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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Late Night Ramblings on Learning

“He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

My go-to methods for learning these days are reading books, podcasting, and daily habits. But I’d like to get out of my comfort zone and experiment with other forms of skill acquisition.

There’s nothing wrong with reading (and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon!) Read a few great books on a subject and you’ll be 80% of the way towards competency. But there’s only so much you can pick up from a book. There also needs to be hands-on learning and experimentation.

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of jumping from one book to the next without properly considering how to apply and test what you read to your own life. It’s easy because there are so many flipping books!

As for daily habits, I find it a fantastic way to add practices to your life (even if you don’t think you have a lot of time to spare) add a consistent, momentum to practice what you want to master.

But there’s only so many daily habits you can add to your day. If you have a full-time job and you sleep the healthy recommend 8 hours a night and you add in time to eat, you’ve got about roughly 6 hours left in the day. That 6 hours is powerful and can add up over time, but there’s only so many times you can slice that 6 hours down. So after maxing out your daily habits, then what?

What are some additional alternatives to learning?

How can we increase our ability and capacity to learn?

How did renaissance humans—polymaths/universal minds—from history become so exceptional in multiple skills?

These are a few of the questions I’ve been pondering.

I want to experiment. Turn over every rock and see what others find most effective and see if they work for me too. Weekend challenges. Bootcamps. Thirty-day challenges.

Effective is the word. I’m not necessary after learning more faster for speed’s sake, or quantity just to have more skills—I’m after potency.

I want to unlock the doors to wisdom. This sounds dramatic, but it’s true. What makes someone wise? How can we make better decisions in the moment? How can we live a life true to ourselves? How can we stop holding ourselves back with fear and uncertainty?

We’ll have to figure that out ourselves.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1048

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UnLearning

“If your mind is empty, it is ready for anything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.”

Shunryu Suzuki

Half the battle with learning is not getting in your own way. It’s often not what we don’t know, but what we think we know that’s holding us back.

A part of becoming skillful at something is to be continuously working on your knowledge base and re-approaching the fundamentals.

Mastery in your craft is as much about relearning (reinforcing) the fundamentals and unlearning bad (or outdated) habits than learning new things.

“It ain’t what you know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

Mark Twain

In the beginning, learning the fundamentals can be boring (especially when it’s not paired with fun). Take learning the piano, for example. Practicing scales. Learning music notation. Chords. Working the muscle memory in your hands. Practicing playing notes with the left and right hand simultaneously. All of this is great and will enhance your abilities to play anything, but it is also tedious hard work. When you are just starting out, it’s better to take a stab at learning a few songs you love, or mess around and make your own songs first. Once you have a couple of wins, go back to and learn the fundamentals. I love scales now. I don’t find them boring at all, because I know that getting better at them will increase my ability to play across the board.

When we re-approach the fundamentals, we are coming from a more experienced mind. Things we couldn’t see at first becomes more clear each time we look at things from a fresh perspective. We couldn’t see, not because we were bad or dumb, but because we are inexperienced and didn’t know what to look at.

Things can become outdated quickly. Every year (more like every time we turn around) some new piece of knowledge, technology, or idea comes out and changes how the world works.

The problem is we can easily dismiss new knowledge for things we already know. This can work, for a little while anyway. But if we hold on to outdated or false information we eventually become stale. Alternatively, we can adopt a “strong convictions loosely held” mindset. I learned this idea from one of my favorite podcasts, The Drive, with Petter Attia. Strong “Convictions Loosely Held” roughly means holding on to your knowledge, values, and what you believe to be true, but being open to change and always testing your assumptions about what you think you know to be true and accurate.

Needing to relearn or unlearn things doesn’t mean we’ve wasted our time, or that what we know is irrelevant. Everything we learn builds on something that came before. We do need to stay up to date as much as we can (especially if your skills are in a fast-growing environment, like technology or medicine). This can be overwhelming (because of the firehose of information) but trying to learn everything at once is not an effective way to be skilled. One small thing at a time. One small actionable lesson adding to the next.

As long as we are willing to be life-long learners and continuously try to improve ourselves, then we are in the right mind space.

The only ones who become irrelevant are the ones who refuse to let go of bad habits and stop learning.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1047

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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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Practice What You Want To Be Good At

“If you really want to be world class – to be the best you can be – it comes down to preparation and practice.”

