Human Spirit

What drives us to create? To innovate?

Do we have a chip on our shoulder the size of that which we want to put a dent in the Universe?

Maybe some of us are driven by a singular massive goal, like curing cancer or colonizing Mars. Or maybe you’re driven by the massive personal goal of freedom—freedom from debt, freedom from pain.

My guess is human spirit comes down to a combination of hope and curiosity.

Hope for a better tomorrow—for ourselves, for our kids, for humanity.

Hope for a meaningful and joyful life.

Hope for great friends, good health, and a memorable experience.

Curiosity for simple desiring to tinker and figure out how things work.

Curiosity for being playful and letting your life grow out of play.

Curiosity to turn over rocks, shake presents, and do the opposite of what everyone else is doing.

These are my kind of people.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1106

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The Courage to Try

“What would life be like if we had no courage to attempt anything?”

Vincent van Gogh

Most of our decisions (and the decisions of people around us) are made from a place of fear. Fear of failing. Fear of succeeding (and losing everything to do it / or fear of succeeding and still not being satisfied.) Fear of looking like an idiot. Fear of wasting our time / life / money / etc.

The problem is we often don’t realize we are making fearful decisions in the moment. No, we just avoid it. We avoid being uncomfortable. We avoid starting (because of x y or z reason) and never have the chance to potentially fail or succeed. We avoid wasting our time by doing nothing—aka wasting our time.

But if you replace the word fear with courage, the entire story changes—

We have the courage to fail—and let that failure become a stepping stone, a lesson, a story for our next act of courage.

We have the courage to succeed—because we put in the hard work, helped and improved others’ lives, and enjoyed the process.

We have the courage to look like an idiot—because embarrassing ourselves is a part of challenging yourself to be more, to be original, to stand out, and to do what others won’t.

Have the courage to look like an idiot.

We have the courage to spend our time/money wisely on the things we care about, and not dwell too harshly on our past selves decisions/time we can no longer get back.

We have the courage to say yes to what’s important to us and no to everything else.

Because at the end of the day, doing nothing gets us nothing, fear gets us more fear, negativity attracts more negativity. It is only through trying can we hope to achieve.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1101

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Better Now Than Never

I have a rule for myself, where if anything that takes me less than five minutes to do, I’ll do it immediately.

If I’m making lunch, I don’t leave the dirty dishes in the sink, I eat and then immediately clean them (sometimes I managed to clean before I eat.) there’s nothing worse than having a full day of work and then coming home to a mountain of todos.

Not just dishes, but all the little “chores” and habits we tend to ignore or put off because of not feeling like it.

I like to think of it as a gift to my future self. In a way, it’s also a gift to my present self too, because I’m trading a few minutes of my time for feelings of accomplishment.

Just because I don’t feel like doing something, doesn’t mean I should give in to that feeling.

Often success is the accumulation of small actions and key decisive moments done well.

A “Do It Now” is a great habit to get you there.

It’s one thing to want to do or be something, it’s another to be able to do it when it counts.

This can also improve the lives (and attitudes) of the people around you. When your significant other asks you to do something, doing it immediately will not only make them happy and cared for, it will help you build the discipline to make sh*t happen.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1088

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Maxing Out Your Creative Expression

“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”Bruce Lee

One creative goal I’m obsessed with is to have a collective skillset to create any idea. Put another way, the ability to go from idea to reality with minimal to no friction.

Imagine, for a moment, you are a professional musician. A good one too. You know how to play multiple instruments—guitar, piano, drums, cello—you also can sing and create lyrics. And to top it off, you’ve honed your recording, mixing, and mastering skills too.

When you are at this level of creative mastery, then you can go from idea to reality very quickly and at a premium level of quality.

You can take a simple hum you start singing in the shower, to a full song published on Spotify and Apple Music at an astonishing speed.

You can see this kind of creative expression everywhere—entrepreneurship, podcasting, painting, app development…

This ability is accessible to anyone. We just have to put in the time to practice, learn, and hone our creative skills.

We all have ideas, but not all of us take the steps to create them. There are many reasons for this, but the one that stands out to me is friction—just because you have an idea, doesn’t mean you currently have the skills to make it. You could learn how, but that would take time to figure out. And if you’re a self-starter like me, maybe you do figure it out! You have an idea, and you “just in time” learn what you need to make it.

But most people don’t. There’s too much of a gap between their idea and how to make it real. They mentally get in their own way and psych themselves out from trying.

What I’m after is the ability to create any idea. (Very humble, I know.) Part of this goal is fantasy—I can’t learn every skill—but simply by aiming for it, I can become a much more capable artist the longer I stick to it.

