Imagination Comes From Unexpected Places:

  • Moments alone.
  • Boredom.
  • What If…? questions.
  • Problems.
  • Rebellious behavior.
  • Silent Walks.
  • Motion (running).
  • Nature.
  • Nonsense.
  • Unfamiliar spaces.
  • Emotional outlets.

I think the majority of us are bubbling with ideas, we are usually too busy (and stubborn) to hear them. We need space to dream. (And a sprinkle of imagination, for sure. But space to let our minds wander is the main ingredient.) But think about how space-lacking we are. Almost every moment we aren’t communicating we are filling it with sound. We listen to music while we exercise, commute, work, walk, dance, shower… And the rest of the time we aren’t listening to music we are consuming podcasts, audiobooks, movies, and tv. (I’m saying things as someone who loves music and who has his own podcast.)

But the magic happens in the negative spaces. The silence. The wonder. Anything that lets our mind wander and question. Our imagination turns clouds into dragons and shadows into monsters. It turns ordinary and mundane into the extraordinary and novel. It’s seeing what is and turning it on its head. (Or put another way, it’s seeing what isn’t.)

But you need structure and routine to create openness. Daily habits are a great way to wake the mind. A daily walk after work with your dog — but no music. Or maybe it’s sitting on the porch alone with your thoughts. Or noodling an idea while you are driving.

It might sound silly to say, but don’t be so afraid to be alone with yourself!

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #859

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Related:

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

Albert Einstein

“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”

Michelangelo

“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”

Robin Williams

Give & Take (Creative Tennis Part 2)

“Do not quench your inspiration and your imagination; do not become the slave of your model.”

Vincent Van Gogh

Another way tennis reminds me of creativity is how the game is played. The game has a give and take. You hit the ball across the court and your opponent hits it back on your side of the court.

Creativity is a give and take. If all we do is pump out content without also consuming other creative work, our ideas will inevitably become stale.

If creativity is a furnace, experience and inspiration is the coal. By experiencing life firsthand, you will notice and be inspired by your journey. That’s why travel is so impactful — it allows you to get out of your life and experience other life outside your normal.

And by surrounding yourself with creative ideas and different ways of thinking, pieces of those ideas will inspire you to new ideas.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #810

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How to Have Better Ideas

“A solid routine saves you from giving up.”

John Updike

Before I started writing every day, I would inevitably do it sporadically. I intended to write when inspiration struck — which I assumed would be frequently — but in reality, I rarely put pen to paper. Perhaps I squeezed out a handful (tops) of mediocre blog posts in a year. The interesting thing about inspiration is doesn’t find us, we have to go out and seek it. It wasn’t until I committed to writing daily that I started having better ideas.

You would think habit would stifle creativity, but it does the opposite. Creating a daily routine gives us structure and our imagination breathing room to run wild. It’s the foundation we need to create consistently.

Not that quantity of work is what I’m after, however, the quantity of work typically leads to quality.

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

Maya Angelou

Quantity leads to quality.

The more we do something, the better we get at it (as long as we aren’t phoning it in of course) and the more ideas we have. It’s a number’s game. One great idea out of ten so-so ideas might seem like a poor average, but if you keep creating them then those great ideas start adding up. Digging up nine stumps isn’t so bad if the ten trees grow into a massive orange tree of impact and wealth (and not just financially).

Of course, we’re not trying to grow stumps. We’re trying to grow trees. So the more we practice the better we will be.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #800 ✨

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Staying Creatively Fresh

Writer’s block isn’t something I worry too much about. Rather, staying fresh is constantly on my mind when I create (write, draw, song-write etc). In my mind, there’s nothing worse than repeating yourself. In my mind, there’s nothing worse than repeating yourself. (Had to… 😉 The last thing I want is for my work to feel creatively bankrupt or stale. Mmm, smells like bankruptcy. (<- Inside joke from high school that only one person, who isn’t reading this, will understand. Had to… 😉

Stale work is saying the same thing over and over, without improving upon the ideas or having a new resolution.

Letting other creative work inspire you? All day.
Stealing something and putting your own spin on it? Awesome.
Selling your work? Great job.
But repeatedly creating the same thing without improving? No thanks.

There’s no growth. No positive change. No intention behind the repetition. Just the same old same old.

