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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Plantin’ Seeds

Big Redwood Trees
Photo by Josh Carter

If you want to grow a giant redwood, you need to make sure the seeds are ok, nurture the sapling, and work out what might potentially stop it from growing all the way along. Anything that breaks it at any point stops that growth.

Elon Musk

One observation I’ve been appreciating recently is the nuanced, yet powerful force of planting seeds. Our future is built on our past decisions, specifically, all the big and tiny things we agree (or not) during each day.

Everything we do, from how we sit, how we communicate to ourselves, how we eat, to what we read, has a butterflying effect into our future. We are who we are today because of echos from our past, and the echoes from our parents past and beyond.

On the surface, there’s rarely immediacy to planting seeds. They take time, attention, water and sunlight that we could be using elsewhere. And we can’t eat them right away. If we tried, they would be as nutritiously effect to what we are trying to grow.

A conversation here, a habit there… A week goes by and there’s not much to show for it. Progress was made, but it’s often too subtle for us to notice. This is one of the big reasons why most people don’t plant seeds. Growing is slow work. ‘I can’t invest or focus on my future problems, because all of my immediate problems are right now’ — this is something I’ve said others and told myself before.

But immediacy doesn’t equate to priority.

What separates those that do, versus those that don’t is prioritize the future today. A creator creates every day — even if it sucks, because eventually they know their investment will pay off.

Invest in the right things, and the ‘immediate’ things will fade away.

Today is always the best day to do something for tomorrow. Why do tomorrow what you can do today?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #650

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Struggle Waves

“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.”

R. Buckminster Fuller

Life naturally comes in waves.

Days come and go.
Moments of happiness come and go.
Pain — and his close friends fear, failure and struggle — strike our shore unannounced, and wash away the castles we build on our expectations and perspectives we want from life.

In hindsight, we could see them coming from miles out, but we didn’t know what we were looking at.

Knowing that life moves in waves highlight an interesting question:
Is the unexpected really unexpected?

The unexpected is not just probable, it’s inevitable. I don’t mean to say that negative outcomes are always inevitable, or those positive outcomes are assured. The best answer I can come up with for the question “will this be good or bad for me?” is “yes”. Positive outcomes don’t always mean good, nor does negative outcomes mean bad. Which, is a confusing way to say that everything that happens to us can be a lesson we can use (if we can take a breath and see it that way) and that luck has a hand in our successes as much as we do.

It’s good to remember that brilliant people older than us were once the teenagers and that we’re all figuring life out as we go, using the knowledge and tools (or lack thereof) we have to work with.

At any given moment, we are working with limited knowledge. It’s beneficial (downright vital) to know yourself, as well as surround yourself with wise advisors who have walked the walk and been where you’ve been. The more we know about ourselves and what we want in life, and the more we surround ourselves with friends, books (resources), advisors and mentors who want to see us thrive, the better we will be able to handle the unexpected.

So when the happy waves come, we’ll be ready to take advantage of them.
And when the struggle waves hit, we’ll be ready to take advantage of them too.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #649

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The Gift of Pain

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

Helen Keller

The earth continuously spins at a lazy one thousand miles per hour. Roughly every 24 hours, it completes its race and begins a new – the ultimate example that shows steady and slow wins the race.

Is it because of death we feel compelled to hurry up and get things over with? Life is short for each of us. Time ticks on, whether we are working on our dreams or not. Perhaps our patience is at its thinnest when we faced with pain, dislike and fear.

I don’t know a single person who enjoys spending time in wall to wall traffic. But there’s also those of us who, when faced with an uncomfortable reality, want nothing more than to move past it. Like swatting flies out of our food, we want nothing more than to get rid of our circumstances and setbacks.

“Suffering becomes beautiful when anyone bears great calamities with cheerfulness, not through insensibility but through greatness of mind.”

Aristotle

It depends on how you look at it, but setbacks and pain can be gifts if you let it. As sucky as they are, our circumstances are teaching us hidden lessons on how to live better if we let them. Nobody wants to be in debt up to their noses. Nobody wants to feel the pain of a heartbreak or the ache of an injury. Depression, anxiety, negativity, bitterness, backstabbing, fear, and discouragement aren’t exactly a fun party to be in.

I’d hate to say that setbacks and pain are trying to teach us something important, but maybe they are trying to teach us something important.

Pain, failure and bad circumstances raise our awareness and show us how to live better than we were previously. They stop us, so that we can slow down, think more wisely and go after a life of meaning.

We might have to dig ourselves out of a hole now, but when (not if, when) we finally crawl over the top, we have a new and better way to live and a story to tell.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #648

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The Downside of Doing Multiple Things

There are dangerous lands on the road towards a Renaissance Life (aka a life of creativity, mastering and meaning). Namely, when you decide to pursue multiple things, you are also deciding to split your resources. Where a ‘one thing’ kind of person has the power to prioritize all their resources to a single focus, we have to divvy our resources into multiple.

