“Fear is the Mind Killer”

I think hoping for the best but planning for the worst is a (relatively) helpful mind-tool to put things in perspective.

Often, however, we say we are “planning for the worst” but in reality we are just spending our time worrying about the worst, expecting the outcome to end horribly. And when the worst doesn’t happen, we ignore the good outcomes and immediately start focusing on the next worrisome possibility.

After the last few years, I don’t blame (or judge) anyone doing this.

The problem is what does all this worrying get us?

More worry.

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

Marcus Aurelius

How often do we lose in our minds before we even have tried?

There are many ways we can defeat ourselves, but the biggest one is in our minds.

A solid mindset is the foundation of any challenge or problem we face.

Put any two equally skilled athletes together in a competition and the one with the trained mindset will win.

Mindset is a squishy topic, to be sure. I wonder if it’s because we don’t necessarily have the vocabulary or cultural rituals or norms around talking about our conscious and subconscious? Or perhaps our self-defeating chatter is not something we are proud of, so we keep it to ourselves or release it to the world via complaints and social media comments.

Whatever the case, unless you are blunt and tell it like it is (or have a therapist or really great friend), we keep 1/3rd of ourselves usually to ourselves. This isn’t always bad, per se. Telling everyone around you that they are fat or boring might not be the best way to live.

But if that’s true, then why do we allow our thoughts to bully ourselves around internally?

If we hold back negative thoughts against others, why do we subject ourselves and allow negative thoughts directed towards ourselves?

When we are feeling low, our mind doesn’t pull any punches.

There’s a great Richard Feynman phrase worth remembering that goes “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

We are the easiest person to defeat with our own minds if we are not careful. Replace ‘fool’ for ‘defeat: “You must not defeat yourself and you are the easiest person to defeat”.

Mindset is a skill to be practiced.

That’s not something we are taught.

I think the problem is we aren’t taught how to hone our minds. Hanging up cute visualization posters of cats reminding us we can ‘do it’ doesn’t count. When we are growing up, we have to learn to crawl, then wobble, fall and then stand before we can walk. We have to learn how to talk by observing and listening to the word our parents and people around us use. We also have to learn our ABCs and 123’s before we can write and read.

But no one teaches us how to think or visualize. Our minds are still crawling on the ground, lost to whatever squirrel piques our interest. We can ride a bike, type 70 words per minute, drive, sing, dance, start a business, get married, have kids, without knowing a single thing about mindset.

It’s impressive we’ve made it this far…

So what can we do to cultivate our minds?

We can read. We can seek out clear and insightful thoughts written down by smarter people from today and throughout history.

We can listen and observe. It takes a lot of effort to give others your full and undivided attention. Work those listening muscles.

We can talk. We can find someone or a group of people willing, to be honest with one another about what each person is struggling and going through and what each is doing to improve themselves.

We can mediate. Which really is just practicing breathing and observing. Mediation is a ritual we can cultivate to practice learning to notice our thoughts and not always be swept up by them.

We can visualize. We can practice mentally visualizing ourselves winning a game, owning a speech, doing the things we dream of doing.

Resolve yourself to hone your mind. Think better thoughts.

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Frank Herbert, Dune

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1455

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What’s Holding You Back?

One of the great things about travel is that it allows you to step out of your current reality and see things from a different perspective.

It’s easy to get lost in the chores of life and forget to do the important things, like staying close to good friends or investing time in your passions. I’ve known many people (including myself) who have gone through a period where they know what they want to do (or have a rough idea) and that excites them, but something holds them back.

What the something is could be a lot of things. Fear. People around you telling you can’t. Lunch. People telling you that you should. Queazy about your age. Thinking you don’t know enough yet. Sunday Brunch. Your environment.

Mindset is a big one. It’s like the classic quote from Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” If you don’t believe you can do it, well, the reality of it happening stops there.

But believing you can’t is as worse as trying and failing, because a lack of belief in yourself doesn’t stop the desire and passion to go for it. We just keep wishing over and over again, AND never taking the leap.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1281

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The Courage to Try

“What would life be like if we had no courage to attempt anything?”

