Initiative

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.”

Amelia Earhart

The only thing that separates those who are successful and those aren’t yet is the willingness to act on their ideas. (Well, that and a lot of good luck.)

Initiative is —

  • Listening to your gut.
  • Figuring out how even when you are unsure where to start.
  • Pursuing your dream, instead of being idle
  • Not only having ambition but putting it into practice.

Initiative is putting your ambition into practice.

It’s tasing your hand in class or speaking up when the opportunity strikes. 

Initiative is seeking opportunities versus waiting for an opportunity to magically come to us. If you don’t ask- if you don’t try- if you don’t act- if you don’t speak out- then who will?

Everyone will tell you how you should live your life. But it’s up to each of us to choose who we want to be and what we want to do.

If there’s an idea you feel driven to try — Go for it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #884

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You Need A Practice

It took me a long time to realize how very little of life is in our control. We go through life feeling like we are in control—until we aren’t. Something happens that shakes us. A broken arm or health issue that shows us we are not invincible. A random circumstance that knocks the wind out of us. A realization that changes how we think about the world. These are turning points that can either keep us scared or lift us to a new level of understanding.

At its fundamental level, control means having power or influence over something. With just one hand, I could count how many things I have controller over:

  1. My thoughts.
  2. My actions and reactions.
  3. What I prioritize, focus on and/or value.
  4. Where I spend my time (and other resources).

In a way, what’s in our control are all related to one another. Thoughts lead to actions, and actions show what we prioritize our time on. These give us a credible amount of agency over our lives, but at the same time we are are in the midst of things outside of our control—an island in the middle of an untamable sea. But chaos doesn’t mean we are powerless. By focusing and honing what we do control, we can handle any life circumstances that come our way.

One great way to channel what’s in our control is to start a practice. Having a practice grounds you when everything else is up in the air.

Having a practice grounds you when everything else is up in the air.

What practice(s) you do is up to you. It could be something creative, like writing, dance, pottery, painting, drawing, making youtube videos, calligraphy, guitar, etc. It could be something nourishing, like yoga, mediation, cooking, running, swimming, etc.

What matters is making it intentional. And, ideally, it’s something you put into practice daily. But I’m not yo mama. I’m not going to tell you how you should live your life. We each have our own choice here. We could go about life rocking with the ship and whatever wave hits us. Or we could learn how to sail.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #876

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Having A Practice – Steven Pressfield

Yes Yes Yes No No No

When is an idea or decision worth saying yes to? I can think of 6 ways a decision can go:

1. Yes—I would love to do this.

For the majority of the time, these are the easiest decisions to say yes to. These are the decision’s we should say yes too, but there are quite a few situations that often make saying yes to what we love extremely difficult.

The first reason is bad timing, luck or lack of self-awareness — which I’ll discuss as #4.
The second reason being fear—which I’ll discuss as #5.

2. Yes — but you want to say no.

There are our most innocent and humbling decisions. Whether out of love, force, pity or magic, we agree, but would rather say no. As innocent as they appear, these types of decisions can quickly take over our entire lives. This the number one regret of the dying, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” It’s great to help others, but if you are only living your life by the expectations of what others want for you, you aren’t making decisions for yourself or living at all.

Sometimes we say yes, but don’t know we should have said no. This is tricky because now we’ve said yes and are beholden to that choice. If there’s an opportunity to get out of it, do it. There’s no sense wasting our time on something we clearly don’t want to do. But if you’ve backed a yes with your word and reputation, see it through. We never want to waste our time, but we also want to make sure our actions also align with our words.

There’s a version of this type of yes that I’ve personally experienced. (Well, I’ve experience all 6 of these types of decisions, but this one was a real doozie.) Sometimes when you say yes, but you don’t want to (or you eventually figure out you don’t) AND then you keep doing it anyway—out of fear or obligation etc.—then you are on a short unfortunate path to burnout. There are many flavors of burnout, but one of the surest ways to burn yourself out is to continuously do something you don’t want to do.

Eventually you hit a wall and you’re body forces you to stop. That’s what happened to me anyway. My body’s response was—“Oh, I see. You’re going to keep working at this even though you know we don’t want to? The Nerve of this guy. He think’s he’s the boss. We’ll show him whose the real boss around hear.” Don’t let yourself be steamrolled by a decision you don’t even like doing.

3. Yes — but your future self won’t.

These’s are also painful decisions, usually based around an event, agreement or project in the future. It sounds so lovely (and distant), but when the moment arrives you completely dread it to your core. Ugh! Why did I agree to this?!

