Don’t Force It

Friction. That’s the word I would describe the feeling I get when I’m trying to solve a problem with force. Another choice could be agitation. I feel agitated when I dealing with an issue that seems to have a mind of its own and doesn’t want to be solved.

The feeling is like being the Kool-aid man and jumping through a brick wall only to find another wall blocking your way. That probably makes zero sense.

Here’s an example, just now—literally as I was typing this post out—my laptop froze and reset. I turned it back on but it looks like my laptop cable is dead. Now I’m using my phone to finish. This is just a tiny example, but a comedically timed one.

Have you experienced this type of problem before? Maybe you’re trying to drop off a package at the post office, but every traffic light conspires to prevent you from getting there. Red light. Red light. Red light. Or maybe you’re working on a project at work and nothing is going your way. Where every obstacle is blocking you from doing what you are trying to do.

The problem itself doesn’t matter, what matters is how we handle it. In my experience, brute forcing it never helps. It just leads you to make irrational decisions that take you nowhere fast.

Expecting things to go our way was our first mistake.

Honestly, sometimes the best solution is to sleep it off if you can. A fresh mind can give you a vastly different perspective and level of energy to handle anything.

If that’s not doable, then taking a break is the next best solution. As they say, time heals all wounds— even the dumb ones. Go for a walk. Go ride your bike or run off the frustrations.

By force, we get more stuck and agitated. But by taking things calmly and focusing less on brute effort and more on presence, the more we flow.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #881

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Should I Finish What I Started?

No. Not if it’s not worth it to you. Not if it’s not bringing you joy and value.

I used to finish every book I picked up. It didn’t matter if I loved it or hated it, I wanted to see it through. Fiction, nonfiction — finished ‘em all. But what did that really accomplish? I don’t remember anything about them. I can’t even remember one book’s name right now. There’s too many books in the world to read one you dislike. Now if there’s a book I’m not enjoying, I don’t hesitate to stop reading it.

Not everything started *should* be finished. If our time is worth more, then we should stop if we can. 

Bad books are just a small example of how easy it is to waste precious time we could be doing something else. But what about the bigger things? The ones we have to sink our time and other resources into. 

Business Ideas. Friends. Hobbies. Relationships. 

What’s worth it to you?

Would you regret it later if you didn’t keep doing it or didn’t start?

Or how about the reverse — would you still want to be doing it 3+ years from now?

If not, why do it now?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #874

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Applying Multiple Intelligences

“Creativity begins with an affinity for something. It’s like falling in love.”

Howard Gardner

The first time I came across the idea of Multiple Intelligences (MI) was a Creative Live course I took by Vanessa Van Edwards called Master Your People Skills. Multiple Intelligences is essentially the idea to group intelligence (cognitive power/ability) into separate modalities (particular paths of doing something) instead of seeing intelligence as this generic blob of ‘dang pretty good at stuff’. In the book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Howard Gardner proposed this theory of multiple intelligences and gave eight examples (meaning there could be more) of unique types:

  1. Musical-rhythmic — sensitivity to sounds, rhythms, and music.
  2. Visual-Spatial — ability to visualize things with the mind’s eye.
  3. Verbal-linguistic — storytellers. People who are are great at reading, writing, memorizing.
  4. Logical-mathematical — ability to think logically and abstractly.
  5. Bodily-kinesthetic — dancers. Athletes. Actors. control over your body. Great sense of timing, response, and clear physical action
  6. Interpersonal — conversationalists. A sensitivity to other people’s feelings and moods. The ability to sway others in a particular way.
  7. Intrapersonal — self-aware. A strong understanding of yourself and what makes you, you.
  8. Naturalistic — in-tune with the natural world.

Don’t think of these as separate or fixed silos we fall into. Like the Enneagram, we might gravitate towards one or more intelligence over the others. For example, you might be better in tune with your body’s movement and what it needs, where as I might be able to pick up math class easily, or play songs by ear (but completely deaf to what my body is telling me). 

You could argue (and many have) that this a very subjective way of looking at intelligence and just another way to reframe ability. It doesn’t fit neatly into our educational system, as IQ does. But as a self-learner, I don’t really give a bleep about what my IQ is. I’m seeking new ways to become more knowledgeable and wiser and to fill in the gaps — and potential pitfalls — of my thinking. Can MI help make you and I a better creative? Potentially!

What’s exciting to me about the idea of multiple intelligences, is that it gives us a framework and a more focused definition we can use to learn how to get better in all the sub-modalities of intelligence. (That’s my crazy Renaissance mindset coming out.)