It’s like that friend or relative you have that repeatedly says they are going to do something, but never does (and usually does the opposite). They really want too, but because they don’t, they rarely ever do. (We can easily fall into this rut as well. I know I have.)

Creative staleness can happen on a micro and macro level.

Micro Level

On a micro level, we can easily lean into using familiar tricks and patterns which ultimately can plateau our progress. Writing for example. Lazy writing is using the same words, sentences or structure. One example for me is using ‘—‘ too much to break up a sentence and to give dramatic pause to an idea. (I even had them in this blog post, but edited them out.) Another lazy one I have to watch out for is ending every blog with a “blah blah blah, this is how you can have a meaningful life.” This phrase, “meaningful life”, is a part of my mission statement and tagline for Renaissance Life “The Pursuit of Creativity, Mastery and a Meaningful Life”, so it naturally pops up when I’m writing. Moderation is key here. Adding a line about having a ‘meaningful life’ at the end of every josh dang blog post is sloppy, isn’t winning me any brownie points and quickly detracts from the meaningfulness I’m trying to create.

This happens in all types of creative pursuits, not just writing. Comedy, acting, art, songwriting, lyrics, poems, speeches and more.

Example: Rappers relying on ‘uhh’ or a specific curse too much as filler words.
Example: Speakers saying the word ‘um’ or ‘pretty’ or ‘like’ too much.
Example: Musicians using the same chord, tempo or scale progression in every song they make. Like a continuous thump thump thump thump drum kick in 4/4 on every song.

Good Example: Comedians throwing out there material after they finish their one-hour special. This allows them to focus on new ideas instead of treading on old ideas.
Good Example: Actors or film makers who continuously change themselves by taking on new and different roles and projects.

TAKEAWAY: Observe how you create in your practice. Go granular; Observe the specifics. Avoid repeating yourself too much to keep things fresh and interesting. Try challenge yourself with rules and restrictions (i.g. If you write a word too much, like using the word ‘maybe’, challenge yourself it to not using ‘maybe’ next time — or ever again.)

Macro Level

On a macro level, we can fall into traps of or work retreading on the same old topics and themes without any clear variation or difference. Giving old ideas life by adding new ideas are great, but having the same idea repeatedly? Not so much. This usually happens to me when I’m trying to convince myself to do something. For example, an idea I want to do, like experiment with filmmaking, loops in my head, but I haven’t done it yet so I’ll keep talking about it to convince myself to do it. (Which never works.) I’ll end up repeating myself into the ground trying to convince myself. Eventually, I’ll get tired of hearing myself and I’ll shut up and do it already.

Repetition + growth is what we want.
Repetition + repetition is actually what makes us feel stuck. As Mark Twain has said, “is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results”.

TAKEAWAY: Watch out for too much repetition that ends you in the same place you started.

How to Stay Creatively Fresh

Ideas spark ideas.

Let others influence you into your own ideas.

One great way of staying fresh is surrounding yourself with the ideas of others, anyone who inspires you to create.

Another great way is to also surround yourself with new ideas and topics you would normally not explore.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #638

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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

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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

Life Principle #8 Act Boldly Live Boldly

Give me even ONE successful idea that changed the world that wasn’t crazy or “impossible” before it became reality.

Ideas that change the world are BOLD ideas. They capture the hearts and imaginations of generations. They resonate with all age groups and ethnicities. They are a piece of the human experience. 

Before there was print, people copied books one at a time by hand.

Before electricity, light bulbs, heat & air, computers, and space travel were mere fantasies.

Flight was only for the bird until the Wright Bros soared.

Look at all the things around you are right now and I’d make a strong bet that 80% of it would be impossible a century or two ago.

And yet someone was bold enough to try.

Bold enough to try.

Impossible is just an excuse for the rest of us to say until someone does it.

Life Principle #8 Act Boldly Live Boldly

In order to create the life that we desire we must act boldly, and live boldly.

Boldness is a lifestyle.

Being bold is taking smart risks while mitigating the downsides. To live boldly, we must do things that most won’t. Are you complacent with your life? Your job? Your body? Your friends? Act like the person you want to be, and you’ll become the BOLD person you were meant to be.

Boldness is freedom.

You have to be bold when you step into your discomfort zone. People are going to criticize you. They are going to tell you’ll never make it. That your dreams are impossible. Fear will be a constant companion in your pursuit of creativity. But the difference between someone whose bold and whose not is what you do with your fear: Give in to it and never pull yourself out, or see fear as a challenge. A challenge to do something different. Boldness means not hesitating.

