stay, despite the problems and frustrations it was causing me. But I didn’t see them. I was making the “right” decisions for the wrong reasons. (Which is as unhelpful as making the wrong decisions for the wrong reasons.)

Mistakes are thoughtless errors in judgment. By “thoughtless” I don’t mean hurtful or cruel, I mean thought-less —mistakes are decisions we make without stepping back and thinking things through. Sometimes we don’t have the luxury to step back, particularly when decisions get heated and we snap back with anger like a hungry Rottweiler. But that doesn’t mean we can’t train ourselves to make clear decisions.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to blame others for my mistakes either. Of course, the mistakes of my past are not something I can change. But, I can use them to better inform and improve my future decisions.

“If only I had another ‘me’ around to help” immediately prompts two questions:

  1. Why do I assume I have to rely on someone else to think objectively? Why not create structures around decisions that help prevent dumb mistakes from happening?
  2. And additionally, who can I surround myself with that I can go to for advice to avoid unforeseen preventable misfortunes?

Plenty of smart people make stupid mistakes. Having a brain doesn’t mean you’re invincible. Mistakes are a part of life—particularly if you are trying to help others and create valuable things. But still. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to avoid any stupid mistake that’s preventable.

Here are 3 Tips for avoiding careless mistakes:

1. Use Preventative Societal Barriers

Sometimes doing what we want isn’t always best for us (We don’t always have our own safety in mind.).
For example, if you’re credit isn’t good enough to get a credit card or buy a new car, then that’s a good thing. Having bad credit sucks, but it’s also a barrier that can prevent you from making a potentially bad financial move. Sure it’s limiting that so-and-so didn’t approve of your application, but what if it’s a good thing?

Some societal barriers need to be broken, others are guardrails that keep us from harming our future selves. Which is which comes back to thinking objectively and having friends you can go to for advice.

2. Give Every Big Decision at least One Night of Sleep.

If you have to make a big decision and you can’t tell which way to go, then sleep on it. Give each important decision a little breathing from so you can listen to your mind and intuition. If someone is forcing you to make a decision in the moment, then say no. Unless it’s life and death, nothing is worth an immediate “yes” or “no”, especially if you are unsure.

3. Cultivate a Thriving Accountability Group

Build a group of life advisers you can goto for when you need the make an important decision. When in doubt, get advice. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help or a second opinion.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1056

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