Busybodies

All my friends are busybodies. I’m not sure when it happened. When our society tipped over into always being busy. When our jobs became jam packed. When our days become a rush and our responses go something like “I’m been so busy lately…” “Yeah, I’m good, this weeks been crazy…”. Or maybe this hustle and bustle has always been here and I’m getting old enough to see it. Dang. Or maybe it is being amplified by the internet and social media. Regardless, everyone is a busybody and I am too.

There’s a great quote by Mark Twain that goes, “don’t let schooling interfere with your education.” I think the same kind of mental framework can be applied to our relationships, work and life:

Don’t let the unimportant interfere with the important.

Easier said than lived, but the effort is worth its weight in gold.

There will always be more work to do. There will always be more email in our inboxes. There will always be new and exciting projects ready for our attention.

But there won’t always be more time. Each of us only have a finite amount of time to give and live. That’s why the important needs to come before the unimportant. That’s why love and friendship matter more than power and success.

Is this an either or situation? Do I have to choose between work and friends?
Slow down, family (w0)man. Not necessarily. Life and work is a balance and counterbalance. We shouldn’t spend all our time working and we probably shouldn’t spend all our time hanging out with friends either. (My friends would probably go crazy if they had to spend 100% of their time with me 🙂

Priority is essential, and is often overlooked or unregarded.

Cultivate strong friendships and become a friend of yourself.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #724


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Habit Dregs

“Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired.”

Jules Renard

One of the hardest moments of any daily habit — besides missing a day after a long streak of consecutive days in a row — is when you would rather do anything, anything, else than your habit.

You know what I’m talking about. When it’s time to put on your shoes and head to the gym or go for a run and then a wave of dread creeps in. ‘Maybe I should just wait until tomorrow to go…’. Or when you are on vacation and the last thing you want to do is go to bed early and wake early. Or perhaps its when you are feeling tired or under the weather and would rather eat a Amazon cardboard box than pick up your guitar and practice, or pick up a pen and write.

And yet, doing our practice is exactly what we must do in moments like these.

Practicing your habit when you don’t want too is essential to habit longevity.

Anyone can practice a skill on inspiring days where ideas are flowing out of you like lightning. But it takes true commitment to do it on days you don’t want too. Moments of reluctance, doubt and laziness can derail anyone unprepared and untrained. That’s why when we feel tempted to skip our practice we committed ourselves too, we must do it anyway, ideally right away.

Wake up tired? Practice your habit.
Wake up super late? Habit.
Have the worst day of your life? Do thy habit.
Realize you haven’t done your daily habit yet and it’s 11:58pm? Get to work.

The ability to handle situations like these takes practice. But every time we do we are honing our habit muscles.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #723


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Subtle Maneuvers

“Time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror, the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straightforward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle maneuvers”

Franz Kafka, Novelist

Before I starting writing everyday, there were all types of reasons (excuses) I would tell — no, convince — myself why I couldn’t. I was essentially working two full jobs, spending my 9 to 5 working at a startup and working another business in the evening. I was too tired. I didn’t feel like it. I didn’t have any good ideas. And yet it was still bothering me. I was troubled by the fact that I was doing everything I needed to do, but none the things I wanted to do.

The American novelist Steven Pressfield calls this Resistance. In his book, The War of Art, Resistance is described as the force that will stop us with any means necessary to keep things exactly the way they are. It’s the voice in our heads telling us our work isn’t good enough and that we should even bother with it in the first place. It’s the fear that keeps us from putting our work out there. And it’s the force we must overcome to pursue a creative life.

Everything that can get in the way of your creative work, will get in the way.

There will never be enough time we need. Nor space. Or perhaps you have all the time and space but no ideas.

It doesn’t matter.

No energy? No support? Are you surrounded by negativity and doubt? Is your job keeping you from your dreams? Are you friends and family? No inspiration?

Again, it doesn’t matter. Once you establish a daily habit, you know you’ll do it no matter what. Even if we have to subtle piece it together throughout the day. Or sit down and write while everyone in the house is still sleeping.

A daily habit detoxes us from excuses.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #721


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Fruitful Pauses

The American composer, Steve Reich once said that when you are trying to solve a problem but you can’t figure it out, “The best thing to do is to just leave it and put your mind somewhere else, and not always but often the solution to the problem will bubble up spontaneously”.

I think the same is true for all types of creating too. There’s only so many hours we can work without taking a break (or not on Modafinil) and not feel like our minds have turned into mashed potatoes. Perhaps there’s some wiggle room between how long each of us can work effectively, but I find it incredibly useful and good for my health to take breaks between work.

