Comparing Notes

“Whatever you put around yourself, you will be the mirror of it. Surround yourself with things you love.”

Marcel Wanders

Comparing your creative work to others is a tricky walnut to crack. On one hand, seeking out and comparing your work to others that are better can help increase your skills and the drive to push yourself to new heights.

However, with the wrong mindset, the other hand can quickly shove you down into deep dark abyss known as ‘self-loathing’ and ‘mental-verbal abuse’.

Let’s follow this thought for a moment. There we lay, on the muddy cave floor, holding ourselves back by spinning stories and convincing ourselves we aren’t good enough and never will be. (That got a little dark Josh…) But this isn’t true. This is just one story out of many we could tell. Negativity, Self-Criticism, Doubt are not the only way to live. Thinking your work sucks and you’ll never get better is just one story you are telling yourself that’s not getting you anywhere you want to go. The key is seeing that when it happens and deciding to tell a new story that enables you and pushes you forward, instead of holding you back.

Mindset has a massive role in everything we do. Thinking it, doesn’t make it reality, but it doesn’t make it possible. Mindset is like water to our bodies. Poor water causes all kinds of problems and parasites. Clean water rejuvenates and makes us capable of being ALIVE.

It’s worth pointing out that everyone feels like their work is no good somewhere along their creative pursuit. We do all this hard work, and then stumble upon someone’s work that is touched by the gods. When this happens, there’s two things we can do:

Deflate and Dismiss

Every excuse in the book isn’t worth stopping. If we come across someone who is better at what we do and feel deflated and down or dismiss them as unnaturally lucky or talented, then our mindset is getting in our way. Reflect, and find ways to change it. Or we can —

Be Inspired and Get Better

Great work is a great motivator. If we come across someone who is better at what we do, then we should feel motivated and driven to get better. Your awesome skills and work should lift my own, and vice versa.

Your skills aren’t worthless. Remember how far you’ve come. If you are an artist, think about someone you know who has never touched a paint brush in their lives. Could they do what you do? Of course not, not without all the time and effort you’ve put in. If you are a musician, could anyone who’s never picked up an instrument (unless you count an imaginary instrument) come close to what you can do? No way. We just get used to our skills and our professionalese and see only how far we have to go, versus how far we’ve come.

Let your progress motivate you to reach for that next level. Celebrate others work and achievements and allow yourself to be inspired to up your skills.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #665

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Get Busy Living (Playing I­t­ Safe)

Playing it safe doesn’t work.

When has putting one foot in, one foot out worked out in the end?

I get it. I catch myself doing it too. I’ve been burned out, injured, broke, overwhelmed, exhausted, and a number of other bad places in my life. I don’t want to end up in those places again but playing I­t­self only leads to a mediocre life.

The idea that I might die without putting my writing, music, art, and creativity out into the world terrifies me much more than taking risks.

Don’t die with your ideas still only in your head.

This is my worse case scenario. (That and losing my hands in a freak accident… which is an odd fear I have)

The question I have is how do you tell the difference between playing it safe and making smart choices?

Usually playing I­t­ safe situations aren’t black and white. They live in the grey zones where we might not even know we are playing I­t­ safe and holding ourselves back.

Risk mitigation, and knowing when to say yes or no is smart. But it’s easy to trick yourself into not taking action when in actuality you scared out of your pants.

Fear is the difference. 

Gut check your intuition: Does pursuing this goal or creative endeavor align with who you are? Are you terrified of embarrassment, or failing? Then say YES. 


Playing I­t­ safe is:

Giving into fear of failure, embarrassment, or disbelief, even just a little bit. 

Staying at a job you hate because of the benefits.

Never starting your idea because you ‘don’t know enough’.

Doing what others tell you to do without thinking whether its right for you.

Not asking that person out on a date.

Not asking for help or advice because you don’t want to look weak. 

There are so many things that can keep our potential down, but the biggest one of all is ourselves. The moment you break free of your own chains that you locked yourself up in is the moment where life becomes too precious to give into fear.

Your life is too important to give into fear

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

IG: @Renaissance.Life

Related Insights

“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.”Leonardo da Vinci

“If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” — Dale Carnegie

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” — Eleanor Roosevelt