Vincent van Gogh

Most of our decisions (and the decisions of people around us) are made from a place of fear. Fear of failing. Fear of succeeding (and losing everything to do it / or fear of succeeding and still not being satisfied.) Fear of looking like an idiot. Fear of wasting our time / life / money / etc.

The problem is we often don’t realize we are making fearful decisions in the moment. No, we just avoid it. We avoid being uncomfortable. We avoid starting (because of x y or z reason) and never have the chance to potentially fail or succeed. We avoid wasting our time by doing nothing—aka wasting our time.

But if you replace the word fear with courage, the entire story changes—

We have the courage to fail—and let that failure become a stepping stone, a lesson, a story for our next act of courage.

We have the courage to succeed—because we put in the hard work, helped and improved others’ lives, and enjoyed the process.

We have the courage to look like an idiot—because embarrassing ourselves is a part of challenging yourself to be more, to be original, to stand out, and to do what others won’t.

Have the courage to look like an idiot.

We have the courage to spend our time/money wisely on the things we care about, and not dwell too harshly on our past selves decisions/time we can no longer get back.

We have the courage to say yes to what’s important to us and no to everything else.

Because at the end of the day, doing nothing gets us nothing, fear gets us more fear, negativity attracts more negativity. It is only through trying can we hope to achieve.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1101

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Dare to Live

“One must work and dare if one really wants to live.” — Vincent Van Gogh

There’s not a whole lot that separates you from the people you admire.

Everyone’s unique, of course.

They got where they are by putting in the work, figuring things out as they went, and daring to do the things that scared them.

Anything worth doing has fear and nervousness close by. This is a sign we should follow, not avoid.

Question: What’s something bold and courageous you need to do today?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1099

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Decisions of Fear

“Quick decisions are unsafe decisions.”


What emotion are your decisions coming from?

Are you making decisions from joy or fear?

We mean well when we are making decisions out of emotions like desire or fear. We naturally (usually) want the best for ourselves. But if we listen to the wrong emotions we can end up making dumb mistakes. Buying something you can’t afford, for example.

If my finances suck, buying a Tesla would bring me great joy, but this is a “desire” decision, not a “joy” decision. That joy would quickly turn into dread once the bill comes due.

Decisions of fear come from the place of feeling like you “have to do something.” We pin ourselves against a wall, thinking its the only way.

“I have to stay up late and study otherwise, I’ll fail the test.” But what if you don’t? What if there was a way to prioritize sleep AND study enough to get could grades?

“I have to get an MBA before I start my own company / I have to learn X Y Z before I start my own company.” But what if you just started instead and surrounded yourself with people smarter than you?

“I’m old, I have to retire.” Do you?

It doesn’t help that may people are actively pushing us to make decisions out of fear (some people we know, others we don’t). Whenever you hear yourself say “I have to because X” pay attention. There’s always another option out there.

Our decisions make our life.

Before making any decision, make sure you’re coming from the right emotional headspace. Whenever you find yourself in a headspace of fear, failure, negativity, stress, etc., then don’t make a call right away, get into a better mindset first or even sleep on it if can.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1077

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Are You Ambitious Enough? (Ambition Part 1)

“A man’s worth is no greater than his ambitions.”

Marcus Aurelius

I can usually tell if someone is ambitious. It’s not necessarily how they speak, or what they wear or who they are—it’s their eyes that give it away. There’s a glimmer of energy and fire in the eyes of ambitious people. Their actions speaking loudly too, of course. More specifically, how their actions compare to their words. Are they living out what they philosophize?

Ambition is a lot of things—following your dream to become a professional athlete, achieving your goal to publish a novel, starting your own clothing brand, etc.

But at its core —

Ambition is the willingness and the drive to change—especially when change is difficult. 

Let’s look at the opposite—If someone hates something about themselves or their lives, but they don’t do anything about it (or they don’t even give it a college try) then they lack ambition.

