Breakout

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Winston Churchill

There’s a great phrase from the author Chris Guillebeau from one of his early manifestos that goes—

”279 Days to Overnight Success.”

Chris’s work is something I go in and out of following (Honestly, I really should read more of his stuff more frequently) but this quote has stuck with me over the years. It’s become a mantra of mine, of sorts.

It takes a lot of hard, unseen work to become successful. Anything that looks easy is far from it. To them, hard work has become instinct.

It’s quite a special thing, when we can watch from the crowd on an athlete, artist, musician, dancer, coach or entrepreneur, and think “I could do that”.

This feeling is part inspiration, part admiration, and one hundred percent naive. The dedication and commitment to a craft—really, to a dream—can only truly be appreciated by stepping into the arena yourself.

It takes time, intention, and perseverance to become great at something. Most folks don’t see it through. But you can. I can. We can break out of the bad habits and things we dislike about ourselves and build up good habits and values we want to live by. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. All we have to do is commit to today. Forget about yesterday and tomorrow. Focus on the task in front of you. Prioritize and give time to what you value. Say no to everything else.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #930

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Zero Motivation: Part 2

“I never worry about action, but only inaction.”

Winston Churchill

There’s a lot of things that I fear. I fear of making the wrong decisions and never recovering. I fear complacency. I get nervous whenever I talk in front of a crowd, or sing and play music in front of others. I even get nervous every time I’m about to record a podcast interview. I play it off easily, but my heart is thumping loudly in my chest. But there’s one thing I fear more than anything and that’s inaction.

One thing that really kicks me into high gear is considering the consequences of inaction. 

Perhaps its because I enjoy many disciplines (art, music, design, programming, dancing, health, etc), but I’m keenly aware of how little time I actually have to focus on learning and creating. 

After a relationship, job, friends, family, dog, eating, exercise and rest, there are only a finite amount of hours remaining to pursue creativity and learn new skills. It’s easy to forget and fall into a spiral of endless tv and movies on the dozens of (and growing) streaming platforms vying for our time. Don’t get me wrong— I love entertainment. I love a good story. I watch TV and movies and read fiction and occasional play games. For example, I’m obsessed with the limited series DEV’s right now, from FX on Hulu. But is entertaining myself at the same level of importance as pursuing my dreams? I think not. Otherwise, my priorities are misaligned.

Besides starting small and building momentum, another great way to motivate yourself to do something is through fear of inaction. 

Solution #2: Fear Inaction Over Action

Having a dream by itself isn’t enough. How many countless people over the centuries have come and gone without fulfilling their dreams or living a life true to themselves. It’s sad but true. And it can happen to us too. Having a dream doesn’t mean it will happen. That takes work and the discipline to work even when you don’t feel like it at the moment.

Is this something you want? Is this goal of yours something you are passionate about?

Then take a good long at what’s preventing you from doing it. Passion is the true motivator. But fear of inaction is what get’s the engine revving. 

Fearing inaction essentially means paying attention to what your life could look like if you didn’t act. Imagine yourself learning how to write and practicing writing every day for the next five years. What kind of writer would you be then? Would you have a bestselling novel? Would you impact not only your life but the lives of others everywhere? Now imagine yourself not writing for five years. You wanted to, but you never made the time for it. Things always seemed to get in the way. And now, five years have gone by but your dream of being a writer hasn’t moved an inch. This is the heart of fearing inaction.

Replace “writing” with whatever it is you desire to do— dance, practice guitar, calligraphy, run, become a vegan, etc.

This isn’t about patience. This is is about complacency. By fearing not taking steps towards our goals, we learn to push through our lack of motivation and what we are feeling like at the moment (lazy, tired, bored, achy, sore, depressed, sad, scattered, etc) And find a way forward. 

We take action because if we didn’t we would regret it.

Now ask yourself, “if I didn’t do _____ today, would I regret it?”

“In a year from now, what would I regret not having done?”

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #896

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Beginner’s Creative Advantage

Most people default to mimicking what a successful person does, and that moves the needle, but it doesn’t get us to originality.

Original ideas come from following our curiosity and playfulness.

