Loving Uncertainty

Facing the unknown is uncomfortable.

No one said it would be easy to start your own business, or finish your book idea, or lose weight.

That feeling of not knowing what to do, or how to do it, or what decisions will lead to success is part of the creative process.

Going to school, smart decisions, honing our skills, and asking for wise counsel can set our course (and give us a better chance to succeed), but we’re still the ones who have to figure out how to climb the mountain(s) we are facing.

Even if we have someone guiding us all the way through, the path will be different, because the timing is different, and we’re different and our purpose is different.

This is not a lonely course, because everyone who is pursuing creative work outside the norm has to experience this.

Most people won’t choose this.

They would rather have someone else choose their path for them. Is this a bad thing? Who am I to say.

For me, it comes down to doing things that fulfill me and help others.

Does this thing I want to do light me up with joy and add a spark to my eye?

Is this person I want to be someone whom I would admire?

Am I helping others with my gifts?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1152

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No Guarantees

There are no guarantees that your creative work will succeed.

But neither are there guarantees of success if you take a more traditional career path.

One thing you quickly learn after starting your own company or work at a startup is the fine line between success and failure.

When you are working as an employee at an established company, the need to make a profit is present, but abstracted away from you. You don’t need to know how to fix or make a car in order to drive it. As an employee, your paycheck is abstracted away from the need to sell your product or service. It’s there in the cultural atmosphere—especially if the company isn’t doing well—but it’s not your direct concern. Instead, it’s the founder(s) and leadership role to make sure everything runs smoothly and that you get paid on time.

Or in other words, there’s no assurance that you’ll always be at the level of success or a higher level of success working at a company (We’ll, the exception being incredible successful companies like Apple or Google. But even then it’s not inevitable. Apple was doing poorly until Steve Jobs came back after being ousted from Apple early on.)

Success isn’t inevitable.

That’s why loving the work you do matter even more.

If you don’t love the work you are doing, or you don’t align with the values of the company you are working for, you are neither doing yourself or the company a favor by continuing to work there.

Passion is longevity. We should always be striving to love what we do, and continuously tweaking and honing our skills to align with the type of work we want to do.

Even the best idea in the world could be poorly timed or be met with an apathetic market.

And having lots of money of investment doesn’t mean you’ve actually created something people find helpful and love.

So if nothing is guaranteed, then why wouldn’t we choose work that we love?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1113

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Maxing Out Your Creative Expression

“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”Bruce Lee

One creative goal I’m obsessed with is to have a collective skillset to create any idea. Put another way, the ability to go from idea to reality with minimal to no friction.

Imagine, for a moment, you are a professional musician. A good one too. You know how to play multiple instruments—guitar, piano, drums, cello—you also can sing and create lyrics. And to top it off, you’ve honed your recording, mixing, and mastering skills too.

When you are at this level of creative mastery, then you can go from idea to reality very quickly and at a premium level of quality.

You can take a simple hum you start singing in the shower, to a full song published on Spotify and Apple Music at an astonishing speed.

You can see this kind of creative expression everywhere—entrepreneurship, podcasting, painting, app development…

This ability is accessible to anyone. We just have to put in the time to practice, learn, and hone our creative skills.

We all have ideas, but not all of us take the steps to create them. There are many reasons for this, but the one that stands out to me is friction—just because you have an idea, doesn’t mean you currently have the skills to make it. You could learn how, but that would take time to figure out. And if you’re a self-starter like me, maybe you do figure it out! You have an idea, and you “just in time” learn what you need to make it.

But most people don’t. There’s too much of a gap between their idea and how to make it real. They mentally get in their own way and psych themselves out from trying.

What I’m after is the ability to create any idea. (Very humble, I know.) Part of this goal is fantasy—I can’t learn every skill—but simply by aiming for it, I can become a much more capable artist the longer I stick to it.

I love the idea of having an idea for a painting, and then just painting it. Or have an idea for a business and then doing it—creating a prototype, validating it, spinning up a website, creating a marketing campaign, and then selling it.

Not to say that I’m waiting for perfection in order to create.

