Same Same

“The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well.”

Alfred Adler

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about travel recently (I’m guessing a lot of us are these days). Part of me feels like I’ve seen so little of the world. And the other part of me is grateful for the handful of adventures I’ve had the opportunity to take.

A few years ago I went on a trip across the world to visit Thailand and do some island hopping. My friend Marco had cooked up the trip because at the time he was thinking about starting a co-working business and he wanted to scope out a few places with decent wifi and cheap living.

At the time, I was feeling a little burn out at my software development job, so I jumped at the chance to take a breather, explore, and work from somewhere other than my at-home desk.

Our environment influences us more than we think. I think most of us intuitively know that the people we surround ourselves with, and the content we consume have a big impact on who we are and the life we lead, but our surroundings are just as influential. 

Or maybe we know, but we get so used to it that we take it for granted. 

Take the American South, for example. I grew up in Georgia (about an hour and change away from Atlanta) and a lot of folks in the south have a southern accent. Accents aren’t really something you think about until you run into someone or visit another place where everyone has a different way of speaking. 

People move at different speeds in different places too.

There’s nothing quite like the energy of a New Yorker. Personally, I love their straightforward, get sh*t done, we can handle anything style of living. Energy is something else I think about often. I’d like to surround myself with people who are bursting at the seams with creative and enthusiastic energy. Enthusiasm can move mountains.

There was an expression that you would hear often from native Thailanders (Thai?), typically when you asked the question, “How’s it going?”

They’d say: “Same same.”

To them, tourists like me where how they make a living. I was on my adventure on the other side of the globe—but the folks living they’re where just going about their day to day lives. Mopeds, Elephants, Jungles—everything around them was their *normal*. My unordinary was their ordinary

This is true for all of us. It’s so easy to take for granted things we have in our daily lives (like going out to restaurants).

A gratitude practice is a good way to remind yourself to open your eyes to the little (and big) influences surrounding you. The characteristics of the places we live—The weather, sounds, smells, walkability, nature, choice and so much more —subtle influence our minds and how we create (and why we create it). These are all good things to think about if you’re trying to add more creativity in your life.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1055

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Fun to Be Around

I am a silly person. If there’s an opportunity, I’m always going for a laugh. I’ve asked some friends about me and they told me they like hanging with me because I’m charismatic and interested in who they are and what they do.

I’d agree with that, I am usually the guy in the group asking a lot of questions. I think curiosity needs to be genuine though. I’m curious about others because I want to be, not because I’m forcing myself to listen to other people’s ideas.

I’m not much for small talk. If you’re telling me about a project you’re working on or something you’re learning, I give you my full attention. Your ideas are important to me. I want to see you succeed.

A lot of people see the world through a scarcity lens of “me vs. you vs. them.” If your idea succeeds then my idea fails. But this isn’t true. Everyone can be successful, just not in the same way. Originality is hard, but it pays dividends.

There is a limit of course. I can give someone enthusiasm, but I can’t do their work for them. Your goals in life are that—yours. I can help point you in the right direction, I can help motivate you and encourage you, but it’s still up to each of us to take these dreams and ideas we have in our head and make them a reality. It’s not my job to do your job. Nor is it your job to do mine. We can share, but we still need to individually contribute.

Our reality is a reflection of our mind.

This sounds like a line from a Matthew McConaughey Lincoln commercial, but it’s true. I’m not talking about magic. Wishing for a banana to magically appear in your hands or a briefcase full of money to appear under your bed isn’t what I mean. What we think reflects what we do and how we perceive the world around us and by extension our reality changes. Thinking about eating a banana in pets you want a real banana. Does the banana in your mind exist? Not yet. But it correlates.

This kind of thinking can get woo-woo fast. There are just too many variables to predict all the details of what life will throw at you. But whatever comes our way gives us choices that are in our control.

Failure is an opportunity to do better in the next round. Or not.

Setbacks are an opportunity to grow into a better person. Or not.

Negativity, obstacles, toxic environments, unhelpful thoughts, criticism—these are all things that can help us or hold us back. It just depends on how you look at things. This is a very Jocko mindset.

I’m not telling you to enjoy your toxic work environment, for example. I’m saying see it as an opportunity to stand up for yourself and find something better.

Experiencing failure doesn’t mean you are a failure.

Being negative doesn’t mean you have to stay negative.

We may think about our past and envision our future, but we live life moment to moment. Each moment can change for the better if you own it.

