Playtivity

“The heart and soul of the company is creativity and innovation.” — Bob Iger

“Curiosity is one of the great secrets of happiness.” — Bryant H. McGill

Money. An agreed-upon collective idea of trust and value. Some use it as a measuring stick. And others see it as a means to an end. Like many things, it’s not something that’s good or bad, rather it’s how you use it that counts.

What I find interesting is that some of the greatest inventors and artists of humanity made things not for the money, but for the love of creativity, curiosity, and the joy of figuring things out.

Sure money was the periphery—you can’t have the Italian Renaissance without the Medici—but money was never the motivator.

Apple wouldn’t have been Apple without both Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs. And Jobs was superb at marketing and selling, but he didn’t make things just to make a profit.

Creativity was the goal. Or play. Or solving. Or exploration. Or enjoyment. Or any number of meaningful reasons we do what we are driven to pursue.

Money is an amplifier. When you have enough (‘enough’ is a loaded word) to not worry about it, then you have greater flexibility to play. But even without it, we can still make time for more play and curiosity in our lives, we just have to fit it in where we can.

Takeaways:

  • Don’t make money the main reason you do something.
  • If you are doing something just for the money alone, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it. (Unless it’s a means to an end.)
  • Money is an amplifier
  • Create because it feels like play to you.
  • Make room for play no matter how old you are or what’s going on in your life.
  • The best kind of play is about making and discovering—not just consuming.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1261

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There is No Try

“The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.”Mark Van Doren

Part of our jobs as creatives is figuring things out. Discovery and uncertainty are two sides of the same pancake. There’s rarely comfort in uncertainty, but there is excitement. The excitement from learning something new. The thrill of being resourceful or doing something yourself.

It’s one thing to be taught the idea of something, it’s another thing to come to it with your own eyes, ears and hands.

True understanding comes from hands-on experience. There’s a level of wisdom you can’t gain unless you tinker, play, explore and experiment yourself.

That’s true with design and business and coding and well—everything. Of course, it’s not about doing it all yourself, rather using DIY as an approach to learn a skill at a deeper level of compression.

It’s hard to completely get that from a book or tutorial. Teaching is a guide. It opens the door for us, but we are the ones that have to take the extra step and make the connections.

A course might save us time and shortcut our path to understanding and success, but until we get our hands dirty, so to speak, we won’t be at the level of mastery we seek yet.

Ask big questions. Observe the world.

Throw things at the wall. And try things out yourself.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1202

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Staying in Tune

“Sometimes you want to give up the guitar, you’ll hate the guitar. But if you stick with it, you’re gonna be rewarded.”

Jimi Hendrix

I started playing guitar in middle school. “Playing” is a generous way to put it. I owned a guitar and would mess around. I picked up a few things from a friend and my grandfather. But I was just a guy who owned a cheap guitar. I even took a lesson… once. Maybe twice.

It wasn’t until high school, where I started really falling in love with playing piano when my interest in guitar became more than a passing fancy. I still didn’t really know any of the theory, but I trained up my hand dexterity, ears, and overall feel for the guitar to come up with interesting rhythms and tunes.

One thing about guitars is they never stay in tune. The newer the strings, the more quickly they’ll un-tune themselves. Tuning is a ritual you always need to be cognizant of and constantly check on. Otherwise, the sound will be off and the strings won’t work well together sonically.

It’s also worth noting that there’s more than one way to tune a guitar. Standard Tuning (EADGBE) is just one among of many.

I find this
Tuning is a great metaphor for a lot of things in our lives.

Ambition. Learning new skills. Competition. Priority. Interest. Relationships. Love. Values. Work.

Each aspect of our lives has a certain frequency that works for us. Sometimes we are in tune and sometimes we are out of tune.

For example, when we are learning a new skill, we start with a mountain of enthusiasm and energy. We see people who have mastered a craft and want to be good at it too. As we begin our journey, and time goes on, our enthusiasm waxes and wanes from excitement to boredom, or from having fun to overworked.

The same is true for love. In the beginning, everything is butterflies. But as time goes on, things go from learning about each other to growing and experiencing life together.

And, like everything else, things can get out of tune if you aren’t checking in on it.

We stop learning a new skill because we get distracted by another one, or our goal—our reason for learning—gets unclear and out of tune. Our relationships become repetitive. Our drive to compete diminishes because of losing or lack of motivation.

