Creative Friction

One of the big reasons I’m driven to learn so many skills (besides just being curious about many things) is to remove as many barriers to creativity as I can.

What does that mean?

Think of it like the engine of a minivan versus that of a sports car. A minivan might take dozens of seconds to reach 6o mph, whereas a high-performant sports car can go 0 to 60 in 1.9 seconds.

Humans are naturally innovative. We all have ideas all the time. Usually, we’re hanging out with friends and someone will say “Dude. What if beer cans had handles? Like a beer koozie but with a handle like a mug?” — or something like that. We have ideas, but we rarely act on them. Typically, that’s because we don’t have the skill to make them (or we don’t want to put in the time and other resources to acquire those skills.)

But when you have a skill (for example, you have mad Adobe Premiere and After Effects skills) the barrier from going from idea to reality is less.

Imagine a world where you had all the skills and knowledge to create (in the ways you enjoy creating) at your disposal. You would be ready to create —0 to 60— in a moment’s notice.

This is very doable. But in order to become creatively effective, we need to start where we are.

We just have to start learning the skills and tools now and hone them every day. We might be terrible at it in the beginning, but that doesn’t matter. Lower the steaks. Keep improving.

Even just thirty minutes of writing, or designing, or editing can add up in a tremendous way over time.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1059

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Creative Tinkering

“The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.” Leonardo da Vinci

One of the first toys I remember playing with as a kid was legos. I assumed that LEGO was invented around the 80s or 90s (I’m a 90’s baby) but actually The LEGO Group has been around awhile. It was established in 1932 by Ole Kirk Kristiansen in a Danish carpentry workshop.

The original name for the LEGO brick was Automatic Binding Bricks (1951). The bricks where iterated and refined into what we know them as today. Kristiansen’s toy business had many ups and downs. Fires, economic upheaval from a post World War—not to mention WWII and the fallout from it as well. But despite it all, Kristiansen kept creating and tinkering.

One of the worst things about lego sets is that they come with an instruction manual. One of the best things about lego sets is you can break the rules and build whatever you want. Growing up, I would usually building by the instructions first (achievement unlocked) and then I would tear it to pieces and then build things from my imagination.

It’s easy to go through life living by an instruction manual. We live by the expectations of the people around us. Family. School. Society. We conform without always thinking about what we are signing up for.

Sometimes this works really well. Instructions by themselves are bad. It’s nice to know exactly how to fix a tire or how to learn illustrator or how to start an online business. The problem is it’s easy to follow instructions blindly, without completely thinking things through or experiencing things yourself.

A part of being a creative is thinking differently and getting your hands in the mud. Book smart only gets you so far. Hands-on practice and experimentation unlocks a new level of creative ability. There’s knowing something from reading or hearing about it, and then there’s knowing something from hard-earned discovery and tinkering.

How to Learn by Tinkering:

  • Don’t read the instructions.
  • Play first.
  • Try it the wrong way.
  • Make your own rules (add limitations).
  • Approach the world with childlike curiosity.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1058

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If Everything is a Priority…

If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority.

I’m reminding myself this more than anything. I have so many ideas that I could see becoming something real and magically, but that doesn’t mean a lick of salt if I don’t prioritize one and create it. Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, said it best “First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.”

The logic is fairly straight forward:

Divide our time into too many “buckets,” and we’ll have a whole lot of unfinished, mostly empty projects. In the immortal words of Jar Jar Binks, “Dissen gonna be bery messy! Me no watchin!”

Or we can choose one project, a few at most, and pour all our time and energy into them until we’ve finished them and then work on the next one.

It’s like wanting passive income or multiple revenue streams. We don’t just start right out the gate with a dozen income streams at once. First, we’ve got to get one thing going super well. Are we creating something valuable? Are we creating something worth buying? Are we sharing what we are doing? Good. Once we find one thing that works, then we start another. 

I’m always tripping on this because I love making things, and there are always new ideas and interesting avenues to take.

You can use a thousand boards of wood to being building a thousand houses, or you could use all the wood to build a single killer house.

Ask yourself: 

  • “Out of all the projects I start, how many do I actually finish?”
  • “What’s one thing I want to prioritize and finish right now?”

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1057

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2,000,000 Distractions

“What I’ve learned in these 11 years is you just got to stay focused and believe in yourself and trust your own ability and judgment.”