A big part of building a thriving life is letting go of what you can’t control (i.e. your past mistake) and aiming for a better future while staying flexible in the present.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1054

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Regret-free Decisions

Plenty of folks would look at my plate (interests/projects/dreams) and say that I say yes to too many things.

I’ve always been someone who has been interested in many subjects. Art, music, sports, exercise, technology, learning, etc. I also occasionally feel slightly envious of the people who can stick in one lane for most of their lives (for example, just graphic design). But I enjoy too many things to be that kind of person.

But you can’t do everything (at least not all at once 😜). So there’s always a matter of which pursuits to spend your time on.

I try to say yes to as much as I can tolerate without sacrificing health or quality. And if I walk outside of that tolerance range I rebalance.

Right now I’m less concerned about quantity and more about quality. Meaning, how can I say yes more to the right things (and no to the wrong things) instead of saying yes to things that don’t matter?

Ultimately what we decide is worth our time comes down to each of us. A question I ask myself is what I’ve found helpful is “would I regret not doing this in a year (or five years) from now?” Or said the opposite way, “would I regret saying yes to this after a year has passed?”

Pay attention to where you’re answers are coming from. Make sure they are coming from the heart and not from your wallet or from someone else’s mouth. Not that there is anything wrong with making money or following the path of another great leader—quite the contrary. And yet still. When it comes to making important decisions, make sure you know why or why not you’re saying yes.

Think of a decision like it’s not yours but a close friend making them. What would you advise them? Would you give them the same advice that you are giving yourself?

Consider all sides. And at the end of the day, if it turned out to be a bad call, then learn from it. Mistakes are scars earned. They can be something we try to hide and ignore, or something we learn from and wear like a badge that tells a story for others.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1050

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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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Breathing Room

“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

Clutter is a very visible thing. You can see it stuffed on bookshelves and overflowing on dressers. You can see it pilled in closets, hanging off unused at-home exercise machines, and clustered in junk drawers. You can even see it in our digital lives: overflowing emails, apps, friends, tabs, Desktop screens, notes, and files.

But what makes clutter feel like clutter?

Is it because things are unorganized and ‘out of place’ compared to where you would expect them? Or maybe it’s because things are too many things compared to the space available?

My vote is on clutter feels like clutter because it doesn’t have the space it (whatever it is) needs to be useful and comfortable (for lack of a better word).

Think about it—

A desk isn’t very useful if you’re stuff is everywhere and so overpowering and distracting that you can’t actually sit down (or stand up) and work unless you wade through all the clutter first.

A bookshelf isn’t very enlightening if you can’t find the book you are looking for, or worse—you see the book but its under a hundred things and can’t be removed unless you want to be squashed like a bug as books and piles of crap fall on you to your doom.

Our possessions need breathing room—otherwise, they lose their usefulness.

The same is true for most (if not all) things in our lives too.

It’s hard to be a good freelancer if you juggling a dozen clients while also working on two side hustles.

It’s difficult to create anything if you spend all your time doing everything but working on your art.

It’s impossible to get work done if you spend all your time jumping from meeting after meeting or spending half the day sporadically responding to email.

And most importantly, it’s tough being a good friend, or skilled professional, or partner, or sibling, or father, if you spread yourself too thin.

Everything needs a little breathing room to work properly. Without it, we’re also gonna be running late, busy, overworked, and unfulfilled.

Q: How can you add more breathing room into your life? Alt: What can you remove to give yourself more breathing room?

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

Albert Einstein

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1020

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Express Yo Self

“If I didn’t have my films as an outlet for all the different sides of me, I would probably be locked up.”

Angelina Jolie

“Training gives us an outlet for suppressed energies created by stress and thus tones the spirit just as exercise conditions the body.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger

I’m sipping coffee out of a thick, off-white unassuming diner mug. I like these types of mugs because each sip is like a gentle kiss on your lips.

(You’re welcome for the lovely visual of me making out with a coffee mug ☕️💋 xoxo.)

My 1000th consecutive blog post is coming up and I’ve been thinking a lot about how grateful I am for having started a daily writing habit.

Having an outlet to channel ideas, observations, and work through life has been a worthwhile endeavor.

Ideas flow when you have an outlet to direct them to.

And it doesn’t have to be writing, any creative outlet can be rewarding—martial arts, dancing, electronics, comedy, singing, watercolor, etc.

Some days have been harder than others. But in many ways, it’s the hard days that make expressing yourself through something all the more rewarding. I’ve begun to feel better after I write. Perhaps it’s because I’m checking an important todo off my list, but I think it’s more than that.

