Slow Regard

‘Josh, have you ever written about the same thing?’

More than likely. My intention with this daily blog is to continuously push myself to new ideas and hone my ability to think about write. But… after 800+ blog posts (what a brag, man) I’m sure I’ve touched on similar topics and rewritten things without knowing it.

The interesting thing about having a daily practice is you meet each day as a new person. Every time I sit down and write, I don’t feel like a new person, but I am. When I think back to my life 800+ days ago, everything has changed.

It’s hard to see ourselves change because it’s usually happening to subtlety for us to notice.

Even when I’m intentionally writing about the same thing over and over again, I’m not wasting my time. Ideas can be raw. Some ideas take time to chisel out of the clay into something worthwhile. I like to think that ever time when I hit ‘publish’ on a post, I’m sharing the first version of an idea. Some of them won’t last. Others might stick around and evolve into a more refined version.

Everytime you practice your craft, you are chiseling away your block of clay.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #807

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Note: The title was inspired by Patrick Rothfuss’ The Slow Regard of Silent Things.

Centered

“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.”

Oscar Wilde

I think we are all inherently self-centered (or at least at some point) in life. Yes — technically I just called you selfish. We do live and experience through our own eyes and other senses. We learn through imitation from our parents and surrounding, but we mirror what we learn through our own hands.

We can see and think about others’ experiences to become sympathetic to their situations, but it’s usually not until we feel it in our own experiences do we truly awake with understanding.

Something has to slap us in the face, so to speak. Both small and large events can do the trick. Each opens us to the bigger picture we are all living in.

Usually, something physical will do it:

  • A flip over the handlebars…
  • A broken bone from falling while rollerblading…
  • Accidentally slamming your finger in the car door…

Something that wakes you up to the idea that you’re not invincible.

Emotional and mental events will do it too:

  • Visit a big city or a foreign place for the first time…
  • Receiving a rejection letter or losing a competition you thought you would win…
  • Seeing someone homeless fro the first time, or even experiencing the pangs of hunger or isolation ourselves…

Something that points to the fact that you are not the center of the universe.

Harsh things happen to us all. Whether we let them control us and close us off to the world or let them shape us, open us up to being more humble, smarter and connected is our choice.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #778


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Is It Worth It?

“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.”

Steve Jobs

“Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia.”

Charles M. Schulz

We often don’t realize how much time and energy we put into something or someone until much later, if we realize it all.

But if we were to do the math and observe where we give our time to, the hour’s stack up alarmingly quickly.

It’s interesting (and frustrating) how much of our time we put into everything BUT the things we feel called to do.

Steven Pressfield calls this The Resistance — a force that will stop at nothing to distract you from what’s most important.

At the end of the day, our time is finite.

And we spend a lot of it carelessly, or rather, unnoticeably, and give our time to nothing-burgers and ti the desires that other people have for us.

Now I’m not saying that the things you enjoy are worthless. By the very nature of enjoying it, it’s providing value to you (…to a point). If you enjoy cooking or putting away the dishes, then enjoy away! But if you don’t have the time to wash dirty dishes (… well first you might want to considered you’ve overbooked yourself with too many things, but secondly) by all means hire someone who does or trade it for something you do find valuable with your significant other (or roommate) who does enjoy it.

Not everything is worth our time and energy.

Helping a friend when they need your help or shoulder?

Worth it.

How about challenging yourself, developing new skills and honing what you’re good at?

Worth every dime and minute, through success or failure.

Putting in the time for yourself and your wellbeing? Going the extra mile for your significant other? Reaching out first to friends and family to keep the connections thriving? Giving your customers genuine respect and care?

Worth it every time.

(I’m going to stop there, this post is starting to sound like a Hallmark commercial —priceless.)

But worry about something we don’t have control over — like someone talking bad about us behind our backs, or an unfortunate misfortune, or the whims of the weather? Not worth the effort.