Having greater creative expression is an ongoing, iterative process. We don’t just go from version 1.0 artist to version 7.5. We iterate and grow little by little. Daily work. Consistent effort. Until suddenly our creative arsenal starts looking like Batman’s toolbelt.

The goal isn’t to collect skills just for the sake of collecting them, nor to take on 50 jobs at once.

The goal is to be the best josh-dang creative I can be because I love making things and I desire to keep getting better and better at it.

Why? Because it’s fun, it’s inspiring and I can’t not do it.

Plus who doesn’t want to look like Batman?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1067

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Value for Value

“Takers believe in a zero-sum world, and they end up creating one where bosses, colleagues and clients don’t trust them. Givers build deeper and broader relationships – people are rooting for them instead of gunning for them.” — Adam Grant

Clients, like any relationship, are two-way streets. It’s a give-give relationship. Even if the work you are giving is free of charge, and the value the client giving is only experience.

Value for value. Trust for trust. Respect for respect.

when the balance leans too much towards one side or the other the client relationship eroded and starts to become unbalanced and un-valuable.

I’ve been both a client and a freelancer, so I’ve been on both sides of the seesaw, and have experienced every good, bad, and crazy situation you can think of.

As a freelancer, you have to put in the work. The quality has to be the highest you can give, every project you get. Be smart. Time actually is money (and more important than money). But if you are taking shortcuts that compromise your work, you won’t make the client happy nor will you improve your skills. Procrastination. Shortcuts. Half-*ssed work. Poor communication. No communication. This is how you can disrespect (intentionally or not) your client. You’ve got to put in the time and effort to make your client shine. Otherwise, your work will fall flat and won’t lead to more work or referrals.

As a client, you don’t own who you hire. They are a partner whose job is to do great work in their area of expertise—not to do whatever you tell them.

Unrealistic deadlines. Last-minute changes. Underpaying. Paying late or refusing to pay, Revisions upon revisions based on personal taste versus thinking of your customers. These are just a few ways you can disrespect your hired worker (again, intentional or not) and make yourself look unprofessional. Whether it’s a logo, or video, or business consulting or marketing strategy, 99% of the time, when you hire someone, they want to create success for you. Give them the benefit of the doubt that they know what they are doing and have the expertise you are looking for to improve your business. Trust that. Have an opinion of course. But be open to trusting their guidance.

You may be their client, but they are your client too. Or put another way, reputation goes both ways.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #922

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Just One More Book…

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

Benjamin Franklin

I love reading. If you looked at my home office space right now, you’d know that’s an understatement. I’ve got books coming out of books. There are books on, underneath, adjacent and near my desk. I read both fiction and nonfiction (I find there’s value in both in different ways).


Did you sense the but coming?

But, reading isn’t everything. Books can make you smart and open your mind to ideas you never thought of. They can take you to imaginative worlds and spin thrilling tales where you can’t turn away. They can give you the knowledge (answers and questions) you seek and say your time and heartache by avoiding hard lessons learned by others. And they can become the mentors you need for $10 or so bucks when you can’t find the advice you are looking for. All from authors, entrepreneurs, artists, thinkers, warriors and more from all of human history and civilization. (Wisdom of the ages, as they say.)

But books won’t do the work for you.

Reading is sometimes insightful and sometimes a cheap distraction for something you know you need to do. “I need to start working on my business idea, but I don’t know enough yet. Maybe I’ll read another book first…”, or “One day I’ll be a great programmer, but for now I need to read *another* coding book…” No, you probably don’t. What you need to do is start *programming*. Insert your desired skill here.

Books are a great way to learn, but they don’t supplement action. 

“A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.”

Henry David Thoreau

I’m telling myself this more than anyone, by the way. Books aren’t the only thing that can distract us. Maybe your thing is TV instead. Or film. Or cleaning. Or (only) hanging with friends. Or spending all your time drinking. No shame here. No shade. 

The question we need to ask ourselves is are we doing this (watching tv, eating, etc) to enjoy it or are we doing it to distract ourselves and avoid doing what we really want (and sometimes need) to do.

When it seems like you can do anything BUT what you need or want to do, then you are likely avoiding it for some reason. 

Fear can do it sometimes. fear of messing up and looking like a boob. 