Mark Cuban

Remove The Unessential to Make Space for Essential

I’m not surprised that a lot of us (including myself) struggle with good posture. Making sure my head stays straight and vertical is something I have to remind myself every day to work at. We sit and lean over books in school and for leisure. We hunch over screens as we work. Almost everything we do is forward—we walk, drive, watch tv, eat, talk, play, and work looking forward. No wonder we look like shriveled ogres when we are older! Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for it. I don’t know how I’d feel about having eyes on the back of my head where at any moment I could look down as see my entire ✨ss.

Looking forward is almost poetic, in a way. It’s like our bodies were made to focus. Sure we rub our belly and pat our head, but in many ways, we are one-task minded. Focus is a currency.

Of course, there are a countless number of things trying to take our attention and distract us from our intentions.

I’ll be working on one thing, editing a podcast episode or working a writing idea and suddenly 2 million distractions pop into my head. Other projects I need to work on. Another thing I should be doing. Social media rabbit holes to fall into. And suddenly I’ve sent an hour not working on what I was trying to work on.

There’s always going to be something else you could be doing instead of the current work you’re pursuing.

There’s always going to be:

  • More books to read
  • More ideas to create
  • More projects to try
  • More shows to watch
  • More things to learn before you are “ready”

But none of those new and shiny things are more important than the things you have in front of you*.

The book you’re currently reading is more important than the others in your Amazon wishlist.

The ideas you’re making right now are more important than the hundred other ones that could be taking up your time.

I’m generalizing here, but hopefully, I’m getting my point across.

It doesn’t matter what we want to do, it only matters what we do. We don’t get brownie points for failing to complete 7 projects. It only counts if we follow through.

That’s why it’s vital for us to find and remove anything that’s distracting us from our mission.

Having many interests and tons of new ideas is great, but don’t let them distract you from what you are currently trying to accomplish.

At the end of our lives, we are remembered for what we do, not for what we wish we would have done. “Here lies Josh, he had a lot of potentials and wished for a lot of things… Alright everybody let’s go grab some lunch!”

Ask yourself: “Does this take me away from my purpose? Is this something I really want to do, or is this just something that would be cool to have done?

All of those ideas we could be doing, all of those experiences we could be having and all of those other things we could be learning can be considered later. But now, we remove all distractions from our view and focus on what’s in front of us.

*unless we don’t like what we are working towards. In that case, we stop, drop, and roll on to something better. (That was a solid A+ Dad Joke if I do say so myself)

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1040

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RL Personal Freedom is

  • Health
  • Wealth
  • Wisdom
  • Happiness
  • Belonging
  • Creativity
  • Impact

We all want some version of these seven things.

You might have a different perspective on what each means and what’s more important to you, but, after all, that’s what makes freedom so special and personal.

Their definition is difficult to nail down because they are foundational and old as humanity itself, but they also change as you change. Your definition of what “health” as a teenager will be completely different (aka nonexistent) compared to your thirty-year-old self.

They are each tailored to who we are too. For you, that might be expressing your creativity and making an impact through art.

Each freedom (for lack of a better word) mixes and mashes in interesting ways and also affect each other. They are independent but also connected. Think of it like they’re all driving the car and they all have a hand on the steering wheel.

For example, lack of wisdom can lead to poor health and wealth, which could ultimately lead to unhappiness.

But I don’t think I need to write a blog post to tell you that.

What I want to focus on today is what happens when one or many of these escapes you?

What do we do when our health fails us? What to do when our wealth and health are poor?

What do we do when we make financial mistakes and are suddenly struggling?

What do we focus on when life gives us a bad hand or our circumstances take one of these personal freedoms away?

Well, luckily these personal freedoms aren’t an all or nothing thing. You don’t need all of these to have a meaningful life.

I don’t think I’m wise enough yet to say which ones take priority over the others.

I do know that holding on to something you’ve lost/once had will only increase your problems.

The key is letting go of what we don’t have control over, and narrowing our focus on any one of these things will get you back on your feet.

“Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick.”

Bruce Lee

If I were a betting man, I’d say that happiness and wisdom are the best ones to focus on.

Get Happy

By focusing on happiness, you become resilient to difficulty. You’re not Superman—you’re just not as phased by problems. Happiness protects you. If you’re happy, truly happy, not because of the material things you have, but because you love yourself, care about life and others, then nothing can touch you. Hardship rolls off of you. Your happiness is a shield.

Happiness leads to — wisdom.
which leads to health.
which heightens your creativity.
And adds to wealth.
And draws people in.
All while leaving everything and everyone you interact with better than you found it.

