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

Freedom through Limitation

“Art consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.”

Gilbert K. Chesterton

Feeling stuck is impermanent. It’s here and then it’s gone before you even realize it. But it’s also a sign of opportunity and growth.

Limitations can make you stronger (“no pain no gain”). But only if you don’t give into them and let them take over. Otherwise, limitations become a barrier to strength.

Maybe you feel limited by your level of skill. Or maybe your thoughts are limiting your actions. Or maybe you feel limited by your surroundings. Whatever the case, your limitations are also your strengths and your opportunity to overcome them.

Limitations also become outlets for creativity. What better way to share what you are going through than to paint, sing, play, dance or draw it away.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #858

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“If I get stuck, I look at a book that tells me how someone else did it. I turn the pages, and then I say, ‘Oh, I forgot that bit,’ then close the book and carry on. Finally, after you’ve figured out how to do it, you read how they did it and find out how dumb your solution is and how much more clever and efficient theirs is!”

Richard P. Feynman

“There are three methods to gaining wisdom. The first is reflection, which is the highest. The second is limitation, which is the easiest. The third is experience, which is the bitterest.”

Confucius

Expectations Met

“When one’s expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything one does have.”

Stephen Hawking

Let’s say you and a friend decide to go to the movies. You both have similar tastes so it’s usually easy to choose what to see. The one difference (this time) is you have high expectations for what you’re seeing (you’ve watched the trailers, you’ve skimmed the behind the scenes…) but your friend is coming in with low expectations.

Hypothetically, let’s also say we (the observers) know that the movie is getting decent reviews from critics and moviegoers alike.

Can you guess what happens nine out of ten after the movie ends?

Your friend thought it was fun and had a great time. But you were honestly a little disappointed.

What gives? Expectations.

Like a third wheel on a date, we bring our expectations with us.

Good and bad things can become better or worse depending on what expectations we are bringing with us. We don’t just experience an event — we experience an event plus the weight of our hopes (or lack thereof) about it.

Expectations aren’t thoughts, per se. They are more like a type of thought. A thought attached to a potential emotion. When we think something isn’t going to work out for us, we contribute to that negative reality. And when we think something is going to work out for us, we also contribute to that positive reality. However, when we think something is going to work in our favor, and it doesn’t, we feel disappointed or even defeated.

So what can we do?

I don’t think low expectations are quite the answer. Taking on the habit of always dismissing outcomes or avoiding the benefits that come from imagination and dreaming up new possibilities can lead to us walking around with negative and cynical outlooks on life.

High expectations aren’t necessarily bad for us. Unless we let them control our reactions. Then, we’ll just go through life constantly disappointment by everything not meeting our imagined standards.

I think there’s a happy medium between low and high expectations. It’s all about trying and practicing seeing things with an open mind.

An open mind leads to more enjoyable experiences.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #846

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Loneliness and Solitude

“In nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“When from our better selves we have too long been parted by the hurrying world, and droop. Sick of its business, of its pleasures tired, how gracious, how benign is solitude.”

William Wordsworth

We often know what we need, before we think we need it. Let me put that another way. We often know what decision we need to make, way before we decide to take the steps to make it. It’s like our heart (soul/spirit / inner-self ) knows exactly what we need to do instantly, while our outer, overly critical overly thinking self needs to warm up to it.

Sometimes we need space. Sometimes we need connection. Life is a mixture of both.

I have this tendency to check out whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, anxious or under the weather. All I want to do is crawl away from all the noise and find somewhere quiet to be with myself. Vegging out is a tempting mistress (and I find myself marathoning random shows more than I care to admit) but what I’m really seeking is a silent place to be alone with myself. I’m not checking out of myself, I’m checking out of the world. I’m checking out of the external and checking into the internal.

So, I’ll avoid responding to texts. I’ll be more reluctant to answer email, and more reclusive to going to events or friendly invitations. Even if it’s something I’d normally love doing, I’ll avoid it. Because what I know I really need is space and breathing room to be alone with myself. (Note: better to let your friends know you need some solitude, versus ignore them for days.)

Ask yourself, when was the last time you were alone with yourself? No phone. No tv. No distractions. Just you and you. (And maybe a notebook and pen.)

Whether we know it or not. We all need solitude. Our best ideas come from giving ourselves space. That’s why all great ideas happen when you are driving alone in your car, going on an early walk, or standing in the shower as the sound of water drowns out the outer world.

