Creative Capacity

“The marble not yet carved can hold the form of every thought the greatest artist has.”

Michelangelo

Building skill takes time, but the nice thing about creativity is that you can still create while you are developing. Sure, it might not be at the level you want, but don’t worry, because honing yourself at your current level is what’s going to push you higher.

If you’re just starting out, know this—

Anyone is capable of creativity.

And the thing about creativity is it comes in many flavors, not just art.

Imitate the greats

You’ll find that you can’t quite do what they do (did) but in the process of imitation, you’ve created your own original way of doing things.

Focus on getting better today.

As you increase your skills, you’ll notice that your previous work kinda sucks. You’ll notice the flaws and mistakes, but that’s natural. It’s a sign that you are moving forward, versus stagnating.

Question: Is there anything you aren’t doing but wish you were because you think you aren’t ready or don’t have the skills yet?

Action: What’s one thing you can do today to challenge yourself and push your skills a little higher?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1082 ☕️

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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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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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Creative Friction

One of the big reasons I’m driven to learn so many skills (besides just being curious about many things) is to remove as many barriers to creativity as I can.

What does that mean?

Think of it like the engine of a minivan versus that of a sports car. A minivan might take dozens of seconds to reach 6o mph, whereas a high-performant sports car can go 0 to 60 in 1.9 seconds.

Humans are naturally innovative. We all have ideas all the time. Usually, we’re hanging out with friends and someone will say “Dude. What if beer cans had handles? Like a beer koozie but with a handle like a mug?” — or something like that. We have ideas, but we rarely act on them. Typically, that’s because we don’t have the skill to make them (or we don’t want to put in the time and other resources to acquire those skills.)

But when you have a skill (for example, you have mad Adobe Premiere and After Effects skills) the barrier from going from idea to reality is less.

Imagine a world where you had all the skills and knowledge to create (in the ways you enjoy creating) at your disposal. You would be ready to create —0 to 60— in a moment’s notice.

This is very doable. But in order to become creatively effective, we need to start where we are.

We just have to start learning the skills and tools now and hone them every day. We might be terrible at it in the beginning, but that doesn’t matter. Lower the steaks. Keep improving.

Even just thirty minutes of writing, or designing, or editing can add up in a tremendous way over time.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1059

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Creative Tinkering

“The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.” Leonardo da Vinci

One of the first toys I remember playing with as a kid was legos. I assumed that LEGO was invented around the 80s or 90s (I’m a 90’s baby) but actually The LEGO Group has been around awhile. It was established in 1932 by Ole Kirk Kristiansen in a Danish carpentry workshop.

The original name for the LEGO brick was Automatic Binding Bricks (1951). The bricks where iterated and refined into what we know them as today. Kristiansen’s toy business had many ups and downs. Fires, economic upheaval from a post World War—not to mention WWII and the fallout from it as well. But despite it all, Kristiansen kept creating and tinkering.

One of the worst things about lego sets is that they come with an instruction manual. One of the best things about lego sets is you can break the rules and build whatever you want. Growing up, I would usually building by the instructions first (achievement unlocked) and then I would tear it to pieces and then build things from my imagination.

It’s easy to go through life living by an instruction manual. We live by the expectations of the people around us. Family. School. Society. We conform without always thinking about what we are signing up for.

Sometimes this works really well. Instructions by themselves are bad. It’s nice to know exactly how to fix a tire or how to learn illustrator or how to start an online business. The problem is it’s easy to follow instructions blindly, without completely thinking things through or experiencing things yourself.

A part of being a creative is thinking differently and getting your hands in the mud. Book smart only gets you so far. Hands-on practice and experimentation unlocks a new level of creative ability. There’s knowing something from reading or hearing about it, and then there’s knowing something from hard-earned discovery and tinkering.

How to Learn by Tinkering:

  • Don’t read the instructions.
  • Play first.
  • Try it the wrong way.
  • Make your own rules (add limitations).
  • Approach the world with childlike curiosity.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1058

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If Everything is a Priority…

If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority.

I’m reminding myself this more than anything. I have so many ideas that I could see becoming something real and magically, but that doesn’t mean a lick of salt if I don’t prioritize one and create it. Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, said it best “First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.”

The logic is fairly straight forward:

Divide our time into too many “buckets,” and we’ll have a whole lot of unfinished, mostly empty projects. In the immortal words of Jar Jar Binks, “Dissen gonna be bery messy! Me no watchin!”

Or we can choose one project, a few at most, and pour all our time and energy into them until we’ve finished them and then work on the next one.

It’s like wanting passive income or multiple revenue streams. We don’t just start right out the gate with a dozen income streams at once. First, we’ve got to get one thing going super well. Are we creating something valuable? Are we creating something worth buying? Are we sharing what we are doing? Good. Once we find one thing that works, then we start another. 