Each ability is highly valuable to not only learning and creativity but to all nooks and crannies of our lives. MI gives us a better vocabulary, or even a checklist to challenge ourselves with and questions to ask ourselves.

  • How can I add music practice into my life?
  • What if I started a visualization practice?
  • What makes a great story? How can I become better at communicating my ideas?
  • How can I approach my problems logically?
  • Where am I ignoring my body?
  • Who can I surround myself with to create the life I want to live?
  • Am I paying attention to myself and my needs? Do I have a good idea of who I am and what I want out of life?
  • Am I spending time in nature?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #869

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Renaissance Life Podcast #15: Alex Lavidge — Entrepreneurship, Personal Branding and Investing in Yourself

Show notes:

Twitter: @alexlavidge

Don’t forget to leave a review on Apple Podcast! It’s a great (free) way to support the show and keep it ad-free. Also, share with a friend yo. Do it.

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Creative DNA

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”

Pablo Picasso

Do you think we are born creative or grow into it?

In Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity, Hugh Macleod voices “Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.” Picasso would have agreed with Hugh, “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.

I think it’s a little of both. Something in us feels called to express ourselves and make something. The tools and mediums change over the centuries, but the desire is still there. And we see the world (or dream worlds in our mind) and want to share it.

We look at a rolling landscape or unnoticed object in our home and feel a desire to paint or draw it.

We experience a breathtaking sunset or a particular stranger catches our eye and we can’t help but capture the moment.

Our cars have the curves of animals and insects.

Put a blank page in front of someone and they’ll want to fill it. Give someone an instrument and they’ll start to strum and noodle. The “real” world often beats creativity out of us and convinces us we can’t create and work. Society and culture tell us we’ll get made fun of if you try to draw or dance or sing but suck at it. It’s okay to suck at art and still enjoy it. Being mediocre is a right of passage. Maybe you weren’t bred to be an illustrator or makeup artist, but that doesn’t mean you can’t nurture your interest now that you can think for yourself.

It doesn’t surprise me that we are creative. Problems are a way of life and problems naturally create the opportunity for creative solutions. Problems creative opportunities create problems creatives opportunities. If you need fresh water to the home, someone is going to find a creative way to do it. And someone else is going to creatively iterate on that idea ad infinite. If you’re cold, someone will figure out a way to find warmth. If you’re hungry, someone will discover a clever way to cook/find food.

Problems naturally create an opportunity for creative solutions.

The desire to make stuff and share it with others is in our DNA, but the ability to make good art (as Neil Gaiman would say) and become masters of what we love takes hard work and patience.

If you want to be more creative — go be more creative.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #822

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Related:

Born Standing Up: A Comics Life by Steve Martin

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull

Get off the Seesaw

“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.”

Mark Twain

It’s okay to not know what you want. We spend most* of our lives figuring things out as we go.

The same goes for your creative pursuits, business ideas or skills you want to explore. Listen to enough founder stories and you realize the best ideas happen randomly, coincidently or mistakenly. Or they come from a personal need.

It’s okay to not know what you want. It’s not okay to hesitate. Once you know what you want (or have a good idea what you want) go after it. “I’m not ready yet…” “what if it doesn’t work…” “what if I look like a fool”. That’s the thing — you probably aren’t ready yet. It likely won’t work. You gonna look goofy as hell. But that’s okay too. Because you are trying. You are doing what others don’t and going farther than everyone (including yourself) that was possible.

Pursuing something — be it creativity or business idea or relationship or goal — is about being steadfast. Not thickheaded. We’re often more wrong about things than we are right. I’ve found it better to be open to change and mistakes than stuck in ways that don’t work. But being steadfast makes waves. There’s no room for doubt, but there’s plenty of room for experimenting and figuring things out. You are reliably looking forward, confident in your ability to work things out as you go.

So where are you hesitating?
What are you unsure about but are working on figuring it out?
Where do you need to be more steadfast?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #821

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*And the rest of the time we spend sleeping.

Big Year

I want to do some BIG things this year. I’ll be turning 30 in October (which is nuts), and my significant other, Gabriella just turned thirty early this month.

I have a few ideas, but I don’t like to kiss and tell. One thought was to do at least 1 big thing each month this year.

Nothing big for big’s sake. I’m looking for challenges and experiences. I want to do/read/see things that change me for the better, or at least add up to something meaningful.

If you have any suggestions, email me at josh (@)renaissancelife dot com or reach out on Twitter or Instagram (@renaissance.life).

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #819

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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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