There are other occasions, usually, when things are tough or sour, where all we want to avoid people (particularly the prying people closest to us), and yet we know (and try to ignore) we need help and the only way we are gonna get that help is to be around people (again, particularly the prying people closest to us). We don’t want to show that we are hurting. We don’t want to show our weakness. And yet we all know that’s exactly what we need to do.

Better to rip the bandage and reveal our wounds early, otherwise, they might fester and become worse. Sharing our weaknesses and scars is a part of what being a human being is about. I think it’s a component of storytelling that’s built into our DNA. Your story connects to my story and vice versa.

You might not always get the reaction you were hoping, but you at least likely won’t get the reaction you are expecting.

The difference between needing space and needing people is subtle. It takes some time (and a lot of patience) to be able to listen to yourself and figure out which you need. I think what we are seeking is similar — a level of clearheadedness or balance — but what drives each comes from different things. Whatever you think you need, it’s usually the opposite. Unless you are extremely in tune with your emotional wellbeing. If you are like the rest of us emotionally unintelligent work’s in progress(es), there are road signs you can watch out for —

Loneliness. Isolation. Feeling like you need to do and take care of everything yourself. These are signs that you need to be around people. Ideally, people that are smarter than you, care about you, and what to help and see you succeed.

Overwhelm. Overstimulated. Grumpy and feeling like everyone in the world is an idiot or out to get you. These are signs that you need to be alone with yourself. Ideally in nature. Or in a quiet place, you won’t be interrupted.

Ignore these signs at your own peril.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #841

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Stick to You

“The universe is transformation: life is opinion.”

Marcus Aurelius

Forget what everyone else is telling you to do. Do you.

Your gut (instinct) is already telling you what to do. When you feel it pulling you in a certain direction, why is it so hard to listen to it? Because it’s likely going against the grain. Of other people’s expectations. Of other people’s motivations. Maybe they are right (particularly if they are wise and experienced in what they are talking about) or maybe they’re wrong. Sometimes the only way to know is to go with your gut and find out the hard way.

Whenever you feel the urge to lend a hand or help someone, do it.

Whenever you feel called to choose one career decision over another, do it.

Whenever you feel the pull of standing up for your values and principles, do it.

And if all else fails, seek the advice of someone smarter than you.

If we don’t stick to who we are and who we want to be, then who are we?

Somebody else.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #840

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Autopilot Life

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”

Confucius

We often live life on autopilot. Going where the wind (of others) takes us. I don’t think we have complete control over our lives, but at the very least we can say a prayer to ourselves and put our hands on the wheel.

It’s difficult to see what you are doing wrong, if anything, without proper reflection on what you’re doing.

Just because you’re going in a certain direction doesn’t make it a direction that works out for you.

There is no right or wrong direction per se. It’s more like there is the direction we can choose to take that align better to who we are and what we want out of life versus going against who we are (or who we want to be).

Many mistakes can happen when you go in and wing it. While over-preparation can hurt momentum, it never hurts to be more prepared rather than unprepared and caught off guard. It’s like they say, it’s better to go to a party overdressed (to the nines) than underdressed.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #838

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No More Snoozing

“Those who have compared our life to a dream were right… we were sleeping wake, and waking sleep.”

Michel de Montaigne

“I’ve stopped drinking, but only while I’m asleep.”

George Best

We all have problems in life — eventually. The thing about big problems is that 80% of the time they aren’t that way. I’m not trying to be cynical, honest. I’ve just seen firsthand how easy little problem acorns can grow into giant problem trees. Problems usually start where they are too short to ride the rollercoaster, so to speak.

All of the bigger problems I’m facing — the ones I currently have as of writing this anyway — are the accumulation of little things that have grown over my lifetime. Things like spending too much of my day sitting. Falling prey to a midnight sweet (cooooookies🍪 ) that messes up my sleep quality. Pushing off a silly medical bill, hoping it will go away.

Certain things we can’t control and shouldn’t stress over. If you fall because you’re walking in a dark room with no access to a light source to see, is it really your fault for tripping. But other things like neglect, we can control as long as we stay on top of the little things yet important things in life.

Neglect can come from anywhere. Small bills you weren’t aware of that have been growing over time. Bad habits, like walking a certain way, or abusing a component of your body (like your back, neck or feet), which leads to painful problems down the line. Friends you want to keep in touch with but just never found the time to do so. Neglect usually comes with hard lessons of humility that show us a better way to live.