I’m always tripping on this because I love making things, and there are always new ideas and interesting avenues to take.

You can use a thousand boards of wood to being building a thousand houses, or you could use all the wood to build a single killer house.

Ask yourself: 

  • “Out of all the projects I start, how many do I actually finish?”
  • “What’s one thing I want to prioritize and finish right now?”

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1057

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What Worries You Masters You

“What worries you masters you.”John Locke

“I define non-clinical anxiety as, “experiencing failure in advance.” If you’re busy enacting a future that hasn’t happened yet, and amplifying the worst possible outcomes, it’s no wonder it’s difficult to ship that work.” — Seth Godin

Have you ever wondered why humans worry? According to researchers, it’s because we live in a Delayed Return Environment. (I learned this from a great James Clear article.)

Delayed Return Environment is a fancy way of saying that feedback we get in our day to day lives isn’t always immediate.

We save money, investment in ROTH IRAs, and in a few decades, we’ll have a retirement fund. We work hard and then we get paid every two weeks.

It’s like applying for a bunch of jobs. You send out a resume and cover letter into the black abyss of the internet, and if you’re smart your resume will get past the AI recruitment process, and then if you’re lucky you’ll get an interview or a polite decline. But most of the time you get back nothing. No feedback.

It’s the equivalent of your significant other giving you the cold shoulder—it’s maddening.

The problem is we let this delayed feedback control our lives. We worry about problems in advance—things that haven’t happened yet—so we inevitably create this future we don’t want because we are spending all our time too distracted to actually live.

A problem multiplies when we layer anxiety and worry on top of it.

Not only are we dealing with a problem, but we’re also dealing with our worries about the problem. And then we start worrying about the fact that we are worrying.

But what does worry get us?

Peace of mind?
Clear thought about how to prevent risk?
Courage to be ourselves?

No. All worry gives us is more worry.

What we really need to do is focus our efforts on the present. We are where we are, good and-or bad. The only thing that will improve and enjoy our lives is being alive today. Happiness is the absence of worry.

If something worrisome is bothering you—a potential outcome you want to avoid—then make a list of things you can do right now to prevent it. And then make a list of things you would do if the worst happened. And then get back to living.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1045

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2,000,000 Distractions

“What I’ve learned in these 11 years is you just got to stay focused and believe in yourself and trust your own ability and judgment.”

Mark Cuban

Remove The Unessential to Make Space for Essential

I’m not surprised that a lot of us (including myself) struggle with good posture. Making sure my head stays straight and vertical is something I have to remind myself every day to work at. We sit and lean over books in school and for leisure. We hunch over screens as we work. Almost everything we do is forward—we walk, drive, watch tv, eat, talk, play, and work looking forward. No wonder we look like shriveled ogres when we are older! Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for it. I don’t know how I’d feel about having eyes on the back of my head where at any moment I could look down as see my entire ✨ss.

Looking forward is almost poetic, in a way. It’s like our bodies were made to focus. Sure we rub our belly and pat our head, but in many ways, we are one-task minded. Focus is a currency.

Of course, there are a countless number of things trying to take our attention and distract us from our intentions.

I’ll be working on one thing, editing a podcast episode or working a writing idea and suddenly 2 million distractions pop into my head. Other projects I need to work on. Another thing I should be doing. Social media rabbit holes to fall into. And suddenly I’ve sent an hour not working on what I was trying to work on.

There’s always going to be something else you could be doing instead of the current work you’re pursuing.

There’s always going to be:

  • More books to read
  • More ideas to create
  • More projects to try
  • More shows to watch
  • More things to learn before you are “ready”

But none of those new and shiny things are more important than the things you have in front of you*.

The book you’re currently reading is more important than the others in your Amazon wishlist.

The ideas you’re making right now are more important than the hundred other ones that could be taking up your time.

I’m generalizing here, but hopefully, I’m getting my point across.

It doesn’t matter what we want to do, it only matters what we do. We don’t get brownie points for failing to complete 7 projects. It only counts if we follow through.

That’s why it’s vital for us to find and remove anything that’s distracting us from our mission.

Having many interests and tons of new ideas is great, but don’t let them distract you from what you are currently trying to accomplish.

At the end of our lives, we are remembered for what we do, not for what we wish we would have done. “Here lies Josh, he had a lot of potentials and wished for a lot of things… Alright everybody let’s go grab some lunch!”

Ask yourself: “Does this take me away from my purpose? Is this something I really want to do, or is this just something that would be cool to have done?

All of those ideas we could be doing, all of those experiences we could be having and all of those other things we could be learning can be considered later. But now, we remove all distractions from our view and focus on what’s in front of us.