Your creative advantage is that you haven’t succeeded at the level you want to succeed at yet. When you are in the spotlight (however modicum or huge your success is), you are beholden to your success. Expectations seem high. Self-expectations are usually through the ceiling. Sure, you’ve got the money and clout, but you are internally and externally capping yourself. Because you succeed in a particular way, you want to keep following that success. Known success is chosen over unknown originality and potential failure.

By not being successful yet, you have the creative freedom to experiment and find your own way of doing things. You might not have the financial freedom to do whatever you want, but you have more room to fail with less risk. (The higher you climb, the longer the fall if you fail.)

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #792

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The Right Stuff

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

There are only 24 hours in a day.

How do we know what’s right to focus our time and other finite resources on?

Right is part personal priority and part luck.

Knowing what’s right to invest in is too general. How do we know which conversation or person we know or will meet will one day help us land that new job, or pick us up when we are down? How do we know what to practice? How do we start? How do we make our dreams happen?

Right depends on the desired outcome. An obvious example, cultivating a daily habit of practicing guitar won’t make you a great gardener. But if your dream is to be a musician, practicing guitar every day is a great way to priorities your time. However, practice alone doesn’t quite get us all the way. ‘Luck’ has a lot to do with it too.

Luck is a vague way of saying there’s a countless number of variables that are pushing and pulling on all of us. For example, luck includes being in the right place, knowing the right people, timing, and even what others are doing (or not doing) around us. There are certain aspects of luck we can control, like who we are friends with, our attitude, or how we treat others. Then there are other things that are far from certain, like other peoples action, that are best left alone. The more we can stack the deck in our favor, the luckier we will tend to be.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #651

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 The Magic’s in the Micro

Micro isn’t as sexy as macro.

You have this desire to do something big, but in order to make that happen you must live in the micro and act with a granular focus. Which is muddy and labor intensive and comes with a high probability of failure. It’s the equivalent of wanting to big your own TITAN like Elon Musk and build rockets that tear into space and light the atmosphere up like it’s the second coming, but with your current level of knowledge and resources, all you’ve got to work with are bottle rockets.

You want the FLASH but all you’ve got is the fizzle.

It’s like you have Step 1: Learn Japanese, and you have the Last Step: Go to Japan and have fluent conversations with natives, but all the steps to get there are question marks. ???? In fact, you don’t even know what number the last step is! Step 10? 100? And in order to get to step X you have to practice and consistently work towards the unknown question mark each and every day.

Your the kid and all you want to do is fight and protect, but all Mr. Miyagi tells you to do is wax on and wax off. How will doing this, help me do that?

You’re the fat, sick and lovable chub in the group and all you want to do is change and feel and look like your 22, but all you’ve got is questions, discouragement from yourself and everyone around you and a blitzkrieg of conflicting opinions telling you what you ‘should’ do. You know that this green spinach stuff and this thing that ancient Greeks called ‘exercising’ would help, but all your mirror tells you is ‘nothing’s happened.’ (Mirror: hmm… you still look the same fat *ss. Scale: I️ agree with Mirror, would you mind getting off of me? I️ can’t breathe because of your fatness.)

On a micro level, everything is confusing and uncertain. When you’re in the moment, you don’t feel like you are making progress towards success. Everything at best is fuzzy and at worst overwhelming. Your pain is still there. Your problem hasn’t gone away. You still look/feel fat, or skinny, or your bank account is still telling you that you are broke, or your back still aches like you’re wearing a backpack made out of a porcupine, or your relationship is still shattered in pieces on the floor, or your business is still sinking and you’re going down with I­t­…. So you want to avoid the micro, numb the micro, ignore the micro and do everything but the micro, instead of realizing the micro is exactly what you want to be doing.

Success happens in the micro. I­t­ isn’t massive BOLD dream that gets’ you there, it’s your daily actions, decisions and habits that you preserve through consistency and intentionally, day in and day out.

Every next step you decide to do instead of not do is a win.

Even if fail or go the wrong direction and have to turn around, you’re still making progress. You’re doing more for yourself today than most do in a lifetime. The magic is in the micro.

A large life is built one daily stumble towards you goal at a time.

However, no one tells you that. the micro where 80% of us drop out.  We see that work is involved and we opt out. And it’s not just because doing the thing is tough (I­t­ is), there’s also external and internal wars raging on.