If someone doesn’t respect you or are just using you to get what they want, they aren’t worth your time anxiously thinking about.

If someone doesn’t like you because of who you are and what you stand for, then that’s their loss.

If you blunder from a stupid mistake, then do what you need to do to learn from it and move on.

Can I change this? Is this in my control?

Will this matter in a year? 5 years?

How long will this bring joy and value to my life?

Do I want to be hanging out with this person (these people) 3 years from now?

Is X (and worrying about X) worth my most valuable resource, time?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #776


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Start Here

I realized that anyone new coming to this site would only see a giant stream of blog posts and not necessarily know what the Renaissance Life is for and what it is about beyond the tagline: “The pursuit of creativity, mastery and a meaningful life”. So, I’ve creative a Start Here page to highlight the vision and values of what it means to Join the Renaissance.

I’ll be periodically updating the page with lists of top posts, resources and any new content domain (such as email, podcasting or video).

Check out the Start Here page to learn more, and if you want to stay up to date on what’s new and exciting, follow me on twitter or instagram.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #775


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Rocky Road

“Of all possessions a friend is the most precious.”

Herodotus

The worst mistakes I’ve made in life could have easily been avoided if I had the wise advice and counsel of people around me.

Maybe I’m just wearing my 20/20 glasses too tightly and misperceiving all mistakes as easily overcome-able when in reality it’s difficult to make the right decision at the moment without all the cards on the table.

Also, It’s worth noting that I’m not blaming the people around me for me flubs and failures. The decisions I make and the consequences of them won’t always be my fault or intent, but they are my responsibility. We are rarely truly in control of what goes on in our lives. All we have a grip on is the decisions we take and the reactions we make. Even our thoughts will some times run away from us. But taking responsibility is the first step towards taking control of our lives. Own it.

Wise counsel is always a good idea too. Companies have board members, advisors and mentors giving the leaders advice when faced with challenging problems, why don’t we? What if we built our own personal advisors — not just for our businesses but— for our lives.

If we can cultivate a group of friends and community around us that care’s about our success and wellbeing in life (and vice versa), then we will be much more likely to avoid the big pitfalls that can derail us in life.

Cultivate a group of people around you who’ve got your back.

Wise advice from people you can trust highlights blind spots and gives you different angles on the things you are going through right now. Plus, the fact that you are going through something likely means there’s been someone else out there who has been in similar shoes you are in and could help you navigate forward.

The path forward is often unclear. Intentional thought and wise advice can shine a flashlight on the rocky terrain.

We can additionally cultivate our thinking, intuition, and knowledge so that we will also be a good judge of the challenges and decisions we need to make.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #770


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Accept; Improve.

“Improvement at anything is based on thousands of tiny failures, and the magnitude of your success is based on how many times you’ve failed at something.”

Mark Manson

At some point on your journey in creativity you realize something:

‘My previous work sucks.’

As self-deprecating as that sounds, the ability to be aware of where you’ve come, where you currently are and where you need some improvement is a good thing.

I wonder if we also remember ourselves being better than we actually were?

Or perhaps as we hone and improve our skills, we gain an ‘eye for it’, a greater level of clarity that we had previously?

I think the first time I noticed this was through Frogger. Yes, the lovable Frogger game where you control a frog to hop across the screen and save his friends while avoiding traffic and crocodiles. Growing up, my cousin and I would have a blast playing Frogger for hours (among many other games). I remember us being good at it. But when I revisited it one day I realized we had never made it past the first area. We spend hours thinking we were good, but in reality, we were barely past level 1.

A similar aha moment happened when I was a senior in high school (give or take) and I was flipping through some of the old sketches I had drawn in middle school. I had pages of sketches of various characters from games and tv shows, as well as random imaginative and sometimes goofy things. They all were kind of… bad. I remember people complimenting me on them at the time. But as I leafed through the pages, I saw flaws and tiny mistakes I was unaware of when I drew them.