I love the idea of having an idea for a painting, and then just painting it. Or have an idea for a business and then doing it—creating a prototype, validating it, spinning up a website, creating a marketing campaign, and then selling it.

Not to say that I’m waiting for perfection in order to create.

Having greater creative expression is an ongoing, iterative process. We don’t just go from version 1.0 artist to version 7.5. We iterate and grow little by little. Daily work. Consistent effort. Until suddenly our creative arsenal starts looking like Batman’s toolbelt.

The goal isn’t to collect skills just for the sake of collecting them, nor to take on 50 jobs at once.

The goal is to be the best josh-dang creative I can be because I love making things and I desire to keep getting better and better at it.

Why? Because it’s fun, it’s inspiring and I can’t not do it.

Plus who doesn’t want to look like Batman?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1067

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Giving a Damn

Some days all we need to do is show up. And some days showing up is the hardest thing to do.

But showing up on the hard days is everything. Every action we take ripples out into our corner of the world, but more importantly, it also informs ourselves about what kind of person we are.

Our actions point inward and as much as they direct outward.

For example, if I start acting lazy—avoiding my work, mentally checking out wherever I get the chance—then I start becoming lazy. My actions convince myself that I am a lazy person. Which feedbacks in on itself and causes me to continuously act lazier.

The same is true for practically everything, good and bad.

Do something tells the world and our inner world what kind of person we are.

That’s why we need to show up and give a damn on days when we don’t feel like it. We are training ourselves into being the kind of person that shows up no matter what.

There are simple ways we can practice this:

• Hold the door for someone else.

• Take back your grocery cart to the store after you’ve unloaded your car.

• Give a generous tip to a good server.

• Return a smile with a smile (or if you’re wearing masks—a nod with a nod).

• Be on time when you’re planning to meet someone (This is a hard one for me).

• Stand up to a-holes.

• Reach out to friends first.

Do something, not because you have too, but because that’s the kind of person you want to be.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1064

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Testing Dependencies

“Success is dependent on effort.”

Sophocles

I’ve written before about how it’s easier to acquire tastes than it is to get rid of them. Something normally that’s exotic or saved for special occasions can quickly become our new normals. Instead of saving that delicious Italian restaurant for your birthday, you start having it once a week.

For me, that’s amplified with a personal tendency to overdo it. A cheat “meal” turns into a cheat “weekend”. Or instead of one newsletter, I make three.

But do we really need our “needs”?

I don’t consider myself a minimalist. I related to some of the core values of minimalism, but I wouldn’t label myself as a minimalist. I’m more of a… “essentialist” “practicalist” “intentionalist” something along those lines (semantics, to be sure, but still).

It’s helpful to put things in perspective. In five years, all of the technology you and I use will be obsolete. Five years is generous. There’s a lot of new and exciting gadgets coming out right now. It’s more likely every piece of tech we own will be obsolete in a few months.

It’s good to test your dependencies regularly.

For example, taking a break from social media or swearing off coffee for a year.

Dependency aren’t evil. But they do make us reliant on them. Once you get used to having a certain quality of something, it’s hard to go back. I think that’s why people in third world countries are so happy with very little. It’s not the stuff that they have or don’t have, it’s the knowledge that something “better” is out there. 

This feeling is what I want to resist. I love luxury, but I don’t want to *need* it to be happy. I want to test my dependencies because you never know what fate my take of you. I’d rather be happy and healthy than rich. But if I can be happy, healthy, and rich that would be great too 😉. As long as that money isn’t controlling me.

What are other things we are reliant on? What are your crutches? 

Clothes? New technology? Habits?

Action: Make a list of things you need and use every day. If you forced yourself to give them up for a month, or six or a year, could you?

To live an unconventional life we must do unconforming things.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1062

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Amplifying Effect

“The first wealth is health.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are many types of skills and knowledge in general that, if learned, can amplify everything that you do.

Improving your ability to communicate, for example. What part of life doesn’t involve some form of written, graphic, or verbal communication? Think about it: blogging, writing emails, tweeting, caption, website copy, speeches, journaling, wit and banter among friends, sharing stories about yourself with relationships, getting your ideas across, job hunting, pitching clients… communication is at the heart of what it means to be human.

Health is another great skill that has reach across your life. Eating well, exercising, and resting can all increase the quality and longevity of your life. How can you put a quantifiable impact on that?

One big part of being multidisciplinary is to cultivate these types of foundational skills.

  • How to learn
  • How to think
  • Health
  • Writing

Even just one of these could improve your life in immeasurable ways.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1060

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What Kind of Friend are You?