My typical internal battle:

Am I️ better today? No.
Am I️ better today? Still no.
Am I️ better today? No stupid your worse.
Am I️ better today? No, but your friend Sam is. She’s killing I­t­. Why can’t you be more like Sam
Am I️ better today? I️ think so! …. but it’s probably just a fluke.

And external battles (which turn into internal skirmishes) are even vaguer. They can sometimes derail you without you knowing it:

“The Kardashian’s do this, so I️ should do this…”
“My teacher says I’ll never be able too…”
“The weather is so bad today, I️ guess I️ won’t exercise…”
“My doctor says I️ can’t…”
“My partner doesn’t believe that I️ can…”
“I’m on vacation so I️ guess I’ll go back to my only eat ice cream diet…”
“I’m working so much and exhausted afterwards. I’ll start when things calm down…”

Takeaway: LIFE NEVER CALMS DOWN FOR YOU

Even if you’re on island time at a beach somewhere, your days are still counting down. Someone somewhere is doing similar things you wish you were doing.

Of course, comparison isn’t the objective here and isn’t going to help you. But I­t­ will open your eyes to yourself. Jealousy won’t bring you happiness, but underneath the surface level of your jealousy, there might be a string you can follow that leads you to a truth you want to live or a better person you want to be, and which doesn’t currently align with the life you currently have. 

Being jealous of someone’s bestselling book is superficial. But underneath that is the truth that maybe you want to be a writer instead of a construction worker. Which leads us back to the micro.

Dream big, yes.
Think moonshots, also yes.
Act bold, always.
Believe you can, even on your worst days.
But in order to achieve your goals, go small.

Go Small.

It’s the little humble micro changes that does. Not the big lofty ideas that should or could.

Small intentional strokes, fell Goliath and bred the Mona Lisa.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
And wherever you are, keep smiling 🙂
— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

Book: Own Your Day, Own Your Life — Aubrey Marcus

“The secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda.” — John C. Maxwell

“The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.” — Mike Murdock

“If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.” — Nhat Hanh

Winners and Losers

The only big difference between winning and losing is perspective. Losers lose because they give up.  Losing is taking things at face value. (Or worse a negative value.) No is a Never. The end of a road is a dead end. 

They see losing as something that is final and unchangeable. 

Winners lose too. 

But in their mind, they haven’t lost, they just haven’t won yet

They have a keen desire to keep going past their failure after failure. They feel the same fears and doubts that losers do, but decide to push past them and find a way. Winners are rebellious that way. They aren’t necessarily setting the status quo on fire, but they are asking why things are the way they are.

We all have both a winner and loser inside us. A 50 50 split. But not like a coin toss, more like a fork in the road. The default way, and the way that requires effort. Winners choose effort every time. They don’t make things harder on purpose (usually not anyway) they just recognize that without the work to reach a goal, there isn’t meaning in having a goal.  Winners choose effort again and again, which leads them to win more and more. Any loss is the opportunity for growth and lessons towards the future. 

In my mind the ultimate loss is giving up by never even trying.

And the ultimate success is continuously striving for meaning and purpose until your so old you don’t know which way is Tuesday.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
And wherever you are, keep smiling 🙂

— Josh Waggoner

IG: @Renaissance.Life

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Related Insights

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”Winston Churchill

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan

“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while… you don’t do things right once in a while… you do them right all the time. Winning is habit.” — Vince Lombardi

When to Give Up and When to Keep Going

As much as you want something to work, you’ve got to ask yourself,

Is this right for me?
Is this right for my customers?
Do I even know who my customers are or what they want?

It’s hard to sell popcorn to an empty theater.

Sometimes we grow out of our work. Just because you’ve done something for years doesn’t mean you have to continue doing it for the rest of your life. If your answer to ‘Is this right for me?’ is no, then it’s time to take a step towards change. 

A ‘business plan’ looks good on paper, but in actuality, business doesn’t typically don’t work out so neatly. If the work is right for you, but the strategy doesn’t fly, then it’s time for a new strategy. The most successful people out there in the world learned how to constantly iterate their approach based on real-time feedback of what’s working or not, and continuously pursue their craft until they found a strategy that worked.

Give up easily, when it’s not right for you. Never give up when you haven’t found a to make what you love work yet. Develop the self-awareness to know the difference between the two for yourself.