In a way, as we are trying something new or learning our craft, it’s a good thing we can’t see with a ‘mastery’s eye’, so to speak. It’s that cocky, beginner’s can-do attitude that pushes us forward, but it’s a thin tight-rope. It’s almost better we don’t know how bad we really are at design or programming or playing guitar in the beginning, otherwise, we’d likely be tempted to quit with barely trying. But as we mature in our craft, we get a little better than we were. And as each day passes, we start to open our eyes to new insights and capabilities we didn’t know previously.

Sucking is part of the creative process. Everyone sucks at the beginning. The only people who don’t are the ones who misremember themselves being better than they were.

One way we can speed up the process is to seek. out honest feedback and criticism.

Genuine feedback and criticism are harsh friends, but make us better at what we do. I say ‘genuine’ feedback because it needs to come from someone you respect, someone who is your peer or someone who has experience in the creative pursuit. 

Taking advice from negative comments online is rarely a good idea.

Criticism stings in the short run, but it enables you to get better faster in the long run because it allows you to see your blind spots and what needs Improvement.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #769


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Make Your Art

“True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist.”

Albert Einstein

Everyone has their own way of creating their art. The key is to find what works for you best and stick to it.

Perhaps you’ve only got a couple of minute’s in the day between classes to jot down a few sentences for your book, or maybe you’ve only have a hour or two after your job to work on your business, or maybe your lucky and you get paid to do what you love. Whatever the life circumstances, making time for what you love is essential for happiness and meaning.

Take what you’ve got and work around it to make time for your art.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #768


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Stale Bread

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”

Maya Angelou

We all need time to rejuvenate ourselves and find ways to care and have a little ‘me time’.

Take time for yourself. You’re not very useful if you’re massively stressed out. Do you really want to keep trying to push yourself and create when you’re energy tanks are at 60%?

Give your body and mind what it needs. If you get energy from being around other people, then call up some close friends and plan a get-together. Or if you get energized by being alone with yourself, then be alone. Schedule it if you have too.

If you find this selfishly indulgent, or difficult because there’s way too much to do for you to take a break, then consider that you’re priorities are out of alignment.

It’s like oxygen masks on a plane. We must first put our own oxygen on before we can begin to really help others.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #765


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Less Learning; More Doing

I read a lot. Like a lot a lot.

But I might be reading too much lately. Or perhaps another way to put it is I’m not applying enough of what I’m reading.

Jumping from one book to the next without actually taking the time to access it, test its ideas in your own life and internalize the good stuff isn’t doing you any favors. Creativity, entrepreneurship, dreams… these things are made from actionable steps towards something.

It’s easy to get stuck in practice mode: where it looks like your learning and honing your skills, but in reality, you’re not really doing much.

Learning and doing are completely different things. Learning is massively important. Learning enables doing, but it doesn’t equate to doing. We could go our entire lives reading, taking online courses, attending workshops, without really accomplishing anything.

Are you just learning or are you applying what you learn?

Are you avoiding acting on your dreams by learning and ‘waiting until you know more’?

Sometimes (usually all the time) the best lessons are lessons we figure out on the move and acquire through doing.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #764


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Slipping

When we commit to a new habit (whether that’s adding a good habit or replacing a bad one) we need to intentional figure out the motivation behind it.

Habits are rarely easy. What starts as enthusiasm can quickly fade to reluctance from the day-to-day responsibilities and whims.

Plus, our habits don’t exist in isolation. Not only do our habits intermingle with each other, but they also exist within the ebb and flow of our lives.

Motivation creates longevity. If we can see the long term game behind the day to day activities, we can learn to push through the harder days and feelings of reluctance to keep going.

The value of a habit is in the consistency of action over a long period of time. Painting only once and never again isn’t going to fulfill your dreams of hosting a gallery or selling art for a living. Painting every day will make you better over time.

If you love doing something, and you want to get better at it, then keep pursuing it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #763


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