Work on Yourself

“There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.”

Malcolm X

It’s quite easy to see the flaws in other people. You have a friend that would be killing it… if only they would put in a little more effort. Or you have a parent who would be so much better off if they would stop worrying all the time about everything. Or you strike up a conversation with a randoe person and notice exactly the things they could improve.

It’s harder to see the flaws in ourselves.

We don’t see ourselves from the outside perspective. We don’t know what we don’t know. What’s easy for you to solve might be difficult for me, because we’ve experienced life in different ways through different experiences.

Although, I think people growing up today with social media might have a better sense of it, but not in a good way. Everything is styled and curated. If something’s wrong, they notice. But they don’t use it to try to improve themselves (or learn to accept their flaws as a part of what makes them who they are). Instead, we see waves of self-loathing and anxiety.

It’s alright to be flawed. No one is flawless, even the people that tell/show us they are. We all have things we are great at and things we need to work on.

One insight I found help on my journey is to think about yourself as a work in progress. If you don’t like something about yourself, then change it. If you want to be better, then be better. You are a blank canvas waiting to be painted and repainted. You can change. And you can change your mind over time too.

And if you want to help others, begin by helping yourself. Take the lead. Live the example first. Don’t just shout advice like you have a clue what you are talking about when you don’t. Give advice on what you do know, or examples of who does.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #823

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Related:

Book: Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It by Kamal Ravikant

Magic Pill

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.”

Anne Lamott

I think we are all, in some shape or form, looking for a magic pill that will finally fix us. A quick releasing capsule washed down with a glass of water to fix our skin problems. Or to fix our confidence (or lack thereof). Or to fix our gut. Or to fix our financial meltdown.

We feel as though something — something we can’t quite put our finger on — is holding us back from a better life, a better version of ourselves. It’s likely we are not even looking for a quick dose of magic. (Although if you can do it by 5pm that would be splendid thanks.) What we want is certainty. We want to know it’s possible to change. We want to know if we are doing the right thing at the right time.

But is there a right thing? Sure, we have a good sense of what’s right and wrong. But what about when something that’s right for me ends up bad for you (or vice versa)? What happens when someone else gets the job you wanted? They’re in a good place, but are you?

It’s often the case that bad things that happen to us eventually become good over time with a little more perspective. For example, you’re lost in heartache and pain over a breakup, but a few years later you meet the love of your life. Or maybe you are in pain over a breakup and you channel that pain into a work of art, like an emotionally moving song. Would you have come up with that idea if you hadn’t been through that stressful period? Who’s to say.

Hard moments can be soul-crushing. But they can also be a positive forcing function to becoming better versions of ourselves. Good things — things we think are good for us — can just as easily become un-beneficial. In, the end even the best of us are still just figuring things out as we go.

All we can really do is life. We can love like we want to be loved. We can learn from dumb things we inevitably do and grow from our decisions. We can surround ourselves with knowledge and people who are looking out for us. We can think bigger than ourselves. And as long as we get back up when we fall, we can find a way forward. It might not be quick, but it is forward.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #815

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Too Much of a Good Thing

“Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

Albert Einstein

Have you ever enjoyed something too much?

I’m not talking about the bad things we enjoy. Too much of a bad thing is easy. ‘Bad’ in this case, I mean unhealthy when taken to the extreme. (Alcohol for example, which is fun socially, sure, but terrible for your health and sleep, to say the least.)

But what about too much of a good thing?

If I won the lottery tomorrow and didn’t have to work, I’d probably spend all my time reading. But is that actually beneficial? Reading is a massive enhancement on your life (and livelihood) but would spending all of my time reading amount to anything? What about exercising or building businesses or traveling or drawing or communicating or school?

Extremes are the traits you want to watch out for and adjust. I think it’s safe to say too much of anything has a diminishing value. If you find yourself repeatedly only doing one thing over and over again, perhaps it’s time to find another good habit to balance it out with.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #814

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Even Your Heroes Make Mistakes

“Everyone is flailing through this life without an owner’s manual, with whatever modicum of grace and good humor we can manage.”

Anne Lamott

“The ideal man bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances.”

Aristotle

Imagine if you woke up tomorrow rich and famous. If you need a backstory why — one day, you were shopping at an antique store. you were rifling through a stack of dusty books when a gleam caught your eye. In a bowl on a thick wooden desk, a ring stood out among the rest. Something about it was mesmerizing. Maybe it was the way that one blue jewel of three seemed to flicker in the right light. You try it on and it surprising (not so surprisingly) fits perfectly. A from the corner of your mind comes to a voice that reminds you of hot summer days and the scent of fresh air. “Hello, my friend. I have one wish left to give to be set free. What do you desire?”

Backstory aside — imagine if you woke up tomorrow and everything was exactly the same, but you were rich and famous.

