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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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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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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What Kind of Friend are You?

“We’re all just walking each other home.”

Ram Dass

One of my favorite categories of friends is the type that no matter how long it’s been since you’ve seen them, you pick up right where you’ve left off. Time has passed. You both have changed in hundreds of ways, but the friendship hasn’t.

I went hiking yesterday with some friends I’ve known since middle school and high school. Two whom I’m close to and see practically every week. And two I hadn’t seen in a while (for no other reason than life coming between us). We hung out, made dumb jokes, waxed poetically, swam in a creek, and got caught in torrential rain. It was great fun.

Some people crisscross through your life like planes trailing in the sky. Teaching you lessons (some good, some bad). Influencing your tastes in music and how you spend your time. Informing you more about yourself.

Some people fade out of choice. A difference in values. Crossroads. Convenient “friends” who peace out ✌️ when you’re going through a rough spell.

Some people exist in different stages of life. High school. College. Marriage. Big moves and changes.

Some people stick around and become daily companions. You see each other grow, but you often overlooked it because day to day change is happening so slow you miss it.

I want to be the kind of friend who is genuine and who can pick things up right where we left off, no matter how long it’s been. And I want to be the kind of friend who you see frequently, (maybe not every day) but even if it’s been a while you know you can call and I’ve got your back.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1049

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Mental Distractions

“One way to boost our will power and focus is to manage our distractions instead of letting them manage us.”

Daniel Goleman, author and science journalist

How many apps do you have on your phone? How many of them do you actually use? (Sidebar: If you’re interested in specifics, you can look this up in your phone settings.) How many email addresses do you have? What does your desktop or file folders look like? What websites do you check frequently? How many tabs do you have open right now on your computer???

Tabs are my embarrassing weakness. On any given day, I’ve got elevendy-billion tabs open. I love when the browser inevitably buckles under the weight of too many tabs and it finally crashes and I can start fresh. (Ahhhh.)

Digital clutter affects us just as much as physical clutter.

One thing I’ve been thinking quite a lot about lately is how everything has it’s own gravitation force that pulls on us. Some things pull on all of us—like the subtle tug of the closest star, Alpha Centauri A. Or more relevantly, this latest pandemic we’ve all been facing. Other things influence personally—like the people we surround ourselves with, our experiences, and how we spend our time.

The more we think/surround ourselves with someone (or something), the more influence and priority it has on us. Bringing it back to our phones, we’ll more likely open the apps on our home screen more than we would open an app five pages deep.

Digital, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual—everything has a gravitational pull on us.

Which also means, it’s easy to become distracted, now more than ever.

Let’s define distraction as anything that keeps us from our most important things.

If family and fast cars are what’s important to you, like it is for the fast & furious crew, then anything that takes you away from that is distracting you from your greater purpose.

Not only can distractions take our tim, they can also take our energy.

Anything thing you want or wish you would do, or maybe-someday-ought-todo’s are just as mentally distracting as a stack of unread books or dancing gorilla.

The tricky thing is that it’s usually opportunities or interesting shiny things that distract us from our purpose. Great opportunities! …that happen to be in the opposite direction we wanted to go. Distractions can come in little or big sizes.

First, you need to know what you want in life (which is huge). Then the key is asking yourself—

  • Is this helping me, or distracting me?
  • Am I doing my job as a _________?
    • (ex: Am I doing my job as a writer? Am I doing my job as a dog-owner?)
  • What distraction can easily remove/get rid of?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1029

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A Sprinkle of Hope

“Your life is the fruit of your own doing. You have no one to blame but yourself.”

Joseph Campbell

“Neither blame or praise yourself.”

Plutarch

This is a loud and confusing time we are going through. In a general sense, we are dealing with a lot of stress and pressure. Most of us are going through our own unique struggles as well. It’s easy to mistake problems we are dealing with as personal attacks, but the honest truth is our individual problems are not very distinct.

Plenty of people today and across history have dealt with job loss, plague, injury, illness, financial issues, loss and loneliness. Plenty of people struggle with negative thoughts and-or vagueness of purpose.