The key is asking yourself what your future self would want to do. “If this thing (that I’m about to agree to) was tomorrow, would I still want to do it?

It’s great to plan for the future, but keep decision locked in the immediate.

4. No — but you want to say yes.

In essence, you wish you could say yes, but the timing isn’t right or you’ve already committed and said yes to another earlier opportunity. Decisions like these aren’t worth your time dwelling over. Stick with what’s in front of you, and keep learning about yourself and your dreams. The better we know ourselves, the more accurate we can be in our decision making.

5. No — not right now.

This is a slight variation of the last decision (#4) and again comes down to timing. There’s only so many things we can say yes too. There’s only so much time to go around. If the timing isn’t right, it’s better to say No—not right now. And try to revisit it later.

For me, there’s a million-billion things I want to learn and experiment on, but if I tried doing them all at the same time, I’d make no progress on anything (and likely go insane). This idea is often called your “not right now list”. A list of things you want to do or see, but right now you are prioritizing other things instead.

6. No — I’d rather get dirt.

Knowing when to say no might be the hardest decision of them all. But saying no is also the most exhilarating and uplifting decisions we can make. It’s easy to say yes. It’s easy to say yes to things we want to do AND don’t want to do. But it takes training and discipline to say no.

No free’s up our time.

No gives us room to think, dream and play.

No opens up more opportunities.

In a backwards, up is down, left is right sort of way, by pursuing less, we end up gaining more.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #875

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Related:

No “yes.” Either “HELL YEAH!” or “no.” | Derek Sivers

8 Ways to Say No Without Hurting Your Image | Adam Grant

Coronavirus Resources

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

Marcus Aurelius

I’m not the type of person that gets caught up in fearing things that are outside of my control. Perhaps that comes from the chronic neck issue I’ve been renting a room with the past 8 years. There’s not a lot of things that phases me, and it takes a mountain of effort to get under my skin.

That being said, a global virus we are currently dealing with isn’t about me. It’s about all of us. I likely won’t be harmed by it if I get it. But that’s potentially not true for the elderly or less healthy individuals. A lot of people will try to capitalize on the crisis. A lot will panic buy lots of toilet paper. A lot of people will be misinformed, but you don’t have to be.

It’s hard to know what’s real and what’s hype out there. Here’s a great list of resources from top-notch doctors and experienced experts to help you navigate the truth from hype, and stay in control in a world where very little is in our control:

Peter Attia:

#97 – Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D.: COVID-19: transmissibility, vaccines, risk reduction, and treatment – Peter Attia

#98 – Peter Attia, M.D. and Paul Grewal, M.D.: Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQ – Peter Attia

Dr. Weil:

COVID-19: What You Should Know About Coronavirus | Andrew Weil, M.D.

Dr. Andrew Weil – Coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention tactics…

Tim Ferriss:

Tyler Cowen on Rationality, COVID-19, Talismans, and Life on the Margins (#413) – The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss

Jack Kornfield — How to Find Peace Amidst COVID-19, How to Cultivate Calm in Chaos (#414) – The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss


STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #870

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All In

Learning never exhausts the mind. Leonardo da Vinci

It’s a misconception that a renaissance human — someone who practices multiple skills — can’t be as good as a specialist who only focuses on only one skill.

Yes, It’s true that the more you divide your focus, the less amount of time and energy you can give to each. And yes, there is a limit to how many things you can pursue at once without scattered yourself in too many (ineffective) directions.

But a multi-disciplinary can be just as great if not more so that single-disciplinary individuals. Divided time doesn’t mean you aren’t putting in the hard work.

Even pursuing one skill, there’s only so much time and energy you can give to something before you need to stop and take a break. For a renaissance type, it just so happens you’re likely going to take a “break” by jumping into another skill. You aren’t reducing work, you are adding in different work.

You can go all-in on multiple things. Not too many — there are only so many hours in the day. Try too many things at once and you won’t be able to go deep enough. (This is the jack/jill of all trades zone.)

While alive, our hearts keep beating. Our minds keep thinking. Even while we sleep our mind and body are still active.

When you are jumping from one skill to another to another, you are feeding your curiosity. The key is to pursue interests that rejuvenate you and keep you doing and learning new things. We get stale when we stay in our comfort zones instead of challenging ourselves. (That goes for both specialists and renaissance humans.)

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #868

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Thinking for Yourself

“The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.”