But just like a guitar, all we need to do is retune.

We do that through genuine intention, action, and care.

You must constantly periodically return to yourself. Your values. your vision. your priorities.

Reaffirm what’s important to you.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1176

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Markable

For over eighty percent of my life (I’m currently thirty) I wouldn’t dare think of writing or underlining in a book. I even loathed opening a book to wide, hating the idea of messing up its pristine structure. Folding a book halfway was blasphemous. I know, I was weird (aren’t we all).

I honestly don’t know where this quirk came from. I just really had the desire to take care of my stuff, and treat my books like they were brand new.

Now I’m the opposite. My younger self would feel whiplashed from the amount of underlining and writing I do in my books. The flip was a gradual process, but there were three defining moments shot me out of the canon.

One was a simple thought: there are thousands—sometimes even millions—of copies of books. My scribbling in a hardback now-and-again isn’t going to marginal have much of a difference.

The second defining moment was learning about the marginalia libraries of grand figures, such as Isaac Newton and Oscar Wilde.

And this leads us to the final defining thought: writing, highlighting, and underlining is like a time capsule of your mind and life at a particular time. And every time you revisit a book, you are layering in another version of who you are in a given moment. By writing out thoughts and underlining passages that stand out to you, you are leaving a lasting impression of who you are for your future self.

Does that mean I’m going to scribble in my signed copy of The Name of the Wind? No! Of course not. But I am going to use the books I own and get the most meaning out of them as I can.

Marking up your books is a small thing, but it highlights (pun intended) a big idea:

Making your mark doesn’t require permission.

Perhaps it used to, before the internet age. But now, anyone can pursue an idea or passion and share it with the world. Of course, being able to share doesn’t mean everything is high-quality. Put it does give us a direction to setting higher standards for ourselves and going after big ambitions.

If there’s something you dream about doing, what’s stopping you?

Are you stopping yourself?

What if you got out of the way?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1167

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On Being Better

Better is the tension between being okay with accepting where you are and yet driven to live up to a higher calling and ideal code.

But live up to what, exactly?

That depends on what you value and gravitate towards.

For example, perhaps let’s say you value simplicity and clean design.

Then it’s looking at breaking down every single little piece of thing into it’s smallest components and removing the inessential pieces. In this case, Better, in this case, is creating something simple, but not over-simple, clean, but not devoid of it’s intent.

Let’s say you value communication and want to be better at community and connecting with others. Then learning storytelling, emotional intelligence, social skills, humor, and (last but not least) listening are important skills to hone to be a better communicator.

Pretty much Everything is a skill that can be improved. The first step to becoming better at anything is believing that you can. After that, it’s putting in the work, turning over every rock and discovering what works, what doesn’t, and doing it because you love it.

The hardest part of pursuing better is accepting where you are. Acceptance isn’t defeat, it’s humility. And humility gives us room to grow.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1162

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Loving Uncertainty

Facing the unknown is uncomfortable.

No one said it would be easy to start your own business, or finish your book idea, or lose weight.

That feeling of not knowing what to do, or how to do it, or what decisions will lead to success is part of the creative process.

Going to school, smart decisions, honing our skills, and asking for wise counsel can set our course (and give us a better chance to succeed), but we’re still the ones who have to figure out how to climb the mountain(s) we are facing.

Even if we have someone guiding us all the way through, the path will be different, because the timing is different, and we’re different and our purpose is different.

This is not a lonely course, because everyone who is pursuing creative work outside the norm has to experience this.

Most people won’t choose this.

They would rather have someone else choose their path for them. Is this a bad thing? Who am I to say.

For me, it comes down to doing things that fulfill me and help others.

Does this thing I want to do light me up with joy and add a spark to my eye?

Is this person I want to be someone whom I would admire?

Am I helping others with my gifts?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1152

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Practice is Free (Effort Sold Separately)

Music is one of those hobbies where there’s always something more you can buy.

If I were to count them up, there are at least 50 items of music equipment (synth’s, instruments, DAW plug-ins, and sounds—so many plug-ins—recording gear, etc.) in my wishlist right now.

Most of them I’d label as ‘wants’ and a few are legitimate ‘needs’ that would help me learn to become a professional musician and music producer.

