Shortcuts

“There are no shortcuts to true excellence.”

Angela Duckworth

Shortcuts rarely work out in our favor and usually lead to the opposite of what we were looking for.

Even if you succeed and the shortcut works out, there’s a dissatisfied aftertaste. It’s a “got what I want, but not what I need” feeling.

The easiest way to any succeed is the hard way. Hard because it takes work to make your dreams happen. Hard doesn’t equal misery though. Unlike shortcuts, there’s a rewarding satisfaction creating with your own hands.

It takes time and practice to master a skill.

It takes dedication to build a company or work up your career.

And it takes a lot of heart and sweat to build a impactful life.

So why not learn to enjoy it? Enjoy the work. Enjoy the rise. Find the good in the difficult days. Be the type of person who doesn’t take the easy way out.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #978

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Money as an Excuse

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Thomas A. Edison

I often find myself using a lack of money or lack of the “proper” equipment as an excuse to be unable to do something.

‘Oh—I’d love to take up leather-working, but I would have to buy all the tools, and leather supplies and have a workspace…’

‘Oh—I’d love to create more music, but first I need a b c d e f g…x y z equipment…’

‘Gee—I’d love to take Seth Godin’s altMBA, but I just can’t afford the tuition right now.’

On and on—mooo. I’m like a cow in a field wishing for a cloudy day. It’s easy to distract yourself so much on what you can’t do right now that you are obvious to all the opportunities in front of you.

Lack of money or other resources can be limiting—for example, it’s difficult to start an online business if you can’t even afford to pay for a Squarespace or Shopify website—but limitations are an opportunity to think outside of the box and find a way around barriers.

Lack of money is an opportunity to think differently and more creatively.

This is a very stoic mindset. If X doesn’t work—what else can you try? What’s a way around this barrier? How can I turn this into an advantage?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #977

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Loose Threads

“It is the loose ends with which men hang themselves.”

Zelda Fitzgerald

There’s this concept of loose threads (or loose ends) in film (and muuurder?) where certain details are left unfinished or unresolved. Loose threads could happen in the film’s story (i.e. We have some loose ends we need to cut) or the film itself, where there are storylines that feel unbuttoned and left hanging.

These unresolved/unfinished happen in our own lives too—good and bad.

Let’s start with good threads.

Good threads:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Steve Jobs

A good thread is what I call anything you put out into the world that’s positive, good-natured, or could become an opportunity (for you andor for others). The classic example is good karma. Things like anonymously donating to a charity, leaving a tip for a podcaster you enjoy, helping an old lady change her flat tire, etc. Good threads can also be investments you put out into the world that could bloom. Content, monetary investments, relationships, optimism, ideas, etc.

You never know when something you do or something you create will have a massive impact on your life or the lives of others.

That’s why it’s good to try to always be on our A-game and give one hundred percent with whipped cream on top of everything we say and do.

But what about bad threads?

Bad threads:

“I know the sag of the unfinished poem. And I know the release of the poem that is finished.”

Mary Oliver

Bad threads are unresolved sentiments live. Todos left undone. Things we said (sometimes even bragged about) but never did. Abandoned or sidetracked dreams. Projects unfinished. There are some bad threads that you can’t pick back up. Bridges burned, reputations tarnished.

Other bad threads are things we leave unfinished and yet still think about often. In Practice you’ve moved on to something else, in mind, you have unfinished business rummaging around in your head that pops up. These can be super harmful because they can zap our energy—in what we are currently doing AND from what we aren’t doing but wish we were. And they add up over the years. One thread unravels to two, then three…

I find it good to take some time to think and list out (if any) threads I’ve left open unresolved. After that, it’s a question of if it’s something I need to finish, something I really want to do or something I should let go of.

What are some projects or ideas left open that I need to resolve?

What are some asks/favors/tasks/opportunities I need to say no to?

What are some things I need to let go of?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #976

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Regression

“Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.”

William Pollard

It’s late—11:15 PM. It’s been a stressful week (I know it’s only just started!) but I just got back from practicing music with some good friends. I’ve got a little bit of a happy buzz—not from alcohol, rather, the feeling you get when you do something you love. I’m also incredibly tired and feel a little loopy so if a FISH random word pops in this blog post you’ll understand why.

My blogs have been regressing in quality the last week. There are good ideas there, but the execution needs some reworking and improvement. I’ve been writing later and later too (big fat correlation).

I’ve been working overtime on a project at work. Plus working on music. Plus working on an odd assortment of side projects. Plus a million other things that are going on.

But I’m not here to make excuses.

I don’t want to make excuses. I just want to keep improving.

Whenever regression occurs, it’s time to reassess what you are doing, why you are doing it, what what you are going to change going forward.

Regression is inevitable. Our enthusiasm for a skill or for work we love—no matter how much we love it—will ebb and flow as time goes on. You could be super into cooking right now, but in a year from now, not feel so charmed by it as you once were. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean you should stop—especially if it’s something you love and want to continue doing.

Regression is a sign that something needs to be changed. It’s time to spice things up. It’s time to challenge yourself with something big and new. Everything has its seasons, including creativity.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #975

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Make It Shine

“The difference between something good and something great is attention to detail.”

Charles R. Swindoll

I’ve been thinking a lot about finishing lately.

It’s likely because I’m wrapping up a website project, and the last few pieces always seem to take the most effort and attention.

With any project, the last 5 – 10% of work generally takes the most effort but it is the piece that makes something look polished and next level.

There are three main things that I’m aware of that brings any project (work or otherwise) to that next level—

Challenge, repetition, and detail.