Robin S. Sharma

After 3+ years of writing a blog each day, I can officially say that my writing has improved. Am I the best writer in the world? Heeeeeeeell Nah. But I’m better than I was 3 years ago. I’ve also gotten better at knowing what’s good work versus bad. Reading helps, surround yourself with great prose and eventually you’ll absorb some of the magic.

What’s eye-opening is what consistent practice can give you. I have a long way to go before I can earn the title of “pretty great writer” but that’s part of the journey. Not to say that improvement is inevitable on its own. We have to work and challenge ourselves every day in order to discover mastery.

As long as we keep consistently practicing, then it’s inevitable that our skills will improve.

If something is important to you, be it a skill or something that brings you joy (like hiking or listening to music or staying connected with friends) then you need to make it into a practice. What your practice will look like is up to you. It doesn’t have to be daily. It just needs to be integrated into your life.

The same goes for things we want to change.

For example, there’s something I’ve noticed about myself that I’m not happy about—

I suck at talking about myself and articulating my ideas.

I know to get my ideas across with words on paper or a screen, but when it comes to words flopping out of my mouth, I’m a joke. Not always. But a noticeable amount. I’d like to blame it on being tired or stressed, but those are just excuses.

The reason for this is pretty obvious:

I’m not practicing speaking. I’m not practicing communicating.

We only get better at what we practice.

It’s a simple idea, but one that’s easily overlooked.

I don’t expect my golf swing to improve by working on my dance moves. Why should I expect otherwise with writing and talking?

Writing is to talking as learning the piano is to learning drums. They’re in the same category of skills, but they have their own unique sub-skills.

Writing has improved my thinking, but it hasn’t improved my articulation.

The only thing that can do that is practice.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1036

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Hands-on Experience

“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.”

Paulo Coelho

For the last eight weeks, My sister Hannah and I have been driving down to Atlanta to take a metalsmithing class. I’ve always enjoyed the tactile and clever nature of making things with my hands.

However, besides playing music, I’ve spent the last several years mostly creating in the digital world, so it’s been nice to learn a new skill that requires a lot of physical dexterity. I’m still a baby metalsmith, but even so, it’s been fun so far, and I’ve learned quite a lot.

Learning something new can be intimidating—until you get your hands on it. It’s the period before you begin—before you’ve experienced what it’s like—that is usually the scariest.

Professionals always make it look easy, but they were beginners once too. The path to mastery may never have an ending, but it always has a beginning.

Whenever you feel intimidated by something, it’s better to jump right in and discover things for yourself. It’s the classic FDR phrase he spoke at his first inauguration, “the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself.”

This potentially applies to all experiences, not just learning a new skill.

It’s better to be stung by laughter and people calling you are a fool than to fearfully say nothing or do nothing and think yourself a fool.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1026

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Find Out For Yourself

“Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.”

Leonardo da Vinci

One of the best ways to learn is to teach yourself. While having a personal coach or an online course can accelerate learning, it’s hard to beat hands-on experiences.

(Not that these are mutually exclusive—stacking experience on top of mentorship is a fantastic way to learn if you have the opportunity to do so.)

One pattern I’ve noticed (in myself and in others) is how easy it is to watch someone do something, like woodworking, programming, or dancing, for example, or read a great book on a particular skill, but not actually practice the skill yourself. It’s like second-hand learning. We watch a YouTube video of someone making music or handmade pasta, but we never actually get around to doing it ourselves—even though we want too! We’re already on to the next video, next course, or next book.

Lately, I’ve been trying to avoiding doing it, but in the past, I’ve gone through many books back to back without actually testing and applying them in my own life. What’s the point of reading a business book, for example, if you aren’t going to use it or at least try parts of it out? So we can talk big and be more informed? As if.

Better to not read, then read not apply.

Finding things out for yourself is part of the joy that comes from learning new things. Without experience, you lose some of the passion and drive that comes with learning. It’s the classic phrase “Use it or lose it”. Without visceral experience, our new information isn’t all that important to our brains, and will quickly fade out of our noggin’s, replaced by newer and more exciting information.

All that being said, get dirty. Practice what you learn. Test things out yourself. Cut out some paper. Practice some scales. Make it your own.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #981

Recommended Reads:

Hell Yeah or No

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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

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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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