Serious, But Not Too Serious

They say the loss of innocence is when you become an adult.

I’ve also considered it as the moment when you realize you aren’t invincible. A few stitches or a broken bone will knock it out of ya real good, but most bounce back to their old enthusiastic, slightly more cautious, selves. (When pain doesn’t go away though, that will do it.)

Another possibility is you become an adult when you start to feel and understanding how quickly time passes.

But being an adult doesn’t mean you can’t be a child. Some of the great minds from history—Einstein, Walt Disney, Richard Feynman—were people you also had a sprinkle of childlike mischief about them.

Just like too little water dehydrates us, and too much water overloads us, being too serious has a detrimental impact on our lives.

It’s wonderful to take things seriously (most people don’t care at all) but if we take things too seriously, we start to lose our magic.

To others, we look stern and too intense. To ourselves, we start burning out. There’s a playful balance between being serious, but leaving room to laugh at ourselves and our experiences.

This childlike playfulness detaches us from difficultly and also gives us room to come up with clever ideas and perspectives. It gives us the humility to see that life is much bigger than ourselves and grounds us to be more capable of handling uphill battles.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1094

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Passion Comes Second

Finding your passion(s) isn’t about knowing, it’s about trying.

Curiosity comes first. Passion comes second.

It’s giving a bunch of things a go and see what brings you joy and challenges you.

I think the big problem people struggle with is the put too much pressure on themselves to find something they love but also allows them to make a living. Or finding something they love that they are good at.

It’s like betting the farm in a game of poker when you don’t even know how to play.

How can you be passionate about something you haven’t tried or know nothing about?

It’s better to always be trying new things for the sheer fun of it, with little or no expectations of money or reward.

Approaching something with no expectations usually makes the experience more enjoyable. Think about the last time you went to the movie theaters (remember those?). Maybe you had low expectations for the movie because an online review said it wasn’t great, and they were right, but after watching it you ended up having a great time. What gives? Was the movie bad or good? The movie was bad, but what changed was your expectations. On the other hand, if you had gone in with massive expectations and it ended up being bad, you’d be disappointed.

Piling the fate of the universe on finding your passion will just overwhelm you from ever finding or choosing it. Better to approach things with wonder and playfulness than come from a place of pressure and worry.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1079 ☕️

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The More I Learn, The Less I Know

“You cannot open a book without learning something.”

Confucius

The more I get older, the more I read and listen and watch and experience, the more I hone my skills, the more I realize how little I know.

I say that not discouraging, but enthusiastically.

There’s always a deeper level. There’s always a few questions trailing any answer.

Curiosity begets learning begets questions begets more learning — ad infinite.

Don’t let this notion make you feel overwhelmed or behind. Behind who? It doesn’t matter. You know what you know, and with a sound mind, you’ll always be learning more—whether you’re 7 or 80 years old.

But don’t let age make your curiosity ridged and stale like an old loaf of bread forgot in the pantry. Open your mind to new ideas and experiences. Just because someone won’t make you yacht-loads of money doesn’t mean it isn’t a worthy pursuit. Be inquisitive. Get weird. Expand wide. Ask a million questions as a child would. Be annoying.

The only thing that should stop us from learning new things is death—everything else is undebatable.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #964

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Applying Your Curiosity

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”

Oprah Winfrey

What I wrote about ambition also applies to passion, curiosity, and skill. Passion expands to more passions.

Questions lead to partial answers, and partial answers lead to more questions.

And the more I learn about something, the deeper I desire to go. And not only that, learning a skill usually leads to discovering other interesting skills. If you are driven by genuine curiosity, your interests will go deep and wide.

There’s a catch though—our time is limited. Our interests might be abundant but our time isn’t. Which means we have to choose what’s most important to us.

If you could do anything in the universe, what would you do?

Think bigger than a vacation at the beach—which is my immediate response. 🙂 If money wasn’t an issue, what would you do?

Would you start your own business?

Would you spend more time with your family?

Would you (finally) learn piano like you’ve been wanting to for the past forever?

That’s where you should apply your passion, skill, and curiosity. Even if you have to do it on the side, or only on weekends. Life is too short for us to ignore and postpone what we really want to do.