Think about your life up until now. The little mistakes you made while growing up. Things you did without knowing any better. Things you tried because you thought you’d be able to get away with it. Think about what you’re good at, what you’re bad at (or what are works in progress).

I’d likely be just as flawed and mistaken-ridden as any other famous person is.

Money and status amplify who we are. They put us in front of more opportunities (opportunity creates opportunity) but they also give us the chance to make some very public mistakes and expose us to a lot of people who want we have. Money solves a lot of problems, but it also creates more. I say this as a normal, non-rich (yet), non-famous person.

Hero’s make mistakes. Just like we make mistakes. Does that justify or condone their actions? No. In fact, because they’re in the spotlight, they have more responsibility to uphold higher values and own up to mistakes when they inevitably happen. Most of us have a right to a little grace. (Not too much grace, but some. 🙂

What makes a human is not the mistakes they make, but what they do after they make them. A great leader owns up to their flaws, failures, and foibles, and commits to getting better every day going forward.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #808 can you feel that b.a.s.s.

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One TBSP of Luck, Please

“Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.”

J. K. Rowling

I find it funny how some things in life just snap — together easily, like a rubber band desiring its original shape, and other things in life only come together (if at all) after many hours of beating your head up against them.

One day you’re having the best day of your life — creativity flowing, success at work, upgraded to VIP. And the next day you’re having the worst day ever — spilling coffee on your new shirt, food poison, traffic, lots of traffic, crying yourself to sleep with an empty tub of ice cream in your hands.

Maybe funny is the wrong word. Funny is the word we use when we are far into the future, thinking fondly about how great — or how terrible — that day (or time) in our life was. Another word that comes to mind is ‘luck’.

What is luck?
Is luck a good night’s sleep?
Is it something we do or not do?
Is it the alignment of celestial bodies in the galaxy?

Luck is the word we use to describe a thing we can’t quite describe.

If you asked me to draw ‘luck’, I couldn’t.
If you looked at luck under a microscope, its boundaries would be muddled, it’s picture hazy.

I can give you a thousand examples of what luck is, and yet still not have a definitive definition. This is the best I can do —

Luck is in our minds. When things go our way, we call it being lucky, and when things go against us, we call it being unlucky. Luck is confidence mixed with charm mixed with timing mixed with charisma mixed with magic moon dust.

One type of luck we think about in the digital age of media is something going ‘viral’. What makes something a video go viral? Hard work? Perfect timing? Zeitgeist / relevancy? It’s likely all the above plus a little extra something we can’t quite put our finger on.

I don’t think it’s binary either — luck isn’t on or off. Luck exists on a spectrum (a rainbow of charms, if you will). Certain things we do, think and surround ourselves with add a little more luck to our luck thermometer. And certain other things reduce our luck.

Here’s the cheese: it likely comes down to belief and perspective. Believe in yourself isn’t going to make you successful at everything you touch. But believing in yourself will move the needle. Confidence (and finding the things that make us. feel confident) makes us feel more capable. It makes good things shine and makes bad things easier to handle.

So if you want to be luckier, start believing that you can be. Start acting lucky.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #804

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How to Change

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

You’ve probably heard the phrase you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” a million times. It’s true, spend any amount of time with new co-workers, groups, or friends and you’ll start picking up their mannerisms, perspectives and habits (for better or worse).

Change can come from anywhere. It can greet you from a stranger on the street, it can hit you like a brick from the turn of a page. But change doesn’t have to be something that happens to you — a chance encounter, a brush with failure. Change can start with you. All you have to do is want it enough (or get fed up enough) to go do it.

Action is what leads to change.

Desire and belief in yourself are massively important to making your move effective and making change stick, but without action, nothing happens.

What kind of person do you want to be, the kind that does what he/she says, or only wishes she/he would?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #797

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Doing the Unexpected

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

Anaïs Nin

One of the big regrets of the dying you hear about is working too much. This makes sense to me. If I spend 99.9% of my time working, (hopefully) building wealth but ignore or don’t give time to the people I love, then what was the point of working for? 

The other big regret that I forget about, or perhaps I avoid because it’s uncomfortable, is conforming:

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

The courage to live true to myself.

How often in life do we do the exact opposite of this?

It takes courage to do the unexpected. Not only do you have to face your own fears, but you also have to face the fears of the people around you, who are usually trying to keep you safe. But safety is rarely assured in life. Sometimes, playing it safe is the riskiest thing we can do. But stepping out on a limb and becoming your own person is also potentially risky.

Sometimes, playing it safe is the riskiest thing we can do.

There’s always a chance that doing something risky will blow up in your face. The balance between how much we play it safe, and how much we take chances is unique to each of us, but the big thing we want to avoid is complacency. 