This doesn’t diminish the importance of what we are dealing with. Rather, highlights how connected we are and how our story can inspire or help others going through similar experiences.

Good and bad things we experience become connection points to people like us. Resilience is about choosing hope instead of moping around, blaming other and wishing things were different.

Resilience is choosing hope.

Resilience is changing when change is necessary.

What does blame get us? Nothing good. Nothing different. We just end up digging a deeper hole where we feel stuck.

Hope is a choice we have to make everyday. It’s not easy. But it’s the better option.

Things work out how you want them to – or they don’t. Either way, the sun still rises in the morning.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1023

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Breathing Room

“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Steve Jobs

Clutter is a very visible thing. You can see it stuffed on bookshelves and overflowing on dressers. You can see it pilled in closets, hanging off unused at-home exercise machines, and clustered in junk drawers. You can even see it in our digital lives: overflowing emails, apps, friends, tabs, Desktop screens, notes, and files.

But what makes clutter feel like clutter?

Is it because things are unorganized and ‘out of place’ compared to where you would expect them? Or maybe it’s because things are too many things compared to the space available?

My vote is on clutter feels like clutter because it doesn’t have the space it (whatever it is) needs to be useful and comfortable (for lack of a better word).

Think about it—

A desk isn’t very useful if you’re stuff is everywhere and so overpowering and distracting that you can’t actually sit down (or stand up) and work unless you wade through all the clutter first.

A bookshelf isn’t very enlightening if you can’t find the book you are looking for, or worse—you see the book but its under a hundred things and can’t be removed unless you want to be squashed like a bug as books and piles of crap fall on you to your doom.

Our possessions need breathing room—otherwise, they lose their usefulness.

The same is true for most (if not all) things in our lives too.

It’s hard to be a good freelancer if you juggling a dozen clients while also working on two side hustles.

It’s difficult to create anything if you spend all your time doing everything but working on your art.

It’s impossible to get work done if you spend all your time jumping from meeting after meeting or spending half the day sporadically responding to email.

And most importantly, it’s tough being a good friend, or skilled professional, or partner, or sibling, or father, if you spread yourself too thin.

Everything needs a little breathing room to work properly. Without it, we’re also gonna be running late, busy, overworked, and unfulfilled.

Q: How can you add more breathing room into your life? Alt: What can you remove to give yourself more breathing room?

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

Albert Einstein

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1020

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Let Yourself Have It

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

Francis of Assisi

It’s been said that the moment you learn to worry is the moment you become an adult. Growing up I was a rambunctious kid.

I bit my tongue and had to get stitches when I was really young. I broke my left leg in an ATV accident with my dad. I fractured my right wrist rollerskating at the skating rink. But I never worried about it. I felt pain, but I never once thought about whether or not I’d be okay.

It wasn’t until much later, when I injured my neck (and am still dealing with today) that I faced worry in a real way. Hello, world. It is something that is a piece of my story, but it doesn’t define me. Well—not completely. It’s similar to a job or a hobby. You may be a photographer but that doesn’t completely describe who you are.

Worry (And it’s friend Anxiety) is the problem. You can work it away. You can play it away. But the only true way to get rid of a worry is to let go of what’s bothering you, or what might/could happen.

What if you suffer an injury you can never recover from? Well, so be it. There’s always hope, but if worst comes to worst, you make do with your new normal.

There is joy to be found if you let yourself have it. If you open up to what you have, what you can do, what you can dream of—instead of being stuck in the past or what you had.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1011

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Cats & Dogs

“My ‘fear’ is my substance, and probably the best part of me.”

Franz Kafka

There are many things in life that seem like one thing, but can actually the other. For example, exercise is fantastic for your health, but if you don’t know what you are doing, you can easily hurt yourself. Without depth and guidance, we can quickly become closed off (and sometimes clotheslined) by our assumptions and generalizations. As the Sociologist, Marshall McLuhan (1911 – 1980) once quipped, “Most of our assumptions have outlived their uselessness.”