But I shouldn’t let what I don’t have stop me from utilizing what I do have. If I were to wait to have all the right equipment before I worked on my music skills, I would never have any songs or skills for that matter.

Right this very moment, practice is freely in our grasp.

What we’ve got to work with might be subpar and less than what we imagine fit to be, but it doesn’t change the fact we can skill be honing our skills right now, every day.

The ability to practice is within your means right now.

All it costs is our time and our effort.

Put a quarter in a gumball machine, get a piece of gum.

Put in the time, dedication, and relentless hard work into your passions and you’ll get a truckload of gumballs. Or something like that.

It’s not a negative thing that you don’t have all the equipment you think you need—that’s all in your head.

Even things like learning computer science. Imagine trying to learn to code with a computer to do it. How could you do it? Learn from a book or YouTube and write code on a piece of paper, of course! Not ideal, but possible.

You have what you need.

Step up to the plate.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1140

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Focus on the Problem—Not the Adjacent

We often try to solve a problem by focusing on other (unrelated) problems.

This tendency reminds me of the story of a police officer noticing a drunk man who is searching aimlessly for his lost keys under a streetlight. After a few minutes of watching him, the police officer asks if he’s sure that he lost them there, and the drunk replies, ‘no, I lost them in the park.’

We find it easier to solve other (usually smaller) problems than spend time on finding a solution for what’s actually bothering us.

You see this in many aspects of our lives, big and small.

Instead of working on a looming project, you organize your email inbox, clean your house and start (yet another) new business idea.

Instead of working on your art—the thing you want to do—you do a dozen other things with your time instead. We wait until the very last second to do it (if at all.)

Doing the dishes isn’t going to fix your marriage (—that is, unless your significant other despises dirty dishes and you said that you would do it.) But confronting the real problem will.

We need to focus on (solving) the problem—not the adjacent problems, todos and hullabaloos.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1138

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Clean Slate Method

Often the obstacles in our way are not (just) the problem(s) we are facing, rather how we are dealing with them.

Basically, we lose our sh🙈t. We worry and loop our problems and mistakes over and over again. We stress ourselves so much we drain all the energy we have (and could have used to solve it.) We’re not thinking about this of course (myself included), we’re too busy dovetailing into the abyss.

At least, that’s how I feel when I have too much on my plate or when I’ve unintentionally said yes to too many things I should have said no to.

But I have found a silly method that has helped me out in times of distress, like when I have stacks of todos and a negative amount of time to do them.

I mentally drop everything.

I pull the tablecloth and swipe away clean everything on it.

I sink all the battleships.

And all I’m left with is a clean slate.

No obligations. Nothing I need to get done. No outside pressures. (And now no inside pressures either!)

Not in reality, just in my mind. I think of it as a factory reset for my brain.

If you’re into paper products (like me) then think of it as a fresh, new sheet of paper, or a blank calendar, unblemished.

As I sit in this mind space, I slowly begin to ask myself questions like:

  • If you could drop everything from your life, what would you want to keep/pick back up?
  • What do you really want to do?
  • If something is holding you back from doing that, what immediate actions are you able to take to open that blockade?

The clean state method is a tool to get you in a better headspace to solve problems and focus on what matters.

Obviously, we can’t actually can’t set everything on fire and start over, but we can stop mentally getting in our way by overwhelming ourselves with the past and our expectations of the future.

Clearing your head gives you much more room to focus on the immediate priority, and tackle things head-on—just not all at once.

It’s had to make anything happen if you’ve psyched yourself out before you’ve even be

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1136

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Getting in Tune

Anything is hard—until you know it.

It sounds obvious, but it’s true.

Not everything we try is going to be a piece of pie on the first attempt. Failure is more likely.

When I was first learning to program, I didn’t grok it at all. My mind wasn’t in tune with how thinking in terms of code works. It took me a while to figure out how to use it. But eventually, I did. Now it’s a matter of improving those skills every day so that I stay in tune.

If you are passionate about learning something, then stick with it as long as you need. If it doesn’t click right away, keep at it. Not being good at something (yet) doesn’t mean you can’t do it—you working towards doing it every time you step up and try.

You don’t have to like something to be good at it.

Which can be bad if you really don’t like doing it, but keep doing it because that’s all you know or that’s all you (or others) think you’re good for. But that’s not true. It’s seeing that and then putting in the time to be good at it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1134

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