*unless we don’t like what we are working towards. In that case, we stop, drop, and roll on to something better. (That was a solid A+ Dad Joke if I do say so myself)

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1040

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Doing What’s Necessary

“Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick.”

Bruce Lee

Like many of us today, I’ve been having to make a lot of decisions out of necessity. Health, work, community, institutions, goals… everything is changing quickly.

In some ways, this can make you feel small like you’re compromising and giving up a little of who you are because of the realities you face. No, that isn’t precisely true. When we make decisions out of necessity, we aren’t giving ourselves away, we are holding on tightly to expectations and wants. Our expectations take hold of the reins and say “why me?”

We feel compromised because we refuse to give up our expectations of how our lives should look.

But when we let all of that go, we free ourselves up to move forward.

We aren’t suffering, we’re doing what’s necessary. We may not like it, but at least we are making moves that can lead us to better decisions.

There are three main types of decisions available to us. We can make decisions out of

  • Joy
  • Necessity
  • Or Pain

Joyful decisions are always the happiest because we’re doing them because we want to and we find them fulfilling. Accepting our dream college or dream job. Finding your partner. Building a successful business. Working on your health. Spending your money wisely. Anything that brings Joy into the world.

Necessary Decisions can be tough, but they are usually the most rewarding. This is where we take punches but get grow from the experience. They are sometimes even more rewarding that Joyful decisions because they can make us strong and capable when we lean into them and learn to be uncomfortable. Doing what’s necessary feels like a hard day’s work that fun enough feels good and gives you quality nights of sleep. Whereas Joyful decisions are not always appreciated until much later and can be easily taken for granted if we are paying close enough.

Painful decisions are the worst and should be avoided when possible. This is where hard and painful lessons live. This is where we are so stressed we aren’t pausing to think things through. So we end up making a bad decision or a decision that doesn’t align with us. It’s when we are given the choice between A and B, and forget that we don’t have to choose either because we can do C instead. Or D.

The best thing to do about a painful decision is to step away from the immediacy and intensity and find a calm(er) place to figure out how to rework the problem until it becomes a necessary decision instead.

When left with two bad decisions, come up with a better option. And if that doesn’t work choose neither. Especially if both options are trying to coerce you into something you aren’t. And if nothing works then do what’s necessary and keep an eye out for a better opportunity comes along.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1039

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RL Personal Freedom is

  • Health
  • Wealth
  • Wisdom
  • Happiness
  • Belonging
  • Creativity
  • Impact

We all want some version of these seven things.

You might have a different perspective on what each means and what’s more important to you, but, after all, that’s what makes freedom so special and personal.

Their definition is difficult to nail down because they are foundational and old as humanity itself, but they also change as you change. Your definition of what “health” as a teenager will be completely different (aka nonexistent) compared to your thirty-year-old self.

They are each tailored to who we are too. For you, that might be expressing your creativity and making an impact through art.

Each freedom (for lack of a better word) mixes and mashes in interesting ways and also affect each other. They are independent but also connected. Think of it like they’re all driving the car and they all have a hand on the steering wheel.

For example, lack of wisdom can lead to poor health and wealth, which could ultimately lead to unhappiness.

But I don’t think I need to write a blog post to tell you that.

What I want to focus on today is what happens when one or many of these escapes you?

What do we do when our health fails us? What to do when our wealth and health are poor?

What do we do when we make financial mistakes and are suddenly struggling?

What do we focus on when life gives us a bad hand or our circumstances take one of these personal freedoms away?

Well, luckily these personal freedoms aren’t an all or nothing thing. You don’t need all of these to have a meaningful life.

I don’t think I’m wise enough yet to say which ones take priority over the others.

I do know that holding on to something you’ve lost/once had will only increase your problems.

The key is letting go of what we don’t have control over, and narrowing our focus on any one of these things will get you back on your feet.

“Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick.”

Bruce Lee

If I were a betting man, I’d say that happiness and wisdom are the best ones to focus on.

Get Happy

By focusing on happiness, you become resilient to difficulty. You’re not Superman—you’re just not as phased by problems. Happiness protects you. If you’re happy, truly happy, not because of the material things you have, but because you love yourself, care about life and others, then nothing can touch you. Hardship rolls off of you. Your happiness is a shield.

Happiness leads to — wisdom.
which leads to health.
which heightens your creativity.
And adds to wealth.
And draws people in.
All while leaving everything and everyone you interact with better than you found it.

Get Wise

By focusing on gaining wisdom, then every other personal freedom increases too. Wisdom reminds you to be more healthy. It shows you how to build wealth. It fills you with impactful ideas. It teaches you how to be kind and loving and patient and happy.

When in doubt—

Focus on happiness.
Focus on gaining wisdom.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1037

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