Get Wise

By focusing on gaining wisdom, then every other personal freedom increases too. Wisdom reminds you to be more healthy. It shows you how to build wealth. It fills you with impactful ideas. It teaches you how to be kind and loving and patient and happy.

When in doubt—

Focus on happiness.
Focus on gaining wisdom.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1037

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Creative Crisis

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”

Winston Churchill

Pressure, responsibilities, and pain can ignite your creative fire. Of course, first, you need to have a creative outlet or two (or three) so that you have something to direct the pain through. All Pain goes somewhere. Sometimes it quickly leaves our mouths through anger and snide comment. Pain can also be let out gently through conversation with a close friend or therapist. The worst kind of pain takes root inside us, and cause damage on the inside.

I find it better to direct pain to create things or move them with muscles. Music, writing, and exercise are some of the habits I use to channel things I’m struggling with or experiencing (Not all bad! Any emotion can become beautiful art.)

It’s not just the pain itself. My goal isn’t to shout from the rooftops just to shout. There are timeless lessons in the mistakes and problems we face.

Too much pain, however, and you’ll dampen your creative fire. No pain and you’re a kid who thinks she/he is invincible. Too much pain and you’re a sad old man yelling at neighbors to get off your lawn. Balance is the key (in all things, really).

How much balance will likely be different for each of us. I suspect this can also be trained like a muscle, but it would be most unpleasant and perhaps unnecessary. A little heartache might make you a better artist. Too much heartache and your art won’t be the only thing you wish would bleed.

Of course, I would never wish or intentionally cause pain towards myself or others, but better to use it when it comes, rather than to let it sit and fester.

If you don’t know where to start, reconnect with your inner childlike spirit. What did you enjoy doing when we’re younger (before the world got in the way)?

Start there. There’s wisdom in being childish (…sometimes. Nobody likes an adult baby).

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1027

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How Limitations Help Us

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”

John Muir

There’s a pattern of thought I’ve caught myself doing that usually looks something like—

“I can’t do (…) because (…).”

No matter how genuine and realistic the reason after ”because” is, it’s still a limiting thought that accomplishes nothing.

Another way of putting it is “I can’t do something I want to do because something else is getting in the way.”

Sometimes this is a good thing that saves our bacon from harm. “I can’t drive because I’ve had too many drinks.” “I can’t sleep around because I’m married.” “As a resident doctor, I can’t work more than 80 hours because it’s illegal.” “I can’t buy a new laptop because my credit isn’t great.”

Most limitations protect us (and others) from dumb/thoughtless decisions. For example, it sucks not to buy a new laptop—particularly if you need one to survive—but buying one without the means to pay for it will eventually cause more problems in the future.

Breaking limitations is necessary sometimes, but for the most part, limitations protect us from epically failing.

Here’s a built-in example: without proper water, food, or sleep, we can die—or at the very least wreak havoc on our bodies. You can go with quality sleep for a while. We are so resilient we can get used to feeling tired (tired becomes our new normal), but eventually, the bill comes due.

Think about it in your own life. We all know this, but we often ignore this. I know I have. I often work too much without giving myself enough relaxation and rest.

We think we are invincible—until we aren’t.

Some rules need to be broken. As artists and athletes and entrepreneurs and thinkers—boundaries are meant to be broken.

We should always be challenging ourselves and striving to push the boundaries of what we are capable of.

But some rules need to be respected. Nature. Relationship. Ourselves. Our mind, body, and spirit need what it needs. As much as I would enjoy not having to sleep, the thought alone doesn’t give me the power to ignore what’s necessary—not forever anyway.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1024

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Keep Your Toys Out

“One of my most important ‘Secrets of Adulthood’: Outer order contributes to inner calm.”

Gretchen Rubin

I have a hard time creating if there’s a barrier between me and the tools and supplies I need to create. For example, if my guitar is in a case, I’m much less likely to play it. Or if my sketchbook isn’t within reach, I might not draw at all.

This probably sounds ridiculous. You could say I’m just being lazy, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on (maybe 25% lazy 😉). There’s a kernel of insight here somewhere. The problem isn’t that my tools are tucked away and hard to get to, rather, they are out of sight.

It’s the classic “out of sight, out of mind” phrase.

Any barriers that come between you and your art is friction that slows down your momentum ever so slightly.

If my equipment isn’t at hand, I’m less likely to use it. If an idea pops in my head, but I don’t have any paper or device to put it down on, it’s most likely going to be gone in twenty minutes.