Humility is one of those friends that tells it like it is. While most people compliment you what a good job you’re doing, humility is backhanding you in the face with things/realties you’re not seeing. But not because Humility is out to get you or wants to see you fail. Humility is there to show you where you had blinders on.

Remember, the biggest problems we face in life are usually not big problems at all — there an amalgamation of tiny subtle problems we didn’t notice or kept hitting the snooze button on.

No more snooze button.

Ignoring the problem doesn’t mean we are handing the problem. When we ignore a problem we’re actually just feeding the monster baby. If we keep ignoring it, soon enough that monster baby isn’t going to be a baby any longer.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #837

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Inner Work

“This is not your responsibility, but it is your problem.”
— Cheryl Strayed

We don’t get to choose what kind of problems we face in life. Big or small. Maybe if we were able to catch the problem* before it bit us in the ⓐss we could have found a way around it. But that type of wishful thinking about making our past flubs and distress better is exactly what leads to more problems in the first place.

My problems are part of my story. Even if I wasn’t the cause of them happening. (‘not my responsibility’) I can try to deny it. I can wish for different problems. I can try to cope it away through over-shopping or over-working. I can blame the world. But they are still my problems and mine to solve. I’m the one suffering because of them.

Our problems are part of our story.

Taking ownership is our responsibility. And how we react to a problem is also our problem too. I think we all know that getting angry or sad or lost in our problems is like us throwing fuel on the fire. It’s hard to enjoy a campfire when it’s catching everything around it on fire too. We have to find to take responsibility for how we react too. Therapy. Creative outlets. Communication. Positive Habits. Small steps towards healing. Whatever moves us to the next leg of our personal hero’s journey.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #834

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*I have been interested lately in figuring out ways to build a more accountable network of friends and community around me so that I can spot potential pitfalls and problems before they accumulating 💩 buckets and tip over. A community of mutually constructive feedback. I’ll write more about this soon.

Meanie Me

“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.”

Epictetus

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

Henry David Thoreau

“The enemy is the inner me.”

Nick Miller, New Girl

I think deep down there’s a part of me that wants to fail. (And I imagine I’m not alone in this sentiment.) Of course, I want to succeed. I want to create meaningful work. I want to experience life to the utmost. I want to make enough money to add fuel to my creativity.

But there’s a part of me that doesn’t. Let’s call him Jerry.

Jerry wants things to stay the same. Jerry is lazy and doesn’t care about the future. All he care’s about is immediate pleasures. Jerry wants his gallon of ice cream. Jerry wants me to fail because Jerry (and all the Jerry’s I’ve run across in life) thinks failure is all I’m good for. But Jerry wants what jerry wants, not what I want.

We often push so hard to be who we want to be. We work late hours. We do what others don’t. All for our inner Jerry’s to grab the wheel and crash the car. It’s not Jerry’s fault. Jerry is Jerry. The fault is my own. We let our inner enemy, our resistance, our past failures, and fears drive us, we are taking our hands off the wheel of our dreams and desires.

  • Anger can get you far, but it won’t make you any happier.
  • Fear can motivate, but it usually just diminishes instead.
  • Failure (and the fear of failure) keeps us locked and stuck in place.
  • Envy separates us from what opportunity and good fortune we have within our own circumstances and journey.
  • Worry and apathy keeps us from being alive.
  • Resentment rots.
  • Anxiety is the embodiment of FOMO and convincing ourselves we aren’t good enough.

We are good enough. Maybe we aren’t in an ideal situation we’d like to be, but who really is? We are good enough to use what we have to create something better. And enjoy what we have while also striving for improvement.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #833

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Intent is Powerful…

But not so much if we tell everyone about it. The power doesn’t come from speaking about it. The power comes from the energy (purpose/why/drive/desire) behind it.

When we talk about things we are going to do, we’re setting ourselves up for potential failure.

It’s not that we are lying when we say what our intent is. The problem is just because we say it, doesn’t mean it will happen. Plus there’s a lot of setbacks (usually out of our control) that can distract and get in the way of doing what we say.

Having the public accountability could give us the butt fire we need to follow through, but it could also leave us publicly displaying how bad we are at following through sometimes — even with every intention of doing it well.

Better to let our intention speak through our actions.

Better to only talk about things we are doing or have done.

“The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention.”

John Burroughs

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #830

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