1. Sometimes advantages are disadvantages and disadvantages are advantageous.

Think of talent. Talent can be a crutch just as it can be a benefit. Being naturally born gifted at sports or music can take us far, but only for a while. Sooner or later practice outraces talent and if we lean to heavy on our gifts without putting in the time, we’ll quickly be left in the dust of less-talented hardworking people. (I learned this from the book The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle.)

Talent is a crutch. Consistent practice and drive lead to mastery.

It takes dedication and work to succeed in a skill. If you don’t have a knack for something (or perhaps even suck at it), but you are so passionate about it, then your “disadvantage” will drive you to seek mastery and achievement. (Nobody puts Baby in the corner.)

2. Fear is a guiding force.

It leads us away from danger, but it also can lead us toward challenge. Distinguishing which is straightforward when you ask the question: “Am I in danger? Is this going to kill me?”

If the answer is yes, then get the heck out of there. But if you’re not in danger, then perhaps your fear is telling you something. Fear of speaking in front of the crowd is understandable (it makes me sweat just thinking about it), but it won’t kill you. In fact, your fear of public speaking is a social fear that’s holding you back. Imagine what you could do in every aspect of your life if you had the confidence of someone who can get up on stage and be the center of attention for a moment. Things would certainly change. Social fears are challenges we can use to improve and become better versions of ourselves.

3. Pain is a (wretched) gift.

I would never wish pain on anyone, but it’s one of the great eye-openers of life. Pain humbles you, removes your ego, and shows you a world you didn’t know existed. Pain can isolate us if we let it, but it can also connect us—to others, to something bigger and to ourselves. It’s difficult to feel the pain someone else has experienced, without feeling the sting of it yourself. Anyone who has injured themselves—a back, neck, or foot injury for example—will know difficult it is to deal with.

We rarely realize how important something is until we’ve lost it.

Pain is a beginning, as much as it is an ending. Your pain may fade, but you’ve changed because of the experience. Or your pain may never go away, but it becomes part of your story and has woken you up to a world of others who have experienced something similar to you. Your story connects and heals us.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1008

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Pieces of You

“You change the world by being yourself.”Yoko Ono

I have a tendency to filter who I am depending on who I’m having a conversation with. It’s not that I’m lying or trying to create a false impression, rather, I’m looking for similar interests or things I don’t know about but am curious about so that I can ask questions about what excites the other person.

“Oh, you like to cook? What something you’ve cooked recently you’ve enjoyed? What are some go-to dishes you cook frequently?”

“You’re a martial artist? Tell me about your experiences. How did you get into it? Can you think of any big lessons you’ve learned from your practice that you’ve applied to your life?”

“How do you like being a mom? What’s it like raising kids in the digital age?”

When I meet someone like me—someone who is interested in many things—I’ll nerd out of course. But more often than not I’m filtering who I am to be more compatible with the person I’m talking to.

Is this a bad thing? I’m not entirely sure. As a multidisciplinary, I have a wide variety of interests, whereas most people only have a few things they are drawn too. This is likely why I’m good at being a podcast interviewer (once I get over the initial nervousness of talking to someone I admire or someone I haven’t met before!)

Think of it this way: If friendship were a series of concentric circles, then the close relationship in the innermost ring gets all of me (…cue John Legend song). My likes and dislikes. My thousand projects and interests. Books I’m reading. Problems I’m struggling with. And as you go further out, you get less and less about me. For example, if we just met (hi, how are you?) then perhaps you only know that I’m a writer or a designer.

The bigger issue with this kind of personality filtering is that a lot of people won’t know about all the cool things you are creating or how deep your interests go. They only know a piece of you. I’d say there are quite a few people that I personally know that don’t know I’ve written a thousand blog posts in a row, or that I even have a blog! That’s bad marketing on my part, for sure.

I think filtering yourself for strangers is fine, but there needs to be something you do or somewhere you give all of yourself to. A place where all of your interests and ideas and personal philosophies are out in the open. We do ourselves a disservice when we always compartmentalize ourselves to everyone.

Besides, who cares if you are too much for someone? Start slow, of course. But let yourself be known. Be your whole weird self. Let your freak flag fly. Can two friends have differences in tastes and opinions? Of course. But if someone can’t handle who you are—all of you—then maybe they aren’t worth your time.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1001

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