Just One More Book…

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

Benjamin Franklin

I love reading. If you looked at my home office space right now, you’d know that’s an understatement. I’ve got books coming out of books. There are books on, underneath, adjacent and near my desk. I read both fiction and nonfiction (I find there’s value in both in different ways).

But.

Did you sense the but coming?

But, reading isn’t everything. Books can make you smart and open your mind to ideas you never thought of. They can take you to imaginative worlds and spin thrilling tales where you can’t turn away. They can give you the knowledge (answers and questions) you seek and say your time and heartache by avoiding hard lessons learned by others. And they can become the mentors you need for $10 or so bucks when you can’t find the advice you are looking for. All from authors, entrepreneurs, artists, thinkers, warriors and more from all of human history and civilization. (Wisdom of the ages, as they say.)

But books won’t do the work for you.

Reading is sometimes insightful and sometimes a cheap distraction for something you know you need to do. “I need to start working on my business idea, but I don’t know enough yet. Maybe I’ll read another book first…”, or “One day I’ll be a great programmer, but for now I need to read *another* coding book…” No, you probably don’t. What you need to do is start *programming*. Insert your desired skill here.

Books are a great way to learn, but they don’t supplement action. 

“A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.”

Henry David Thoreau

I’m telling myself this more than anyone, by the way. Books aren’t the only thing that can distract us. Maybe your thing is TV instead. Or film. Or cleaning. Or (only) hanging with friends. Or spending all your time drinking. No shame here. No shade. 

The question we need to ask ourselves is are we doing this (watching tv, eating, etc) to enjoy it or are we doing it to distract ourselves and avoid doing what we really want (and sometimes need) to do.

When it seems like you can do anything BUT what you need or want to do, then you are likely avoiding it for some reason. 

Fear can do it sometimes. fear of messing up and looking like a boob. 

Laziness too. But laziness is a delay tactic to avoid change and avoid negative or undesired life outcomes. 

But neither fear or laziness will make it — or your life — any better.

Learning is great. Reading is one of my favorite things I do. But if all we do is learn and never apply, what’s the point in the first place?

But some times you just need to put the book down, bookmark your place to come back to later, and then get out there and do something.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #866

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Beginner’s Sandbox

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”

Shunryu Suzuki

You don’t have to be something great to start doing it. This took me a while to figure out. I wanted to write, but I wanted to be able to write well, so I ended up not doing it at all. If perfectionism is what keeps us from finishing, then Proficiency (and lack thereof) is what keeps us from starting.

Wanting to be great can push us forward towards being great, but it can also push us towards doing nothing.

It’s a matter of high expectations, and thinking (wishing) we were great immediately. We hear stories from iconic people from history and professionals making it look easy today and we think we should be able to pick up a basketball (a pen, a guitar, a [insert your thing here] ) and be amazing at using it. This misunderstanding leads us to quit before we even start, and feel disappointed when we aren’t exceptional on the first try.

Nothing is easy the first time. And if it is, it certainly won’t be easy the second time. Or the third.

It takes practice and smart consistency to become great at something. It takes a whole crater of effort and discomfort to become ‘so good they can’t ignore you’. 

But it only takes a little effort to start today. Being a beginner means you have room to try whatever you want. As a beginner, there is no pressure to conform to what’s trending or what our past success demands of us. We get to play in obscurity. We get to have cake and eat it too. 

You don’t have to be something great to start doing it. You just have to start doing it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #849

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One Success

“Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them.”

Henry Ford

The biggest hurdle to any habit or skill you are learning is an overloaded system. It’s often that we fail because we are trying too hard and too much at once, not because we aren’t trying enough.

Not trying enough is a pitfall that can keep you from starting.

If you ever find yourself never quite being able to get started or find yourself consuming a ton of books, courses, and videos but never putting them in practice, then you have a problem starting. Maybe it’s fear of failure or repeating past mistakes or not living up to your own exceptions of yourself. Whatever the case, put all your strength into taking a step forward, however small. Starting is a physics problem. Things at rest tend to stay at rest. What we need is something that pushes us forward, even just a tiny bit, that gets the ball rolling. Start and build momentum.

It’s often that we fail because we are trying too hard and too much at once, not because we aren’t trying enough.

But if you’re trying but making no headway at all, then you’re likely trying too hard or trying too many things at once. Getting results requires focused energy. You can’t reliably half-*ss success (unreliable success is called luck). We need a strategy that gets us to the end goal 90% of the time and on the right track (or at least somewhere interesting) the other 10%. That starts with limiting your focus.

I can’t tell you how many times I unintentionally derailed myself because I attempted too many things at once. There are only so many things we can do at once (…I’m mostly in permanent denial about this). Even if I had all the energy and money in the world, I’d still run out of time at the end of the day. Focus and priority are our best friends here.