These are the characteristics of champions.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

“Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.” — Jack Ma

“Never give up, and be confident in what you do. There may be tough times, but the difficulties which you face will make you more determined to achieve your objectives and to win against all the odds.” — Marta

“Do not let the roles you play in life make you forget who you are.” ― Roy T. Bennett

Sleepwalking Mask

I’ve been reflecting on Lewis Howes new book The Masks of Masculinity. (Great read highly recommended it) In it, he discusses the mask that guys can put on as a lens into how to live in the world. Athletic Mask, Stoic Mask, Material Mask… Lady’s can have these masks too, but they generally have better support groups and talk with friends differently than guys. (More honest and open relationships about what’s going on)

Being honest and open about my life and mission in life to be a Renaissance Man is one of the reasons I started the Renaissance in the first place.

Somewhere between middle school and high school, I changed. (No duh stupid it’s called puberty idiot-face 🙂 When I say change, I mean I lost a piece of who I was and put up a barrier. Instead of being more outgoing and taking chances, I would hold myself back. A veil of apathy maybe.. although apathy might be too strong of a word… I was mild. It was more like a piece of glass between who I was and who I came across as. Paul would say I wasn’t living at level 10, instead, I was living at level 7 or 8.

Inside, I was energetic, curious, outgoing, creative (and a little rebellious) but subdued, possibly even a little distant on the outside. I still cared about things, — which is why the word apathy doesn’t quite fit — I enjoyed hanging with my friends and pursuing passions (music, art, math, sports) and creativity, but I wasn’t living my life to the utmost. I wasn’t completely awake. I was living like I was sleepwalking.

I didn’t see this at the time of course, (hindsight is a 20 / 20 Bee) and I doubt others did either. I think this continued to college and on. It wasn’t until I started the Renaissance and improving myself that I started to feel the glass between the world and my real self.

Living asleep won’t kill you, but it won’t give you an extraordinary life.

I want to find my childlike curiosity and boldness again.

There’s wisdom in living your life with child-like wonder and imagination. I’m not trying to look over the childish traits — self-centered, stingy, short — those are there too.

But the closer we can get to who we were as kids — imagination, playing, laughter, making friends, taking action, learning — the better our perspective and experiences in life will be.

 

The questions I’m facing today are:

Q: How do I live every day by being fully ALIVE?

Q: How can I increase my energy, charisma, and enthusiasm for what I do, who I am and who I aim to be?

Q: How do I live a fulfilled and extraordinary life?

Q: How do I create the most impact on others lives and build a network of incredible relationships

Q: How can I practice curiosity and childlike wonder and imagination every day in all that I do?

I don’t know if I have an answer yet on how to remove the sleepwalking mask, but I do know that continuing what I’ve been doing can do nothing but help:

Asking hard questions.

Making new connections.

Challenging myself with daily challenges.

Getting into what makes me uncomfortable.

And doing what I fear so that I can become what I dream.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Wisdom:

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”Marcus Aurelius

“I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.” Joseph Campbell

Origami Life

I want to get to the end of my life and be like a piece of origami paper.

Worn, folded, and forged from a thousand lives lived.

A lifetime of learning, pursuit, and adventure. A life of meaning and worth. A life filled with friendships, creativity and boldness.

Otherwise what was I living for?

Sometimes we have to take a good hard look and ask ourselves, ‘Am I ALIVE or am I just existing?’

Complacency is insidious. It creeps into our lives through comfort and success.

I’m not telling you to throw out your blankets and sleep on a pile of hard candy. I’m saying make sure what you give your time to — what you do on a day-to-day basis — aligns with the vision of the life you want to have. And if you don’t have a vision for your life there’s no better time like the present. It’s hard to see the macro when you’re living in the micro, but our lives are the sum each day we have on this earth. What does your day look like? If you’re going through setbacks — keep going. If you fear something — do it. If you’re experiencing pain or failure — Reset your mind, body, and focus. Start living for the extraordinary.

 

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Action Question:

  • Am I ALIVE or am I just here?
  • If I was an origami shape, what would I be?

Related Wisdom:

“If I’m not saying ‘Hell Yeah!’ to something, then I say no.” — Derek Sivers

“Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.”Carol Burnett

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”Marcus Aurelius

“To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone.”  — Reba McEntire

How to Turn Your Worst Setbacks Into Your Greatest Triumphs

For the Last 8 Months, I’ve been sleeping on my parent’s couch. (Hard to say, but it’s true)

But in all honesty, life couldn’t be better.