I find it good to be ready to create moments notice when inspiration strikes. And more importantly, when it comes time to work on your art, you have everything prepped and ready to go— Creative Mise en place.

While I’m taking a break from work, I want to be able to reach over and jot a few writing ideas down, or grab a guitar and let my creativity wander. Otherwise, I’d just be mindlessly scrolling on the internet.

The goal is to make things as easy as possible to initiate.

The same works for any habit or practice. For example, having your shoes and workout clothes visible and ready or keeping sweets out of the house so you’re less tempted to reach for the Ice Cream when your sweet tooth starts calling.

Q: What are some barriers between you and your art/habit you can remove?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1021

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Creativity and Chaos

“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.”Carl Jung

“Chaos is a friend of mine.”Bob Dylan

I wonder how many songs or other forms of art will be created from the strange times of staying at home because of the 2020 Pandemic? Leon Bridges and John Mayer’s Inside Friend. Jaden’s Cabin Fever. Little Things. Exile.

I feel oddly peaceful today, despite the chaos happening in the world and the personal anxieties surrounding me. Perhaps God is shining a little ray of hope on me. Perhaps its because I’m not letting my thoughts control me today.

Looping negative or discouraging thoughts in my head is far from helpful, and adds more weight to my troubles. Despite knowing this intellectually, it’s still difficult to keep my mind running away from itself.

Presence helps. I’m walking underneath an extremely large and old tree, watching the lights sparkle through the shadows of its leaves. I wish I knew what type of tree it was. By focusing on what’s around me, I can lose all sense of my self-centered problems.

Creating helps. I feel ten times better when I push past resistance and prioritize creativity first and put in the work on my passions. Depending on the day, I might only get a chance to write in the last thirty minutes to an hour before bed. But when I actively take the time to write early in the day, lifts my mood and energy. “Actively” being the keyword here. It is almost tragic how much effort it takes to get around to working on the things you truly wish to work on. Secret dreams. Side projects. But when you finally do it’s like a weight has lifted. Why am I not doing more of this? It still takes energy, there’s still a sense of fatigue at the end of the day, but its a calming fatigue. A daily well-lived.

Taking breaks helps. It’s easy to forget that we aren’t robots. It’s not smart trying to compete with a computer. Computers never sleep, never get hangry, and never get bored. But they do crash every so often 😉 We, on the other hand, have human needs, but we also have a greater advantage of being more creative and thinking.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1002

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Loose Threads

“It is the loose ends with which men hang themselves.”

Zelda Fitzgerald

There’s this concept of loose threads (or loose ends) in film (and muuurder?) where certain details are left unfinished or unresolved. Loose threads could happen in the film’s story (i.e. We have some loose ends we need to cut) or the film itself, where there are storylines that feel unbuttoned and left hanging.

These unresolved/unfinished happen in our own lives too—good and bad.

Let’s start with good threads.

Good threads:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Steve Jobs

A good thread is what I call anything you put out into the world that’s positive, good-natured, or could become an opportunity (for you andor for others). The classic example is good karma. Things like anonymously donating to a charity, leaving a tip for a podcaster you enjoy, helping an old lady change her flat tire, etc. Good threads can also be investments you put out into the world that could bloom. Content, monetary investments, relationships, optimism, ideas, etc.

You never know when something you do or something you create will have a massive impact on your life or the lives of others.

That’s why it’s good to try to always be on our A-game and give one hundred percent with whipped cream on top of everything we say and do.

But what about bad threads?

Bad threads:

“I know the sag of the unfinished poem. And I know the release of the poem that is finished.”

Mary Oliver

Bad threads are unresolved sentiments live. Todos left undone. Things we said (sometimes even bragged about) but never did. Abandoned or sidetracked dreams. Projects unfinished. There are some bad threads that you can’t pick back up. Bridges burned, reputations tarnished.

Other bad threads are things we leave unfinished and yet still think about often. In Practice you’ve moved on to something else, in mind, you have unfinished business rummaging around in your head that pops up. These can be super harmful because they can zap our energy—in what we are currently doing AND from what we aren’t doing but wish we were. And they add up over the years. One thread unravels to two, then three…

I find it good to take some time to think and list out (if any) threads I’ve left open unresolved. After that, it’s a question of if it’s something I need to finish, something I really want to do or something I should let go of.

What are some projects or ideas left open that I need to resolve?

What are some asks/favors/tasks/opportunities I need to say no to?

What are some things I need to let go of?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #976

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