Ambition isn’t binary—it’s not that we either have it or we don’t—rather, it’s a muscle we cultivate. If you want to start your own company but don’t, you’ve got weak ambition. Time to “pump some iron” and work your ambitious muscles.

How to be Ambitious

1. Start doing things that scare the 💩 out of you.

Change starts with the knowledge of knowing that you want to change. After that comes the hard part of making it happen. This can occasionally happen overnight, but 99% percent of the time it happens incrementally, on a day-to-day basis. If you’re not challenging yourself and doing something that scares you every day—even just in a small way—you aren’t working your ambition muscle.

2. See Failure as Feedback and Use it to Get Better

Failure sucks—but it’s part of the process of pursuing mastery and achieving goals. I would never actively seek out failure, but when I do fail, I try to use it as an opportunity to learn something I’ve been neglecting or didn’t know. This isn’t easy because failure can be very emotional. It’s not like we’re failing in a vacuum. Failure happens in the middle of our lives and can have far-reaching ramifications—but again, that part of what it means to live. Avoiding that is avoiding living.

Plenty of people failure and never learn from their mistakes. But not us. Failure is a precious, albeit painful chance for us to learn and rapidly improve.

3. Do What Others Won’t

Jerry Rice, three-time Super Bowls champion with the 49ers, has a great quote— “Today I will do what other’s won’t, so tomorrow I will do what others can’t.”

It’s uncomfortable to be unconventional. Going against the grain is never easy. There will be times when nothing is working and you question why you even keep doing what you’re doing. But that’s what makes it unconventional and ambitious in the first place. Stepping out. Raising your hand. Standing for what’s right. Apologizing and changing when you’re wrong. Being an example to others. 

We do what others won’t and maybe one day our drive and ambition will inspire others to do the same.

Q: Do your words align with your actions?

Q: Are you living according to your own dreams or towards someone else ideas for your life?

Q: What’s one thing you can do today that scares you?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1034

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No Alternatives

“When I’m stuck for a closing to a lyric, I will drag out my last resort: overwhelming illogic.”

David Bowie

Have you ever noticed yourself only changing when you absolutely have to?

It’s a bad habit most adopt when life pummels you with hard punches and you’re left dizzy and unsure of what to do next.

Until our backs are against the wall, we’d rather be unhappy and keep things exactly as they are, rather than deal with the unknown.

The argument makes a lot of sense to me. Change isn’t always easy. We may be uncomfortable with ourselves and-or our lives, but at least we know that. There’s plenty of things worse than being uncomfortable.

I don’t think that’s the true reason. My guess is we don’t change because we don’t realize we need too.

Our unhappiness becomes our new normal.

It’s like walking on hot pavement or sand that’s been baking in the sun. At first it’s uncomfortably hot, but if we keeping walking on it our feet get used to the heat and what was once unbearable becomes bearable. From an outsiders perspective, it looks like hot sand, but to us, it’s just another day in ‘paradise’.

We become so used to things we dislike about ourselves or our lives that we no longer are aware of it. We become stuck because we don’t see that we should change. And if someone or something brings our problems to bare we make every excuse in the book and convince ourselves change is impossible.

Don’t get me wrong, we want to change, but we also don’t want to change.

We don’t want things to get worse.

But’s what’s worse than feeling stuck? What’s worse than fearing failure? What’s worse than living a life true to yourself? Not much.

Change starts with observing yourself and your life and becoming aware of what needs to improve. Instead of glossing things over, we need to look at them in daylight, as if we were helping a friend.

After knowing what needs to be changed, next comes prioritizing tasks that will make the deepest impact. And when we are ready to change, we start small and deliberate—one spoonful of the elephant one bite at a time.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1025

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‘No’ is Better Than ‘Maybe’

—And that goes both ways (you saying no, or someone else telling you no).

The question is, which is scarier?

Getting a no, or never knowing because you never asked?

At least with a no, you can move on. You can try something new and different.

With a maybe, you don’t know what you need, and you feel stuck and overwhelmed. With a no, you understand where you stand and what you can do going forward.