Okay, you might be wondering how have I adopted this mindset?

My life imploded into oblivion after my health continuously became worse.

Here’s what happened:

I sprained my neck about 3 years ago. The first year was hell and it put a lot of things in my life on hold.

I burnt myself out at a job where I was barely making enough to pay rent let alone anything else.

I was unintentionally exposed to bad mold from my apartment which led to weird health issues that were hard to pin down.

Every day I felt more tired than the last. When you go to bed tired and wake up tired you know something is wrong. (But the question is what?) Continuous Signs of Fatigue, Do I have CTF? The worst part is not knowing what’s wrong.

I attempted to make my side-business more than a side-business at the worst possible time. It worked at first, but after having some bad-egg clients, things got worse. (And cue financial problems.) My girlfriend was also having job issues, so I was helping her as much as I could.

I kept talking (complaining *cough cough*) circles around fatigue, ache, money, and other problems that made me and everyone else blue in the face. I started identifying who I was with the problems I had.

I felt isolated and alone. Unable to keep up with my friends, be that energetically or financially.

It’s difficult to be yourself, your whole self, when you’re tired, broken, broke, despairing and on the verge of tears.

All of these setbacks were a one, two, PUNCH on my psyche and on my desire to be the best version of myself I can be.

But here’s the punch line:

I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned the past few years, it’s
Your greatest triumphs come from your worse setbacks.

What separates those who use setbacks to their advantage and use them to surpass where they were, versus those who give up and never recover? (And how do we become the former rather than the latter?)

You are not your problems.

Having an injury or bad job, or health issue, or anxiety, or ______ (insert pain-point here) doesn’t me you are that experience. Everyone has issues, even the larger than life characters we look up to, but that doesn’t mean that’s your identity. Pain is a shared human experience. It’s not meant to be bottled up instead. It’s meant to be shared and relieved by the hands of others. Pain is a touching point to guide, inspire, and related to others through there own pain.

Every moment in my life where I’ve been broken down and beaten to a pulp by failure and setbacks, Has been the path to my greatest success and growth. As much as I️ would rather not feel the anxiety, frustration, pain, illness and all the negative outcomes of facing setbacks, I️ now see the value and blessing of going through hard times. Once you see the blessings in disguise, you having something to focus on besides the pain itself. Knowing there is a kernel of truth in pain and that truth will help you achieve your wildest dreams is how we can take advantage our worst experiences and allow us to build an extraordinary life.

There are hard-earned lessons in pain. (It’s hard to see this during, and might be impossible to really know what I’m talking about unless you’ve gone through your own share of setbacks) There are also opportunities and abundance in pain too. 

Where am I today?

I’ve got a new apartment, one that I’ve always dreamed of. I’ve got a great job working on Pass It Down and working with Paul Cummings. My business started to thrive when I️ made it my side business again. My relationship with Gabriella and my family has improved. And best of all, I’m thinking less about me and more about you and how I️ can make an impact on your life and on the lives of others everywhere.

How did I get here? What do you do when you are facing down the barrel of a setback?

I️ asked for help. I️ reached out to friends to see if they knew of any work available I️ could take on.
I️ said yes to opportunities that came my way, big or small. I took chances. I created challenges for myself.
I pitched ideas to others to collaborate. Not all of them said yes, but one, two, three yeses are better than none. One yes is all you need to get going.
I️ invested money in going to the doctor and have started to unlock the solutions to my health and energy problems.

I’m still working on my health, my friendships, finances, spirit, creative pursuits (like this blog) and other areas of my life. But as long as I️ focus on improving in each area every day, and remember the lessons learned from my experiences, I️ know any setback I️ face I️ will be able to turn it into my greatest triumphs. And you can too with yours.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Action Steps:

  • Share your pain
  • Look for opportunity and truth when you are facing down the barrel of a setback.

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Related Wisdom:

“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.” Rumi

“The struggle of my life created empathy – I could relate to pain, being abandoned, having people not love me.”Oprah

“A lot of what is most beautiful about the world arises from struggle.”Malcolm Gladwell

“Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward.”Henry Ford