The thing we need to remember is success and opportunity stacks. Neither is assured, but both success and opportunity tend to build upon one another. One success leads to more opportunity leads to more (potential) success etc.

So where do you want to succeed?

What’s a problem you are struggling with that would wipe out most of your other problems if you were to solve it?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #826

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Beginner’s Creative Advantage

Most people default to mimicking what a successful person does, and that moves the needle, but it doesn’t get us to originality.

Original ideas come from following our curiosity and playfulness.

Your creative advantage is that you haven’t succeeded at the level you want to succeed at yet. When you are in the spotlight (however modicum or huge your success is), you are beholden to your success. Expectations seem high. Self-expectations are usually through the ceiling. Sure, you’ve got the money and clout, but you are internally and externally capping yourself. Because you succeed in a particular way, you want to keep following that success. Known success is chosen over unknown originality and potential failure.

By not being successful yet, you have the creative freedom to experiment and find your own way of doing things. You might not have the financial freedom to do whatever you want, but you have more room to fail with less risk. (The higher you climb, the longer the fall if you fail.)

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #792

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Why Read Fiction Books?

I’m a fan of both fiction and nonfiction.

I know a lot of people who skip fiction and only read nonfiction. I think the main motivator behind this is the perception that there’s no value in reading fiction. Nonfiction is about providing insights and experience about a particular thing, such as starting a business, but what fiction does? It’s just a movie with words, right?

Not really. I find fiction valuable for many reasons.

Fiction is an excellent way to impart wisdom through storytelling. It’s also a great way to experience the world (or different. worlds) through the lens of characters different from ourselves. Not that fiction has to be valuable in order to be useful. It’s also just a fun way to turn on our imagination.

Beyond the books that are just pure adventure and romp, which I do enjoy, fiction books elicit curiosity, imagination, and possibility. They open your mind up to words and worlds you would never dream of.

Now, I enjoy a good movie as much as the next guy or gal. But when we read fiction, say a sci-fi opera or a fantasy adventure, we are translating scribbles (words) on a page into characters, worlds, and tales in our minds. Pure imagination. The book creates the scaffolding, but our imaginations are filling in the details.

If you are on the fence about fiction or haven’t read a fiction book since your sixth-grade English assignment to read Pride and Prejudice, then maybe it’s time to revisit it. And remember — you don’t always have to choose a literary novel set in a normal place. They are thousands of unique and weird genres out there to choose from.

I’m also going to making a push to talk more about books in 2020. If you aren’t a big reader but are book curious, or if you love reading and want book recommendations and reviews, sign up for my future Bookaholics Newsletter: A curated list of recommend books (nonfiction + fiction) for book lovers looking for their next read.

If there are any books you would like to recommend or any book related things you want to talk about, email me: josh at renaissance life dot com.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #781


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So Many Books.

“So many books, so little time.”

Frank Zappa

130 Million Books have been published. Another million-plus have been self-published.

The median number of books read by an adult is around 5 books per year.

Bookaholics, like myself, read around 80+ books a year.

Let’s make it easy and say we only read 10 books a year. If you were to live another seventy years, you would have read around 700 books. If we bump that up to 50 books a year, then by the end of your life you would have read around 3500 books.

700 out of 130,000,000!!

 3500 out of 130,000,000!!

That’s practically a rounding error!

Of course, not all 130 million books out there are equal in value. Some can potentially change your life and open you up to new ways of thinking about the world. Some will entertain while expanding your imagination. And I’m sure there’s a hefty amount of books out there that just plain suck.

To me, the number of books read is not as valuable as the books we absorb, digest and apply them to our lives.

And the number of books we read doesn’t matter as much as the quality of books we read.

“A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.”

Henry David Thoreau

If you only read three books in your life, but those books had a massive impact on your health, wealth, happiness, meaning, business and community, would it matter that you didn’t read the other 199,999,997 books?

Before Gutenberg invented the printing press, how many people only read the Bible or other ancient texts?

I read both nonfiction and fiction, but to keep this post single-minded, let’s focus on nonfiction. The key to great nonfiction books is the knowledge and wisdom bound inside their covers. A book is essentially a mentor and friend who you don’t have direct access too. Books allow us to not only explore the greatest minds of today but the greatest minds throughout history. Very few are alive who were around to witness the mind and work ethic of Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, Alan Watts and more. For a small fee (around $10 bucks) we can have access to any advice we are looking for. Want to be an inventor? How about picking up the Wright Brothers Biography? Want to get better at marketing? How about a Seth Godin book. Want to explore the history of medicine? Read The Emperor of All Maladies or The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee.

A book is a small price to pay to gain a window into the greatest thinkers, philosophers, entrepreneurs, and activists of humankind.

The problem now, and forever going forward will be knowing what books to read and what not to read. With only so many books we can read over a lifetime, we must filter out the bad ones and focus on the good.