“We’re all just walking each other home.”

Ram Dass

One of my favorite categories of friends is the type that no matter how long it’s been since you’ve seen them, you pick up right where you’ve left off. Time has passed. You both have changed in hundreds of ways, but the friendship hasn’t.

I went hiking yesterday with some friends I’ve known since middle school and high school. Two whom I’m close to and see practically every week. And two I hadn’t seen in a while (for no other reason than life coming between us). We hung out, made dumb jokes, waxed poetically, swam in a creek, and got caught in torrential rain. It was great fun.

Some people crisscross through your life like planes trailing in the sky. Teaching you lessons (some good, some bad). Influencing your tastes in music and how you spend your time. Informing you more about yourself.

Some people fade out of choice. A difference in values. Crossroads. Convenient “friends” who peace out ✌️ when you’re going through a rough spell.

Some people exist in different stages of life. High school. College. Marriage. Big moves and changes.

Some people stick around and become daily companions. You see each other grow, but you often overlooked it because day to day change is happening so slow you miss it.

I want to be the kind of friend who is genuine and who can pick things up right where we left off, no matter how long it’s been. And I want to be the kind of friend who you see frequently, (maybe not every day) but even if it’s been a while you know you can call and I’ve got your back.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1049

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Mental Distractions

“One way to boost our will power and focus is to manage our distractions instead of letting them manage us.”

Daniel Goleman, author and science journalist

How many apps do you have on your phone? How many of them do you actually use? (Sidebar: If you’re interested in specifics, you can look this up in your phone settings.) How many email addresses do you have? What does your desktop or file folders look like? What websites do you check frequently? How many tabs do you have open right now on your computer???

Tabs are my embarrassing weakness. On any given day, I’ve got elevendy-billion tabs open. I love when the browser inevitably buckles under the weight of too many tabs and it finally crashes and I can start fresh. (Ahhhh.)

Digital clutter affects us just as much as physical clutter.

One thing I’ve been thinking quite a lot about lately is how everything has it’s own gravitation force that pulls on us. Some things pull on all of us—like the subtle tug of the closest star, Alpha Centauri A. Or more relevantly, this latest pandemic we’ve all been facing. Other things influence personally—like the people we surround ourselves with, our experiences, and how we spend our time.

The more we think/surround ourselves with someone (or something), the more influence and priority it has on us. Bringing it back to our phones, we’ll more likely open the apps on our home screen more than we would open an app five pages deep.

Digital, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual—everything has a gravitational pull on us.

Which also means, it’s easy to become distracted, now more than ever.

Let’s define distraction as anything that keeps us from our most important things.

If family and fast cars are what’s important to you, like it is for the fast & furious crew, then anything that takes you away from that is distracting you from your greater purpose.

Not only can distractions take our tim, they can also take our energy.

Anything thing you want or wish you would do, or maybe-someday-ought-todo’s are just as mentally distracting as a stack of unread books or dancing gorilla.

The tricky thing is that it’s usually opportunities or interesting shiny things that distract us from our purpose. Great opportunities! …that happen to be in the opposite direction we wanted to go. Distractions can come in little or big sizes.

First, you need to know what you want in life (which is huge). Then the key is asking yourself—

  • Is this helping me, or distracting me?
  • Am I doing my job as a _________?
    • (ex: Am I doing my job as a writer? Am I doing my job as a dog-owner?)
  • What distraction can easily remove/get rid of?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1029

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A Sprinkle of Hope

“Your life is the fruit of your own doing. You have no one to blame but yourself.”

Joseph Campbell

“Neither blame or praise yourself.”

Plutarch

This is a loud and confusing time we are going through. In a general sense, we are dealing with a lot of stress and pressure. Most of us are going through our own unique struggles as well. It’s easy to mistake problems we are dealing with as personal attacks, but the honest truth is our individual problems are not very distinct.

Plenty of people today and across history have dealt with job loss, plague, injury, illness, financial issues, loss and loneliness. Plenty of people struggle with negative thoughts and-or vagueness of purpose.

This doesn’t diminish the importance of what we are dealing with. Rather, highlights how connected we are and how our story can inspire or help others going through similar experiences.

Good and bad things we experience become connection points to people like us. Resilience is about choosing hope instead of moping around, blaming other and wishing things were different.

Resilience is choosing hope.

Resilience is changing when change is necessary.

What does blame get us? Nothing good. Nothing different. We just end up digging a deeper hole where we feel stuck.

Hope is a choice we have to make everyday. It’s not easy. But it’s the better option.

Things work out how you want them to – or they don’t. Either way, the sun still rises in the morning.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1023

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