Treading Water

“Leave your ego at the door every morning, and just do some truly great work. Few things will make you feel better than a job brilliantly done.”

Robin S. Sharma

On a micro-level, big projects feel like you’re treading water. A day’s amount of work doesn’t feel like much, but it adds up. When you know what you want and when you know where you are going, then all you need is the patience and perseverance to see it through.

That tension between an unfinished idea to a finished project is a natural part of the process. It’s that class phrase you hear, “if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”

As much as I’d like to be 150 percent productivity all the time, I know that some days will be more effective than others. Unless you’re a robot, you’re likely gonna have some off days where you’re not creativity firing at maximum thrusters. IT’S ALRIGHT. IT’S OKAY. Tomorrow is another chance to add work to the whole.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #996

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Livin’ Deeply

“I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life”

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

It’s a simple thing to want lots of things in life. Blame it on our consumer-oriented culture, but most of us want lots of shiny new toys, clothes, and experiences. It doesn’t help that we can with a few taps and scrolls see what everyone else has (and what we don’t have).

I’m no different. I like nice things. My tastes are a disadvantage as much as they are a benefit. I might even be slightly worse than most because I have so many interests and hobbies (more interests equals more expensive tastes).

It’s simple to want many things. It’s complicated to want few.

One way you could describe minimalism as choosing quality over quantity and choosing priority over options. Quality over quantity makes since. By investing in nicer made things, you get more enjoyment and longevity out of your purchases. I think priority over options is something that’s often overlooked. Everything we buy has not only a price tag (i.e. $15 for a book, $60 for stretchy jeans) but also a mental tag—every item we own takes up space in our minds, just as much as our physical spaces. Space where our dreams and ideals for our purchases live.

Think about it like this

One item = at least one to-do.
Two items = at least two to-dos.

At least if you’re planning on using it/them. If you were to look around your house right now, how many things would you find that you want to do but haven’t, or haven’t in a while? Unread stack of books… Stack of dusty CDs you never look at… A travel magazine of places you’d like to (hopefully) visit someday… Racks of clothes that don’t fit anymore…

All of these things take hold in our minds and can, not always but can, weigh us down. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to sell all your belongings. All I’m suggesting is to prioritize what matters to you and think about removing (even if temporary) the things that don’t matter.

I like to put my money where my joy is. I really enjoy making things, so a lot of my purchases are around tools and resources that help me do so.

I think Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich, has said it best—

“I always encourage people to spend extravagantly on the things they love, as long as they cut costs mercilessly on the things they don’t. Ask yourself: What do you love spending money on? Not just “like,” but love.”

To live deeply, we must live intentionally. We have to choose what kind of rich life we want to have, and prioritize our spending and time around that.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #995

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Lost in Translation

“What is lost in the good or excellent translation is precisely the best.”

Friedrich Schlegel

There’s an incredible amount of knowledge and information out there nowadays. (And it’s only increasing.)

Everything we know, everything we could learn has been built up over time. But not everything is easily understandable. Even if we were stuck in a time-loop and had all the time in the Universe, some things take repetition, multiple perspectives, and deep thought to really grok something.

Think about classic books for example. The language in books are of their own time.

Pick up a book from Shakespeare and it’s immediately apparent it’s from another era.

Same thing with The Odyssey, or Great Gatsby, or Pride and Prejudice or Walden, etc. Each book captures a different way of speaking and thinking about the world. This reflects the author, for sure, but also the culture and times they lived in.

The same is true for most mediums. Art, Movies, Music, Technology… Ideas are a reflection of their time. Some ideas are universal and translate well throughout history. Some ideas are evergreen, easily taught, and understood. But most ideas are lost in translation as time expands.

That’s where we come in. We can, if we choose, carry the torch by uncovering lost ideas (or overlooked or obscure) and bring them to a new generation.

Some ideas get old. Old ideas get lost to new generations.

Ideas are recycled. They are never the same the second and proceeding times around. As time passes perspectives change.

Each new generation—each individual—can rediscover and become inspired by ideas that we translate. By simply understanding them ourselves, we can make them unique by putting them in our own words and combining them with other ideas we have.

Who knows how many fabulous ideas exist out there in the world that exist in stuffy old books or forgot insights waiting to be remembered.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #992

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Attuned to ideas

“The good ideas will survive.”

Quentin Tarantino

Ideas float in the air like radio and cellular waves. They exist in the buzz of our times, where cultures, information, technologies, and voices swirl together like a nice broth waiting to be sipped. That’s why two people on two completely different continents can come to the same idea simultaneously.

Everything around us that has been built by others has accumulated to what we have and are dealing with now. I wouldn’t be surprised if you discover an idea that’s been floating around the air for centuries.

Not to say that your ideas aren’t original. By choosing an idea and putting in the time and effort to create it, you’ve naturally made it unique by the fact that you are uniquely you.

If you don’t choose it, someone else will. Like a tomato on a vine, you can pluck it and take it with you, or not. (You can also pick a tomato that’s not ripe or too ripe, but that’s an idea for another day.) But don’t worry, ideas are limitless. They are exponential. Just like how each answer creates a new question, each idea creates at least one more idea, usually a dozen more.

