Do What You Want to Be

“Well done is better than well said.”

Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack

Ambition is one of the key components of creating lasting change in our lives. In order to achieve something — learning a new skill, making a goal happen — we have to create a high level of drive and dedication.

But ambition is a double edged sword. In the act of pursuing a different life — work that we love, being surrounded by meaningful and welcoming friends, deep love and affection, freedom, etc— we realize that our your current reality isn’t were we want to be. Who we are doesn’t match who we want to be. Think of this as our current state versus our ideal state.

This here vs. there friction can look like (and hide itself as) a lot of things. It’s staying up late watching tv and getting up late, even though we’d really like to get up early. It’s saying yes to events and work that we don’t really want to do. It’s putting all of our energy towards everything BUT what we want to do.

How do we become who we want to be, despite all these things that keep getting in our way?

Luckily, like a book title that tells you everything you need to know about the book, the answer is hidden in the question: To become who we want to be, we must be who we want to be.

Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor, wrote it best “Our actions may be impeded, but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.

Or, as Terry Crews once said on The Tim Ferriss Show (one of my favorite interviews):

In order to “have” you must “do,” and in order to “do” you must “be”.

We can’t expect our ideal life to fall from the sky into our laps. We have to create it. We have to love where we are, while doing what we can every day to be the kind of person we want to be.

Action generates being.

It’s as if our conscious actions are absorbed into who we are subconsciously.

By staying up late watching tv, we become the type of person that wants to stay up late and watch tv (to the point where it’s hard to go to sleep unless we do). By working at a job we hate or find mediocre, we become the person who becomes okay with having a job mediocre for us. But the opposite is also true: by doing the thing we want to be, we begin to be the person we want to be.

And that starts with how we do the little things and being kind and generous to others.

The thing about generosity and be nice to others is that it has equal if not more effects on us. Generosity radiate onto the person or people receiving it, but as a side effect it keeps radiating within us too.

Hold the door for others. Take the grocery cart back into the store instead of just leaving it on the curb near your car. Fix the broken things around the house when you notice they are broken. Smile and say hello to your neighbors. Help a friend when he / she is feeling low.

By holding the door for others, you are telling yourself that you are the kind of person that holds the doors for others.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #736


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Don’t Stop

“I am not the richest, smartest or most talented person in the world, but I succeed because I keep going and going and going.”

Sylvester Stallone

If it takes 10,000 hours (give or take) of deliberate practice to master something, then why do most of us never reach mastery in the things that we love?

Likely because continuously challenging yourself and pushing your capabilities to the limit day after day, year after year is… well… hard (to put it mildly). But luckily, working on a skill daily doesn’t take the 5+ years first to see results. Each day’s effort builds on the last. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, every time you sit down to write, or practice pitching your idea or work on your art you are building and cultivating change.

The people who tend to go farthest are the ones who keep going.

If you enjoy in a creative or entrepreneurial expression, then why not just keep doing it?

I think two main things prevent us from mastery: Inaction and Inertia.

Inaction

The first thing that trips us up is inaction, or in other words, ‘deer in the creative headlights’ syndrome. Starting is difficult because of all the fear, doubt, limitations and other mental games that drive us to never take a chance, but once we find a way to break through those barriers, going becomes much easier. Momentum is the oil and grease that keeps our tires turning. Not to toot my own tuba, but after 700+ of daily blogging, I feel confident in my ability to write one post every day. Will it be amazing everyday? I doubt it. But each day gives me a chance to improve the quality of my thinking and storytelling abilities. But when you haven’t started yet, writing that many blogs seems overwhelming. That’s why you need to focus on the least common dominator: today’s practice. Pour all your efforts into making something. It doesn’t have to be amazing. It just has to exist. Pen to paper. Fingers to keyboard. Butt in seat. Small adds up. Forget that for now and focus on taking one step towards prioritizes your life the way you want it to look.