To take charge of your life, you must fear maybe’s more than you fear no’s.

You must fear inaction — or lack of change — more than you fear action — what you might experience with action, such as failure, embarrassment, rejection, and criticism.

Otherwise where will you end up?

Exactly where you are and have been. Nowhere you want to be.

“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.”

John F. Kennedy

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1012

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Cats & Dogs

“My ‘fear’ is my substance, and probably the best part of me.”

Franz Kafka

There are many things in life that seem like one thing, but can actually the other. For example, exercise is fantastic for your health, but if you don’t know what you are doing, you can easily hurt yourself. Without depth and guidance, we can quickly become closed off (and sometimes clotheslined) by our assumptions and generalizations. As the Sociologist, Marshall McLuhan (1911 – 1980) once quipped, “Most of our assumptions have outlived their uselessness.”

1. Sometimes advantages are disadvantages and disadvantages are advantageous.

Think of talent. Talent can be a crutch just as it can be a benefit. Being naturally born gifted at sports or music can take us far, but only for a while. Sooner or later practice outraces talent and if we lean to heavy on our gifts without putting in the time, we’ll quickly be left in the dust of less-talented hardworking people. (I learned this from the book The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle.)

Talent is a crutch. Consistent practice and drive lead to mastery.

It takes dedication and work to succeed in a skill. If you don’t have a knack for something (or perhaps even suck at it), but you are so passionate about it, then your “disadvantage” will drive you to seek mastery and achievement. (Nobody puts Baby in the corner.)

2. Fear is a guiding force.

It leads us away from danger, but it also can lead us toward challenge. Distinguishing which is straightforward when you ask the question: “Am I in danger? Is this going to kill me?”

If the answer is yes, then get the heck out of there. But if you’re not in danger, then perhaps your fear is telling you something. Fear of speaking in front of the crowd is understandable (it makes me sweat just thinking about it), but it won’t kill you. In fact, your fear of public speaking is a social fear that’s holding you back. Imagine what you could do in every aspect of your life if you had the confidence of someone who can get up on stage and be the center of attention for a moment. Things would certainly change. Social fears are challenges we can use to improve and become better versions of ourselves.

3. Pain is a (wretched) gift.

I would never wish pain on anyone, but it’s one of the great eye-openers of life. Pain humbles you, removes your ego, and shows you a world you didn’t know existed. Pain can isolate us if we let it, but it can also connect us—to others, to something bigger and to ourselves. It’s difficult to feel the pain someone else has experienced, without feeling the sting of it yourself. Anyone who has injured themselves—a back, neck, or foot injury for example—will know difficult it is to deal with.

We rarely realize how important something is until we’ve lost it.

Pain is a beginning, as much as it is an ending. Your pain may fade, but you’ve changed because of the experience. Or your pain may never go away, but it becomes part of your story and has woken you up to a world of others who have experienced something similar to you. Your story connects and heals us.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1008

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Confidence Sandwich

“Courage is a mean with regard to fear and confidence.”


I find it quite difficult to jump into something new right away, like a new skill, habit, relationship, or idea.

When we start something new, it’s like we are a beginner all over again.

We’re excited, but we’re also nervous, and our confidence is unsteady.

We’re just starting out, so we’ll likely fail. And low confidence plus potential failure is a combination that usually leads us to throw up our hands and give up.

But not if you have a confidence sandwich. A confidence sandwich, or—if you prefer—a confidence burger, is stacking a low-confidence experience with two high-confidence experiences, one on top and bottom. Think Oreo—strong cookie exterior, soft gooey center.

This allows us to warm up with something that boosts our confidence, which gives us more impetus to try something new/different (aka the goal). And then we end on a high note with another confidence booster.

High confidence
Low confidence
High confidence

Or put another way —


I use this when I’m practicing music. I’ll start with a song I’m comfortable with and have played many times. Then I’ll experiment and try new things. And I’ll end with another song I’m used to and enjoy playing.

You can use the confidence sandwich for any situation that requires an extra boost of confidence.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #962

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