Albert Einstein

Toothpaste — as we know it today — is a relatively modern invention. Marketed toothpaste products only became popular around WWI. Before that, you had tooth powder, usually homemade chalk, salt, charcoal or baking-soda mix. And before that Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Iraqi’s and the Japanese all had their own variations of powders. I’m sure if you knew your way around the forests or had your own garden you likely chewed on some mint leaves or neem-tree twigs now and then. But for the most part, I’m guessing beyond the lucky knowledgable few, bad teeth were a part of life. (Depending on where you lived and what your diet consisted of.)

First off: Gross.

Second: Interesting.

Of course, people weren’t exactly chugging soda and pounding processed sweets. (Sugar was only introduced to western Europeans in the 11th century.) So I imagine cavities weren’t as easy to come by as it is today, but still.

What’s interesting to me is it’s never something I really thought about, but now that I know it’s hard not to think about it. Was Alexander the Great toothless? Did Leonardo da Vinci have bad teeth? Did Amerigo Vespucci travel to the New World with a set of chompers that looked like a craggy coast?

Did anyone care? There were no cameras. Glass mirrors weren’t invented until 1835. I suppose people did what they could, dealt with a bad tooth when they had too, and considered it a fact of life.

What’s really eye-opening is when you think about what we for granted or consider normal today.

What are things we assume are facts of life, but only our current reality?

What do we consider normal that could be improved? What are problems so normal everyone assumes they also have and also will be there?

Ideas build on top of ideas that have come before.

But ideas also come from thinking outside of what’s normal.

I think it’s safe to say to never assume anything.

Thinking for yourself requires you to test all assumptions. Is up really up? Is down below us or above? What if up is both down and up at the same time?

By the time we come into our own, we are taught a lot of facts about the world we live in. Our family, friends, culture, and environment all have an influence on us. This influence is not inherently good nor bad. In some ways, it’s both. We take on the ideas of others. We take on the beliefs of others. We are shaped by what happens to us. Again, none of this is necessarily bad.

But if we want to be our own person. We need to start thinking and feeling our way through life for ourselves. Thinking for yourself is choosing to believe what you believe because you decide to believe it. It’s choosing to intention to think things through. It’s working out conclusions, It’s deriving equations and looking at the source material for yourself, instead of just memorizing the facts. It’s a curiosity for the world and for who you are.

This is the path of great thinkers.

Learning to think for ourselves is the beginning of exceptional work.

Bad teeth or clean.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #867

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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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Getting Results

“Superhuman effort isn’t worth a damn unless it achieves results.”

Ernest Shackleton

Baking is a very precise skill. If your math is off, it will likely be noticeable. The classic expression is “cooking is an art, baking is a science”. Honestly, you could argue that both cooking and baking are in some ways an art AND in other ways a science. But I’m not here to mince words. (…pun intentional.)

Decision making is also as much as an art as it is a science. I’d like to say that it’s as simple as actions equal results — if I do x, then y will happen — but life is rarely that binary.

Action is extremely important. Small decisions add up to uncomfortable truths or successful outcomes depending on the decisions we are making (or trending towards) over time. One tragic example is getting in with the wrong crowd and getting busted (often in life-changing ways) even though you technically didn’t do anything wrong. Guilty by association.

But there’s also a lot of other factors at play.

I could be the best painter in the world, but that doesn’t mean my work will sell. Painting is one skill; Selling is another. (Again both have an art and science to them.) There are hundreds of examples of creatives in history who only became renowned after they were long dead and buried. And there are likely a million other examples of unknown creatives who never sold anything and never become known for their work.

Great results are more about probability. The more you do x, the more likely y will occur, but you should never assume y is inevitable.

Q: What can you do to make the outcome you want more likely?

The key is stacking the deck as much as you can in your favor. In Thinking in Bets, Annie Duke, American Professional Poker player breaks down decision making as the result of a great process, and “improving decision quality is about increasing our chances of good outcomes, not guaranteeing them.”

Does that stop luck, (mis)fortune and other people’s decisions from sweeping in and creating a negative outcome? No. Ultimately these things are not in our control. However, by “making better decisions starts with understanding this: uncertainty can work a lot of mischief.” If we expect the unexpected from the get-go, we will be more likely to think quickly on our feels and improv our way through unexpected events.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #865

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Not Doesn’t Mean Can’t

“My dear friend, clear your mind of cant.”

Samuel Johnson

Just because you are not doing something you wish you were doing (like starting a business, training for a marathon. learning to sew. starting a YouTube Channel or getting up early) doesn’t mean you can’t.