If you feel like you you don’t have any good ideas, then perhaps you aren’t listening to them.

You have to be open fork an idea to come at you from anywhere and anytime.

A great place to start is to recycle someone else’s idea. (The further back in obscurity you go, the more original it will seem.) By borrowing someone else’s idea, or borrowing multiple people’s ideas and combining them, you can then add your own originality and flavor and transform an old idea into a new one. (Don’t forget your sources.)

Ideas are basically a universal human right. Anyone can be attuned to them and come up with something great that benefits others and improves their lives.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #991

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Against the Grain

“Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. All depends on the principles which direct them.”

Napoleon Bonaparte

I’m sitting outside on my porch. I’m trying to get some writing done, but it’s hot today and no breeze. I’m sweating like a pig wearing a turtleneck sweater. I contemplate taking a nap, but I know that’s just the heat talking. Today I feel both tired and wired. I must not have slept well. And yet the world spins on, whether I’m ready or not. I’ll have to try to go to bed early tonight.

When you have so many things you want to do, so many ideas you want to create, it’s almost like an overwhelming weight you carry if you think about too many things at ones.

Ambition will get you just as much as anything else. But it’s better to be ambitious than be complacent, right? Right?

Is it possible to enjoy the life you have while simultaneously want to improve it and build something better?

I think so. Wanting something better doesn’t mean you’re currently reality sucks. No matter how much you dislike your life, it could always be worse (knock on wood).

Going against the grain is uncomfortable. There I said it. It’s raw—like your mouth after eating too much candy. It’s exciting but also terrifying. It’s much easier to do what everyone else does and trade their dreams for their reality.

But no one said it would be easy. That’s where your creativity comes in. How can I make what I’m doing more unique and more enjoyable?

Man it’s got out here! Where’s the wind?

Going against the grain does not assure success. How many people do we know about who have made bold moves and failed epically?

But that also makes it exciting too, doesn’t it? The road less traveled makes all the difference. (I hope your right Robert Frost!)

Maybe even if we do fail, knowing that we tried and give it are all is enough. There’s value and insights that comes after failure, despite the pain.

I want to believe these words will make a difference for you. Perhaps you are on the brink of something good and new, or on the edge of giving up. What if you kept going? What if you just started without the parade and fanfare? What if regrouped and started fresh?

Because that’s who you are. Someone who keeps at it. Someone who goes against the grain, even if it rubs others, “friends”, the wrong way.

Alright, time to go inside. The summer bugs are starting to like me a little too much. I start packing up my things. The stack of books. The notebooks. My laptop and my long todo list. I’ll make some dinner, something Japanese-y tonight, I think. And then I’ll go for a walk and pick up where I left off before the sun sets.

Ultimate going against the grain isn’t about going against the grain at all—it’s about finding and following your calling. Or callings if you are crazy like me. Because you know you can and because no one else can do it like you can.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #990

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That Little Extra

“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.”

Jimmy Johnson

It’s that last 10% effort that makes all the difference no matter the project. Most of the others stop at 90% and say something like “eh, good enough” and don’t give it the full attention and energy they could have given.

Sometimes good enough is exactly what you need to do. Good enough should be the goal when you feel stuck or paralyzed (for whatever reason) and can’t quite find the motivation to start or progress. In this type of mental state, even 1% is better than 0%.

But when you are at “Good enough” and you are looking for that next level of work that will create an impact, good enough won’t cut it. 90% might be “A for effort” but it’s not going to change your life or anyone else’s for that matter.

Excellence requires a little bit more—a little extra past what you thought was possible.

You could stop at 90%, but what would 100% look like? What would 150% look like?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #984

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Step Up

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. … A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.”

Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience and Other Essays

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be.”

“Your life is what you make of it” is one of those wise dusty phrases that’s probably existed since the birth of humanity. I know its truth, but I almost don’t want it to be true. If it’s not true then all the crap, frustration, and problems We experience throughout life isn’t our responsibility.

“Ugh. She is so lucky. She gets everything she wants.”

“What does it matter that I lost my job, it’s not like it was my fault?”

“Wow his company is super cool. I would do something like that too if my parents bankrolled it as his parents did.”

I do think luck (and it’s counterpart) exists. But not all good luck is lucky, and not all bad luck is unlucky (Put that on a fortune cookie). Timing the market is lucky (and possibly something we can hone and train). Yet, making does with what you have is luck. It’s subtle, but one is an external event, and the other is an internal one.

We don’t get to choose what life we’ve come into, who our parents are, what our culture looks like—but we do get to choose who we are.

We get to choose who we are.

Every time you step up and take responsibility for your life, you are choosing luck and choosing wisdom.

Step up.

(No—I’m not talking about the hunky Channing Tatum Dance movie called Step Up.)

Own your life. Don’t wallow in complaints, could-have-been’s, and misfortune. At the end of the day, there’s only so much time have here. At the end of the day, after all the emotions and little day to day problems we are dealing with, if we were just to look up we’d see the massive galaxy we are in, in the unfathomable universe. Our problems are important—but they’re also relatively tiny.