Spending twelve hours a day staring at a screen is probably not doing me any favors. Sometimes I’ll read, go for a walk, or even work on something else. Whatever gives me a pause from the creative work or problem at hand.

Too much work in one thing, even work you love, can make any sane person go crazy after a while. We need variety and pockets of play peppered throughout our day.

The same is true for working 24/7. There’s likely a good reason why our society takes Saturday and Sunday off. And yet, nowadays, work so easily can creep into Saturday and Sunday too. Emails. Last minute changes. Projects that need work before Monday. But that kind of overwork catches up with us after awhile.

We need time for ourselves. We need time to chat with friends. We need time to rest and refuel the creative tanks.

I don’t know about you, but I’m at my worst creatively (and otherwise) when I’m tired, hangry, overworked and over-focused.

How can you add more fruitful pauses to your day, week, year and life?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #719


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Stronger From Trying

“Success and failure are both part of life. Both are not permanent.”

Shah Rukh Khan

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

We don’t always win, but we can grow stronger from trying. Put that on a bumper sticker and call it a day.

The most difficult part is not letting failure get to you, and failure is soooo great at doing just that and getting in our heads. Here’s a great example: looking for a job.

Have you ever had the soul crushing experience of trying to find a job and yet only getting rejection emails or no responses at all? The problem is we are comparing something personal — our lives and careers — with something that’s also personal but abstracted behind dozens or even hundreds of resume’s to read from mostly complete strangers in the companies inbox. (No wonder word of mouth usually is the method of choice for hiring.) It’s hard not to feel down and low self-worth when day after day you are met with rejection.

And yet failure is part of the process. Rejection is part of creativity. Put yourself and your work out there and eventually it will meet criticism, bad reviews, or worse — silence.

Some critiques are worth listening to. If it pushes us to do better and try harder, then it’s worth the immediate sting. And un-constructive critiques should be thrown out and set on fire.

Inaction from fear doesn’t change anything. Inaction just keeps us exactly where we are — usually somewhere we don’t want to be.

Trying something new each day does. ‘Okay, that photo didn’t work out so well, what can I try next?’.

As long as we keep getting up, we never actually fail. Even going through the worst failure doesn’t stop the world spinning. Another day always comes. Another chance to try again.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #714


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Don’t Defeat Yourself

“Your mindset matters. It affects everything – from the business and investment decisions you make, to the way you raise your children, to your stress levels and overall well-being.”

Peter Diamandis

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

Marcus Aurelius

How often do we lose in our minds before we even have tried? There’s many ways we can defeat ourselves, but the biggest one is our mind.

Our mind is the foundation to any challenge or problem we face. Face off any two equally skilled athletes yet opposing mindsets — one who believes they can win and one who doesn’t or who has uncertainty — and the stronger, more open mind will always win.

Mindset a squishy topic, to be sure. I wonder if its because we don’t necessarily have the vocabulary or cultural rituals or norms around talking about our conscious and subconscious? Or perhaps our thoughts and self-defeating chatter is not a usual dinner topic in our society because our mind and our thoughts are not something others can hear.

Whatever the case, unless you are blunt and tell it like it is (or have a therapist or really great friend), we keep 1/3rd of ourselves usually to ourselves. This isn’t always bad, per se. Telling everyone around you that they are fat or hot isn’t the best way to live. But if that’s true, then why do we allow our thoughts to bully ourselves around internally?

We are hostile to ourselves, especially when our outside world (be it work, family, finances, stress, etc) is baring down on us in times of failure and difficulty.

When we are feeling low, our negative self-defeating mind doesn’t pull any punches.

There’s a great Richard Feynman phrase worth remember that goes “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

We are the easiest person to defeat with our own mind if we are not careful. Replace ‘fool’ for ‘defeat: “You must not defeat yourself and you are the easiest person to defeat”.

One thing no one teaches us is that mindset is a skill to be practiced.

I think the problem is we aren’t taught how to hone our minds. Hanging up cute visualization posters of cats reminding us we can ‘do it’ doesn’t count. When we are growing up, we have to learn to crawl, then wobble, fall and then stand before we can walk. We have to learn how to talk by observe and listen to the word our parents and people around us use. We also have to learn our ABC’s and 123’s before we can write and read.

But no one teaches us how to think or visualize. Our minds are still crawling on the ground, lost to whatever squirrel peaks our interest. We can ride a bike, type 70 words per minute, drive, sing, dance, start a business, get married, have kids, without knowing a single thing about mindset.

It’s impressive we’ve made it this far…

So what can we do to cultivate our mind?

We can read. We can seek out clear and insightful thoughts written down by smarter people from today and throughout history.

We can listen and observe. It takes a lot of effort to give others your full and undivided attention. Work those listening muscles.