I know I have a long way to go—I far from the master writer and storytelling fiend I want to be—but every day I hit publish I’m one step closer.

I would highly recommend expressing yourself creatively in some form or fashion. It starts with simply being about the work but quickly grows into something deeper.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #994

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To Feel Known

“Instead of being concerned that you have no office, be concerned to think how you may fit yourself for office. Instead of being concerned that you are not known, seek to be worthy of being known.”

Confucius

“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”

Mark Twain

I think one of the big reasons we are drawn to social media is the desire to be known, and all the associated feelings and desires that come along with it. At a fundamental level, to be known is to be heard. To be someone who matters.

When you are lonely, or in pain or different, the lie we tell ourselves is we don’t matter.

No one is seeing us, therefore we aren’t worth being seen. Some people collapse inward. Others lash out (which can be in a million different ways). But we all tend to be drawn to groups, tribes, communities where we feel heard, or at least feel useful and valuable. People like us. Whatever that looks like for you. Navy SEALs. Entrepreneurs. Artists. Athletes. Dog lovers. Weirdos. Zoom yoga chats. People you just met who like the same jokes you like. We all want to belong and feel a part of something.

Making someone feel like they belong is one of the greatest gifts you can give anyone.

It doesn’t take much. Just let them speak and give your complete attention and interest. Be curious about what they like and don’t like. Don’t worry about what you are going to say. Listen to what they are saying.

But what about yourself? What about me?

To be known is to be yourself. Forget what everyone else is telling you to be.

Forget the 20 habits I find helpful and enjoy doing. Forget the habits and routines of the people you respect and look up to. Instead, build the habits that work for you. Maybe they are similar, but the key is they don’t have to be. It’s up to you to experiment and figure out what works for you and discard the rest. Maybe reading and drawing is what gets me in the right mind space but for you its a morning run. That’s good. Stick to it. Be open and try out mine and see if they work for you too. (The same goes for me with yours) But if drawing or writing every day turns out not to be your thing, that’s perfectly reasonable.

To be yourself when everyone wants you to be them is true strength.

To be known is also to care about yourself. Finding friends and family to share life with is what’s life is about. But you don’t need the approval of others to be known and the be someone who matters. You already are. You matter to yourself. That’s all that matters. Once you realize that, it doesn’t matter if you are alone on a desert island—you love who you are and what your dreams are. And then you have the power to share that with someone else.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #907

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To Feel Known

“Instead of being concerned that you have no office, be concerned to think how you may fit yourself for office. Instead of being concerned that you are not known, seek to be worthy of being known.”

Confucius

“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”

Mark Twain

I think one of the big reasons we are drawn to social media is the desire to be known, and all the associated feelings and desires that come along with it. At a fundamental level, to be known is to be heard. To be someone who matters.

When you are lonely, or in pain or different, the lie we tell ourselves is we don’t matter.

No one is seeing us, therefore we aren’t worth being seen. Some people collapse inward. Others lash out (which can be in a million different ways). But we all tend to be drawn to groups, tribes, communities where we feel heard, or at least feel useful and valuable. People like us. Whatever that looks like for you. Navy SEALs. Entrepreneurs. Artists. Athletes. Dog lovers. Weirdos. Zoom yoga chats. People you just met who like the same jokes you like. We all want to belong and feel a part of something.

Making someone feel like they belong is one of the greatest gifts you can give anyone.

It doesn’t take much. Just let them speak and give your complete attention and interest. Be curious about what they like and don’t like. Don’t worry about what you are going to say. Listen to what they are saying.

But what about yourself? What about me?

To be known is to be yourself. Forget what everyone else is telling you to be.

Forget the 20 habits I find helpful and enjoy doing. Forget the habits and routines of the people you respect and look up to. Instead, build the habits that work for you. Maybe they are similar, but the key is they don’t have to be. It’s up to you to experiment and figure out what works for you and discard the rest. Maybe reading and drawing is what gets me in the right mind space but for you its a morning run. That’s good. Stick to it. Be open and try out mine and see if they work for you too. (The same goes for me with yours) But if drawing or writing every day turns out not to be your thing, that’s perfectly reasonable.

To be yourself when everyone wants you to be them is true strength.

To be known is also to care about yourself. Finding friends and family to share life with is what’s life is about. But you don’t need the approval of others to be known and the be someone who matters. You already are. You matter to yourself. That’s all that matters. Once you realize that, it doesn’t matter if you are alone on a desert island—you love who you are and what your dreams are. And then you have the power to share that with someone else.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #907

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Smile It Away

“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.”

