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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Genuine Relationships

“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The best relationships happen over time. They are cultivated through connection, camaraderie and shared experience. And they are grown day by day. It’s a wonderful feeling when someone can understand you for who you are, who you’re not and who you want to be.

New friends (especially friends who you feel an instant connection with) are worth every ounce of time and energy you put into cultivating a connection with them. But old friends are priceless.

Old friends keep coming back — no matter how much you change, improve, even regress and no matter how much time in-between has waned. At least the best ones do.

But like all good things in life, relationships have to be nurtured. No matter how long you’ve known somebody, you still have to care.

You have to care.

And so do they.

Care first. Care completely. But if after that they don’t care about what you do, what you dream about and. what you struggle with, then they aren’t worth your time anymore. Unless they decide to learn to care again. But that’s on them, not you. Relationships are a two way street. If you are the only one giving, then in the end, its something you should walk away from.

Life happens. I get it, likely more than most. You reach a certain age and some people you care about move away, other find love, get married and have kids. Other’s start their own company or become a doctor and work themselves into being a busybody. Or perhaps all the above. This makes it more challenging to stay connected. But if you give what you can, when you can, it’s worth it in the end.

When you care, the room lights up. When we all care, the world lights up.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #725

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All my friends are busybodies. I’m not sure when it happened. When our society tipped over into always being busy. When our jobs became jam packed. When our days become a rush and our responses go something like “I’m been so busy lately…” “Yeah, I’m good, this weeks been crazy…”. Or maybe this hustle and bustle has always been here and I’m getting old enough to see it. Dang. Or maybe it is being amplified by the internet and social media. Regardless, everyone is a busybody and I am too.

There’s a great quote by Mark Twain that goes, “don’t let schooling interfere with your education.” I think the same kind of mental framework can be applied to our relationships, work and life:

Don’t let the unimportant interfere with the important.

Easier said than lived, but the effort is worth its weight in gold.

There will always be more work to do. There will always be more email in our inboxes. There will always be new and exciting projects ready for our attention.

But there won’t always be more time. Each of us only have a finite amount of time to give and live. That’s why the important needs to come before the unimportant. That’s why love and friendship matter more than power and success.

Is this an either or situation? Do I have to choose between work and friends?
Slow down, family (w0)man. Not necessarily. Life and work is a balance and counterbalance. We shouldn’t spend all our time working and we probably shouldn’t spend all our time hanging out with friends either. (My friends would probably go crazy if they had to spend 100% of their time with me 🙂

Priority is essential, and is often overlooked or unregarded.

Cultivate strong friendships and become a friend of yourself.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #724

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Handling One-Sided Relationships

“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

Hanlon Razor

Not everyone is out to get us. The majority of stress that comes from relationships in work and life is a combination of unawareness, naivety, and selfishness.

Sure, there are people out there in the world who we will encounter that try to take advantage of others. They will con, manipulate, incentives and do whatever than can to get us to do what they want us to do. Sometimes this can be obvious, like email spammers named Solomon sending us business proposals. But the majority of time, people are just doing the best they can do, being naturally self-centered (like we all are in some way or another) and completely unaware they are driving us insane.

Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being self-centered. We all individually live the world through our own eyes with our own perspectives, dreams and ideas. You are you. And I am me. You bring your unique perspective and ideas to the table and so do I.

I think 98.999%* of relationship issues come from various types of miscommunications. (*Give or take… I’m making this statistic up.)

The problems usually begin to arise at the intersection of relationships where one person (or everyone) is unwilling or unaware to put themselves in the shoes of the other and discover each others own goals and values.

If you are working for me (or with me) and I’m doing something that is unnecessarily stressful to you, them I’m partially to blame and I don’t even know it. This comes down to miscommunication or misunderstanding of what we each want out of the relationship.

“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.”

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

At a baseline, a relationship — be it a business, friendship, or romantic relationship — should be a value in / value out that is equal on both sides. Or ideally, our relationships should improve each other, where 1 + 1 = 3. By communicating and investing in each other in the ways we need, we are providing extraordinary value to one antlers and making each other better because of it. At least that’s the kind of relationships I want to cultivate. I want to go deep and invest in people and help friends as much as I possible can, while still saving room for my own dreams and pursuits. I help you, you help me and we both enable each other to go further than we could alone.

This starts with knowing and having a consistent pulse on what the people who you are surrounded with want in life. Otherwise, a relationship where each party doesn’t know the other person’s goals, values and struggles they are working on is a relationship that is open to friction and harm.