We can plan, prepare, talk and research until the cows come home 🐄 🐄 🐄, but at the end of the day, if we are going to create our own Renaissance we need to act.

How to Practice Boldness

Do that thing you’ve been putting off because of fear.   

Ask him or her out. (or go on a dating fast)
Take that trip you been dreaming about.
Apply for a job that doesn’t suck the life out of you.
Start a YouTube channel.

The only thing that separates you and your dreams is a little boldness

People might think you are crazy. But you know what, 

We all need to be a little crazier.

Crazy as in, I’m probably definitely gonna die if I do this? 

No.
 
But crazy as in, I might fail, look like a fool, go against what people say, tear a hole in the fabric of the universe know as the ‘status quo’, or do something against the norm?

Abso-friggin-lutely.
 
Because being BOLD requires you to be different. And for me, at the very least, 

I choose to be different.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

“Freedom lies in being BOLD.”Robert Frost

“Boldness doesn’t mean rude, obnoxious, loud, or disrespectful. Being bold is being firm, sure, confident, fearless, daring, strong, resilient, and not easily intimidated. It means you’re willing to go where you’ve never been, willing to try what you’ve never tried, and willing to trust what you’ve never trusted. Boldness is quiet, not noisy.” —  Mike Yaconelli

“Make bold choices and make mistakes. It’s all those things that add up to the person you become.” —  Angelina Jolie

“Though we may have desires or bold goals, for whatever reason, most of us don’t think we can achieve something beyond what we’re qualified to achieve. Why, I ask, do we let reality interfere with our dreams?”Simon Sinek

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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New! The Discover.ist — fresh finds, tinyReview & things I love

I’ve been working on a new style of niche website to coincide with The Renaissance, called

The Discoverist. (thediscover.ist) 

It’s a no fluff, no filler, short and oh so sweet recommends, reviews and fresh finds on things I love.

(music, design, books, health and wellness, blogs, and more!)

If that sounds rad to you, check it out at: thediscover.ist. I’ve got about 5 posts up and counting.

Also, sign up for the +1 discover.ist newsletter, to get the weeks discoveries before anyone else.

CHALLENGE: Carry an Idea Notebook EVERYWHERE!

What’s life without a little challenge? — Boring that’s what!

Challenge: Start Carrying an Idea Notebook

This week’s challenge is simple enough.
You’ve heard it before, but if you aren’t carrying a notebook around with you, you’re missing out on potential ideas that might pop up.

Ideas can come from anywhere,

so it’s a great idea to carry a pen and notebook (or in my case multiple!) around with you to capture the moment.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had ideas on the go which leads to some of my best work. And – to look at the opposite side of the spectrum – how many ideas I’ve forgotten because I didn’t take the time to write them down.

This doesn’t have to be weird — you don’t have to carry a notebook the size of a small dog around — just grab something small, and throw it in your pocket or purse.

If you already carry a notebook, your challenge is to challenge someone else!

My Favorite’s

Smaller Notebooks

Larger Notebooks

“Ideas can come from anywhere and at any time. The problem with making mental notes is that the ink fades very rapidly.”
— Rolf Smith

Challenge Accepted

Josh Waggoner

Challenges are better with friends. Please share this post.

Introducing IDEATION — Let There Be Innovation

Everything around us was, and is an idea.

It was created.

Look up and notice the craftsmanship around you.

Some idea are straightforward, to the point — getting the job done.

Some are well thought out, elegant and remarkable.

Some are inspired by generations of ideas.

That’s the beauty of ideation —

Ideas spark ideas.

Create a great idea, and it might impact generations of ideas going forward.

 

We all have ideas, but some are better than others.

Or we have that moment when we see a brilliant idea, and say ‘AH! Why didn’t I think of that!’

The question is,

What makes a great idea great, and how do we create excellent ones?

Q: What makes an idea great?

 

IDEATION is a RenaissanceLife series focused on this question and others like

  • What makes ideas sticky? And what makes them fall flat?
  • What are the components?
  • Should we give ideas away?
  • What makes ideas clever, elegant, and impactful?
  • What does a bad idea look like and how do we avoid / spot them?

Welcome to IDEATIONLet There Be Innovation.

#KeepPursuing,

Josh Waggoner