Complacency is playing it safe because you are scared and you don’t believe that you can do it (whatever it is). It’s wanting things to stay the same out of fear of everything going downhill if things change. ‘Stick to the status quo.’

The problem is, the status quo is a lie. The status quo is just the status quo that you know and are surrounded by.

Ultimately, we have to decide what kind of life we want to live and go do it. Otherwise, someone else (who might not have our best interests in mind) will decide for us. Otherwise, we keep making the same old mistakes, falling for the same old traps and patterns.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #785

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Becoming Your Own Person

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver, Poet

We are born (literally) surrounded by others. Parents, doctors, foster parents, siblings, relatives, godmothers. We spend our early years like a sponge — absorbing everything we see, touch, smell, feel. We learn to enjoy the company of good friends (and good books 😉 ) and become immersed in the world we experience through ourselves.

Naturally, we adopt the traits and characteristics of people and culture surrounding us. Sometimes we take in good things, like treating others like we want to be treated, listening during conversation, smiling (with teeth showing) when passing someone on the street. And sometimes we take in not so great things, or things we don’t understand but file away in our minds as characteristics that get us what we want, or negative traits of the world around us, such as learning that money is something to be fought over, quitting early gets us out of fear or laziness, or worrying about everything.

We adopt the traits and characteristics of people and culture surrounding us.

And then we get older. We become more independent. We grow into someone with likes, hobbies and dreams. Various curiosities catch our eye, like learning Ju Jitsu, dance or wakeboarding. Our mind physically matures. Our body goes through things. We gravitate towards things we are good at, and avoid like the plague things we aren’t hot in. We fall in love. We get crushed. We fall in love again. We rebel. We dye our hair black and grow it long. We wear spiked belts and ironic necklaces. We break bones skating, or fall off a trampoline and hurt our back.

Yet, through it all, we still carry the characteristics (good and bad) that we learned in childhood. I am my own person, but I’m also the accumulation of lot of others too. The people we surround ourselves rub off on us. Their hopes and dreams become part of our own hopes and dreams. Their likes become our likes. Their dislikes, ours too.

And the key question to remember and challenge yourself with is this:

“Am I doing this because I want to, or because someone else wants me too?”

Are you enjoy X because you enjoy it, or because someone is pushing you too? Are you working at _ company out of interest and curiosity, or because your boss or your family is telling you too? Are you doing this because you want to, or are you doing this because you feel like you have to?

Some forces are universal, like retirement funds and compound interest, and are probably not going to change anytime soon. Other things are moving so quickly they’re likely already changed by the end of the day. But at the end of the day, we get to choose who we want to be.

We get to choose the kind of person we want to be.

Right now. This very second can be your chance to change and become the person you wish you would be.

Becoming your own person starts by not being everyone else. Through success, failure, feast or famine, we get to decide what we do, say and be in this life. And not do.

So, what kind of person do you want to be?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #784

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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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Untangling the Spider’s Web

“Behind every beautiful thing, there’s some kind of pain.”

Bob Dylan

“Face your life, its pain, its pleasure, leave no path untaken.”

Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

Pain has a strong tendency to inflict more pain. The more pain you experience, the more pain you want to release from yourself. Sometimes that means lashing out to your co-workers and sometimes that means picking a meaningless fight with your significant other.

You can see this in families, each passing on unique generational pain to the next. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. You can see this in relationships. We can easily cast blame, criticism, and frustrations on others around us, usually because we are tired and scared and disappointed in ourselves. Likely the worst victim is pain and self-loathing we inflict on ourselves. We can internalize painful moments we experience and hold it in, ricocheting like bullet fragments within our psyche.

The problem is, even if there is clearly someone we can point the finger too, blame and dwelling on mistakes and what’s wrong don’t heal the pain. Rather, dwelling on past mistakes or unfortunate circumstances only roots us in deeper into loss and regret.

But if we take our lives into our own hands through responsibility and ownership over what’s in our control, we can find a way forward that breaks the cycle and untangles the web of pain we (and others) weave.

Pain can sometimes make us better. Not all pain, but some. The hardest experience in my life has defined who I am more than anything else. I am who I am because of the pain I’ve experienced and the path’s pain has lead me on. It didn’t always start positive — I didn’t enjoy the pain when it happened. But with the right open perspective and surrounding myself with knowledgeable people and books, I found the good in the difficult. There’s beauty in that, in a somewhat sideways half-glance sort of way.

We all feel moments of disappointment, anxious, sad, regretful, bitter, fearful, uncertain, broken-hearted, lonely, hopeless, melancholy and meek at some point. The key to living well is to not let those tiny moments become you.

We all feel moments of disappointment, anxious, sad, regretful, bitter, fearful, uncertain, broken hearted, lonely, hopeless, melancholy and meek at some point. The key to living well is to not let those tiny moments become you.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #773


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