Phyllis Diller

“Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray.”

Lord Byron

I knew the day wasn’t going to be easy when at around 6 am I was unable to check-in and board my flight because I had missed the check-in window by mere minutes. Actually, I knew it wasn’t going to be my day when I spilled coffee on my notebook and new book I was reading (and loving no less). Scratch that. The night before I had a feeling it was going to be a bumpy ride when my weeks worth of luggage wasn’t fitting and was getting the zipper caught. (Probably because I was trying to lug my entire bulletproof coffee kit — kettle, butter and all — on a flight across the world to Thailand)

Regardless, sitting there in the airport, coffee stains all over me, waiting for the next flight, I had a feeling today wasn’t going to be my day. And oh what a day it was. Flight cancellation in New York. My small-town bank froze me out of my account. And when I finally arrived in Beijing, as I was wandering the airport at Lord knows what time or how long this godforsaken day has been, as I was wondering the empty airport, my belt broke.

Even my belt broke. And you know what I did?

Hold that thought.

When things don’t go our way, our usual reaction is to brute force it.

Brute force essential means trying to accomplish something with pure strength without any strategy or tactics behind it. It’s pure muscle power.

Okay, maybe you aren’t holding your pants up with one hand while pushing your luggage around a foreign airport like I was four years ago. Nevertheless, there are many occasions where brute force seems like a good idea.

Maybe something breaks at work and you spend hours and hours gritting your teeth and trying to push a square peg into that round hole.

Or maybe you have kids and for no reason at all they have decided to completely meltdown today and refuse to do anything you say.

Or maybe a bird craps on your favorite shirt, or the parking authority gives you a ticket or your fun gets rained out or you trip on a broken sidewalk or you choke in front of an audience or you fail completely today.

There’s only two choices we make:

  1. We can give into the friction and wallow away the entire day. Or —
  2. We can ground ourselves in the insignificance of a little moment of failure and bad luck, and smile it away.

Because time is short and every second wasted adds up.

Because anger’s half-life is short* and nothing is permanent except change.

Because life is bigger than us.

And because one day in the future, if we’re lucky, we’ll be laughing it off and telling the story as if the memory was an old friend.

You know what I did as I was standing in an airport, holding my pants up?

I laughed. I smiled it away. I realized how silly and unlikely this story sounded. And I took a deep breath and went on to enjoy my week in Thailand with some friends.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #856

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Fooling Ourselves

“A degree of self-awareness is extremely valuable… I hope I have that going forward.”

Nick McDonell

It’s refreshing to have at least one person around you tell it like it is. When everyone around you agrees or compliments what you are doing, you start to believe your own hype (aka BS).

This is a dangerous position to be in, because you don’t know if what you doing is working in your favor or against you.

Ideally we would be self-aware enough to watch assess ourselves and “pick up what we’re putting down” as they say, and call ourselves out when we notice ourselves cutting corners or making bad choices. But as the American physicist and brilliant thinker Richard Feynman once said, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

Self-awareness is all the rage nowadays. But if you strip away the woo-woo and boil the idea down to its essence, self-awareness essential means knowing yourself. Knowing what you like, dislike. Knowing your goals and desires. And more importantly, knowing where your blindspots are, what your bad habits are, and where you tend to get upset (and how you cope with those emotions).

It might sound silly to say, but it’s difficult to know what you don’t know. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible. If we have a rough idea where our blindspots are, we can try to prepare for them in advance or avoid the triggers that lead to them so we can completely go around them.

Having a friend that’s honest and realistic, but is doing so because they want to see you be better and succeed is a great way to avoid unforeseen problems.

It can’t just be any person that can be our smart decision thermometer. Respect is essential to that kind of relationship. If there’s isn’t mutual appreciation or if you don’t look up to the person who is giving you honest feedback, then you’ll never actually listen to them and take their advice for truth. Without mutual respect and appreciation, they are the equivalent to the random Youtube comment troll who’s only goal is to criticize and take you down. Authority is also essential. If your friend is giving you advice on things they don’t do themselves (or never have done) then the advice will fall flat. If your words don’t align with your actions or experience, no amount of brutal honesty will convince you to change course.

These types of friendships are hard to come by, so when you do find one, do your best to cultivate the relationship and keep it strong.

Seek out groups of likeminded individuals or create a group yourself. Look for people who are lifelong learners and who are always doing new things and trying to be the best version of themselves.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #855

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