So what do we do?

We get up. We get going. We make the most of the day. We work even if we are still a little bit sleepy. We take care of ourselves—because that’s what we need (and that’s what we would tell our best friends to do too). And we own up to our responsibilities, and expect others to do the same. And if we fail… well, we’ll do better the next day.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #983

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Complaint Box

“There are times in life when, instead of complaining, you do something about your complaints.”

Rita Dove

It doesn’t matter how you slice it—complaining doesn’t work.

If you are looking for sympathy, you won’t get it by complaining to everyone around you. Complain too much and everyone will try to avoid you or at the very least only give you eye roles every time you talk about your ailments.

If you are looking for help, complaining isn’t the best strategy either. It’s not that others don’t care, they likely care a great deal, but to them, you’re a record stuck on repeat. As much as others would like to help you, they know they can’t unless you are willing to do something about what you are complaining about.

If you are looking for a change, complaining will further entrench you into feeling stuck and incapable. Thoughts affect our beliefs and our willingness to act. If we are constantly complaining or looping negative thoughts in our heads that will also reflect in our actions (and/or lack of action). You can change—you can transform yourself and your life completely—but your inter and external complaints are like glue keeping yours from progressing. Thoughts affect actions; Actions affect thoughts. By giving into complaining, you’re cutting off your ability to clean your thoughts and/or desire to get up and make a change.

Don’t get me wrong—It’s okay to feel bad. It’s okay to feel down and out, helpless, discouraged, less than, apathetic, scared, lonely, and all the other negative emotions. We all do, at some point or another. I know I do—a few times a week! What’s not okay is always letting those things constantly control and run our lives.

Smart small. Get some rest. Cover your bases (mind, body, and spirit). Do what you can. Remind yourself that this won’t last forever. Just keep moving.

Write out your complaints on a small piece of paper, put it in a locked complaint box, and then proceed to never look at it again.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #982

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True Yes

“Saying no frees you up to say yes when it matters most.”

Adam Grant

It’s not that loose threads are inherently bad or good—like many things it depends on the context. On the road to success, there will be many opportunities we could say yes or no too.

The problem is, most opportunities look pretty great! How the heck do you know what’s a good opportunity versus a bad opportunity?

Simple (..but far from easy): compare the opportunity to yourself—who you are, what you value, and what kind of life you want to have.

The question is whether it’s leading you towards or against what you’re looking for.

Is this opportunity and/or obligation distracting me from what I actually want to do?

If someone is dangling money or fame In front of you, but it doesn’t align with who you want to be, will you take it or turn it down? Tough call. Knowing what you want, no—discovering what you want through experience and practice will make tough decisions much easier.

Is this yes a true yes or more like an easy/fun distraction?

Of course, in order to answer questions like these, you have to know who you are. And, equally important, you have to learn to act on self-interest. Self-interest isn’t selfish. You can be caring and compassionate about others AND have an opinion and say what you want your life to look like.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #980

Recommended Reads:

Hell Yeah or No

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Loose Threads

“It is the loose ends with which men hang themselves.”

Zelda Fitzgerald

There’s this concept of loose threads (or loose ends) in film (and muuurder?) where certain details are left unfinished or unresolved. Loose threads could happen in the film’s story (i.e. We have some loose ends we need to cut) or the film itself, where there are storylines that feel unbuttoned and left hanging.

These unresolved/unfinished happen in our own lives too—good and bad.

Let’s start with good threads.

Good threads:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Steve Jobs

A good thread is what I call anything you put out into the world that’s positive, good-natured, or could become an opportunity (for you andor for others). The classic example is good karma. Things like anonymously donating to a charity, leaving a tip for a podcaster you enjoy, helping an old lady change her flat tire, etc. Good threads can also be investments you put out into the world that could bloom. Content, monetary investments, relationships, optimism, ideas, etc.

You never know when something you do or something you create will have a massive impact on your life or the lives of others.

That’s why it’s good to try to always be on our A-game and give one hundred percent with whipped cream on top of everything we say and do.

But what about bad threads?

Bad threads:

“I know the sag of the unfinished poem. And I know the release of the poem that is finished.”

Mary Oliver

Bad threads are unresolved sentiments live. Todos left undone. Things we said (sometimes even bragged about) but never did. Abandoned or sidetracked dreams. Projects unfinished. There are some bad threads that you can’t pick back up. Bridges burned, reputations tarnished.

Other bad threads are things we leave unfinished and yet still think about often. In Practice you’ve moved on to something else, in mind, you have unfinished business rummaging around in your head that pops up. These can be super harmful because they can zap our energy—in what we are currently doing AND from what we aren’t doing but wish we were. And they add up over the years. One thread unravels to two, then three…

I find it good to take some time to think and list out (if any) threads I’ve left open unresolved. After that, it’s a question of if it’s something I need to finish, something I really want to do or something I should let go of.

What are some projects or ideas left open that I need to resolve?

What are some asks/favors/tasks/opportunities I need to say no to?

What are some things I need to let go of?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #976

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