Communication is key here. If you are not willing to open up to others, it’s going to be almost impossible to build trust with them. But you don’t have to open the floodgates and list out all your problems and goals in a twenty-point bulleted list. Just have one conversation. Open up a dialogue. Make it normal to talk about these things.

“A true friend freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably.”

William Penn

What do you do if you are in a relationship, work or otherwise, where someone is causing friction or even being hurtful? How do you know if they are doing it unintentionally or intentionally making the relationship one-sided?

This is super-tricky to navigate. Especially since miscommunication and expectations can easily lead us to assume things that turn out to be incorrect. (The easiest person to fool is ourselves.)

But there are a few things we can do.

Look at how they treat other people around them. Are they exaggerating and bending the truth to get what they want out of others? What does everyone (not just one person, but everyone) say about them when they are not in the room?

Open up a constructive dialogue with them. Don’t be afraid to communicate about what’s bothering you. Miscommunications start small, but often unspoken can lead to big harry problems down the road. If they are unwilling to listen to what you have to say or unwilling to change, then you are likely in a one-sided relationship. They likely don’t care about your goals and problems, and would probably saw off your legs if it meant making their own priorities and dreams happen. These are the people to avoid and drop. There are plenty of great people in the world that will enable you, challenge you and want you to succeed. Anyone one-sided relationship that’s holding you back and suppressing who you are isn’t a priority on your time and energy.

The best relationships are two-way streets where each person is giving and getting value out of it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #664

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The best part about asking for advice from a trusted friend or mentor is the objectivity.

When you are facing down the barrel of a problem (or problemS with a fat capital Ssssss) you’re usually too close what’s going on to see the issue for what it is and find opportunities to solve it — without losing your shhhirt about it.

Asking for help can be terrifying, mostly because it shows you are vulnerable like everyone else. You spend all this time fortifying yourself for battle, handling problems by yourself, steeling your nerves. All the while, you’re on edge and crying on the inside, as your foundation crumble from all the battles.You wish you had help, but in order to get it you have to lower your defenses to let help through, leaving you open…

Objective advice allows you to see things for what they are, rather than what you think they are.

It’s an emotionless spark of insight on what’s going on. However emotionless doesn’t mean soulless. Trusted advice has care and concern behind it. It doesn’t come with expectations of what you should do or pity for what you can’t do, rather, it says ‘here’s something you might haven’t seen or thought about the problem.’

Advice gives you the chance to find different angles and perspectives to the problem and redefine what the your dealing with. 

A problem isn’t just a problem, it’s amplified by what we think and believe about it.

A negative hopeless problem is a lion roaring on your chest while you lay on the ground yelling, ‘why me?!’ An objective problem is recognizing that the lion is actually the size of an iPhone, and you can pick up the lion by its tiny tail and you can get up off the ground and show that baby iPhone-sized lion your teeth and strength.

When in doubt, ask a trusted confidant.

How do you know if you can trust someone? Ask yourself, ‘does this persons advice help me, or does it help them / does it make them feel better about themselves?’

Does this person’s advice help me, or just them?

And when you don’t feel like you have someone to trust, find an expert such as a therapist, or even better, someone who has been through what you’re going through.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursing,
— Josh Waggoner


Related Insights

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.” — Elon Musk

Wise men don’t need advice. Fools won’t take it.” — Benjamin Franklin

What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.”  ― Maya Angelou

Good Book Pairings

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

Reach Out First

Sometimes you have to lean into different areas of your life while neglecting others in order to make headway and accomplish them.

But to love and be loved, you must cherish your friends and family continuously. Healthy relationships are nourished by reaching out to those you cherish, in small intentional ways that show you care.

When a friend fades from your life, it’s not that you dislike them or have branched towards different paths per se, it could simply be that you’ve forgotten to reach out to them.

Always be the person who reaches out first.

The other person always expects you to reach out. —Yourself included.  When everyone expects the other to reach out — nobody does. After a while, you get worried its too late, its been too long to reach out now, and the relationship fades.

If you want certain people in your life, you’ve got to go after them. Courting isn’t only for the one you date. Healthy relationships are built on love and respect (even I love you man kinda love) 

Surround yourself with people you aspire to be more like and then be it.

See the world you have and go make it.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights

“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in happiness.” — Euripides

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.” — Walter Winchell