We can talk. We can find someone or a group of people willing to be honest with one another about what each person is struggling and going through and what each is doing to improve themselves.

We can mediate. Which really is just practicing breathing and observing. Mediation is a ritual we can cultivate to practice learning to notice our thoughts and not always be swept up by them.

We can visualize. We can practice mentally visualizing ourselves winning a game, owning a speech, doing the things we dream of doing.

Resolve yourself to hone your mind. Think better thoughts. Thoughts beget actions beget habits beget results.

“To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.”

Buddha

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

Henry Ford

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #712


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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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It’s Complex

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Leonardo da Vinci

“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

Simple is hard. Trying to go from complex to simple is even harder. Simple is the reason why every time we hear of an amazing idea we think “Oh! why didn’t I think of that!!”

A good idea becomes an extraordinary one when you can hide complexity behind simple understanding. We don’t get rid of the complexity, we just add a layer above it that allows more people to quickly grasp its meaning and take advantage of its insights and use.

Simplicity should level the playing field while also spark curiosity into the hearts of those who crave a little more deeper understanding. It doesn’t take a genius to drive a car, but it does take someone smart to build one, a genius for the car to build itself and a group of geniuses for it to drive itself.

Simplicity is the frontline to imagination and insight. The best work (and teachers) in the world comes from the ability to take complexity and make it exciting and tangible.

You can see this everywhere. Flip to the back of any nonfiction book and see the massive chunk of pages taken up by references and notes used to simplify the central ideas and narrative of the book. Watch an athlete or olympian accomplish an amazing feat and make it look easy (except when you try it yourself and see how difficult it actually is).

Again, easier said than done. In order to create work that is easily understood, we have to go to great lengths to peel back layers and layers of complexity, while also not losing our beginner’s mind, meaning, our ability to take what we know and distill it down into something elegantly simple.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #710


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The Default Option

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Theodore Roosevelt

“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.”

Chauncey Depew

Decisions are never easy. Even the ones we have certainty and conviction on can still leave us with doubt and uncertain in the back of our mind. ‘Is this a good idea?’ ‘Should I really do this?’ ‘But what if I fail?’ There’s very little certainty in creativity and life.

But there is one thing I’m certain about: The default option is never a great idea.

Defaulting is deciding not to decide. It’s meeting a fork in the road and deciding to do nothing. Sometimes, deciding to do nothing can work out in our favor. Being Switzerland (neutral) and not taking a side in other people’s conflicts has its benefits. However, when it comes to decisions that will personally affect our lives, staying inactive is not a great idea.

Doing nothing is also a decision. It leaves the outcome to chance, or worse — other people’s desire for what our life should be, without considering what we personally want our life to be. There’s little upside to non-decisions in life. The cost of inaction far outweighs the cost of action and potential failure.

Do we want to do nothing and get nowhere, or do we want to try something and possibly fail or embarrass ourselves? I think I’d rather embarrass myself than hold myself back from who I am or the dreams I’m pursuing.

Default is an option we can make. The question is do we really want to live our life in default mode?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #699


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Some Strings Attached

“The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”

Fight Club

Why is it that the people in this world who have nothing tend to be the most happiest of us all? My guess is that its because the things we own (or things we do) take up space in our lives — physically and emotionally. Or in other words, we are tied down (or lifted) by the stuff and thoughts we have, and the actions we take. Everything around us has strings attached. Monetarily, sure. But also time, location, energy, creativity, flexibility and freedom.

A book is not just bound sheets of paper. It’s someone else’s knowledge, ideas and experiences. It’s a purchase or gift attached with a desire for us to change and be better. It’s our guide. It’s a todo on our massive todo lists. It’s a reminder of who we are, who we aren’t, and who we want to be. It’s all of these things and more. A book on community is our desire to connect with others and find success through those connections. A book on programming is our desire or hope to learn something useful and something that expands our abilities. And that’s just a few books. How many books do we own? How much stuff do we own? How many dreams do we own?

Stuff is fleeting. Don’t get me wrong, I love nice things as much as the next guy or gal. I’m just as jazzed about the latest iPhone or Pixel phone as the next nerd across the coffee shop. Of course I want some white Nikes’ and another backpack. But I also know that in a year from now, most of these things will be outdated and worn.

But I’m more interested in the things and habits that will help me grow my creativity and wisdom. And, in so doing, my ability to help others more. The more (or less) things that allows me to be free, the more capable I become.

It’s not what you have or don’t have that matters. It’s what you allow yourself to have influence over you.

What’s having negative influence over you?
What’s having positive influence over you?

Get rid of the former; Cultivate the latter.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #698


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