Inertia

Inertia is the second category that trips us up. It’s perhaps even more deadly than inaction because it can happen at any moment. You didn’t sleep well so you decide to skip the workout today. Or you sprain your ankle, or injury yourself and have to take some time off to recover. Annnnnd cue never going to the gym again. You have the worst day of your life and you forget to practice the piano. One day off leads to two leads to ten to never.

When we are doing well, everything is moving great. The train is confidently full steam ahead. But one failure, setback, misstep, sick day, lazy impulse and we’re derailed. And if we don’t pick ourselves back up immediately, it’s extremely difficult to pick it back up.

I’ve felt the sting of inertia firsthand. Early this year I went through the TechStars Business Accelerator in Austin. I was maxed out on time and limited on space, so I have to put my podcast the Renaissance Life on hiatus. It was only a couple of months, but it completely derailed me. I’ve been working on it since then, I’ve got a new artwork cover, a few podcast episodes record and currently being edited, but it’s taken me months to pick back up the momentum I lost. It’s okay. It happens. But stopping right now would feel like a failure to me. Instead I’m doubling down on podcasting.

There’s two things I know we can do when dealing with Inertia: reduce the gap, and double down. If you miss a day, then start immediately the following day. If you miss a week, then start immediately the following week. If you fail at something, try something else right away. The more we can reduce the gap, the less momentum we lose. And if you truly enjoy something, until you get back up to speed, double down and commit to it as long as it takes to get back on track.

Failure and setbacks happen. Don’t let that keep you from pursuing your dreams.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #727


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Simplicity in Character

“Simplicity in character, in manners, in style; in all things the supreme excellence is simplicity.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

🎶 And be a simple kind of man
Oh, be something you love and understand

Follow your heart and nothing else
And you can do this, oh baby, if you try
All that I want for you, my son, is to be satisfied 🎶

Simple Man, Gary Rossington / Ron Van Zant, Lynyrd Skynyrd

What do we truly need in this life? Air, water, nutrition, sleep, movement, and a functioning body, allow us the ability to live. Remove any one of these and we don’t survive for long.

Everything beyond this essential needs is extra. Sure, we can get less polluted air, cleaner water, better nutrition and sleep, optimal movement and body, but these are luxuries. We don’t get to choose where we are born, or what kind of circumstances we are born into. We tend to forget how lucky we’ve got it, in the midst of all the daily wants and desires we all face. (I use the word ‘face’ here intentionally. Not only do we face our own desires and ambitions, we also face the desires of others.)

It’s comforting to remember this on hard, stressful days. It’s particularly when you come home from a stressful work day, or get mentally hurt (on purpose or not) by someone —

You don’t need that job.You don’t have to be friends with people who hurt you or negatively influence you. At the end of the day, you’ll still survive if you decide to let go of something that’s not doing you any favors or lifting you up.

We all want more for our lives, but more is not worth diminishing our character.

Of course, living isn’t the same thing as being ALIVE.

I experience the world through my own eyes and shoes, but I’m certainly not the center of the universe. We are surrounded by other living beings like ourselves, who also want to thrive.

What do we truly need in this life to thrive?

+ A healthy body, mind and spirit.

+ A community of friends and family who mutually what each other to thrive in life.

+ Self-confidence and worth.

+ Humility for what we have (and don’t have).

+ Mind-full thoughts and intent.

+ Love and compassion.

+ Believe in something greater than just ourselves.

+ Purpose behind our steps and challenges to strive for.

+ Desire for wisdom and understanding.

+ Strong moral fiber and code.

+ Balance between satisfaction and pursuit.

+ Strength for the circumstances in front of us.

+ Work that excites our imagination and curiosity.

+ Wealth, time and energy to give to what we love

+ A chance to be bold and put a dent in what we can.

The details will look different for each of us, but our pictures looks similar.

Once we’ve got our bases covered, our goals is not only to cultivate our character to open up ourselves to pursuing a life of meaning. And helping and lift up others to do the same.

‘Thriving’ is a verb. Think of them each like a plant in a garden. To have these things, we must go after them and cultivate them.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #711


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If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

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