Maybe going full-time on your own tech company isn’t possible right now. Okay, so what’s the next best thing? You could work on your hard and soft skills, like web apps and leadership to cultivate yourself into the person that could run a successful company. You could work on your network of creatives and entrepreneurs. You could take 10-15% of your paycheck that you would normally spend on whatever-whatever’s and save it for when the time is right to leap.

Now is the time to take a step.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #948

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Creativity & Uncertainty

“There is no science in creativity. If you don’t give yourself room to fail, you won’t innovate.”

Bob Iger

It’s okay if you have no idea what you are doing —

No one truly does. We’re all making decisions based on the best guesses we can give based on our experiences, knowledge, and information we have to go on. Even the people who have ‘made it’ aren’t immune to uncertainty.

I have no idea what I’m doing either. But that doesn’t matter. As long as I’m doing my best and not compromising on who I am and what I want, then defeat can’t touch me. Sure, I’ll fail—likely I’ll have some epic failures—but failure is just one moment.

  • Your business sets on fire so then you start another one.
  • You realize your art is not as good as you think it is, so then you get better.
  • Your friends disappear when you need them the most, so then you find more caring friends.

Uncertainty isn’t the enemy.

As Richard P. Feynman once said, “I think that when we know that we actually do live in uncertainty, then we ought to admit it; it is of great value to realize that we do not know the answers to different questions. This attitude of mind – this attitude of uncertainty – is vital to the scientist, and it is this attitude of mind which the student must first acquire.”

We fear uncertainty because it might go against our plans (…Or kill us. That happens sometimes too). But again, our plans are just guesses about the lives we think we should have. In actuality, the things we didn’t see coming could show us a better way to live, if we take the opportunity to do so.

Uncertainty generates curiosity. It gives us the opportunity to look at a blank page, screen, canvas or out into the stars and ponder, “What If…?” And that leads to creativity.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #891

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Creative Soul

“When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.”

Walt Disney

I honestly haven’t figured out yet why I enjoy creating so much. There’s a sense of wonder and joy I get every time I create something. There’s a great quote by John Lennon (from the Beatles duh) in a Rolling Stones interview that goes, “I’m an artist, man. Give me a tuba, and I’ll get you something out of it.” Perhaps creativity is built into our DNA. Does everyone have it? Probably. But it needs to be nourished.

Creativity comes in many shapes and colors, but at the heart of all true creative work is the joy of making stuff. It’s taking an idea and making it a reality. It’s following your curiosity, where it may lead.

To be creative is to be someone who lives to make stuff. Forget money, forget fame—those are only tools (and sometimes hinders) to live a life where you can create more.

I have a full-time job. I don’t have to write and work on this blog. I don’t have to play music. But then again, I have to do it. I would feel stale and less happy if I stopped. Creating isn’t all of who I am, but it’s a part of me. Some people ask why I do so many things. Why not stick to one thing and focus all your effort on that? It’s true. That does work for some. It’s not a bad idea. But that’s not me. I would be giving pieces of myself away. Pursuing multiple things takes much more effort. But the rewards outpace the effort. Idea’s cross-pollinate between the different crafts you are learning. You start to see and think differently. You start to see how things are all connected. Ideas create more ideas. Which gives you more opportunities to learn and make stuff.

You having a creative soul when you:

  • Live to makes stuff.
  • Can’t not create.
  • Find meaning and joy in creativity.
  • Always experimenting and challenging yourself.
  • Are relentlessly curious.

Curiosity is what feeds the creative soul.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #877

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Beginner’s Sandbox

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”

Shunryu Suzuki

You don’t have to be something great to start doing it. This took me a while to figure out. I wanted to write, but I wanted to be able to write well, so I ended up not doing it at all. If perfectionism is what keeps us from finishing, then Proficiency (and lack thereof) is what keeps us from starting.

Wanting to be great can push us forward towards being great, but it can also push us towards doing nothing.

It’s a matter of high expectations, and thinking (wishing) we were great immediately. We hear stories from iconic people from history and professionals making it look easy today and we think we should be able to pick up a basketball (a pen, a guitar, a [insert your thing here] ) and be amazing at using it. This misunderstanding leads us to quit before we even start, and feel disappointed when we aren’t exceptional on the first try.

Nothing is easy the first time. And if it is, it certainly won’t be easy the second time. Or the third.