Laziness too. But laziness is a delay tactic to avoid change and avoid negative or undesired life outcomes. 

But neither fear or laziness will make it — or your life — any better.

Learning is great. Reading is one of my favorite things I do. But if all we do is learn and never apply, what’s the point in the first place?

But some times you just need to put the book down, bookmark your place to come back to later, and then get out there and do something.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #866

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

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Pumpkin Growing is Like The Olympics

Let’s say you are a world-renowned pumpkin farmer. (Punk farmer for short)

Obviously, your main mission each year is to win the state fair pumpkin growing contest at all costs.

These are high stakes people.

I mean seriously, are you really going to let Sally from one county over take home the prize  (pie-rise? Get it the prize is a pie?) winning pumpkin medal?

H-to-the-ell no.

You’re going to do whatever it takes to grow the best darn pumpkin the world has ever seen.

So what do you do? You give the pumpkin what it needs. You’re not going to give it beer and bread.

You’re going to make sure your prized pumpkins are watered and cared for.

Same goes for Olympians. 

Competing in the Olympics is pretty much exactly the same things as growing a pumpkin. (No steroids allowed)

You don’t become that chiseled and mentally and physically sharp on beer and sandwiches.

Optimize with food that is best for your body. YSee food as fuel and medicine. Health and training can become your golden ticket to success.

Perhaps you are not running for the Olympics or growing pumpkins, but you are likely pursuing something challenging in your life — creative pursuits, health issues, raising kids etc.

That means to be on your A game. You need to give your body and mind the fuel it needs so you can live optimally.

Don’t just treat your body like its a temple — treat it like a prize-winning pumpkin.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

IG: @Renaissance.Life


Ideas Die

Ideas die on the vine unless you pick them when they are ripe.

“Ideas die…”

Every idea that we latch onto has an expiration date for us. We have the opportunity to take a bite (pun intentional) and execute the idea, or not. The longer we wait, the hard it gets to take a leap and start. The health of an idea doesn’t mean it’s gone forever, it just means you weren’t the one to choose it. Ideas are abundant, there’s always other ideas that will come, variations and amalgamations of where we are, what’s happening around us and in our culture and who we are in this present moment.

“Ideas die on the vine…”

If there is one idea growing, we can assume there are more ideas growing. There are a lot of potential ideas out there, and it’s hard to choose the right one. Some are ripe, ready to be chosen. Some are great ideas, some… not so much. Some still need some time in the sun. In the end, there is no perfectly picked idea, only intuition, and passion to make it happen.

You could choose more than one idea, many in fact, but the more you choose, the less time you will be able to enjoy on each one. There’s a limit to how many you can eat, and too many ideas on your plate at once will only result in waste. 

“Ideas die on the vine unless you pick them…”

Maybe the idea is not a good fit for you, or maybe your allergic to it. Just because you have an idea, doesn’t mean you should be the one to do it. Some ideas are meant for other people, and some are meant for us.  But when you do pick an idea, you must go after it will all of your being. 

“Ideas die on the vine unless you pick them when they are ripe.”

Timing is everything. Knowing when an idea is ready is part luck, part intuition, and part self-awareness. The only way to really know is to try, and see what you can make with it. Some jumped on the internet too early. Some jumped on and made millions. 

You can never be 100% that an idea is the perfect time, perfect for you, perfect for the world, but that’s what makes creativity and entrepreneurship exciting. If everyone was always right, everyone would always be boring.  Failure, embarrassment, fear, worry, pain… the hard emotions and loses that it takes to achieve something bigger than yourself make the wins even more thrilling and electric than the win themselves. 

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

IG: @Renaissance.Life


Related Insights

“You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.” — Shirley Chisholm

“Ideas are cheap. Ideas are easy. Ideas are common. Everybody has ideas. Ideas are highly, highly overvalued. Execution is all that matters.” — Casey Neistat

“Sometimes ideas are coming so fast that I have to stop doing one song to get another. But I don’t forget the first one. If it works, it will always be there. It’s like the truth: it will find you and lift you up. And if it ain’t right, it will dissolve like sand on the beach.” — Prince