I’m a strong believer that anyone can learn anything and become great at it if you want to.

But first, you need to get figure out what’s holding you back from starting. Two likely reasons you aren’t doing what you want to do are 1. Priority and 2. Fear.

Reason # 1: Priority

We all have the same amount of time each day. Where is your time going? And, more Succinctly, what are you prioritizing in your life?

Let’s say we get 8 hours of sleep each night, spend 8 hours working and spend another 3 or 4 eating, commuting and spending time with people closest to us. That’s still 4 hours give or take left in the day. Where are we using them?

Are we doing something nourishing? Or just killing time until tomorrow when groundhog starts over again?

Priority is choosing dreams over comfort. It’s putting in a little effort to be creative even when you don’t feel like it.

It’s uncomfortable to sit down at the end of the day to write a blog post, sketch, and work on music. Not that it’s supposed to feel hard and like work to be worthwhile — but it’s not easy. But you get a helluva lot of joy and fulfillment when you prioritize what matters to you.

Reason #2: Fear

If you’ve got all the time in the world and you’re still not doing what you dream about doing, then fear is likely lurking around.

Fear wears many masks:

  • The mask of being too old.
  • The mask of not being experienced enough yet.
  • The mask of doing it wrong and embarrassing yourself.
  • The mask of past failures.
  • The mask of other people’s opinions.

Maybe you’re wearing the mask of embarrassment, or maybe you’re wearing all the above.

There’s no one path to getting past our fears, but the key is not taking yourself too seriously. When things get too serious, we tend to want to quit. If you grew up taking music lessons or playing a sport, you know exactly what I mean. The moment it starts to become repetitive music scales, endless ball canons and game politics and less about having fun with your friends and playing final fantasy and Taylor Swift on the piano the less we want to do it. All work and no play – immediate desire to quit.

The same applies when we are looping theses unmet dreams over and over in our heads. By the time we actually might take the trap and try, we’ve already psyched ourselves out by being too serious to start.

But if you can make it low pressure and low stakes, the more breathing room you’ll have just to pick up your phone and start recording or throw on your shoes and go for a walk.

That’s why side-business work so well psychologically compared to jumping fully into your venture. There’s less pressure. You aren’t betting the farm if you’re idea cow goes tits up.

Takeaways:

  • Audit your time. Where are you currently spending your free time?
  • Prioritize one thing you want to start doing.
  • Make it something you find fun and fulfilling.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Take the pressure of doing it perfectly the first time off the table
  • Learn to enjoy and appreciate trying something new and being a beginner (most don’).
  • Try making it a daily habit. Commit to a little each day, rain or shine.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #864

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Self-Assessing Our Biases

“Integrity is the essence of everything successful.”

R. Buckminster Fuller, Multidisciplinary

“A strong intuition is much more powerful than a weal test. Normals teach us rules; outliers teach us laws. For every perfect medical experiment, there is a perfect human bias.”

Siddhartha Mukherjee, Best Selling Author, The Gene, Emperor of All Maladies

Have you ever wondered why a quote’s attribution (quoter) is after the quoted sentence? Sure, it looks nice and organized that way. Or maybe we think it looks better that way because it’s always been that way and we are used to it so switching it up would seem off. Sometime’s you’ll see the opposite it books, where the author mentions the speaker and their titles before going into what they said. I think this minute detail — before or after a quote — hits upon the same idea:

Bias.

When you read a quote before knowing who wrote or said it, your mind is more open to its ideas. Imagine hearing a great turn of phrase but only afterward learn that it was said by Hitler or from a person you distrust. And what about when the tables are turned? What does your mind immediately do but scoff and ignore or dismiss the quote out of principle?

Can you praise the quote but not the attributor? Can you separate the art from the flawed artist? Van Gogh is known for just as much as — if not more than — cutting off his own ear than he is for Starry Night. Obviously, I’m not defending Hitler, nor am I suggesting we cut off our ears in the name of creativity.

I’m suggesting that we all have flaws and lean towards certain perspectives over others (based on our experiences and upbringing). The key is not to judge others so harshly for their views and instead self-assess and work on ourselves instead.

Where am I short-sighted?
Where are my blind spots?
What decisions (actions and reactions) am I making that are going to come back and bite me?

We may not like what someone says or does, but all we can do is work on ourselves and let our actions be an example of wisdom, character, and integrity. And apologize when we make mistakes. Butting heads with our ego might get us success, but it won’t make us friends.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #861

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Related:

Book: Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me).