It takes practice and smart consistency to become great at something. It takes a whole crater of effort and discomfort to become ‘so good they can’t ignore you’. 

But it only takes a little effort to start today. Being a beginner means you have room to try whatever you want. As a beginner, there is no pressure to conform to what’s trending or what our past success demands of us. We get to play in obscurity. We get to have cake and eat it too. 

You don’t have to be something great to start doing it. You just have to start doing it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #849

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Fear and Desire

“Having wandered some distance among gloomy rocks, I came to the mouth of a great cavern, in front of which I stood some time, astonished. Bending back and forth, I tried to see whether I could discover anything inside, but the darkness within prevented that. Suddenly there arose in me two contrary emotions, fear and desire — fear of the threatening dark cave, desire to see whether there were any marvelous thing within.”

Leonardo da Vinci, excerpt from Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo da Vinci Biography

Like many things in life, creativity, and pursuing your dreams creates a juxtaposition of fear and desire. We have a desire to be, do, and become what we dream, but at the same time fear starting, continuing, and succeeding. We desire the outcome, yet fear the outcome.

When we give into fear, we train ourselves to live without the dream, accepting that it will never happen. This is my life as it is. Yet, even so, we live with a longing that by some turn of fate, we will chance upon our dreams on a morning walk. How many of us are waiting for our big break? Waiting for your dreams to happen is like waiting to win the lottery when you haven’t even bought a lottery ticket.

Have you ever heard yourself say or think, ‘oh that could never happen to me’ or ‘I could never do that, only they can do that.’

This is what Paul would call a negative mindset. No matter how much you want something to happen, if you don’t believe that you can do it, it’s not going to happen. A positive mindset is essential. (You don’t have to be overly-happy all the time, but you do have to believe that you will find a way to your goals.)

What happens when we give into desire instead of fear?

When we push through the fear, anxiety, and uncertainty, we step into our discomfort zones and change our capacity of what’s possible. We open our minds to new possibilities. 

You step on stage, sing your heart out, and…. well. That’s it. You did it. You did something.
You didn’t die, you probably could have done better, but better comes with experience and deliberate practice.

To make your dreams reality, you must let curiosity win.

In creativity and life, there will always be a choice of fear and desire. Who you become — your potential — will be determined by those choices.

Will you choose to give into fear, or will you give into curiosity?

I could let my writing, music, or ideas slide because of fear. Fear of putting myself out there, fear of rejection, or fear of failure. This always reminds me of George McFly from Back to the Future (Marty’s Dad). He’s always saying the line, ‘I could never put my work out there, what if they don’t like it? I don’t think I could take that kind of rejection.’ An extreme example ha, but applicable to our lives. What does giving into fear do to George’s life? He has a mediocre job and life. He never publishes his novels. He get’s pushed around by Biff (and probably everyone else).

Ultimately, what is giving into fear is going to get us?

What is fear going to give you?

The same thing you’ve always had. The longing and desire for change, but not enough bravado to take the leap. Best case scenario, fear only gives you mediocrity. (And mediocrity is the opposite of a Renaissance Life)

Fear and desire will never be an easy choice. 
At best its going to be a grey area. Sometimes fear is good. The fear of being attacked by a lion is useful when you’re in Africa. (Fear of being mauled in Washington is not very useful) But when it comes to creative fear, curiosity must always beat out fear. If you want to help change the world and be a mover and shaker, you must not let fear stop you.

So back to young Leonardo. As he looked into the depths of the black, villainous cave, did he choose fear or desire?

‘Desire won. His unstoppable curiosity triumphed, and Leonardo went into the cave. There he discovered, embedded in the wall, a fossil whale. “Oh mighty and once-living instrument of nature, your vast strength was to no avail.”… “You lashed with swift, branching fins and forked tail, creating in the sea sudden tempests that buffeted and submerged ships. Oh time, swift despoiler of all things, how many kings, how many nations hast thou undone, and how many changes of states and of circumstances have happened since this wondrous fish perished.”’

Walter Isaacson, Leonardo da Vinci

To be unstoppable, we must let curiosity drive us.

And as morbid as it sounds, we are all going to die and only have one life to live in this world.

Whether we choose fear or desire, time waits for no one.

“Get busy living or get busy dying.” — Andy Dufresne, Shawshank Redemption

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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