Polish requires challenge

It’s difficult to do anything well if you find it incredibly boring or not your thing. Every project needs at least a sprinkle of challenge—something that gets you excited and expands your boundaries.

Polish requires repetition.

A song practiced one time sounds decent; A song practiced a hundred times songs polished. I could read every programming book in the world but that wouldn’t make me a great programmer unless I put my hands on the keyboard and practice and try things myself. If you love doing something, you’ve got to put in the reps—no matter how monotonous it may be.

Polish requires attention to detail.

Attention to detail gets you far in life. It’s part observation, part knowing your skills. It’s not only seeing what’s there but also see what’s not there.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #974

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Be Impeccable with Your Word

“Words may show a man’s wit but actions his meaning.”

Benjamin Franklin

“The distance between saying you’ll help someone and actually helping them is a gap often created with the best intentions. But when we don’t bridge that gap, accountability suffers throughout the organization. Our desire to help might make it tempting to tell someone we’ll do something, but we should always be impeccable with our word .

Automattic Creed

Have you ever said you would do something, but for whatever reason you ended up not delivering?

Maybe you promised to finish a project but couldn’t keep the deadline or said yes to an event you really didn’t want to go to.

It’s a painful experience when you can’t deliver on something you agreed to. Even with the best intentions, if you can’t back up your words with your actions, then your word will lose all credibility.

It’s better to go with your gut and say no to an opportunity you know isn’t the right fit, rather than try to impress and be sorry you can’t deliver. Delivery is everything.

Don’t talk about what you are going to do, talk about what you are doing.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #973

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Derailed

“You simply have to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Put blinders on and plow right ahead.”

George Lucas

Getting derailed is inevitable. It doesn’t matter what you are trying to do—eat clean, save money each month, take an online business course, walk every day, be positive, etc—eventually, something will put a rake in your path for your to step on.

The question afterward is what are you going to do about it?

What are you going to do when you miss a day on your daily drawing challenge? What are you going to do when you sprain your ankle and can’t go out for a run? What are you going to do with life beats you up and all you want to do is complain and be negative? What are you going to do when you mess up and two pizza’s “accidentally” fall into your mouth?

Derailment is what makes or breaks a good habit.

The worst thing to do when your habit gets derailed is to give up. And giving up isn’t just stopping cold. A more subtle form of giving up is pushing things off until tomorrow. “Oh, I’m not feeling up to it today, I’ll start fresh tomorrow…” No! Start now!

The best thing you can do when you get derailed is to start back up immediately without hesitation. It’s okay that you missed a day. It’s okay that you messed up, but don’t let that prevent you from continuing and benefit from all the work you’ve been putting in.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #972

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Multidisciplinary Mindset

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A multidisciplinary mindset starts with a lot of questions. Questions like—

Q: What’s underneath this?

Q: How can I connect this with other things?

Q: Why does this work? How does this work?

Q: What if I learned both skills?

A multidisciplinary mindset also requires a lot of self-knowledge and inner work. Who am I? What do I want to do with my life? Who do I want to be? What values and principles do I want to live by? What values am I living by right now? Do they align with my ideal version of myself? Where I can improve? How can I turn my problems into opportunities? Who can I look to for wisdom?

It also takes a little boldness and rebellion to work. Choosing to follow the path least traveled. Choosing mastery over easy living. Choosing to be better every day and showcasing it with your actions.

And, of course, a multidisciplinary mindset is cultivated on a willingness to try. Our thoughts may inform our actions, but the reverse is also true—how we act impacts how we think. If you don’t like the way you think, then change the way you acting.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #971

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Clarity

“Music is powered by ideas. If you don’t have clarity of ideas, you’re just communicating sheer sound.”

Yo-Yo Ma

I often find myself needing to create even though I’m not feeling optimal. Whenever you aren’t feeling your best, there’s a wave reluctance to do, well, anything, and rather fall into the endless abyss of Reddit comments, tv seasons andor personally eat your entire pantry clean. In my experience, this is a mental block caused by physical needs. A good night’s sleep, a couple of more glasses of water, a healthy meal, and a nice long walk and I’m good to go!

But sometimes we need to make use of what we got.

We are rarely as prepared, well-rested, focused, creative, and clear as we wish we were. Yes, we need to learn to take care of ourselves more. But also I think it’s beneficial to learn to train yourself to create at a moment’s notice—despite how you feel. This can only be trained through practice—when reluctance comes over you, do it anyway. This is a very Jocko-esque mindset. Discipline equals freedom.

One insight I’ve discovered (and probably unintentional stole from someone) on my journey so far is—

Practice when the stakes are low so that when the stakes are high, you’ll be more than ready.

And when you are feeling great and full of clarity—use it while you got it! You never know when you’ll have the opportunity again. When an idea strikes you, act on it. When a song, work of art, brilliant idea, or moment of clarity comes bubbling out of you—act on it now! Don’t let it slip from your mind. When inspiration strikes—use it!

To paraphrase Theodore Roosevelt, Use what you got when you got it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #970

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Intermission

“Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

I generally am going nonstop doing something most days. And as much as I try to keep a healthy balance between creating and nourishing, I don’t always succeed, and the scale tips towards too much go-go-going.

I often have to remind myself — there’s more to life than finishing todo lists.

There’s time for friends. There are days off. There are fiction books (and not just business books). There’s nature. There’s rest — sleep is required/around for a reason.

It’s easy to forget that you are a human being, not a computer.

Don’t forget to pause throughout the day and take care of yourself. Eat well. Breathe well. Stand up and move more. Take a break and have an interesting conversation. Take care of your mind, body, and spirit and you’ll be much more creative and capable (and less hangry) than you would be otherwise.

Don’t just think—feel.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #969

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