The solution I’ve found is to curate your reading list by finding avid readers who have similar tastes and principles you do.

Here are two excellent sources to get you started:

Ryan Holiday

Maria Popova

I’m also going to making a push to talk more about books in 2020. If you aren’t a big reader but are book curious, or if you love reading and want book recommendations and reviews, sign up for my future Bookaholics Newsletter: A curated list of recommend books (nonfiction + fiction) for book lovers looking for their next read.

If there are any books you would like to recommend or any book related things you want to talk about, email me: josh at renaissance life dot com.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #780


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Always Beginning

“The secret of life … is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

In life, we are either beginning, or doing nothing at all. The problem is, ‘Nothing’ doesn’t always feel or look like nothing.

‘Nothing’ wears a lot of disguises. Sometimes It’s dressed up in complacency or average routines. Sometimes It wears fear, doubt and uncertainty on Its sleeve. ‘Nothing’ even disguises Itself as things we want, like money, power, fame at the detriment of things we really want and dream.

For example, making ends meet is necessary — sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do in order to fulfilling and follow through with the responsibilities we have. But if you are spending your time at a job that you hate, and you have the drive and opportunity to do what you love and you don’t, then nothing’s got you exactly where It wants you to be.

Beginning is meeting each day with a fresh start. Beginning is grabbing that blank sheet of paper, empty canvas, empty SD card and creating like it’s the first time. It’s sitting down at a piano, or a workbench or table and being open to ideas and possibilities. Beginning is also facing poor circumstances, setbacks, food poisoning and bad moods, and still somehow making time in the day for what matters to you.

Time fades yesterday’s creativity. We might create something perennial and remembered. But we still have to wake up and try to do it again and different.

Even if you’ve got all the money in the world, or you are considered the best in the world, you still have to sit down to a blank page of your craft.

Beginning never stops.

Which is terrifying, but at the same time exciting.

Today’s another change to make something great and impactful.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #674

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Beginner’s Friction

Have you ever felt the desire to do something but haven’t worked up the courage yet?

I have.

A hundred excuses pop into your head, telling you why you shouldn’t or can’t.
For example, maybe you have an idea for a book. You think about it often, you might even talk about it, but there it sits — only in your head. I’m not a good enough writer yet. I don’t know enough yet. I don’t have enough life stories. I don’t have a platform. I would if I have more time…

Excuse after excuse runs in your head until it creates a knot in your stomach. And the further time moves away from the idea, the more impossible it seems to try. And tell the wrong person, and they’ll give you a hundred more excuses too.

It’s time to let go of thinking you’re not good enough.

You are good enough to start right now. You know what happens when you write a bad book? Nothing. Maybe you get some bad reviews on Amazon, but nothing can stop you from picking up that keyboard or pen and paper and writing a better one.

I think it’s easy for us to fall into the belief that our first try needs to be perfect. look at anyone starting out in ANY industry their first piece of work is hilarious bad. But that doesn’t invalidate them, in fact, it makes me like them more. It shows me there just like me, and with a little time, attention and elbow grease I can do it too.

The crazy dreamers who keep going through the failure and suck are the ones you rise up to the top eventually.

We’ve only got one life to live on this earth, are you going to spend it wishing you would be and do more or showing yourself that you can.

Show yourself you can.

Stay B O L D, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” — Zig Ziglar

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” — Harriet Tubman

“Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” —  Lao Tzu

Beginner’s Body

Beginner’s body is the disconnection between what you’re mind says you can do and what your body is capable of doing.

Drawing is a great example. If you don’t know how to draw and you sit down and try to draw a landscape or from your imagination, most of the time you’ll be disappointed because you can only manage to draw stick figures.ww

When we think, ‘I can run a triathlon’ and then go do it — without a day of training (unless you count MarioKart) — but our bodies say ‘what the h🌋ll you think you’re doing?

At this stage, our skills aren’t aligned with our mind. Beginners bod can be really discouraging especially when we are trying to learn something new. We think we should be great immediately (like the movies) and when we’re not we tend to give up before we get going.

However, the beginner’s body is just a part of the learning process. In fact, I think successful people are envious of you. To see the world with a fresh set of eyes without the weight of success. Of course, you’re going to suck at the beginning. That’s why they call it the beginning. 

Fear not: Keep going — despite the suckitude — you will grow out of your beginner’s bod. If you really want to master a skill you have to learn to be okay with failing at the start. What could possibly stop someone who decides to never give up?

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Wisdom:

“Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.”Jack Ma, Alibaba

“Don’t quit. Never give up trying to build the world you can see, even if others can’t see it. Listen to your drum and your drum only. It’s the one that makes the sweetest sound.” Simon Sinek, Start With Why, Leaders Eat Last, Find Your Why

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”  — Winston Churchill