A Specialist becomes really good at one thing and aspires to be a master of one.
A Generalist becomes really good at a bunch of things, and aspires a jack (or jill) of all.
A Multiplist* (Renaissance Human, Polymath, Multi-hyphenate) becomes really good at a handful of things and aspires to master the chosen few and connect them in interesting ways.

Our time, attention, energy and money all have to be carefully given, otherwise we can stretch ourselves too thin and dilute our ability to make progress. Even if you have all the money on the planet, you still will be limited by how much time you give to your pursuits within the span of a day.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Steve Jobs

Guard Your Resources

Like a mamma bird protecting her young, we need to guard our finite resources with care.

Ultimately, every resources used comes down to what we say yes and no too.

It’s difficult in the moment, but t he more we say no, the more we can say yes to what we really want to say yes to.

Knowing what you want to master is a great way of what you should say yes or no to. If the opportunity doesn’t align with your pursuits, it’s a no. If it does then its a yes. This balance of yes’s and no’s is a continuous process. It’s like mowing grass —you have to keep doing it. Of course, saying yes to the wrong things has a bit more consequence than a tall, messy lawn.

*Not a word but should be.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #647

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Paper Planes

In the grand scheme of things, a mistake or missed opportunity in life is tiny. Sure, that minisual poor decision or outcome might have produced a significant problem. But even so — life keeps ticking.

Our past is painted by our present (and subjective) mindset. If everything sucks I start looking at all the negative things that have happened and forget all the positive.

Sometimes all we can do is let it go — write it down, talk it out fold it up and then release it to the wind like a paper airplane.

We can’t change the past by dwelling on the past. We can, however, change the outcome of the past by focusing our efforts on today’s opportunities. We aren’t rewriting history, but we are appending a new chapter to our story.

Nothing gives me more hope for the future than investing in today does. Today is where the all the magic happens. It’s hard to see that sometimes (often) because of how busy our lives are, but it’s there when you take a look.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #646

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Pep Talk

Think of today as the accumulation of all of your days that have come before.

Today is fresh and new, but sometimes we aren’t. There’s a lot of mess and experiences and life curves that sums who we are and where we are in this moment.

And if we don’t like what we see, it is our choice going forward to make it better. Massive change won’t likely happen immediately, but it will start to add up today and the next as we work towards a better place for ourselves and our loved ones. It took a while to get here, so it makes sense it might take awhile to get there.

Nothing is set in stone, but a bad attitude or outlook on life can make it that way.

Setbacks happen. Failure happens. Things usually don’t go expected or how we planned, but that’s okay. We are better off in the long run and in the grand scheme of things.

Ultimately, it’s up to us to stand up from the mud, dust ourselves off and do something about it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #645

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You Already Know

Many people will tell you that you can’t. For a lot of reasons. Some of them will make a lot of since. Reasons why not are easy. Doubt doesn’t quit.

But when you look within, what does your intuition say?

Sometimes the simplest answer is the one you already know.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #644

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Solitude

There’s a random quote from Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) in the Tron: Legacy sequel where he, Quorra (Olivia Wilde) and his son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) are riding on some crazy sky train and he ends a discussion with the Zen phrase: “The old man’s gonna knock on the sky, listen to the sound.”

I’m driving down to Atlanta today to ‘knock on the sky’ and get some distance away from my normal, and give myself some time to think and clarify my goals as well as problems that have been biting me in the @ss this year.

It’s a little dramatic to drive an hour and a half (plus the same time back) to be alone with myself, but I find that I have the best ideas and ability to think when I switch locations and disrupt the flow of my normal habits and routines at home.

I find it good to regularly spend some time in solitude to check in with myself and assess how I’m doing, what I like and what I dislike about what I’m doing, and find key takeaways that I can immediately take action on.

There’s also some big projects I’ve been dipping my toes into, and big ideas I want to do that need some strategy and thought.

I’m not expecting to completely change my life in a day, or get everything done I want done, but I do want to set the foundation for how I can make my days align with my priorities.

I’m not sure If I’ll report back immediately on this blog, but you’ll likely see pieces of things in the following posts.

I”ll likely just end up buying a notebook I don’t need from Ponce Market, and eat good food, but if all else fails, at least I’ll have that to look forward to 🙂

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #643

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Tell Your Story

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.”

Neil Gaiman

Right this very second, you and I are living our lives. It’s easy to forget that in all the todo’s, traffic and hubbub we go through each day. No matter where you are in life right now, you are living your story.

And we want to hear about it. Because our story might be similar. Your ups and downs might help me face my ups and downs. Your successes might help inspire me to create success for my own. Your story matters.

Talking about your life — your ideas, your dreams, what you’ve been through, what you are going through — is a fantastic way to add creativity to your life. Whatever the medium, Be it painting, video, writing or music.

Your story is one of the most powerful ways to start creating and connecting with others. It’s real and honest. It draws us in and leads us closer to where we need to go.

Whenever in doubt, tell your story.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #642

Join the Renaissance:

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