Creative DNA

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”

Pablo Picasso

Do you think we are born creative or grow into it?

In Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity, Hugh Macleod voices “Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.” Picasso would have agreed with Hugh, “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.

I think it’s a little of both. Something in us feels called to express ourselves and make something. The tools and mediums change over the centuries, but the desire is still there. And we see the world (or dream worlds in our mind) and want to share it.

We look at a rolling landscape or unnoticed object in our home and feel a desire to paint or draw it.

We experience a breathtaking sunset or a particular stranger catches our eye and we can’t help but capture the moment.

Our cars have the curves of animals and insects.

Put a blank page in front of someone and they’ll want to fill it. Give someone an instrument and they’ll start to strum and noodle. The “real” world often beats creativity out of us and convinces us we can’t create and work. Society and culture tell us we’ll get made fun of if you try to draw or dance or sing but suck at it. It’s okay to suck at art and still enjoy it. Being mediocre is a right of passage. Maybe you weren’t bred to be an illustrator or makeup artist, but that doesn’t mean you can’t nurture your interest now that you can think for yourself.

It doesn’t surprise me that we are creative. Problems are a way of life and problems naturally create the opportunity for creative solutions. Problems creative opportunities create problems creatives opportunities. If you need fresh water to the home, someone is going to find a creative way to do it. And someone else is going to creatively iterate on that idea ad infinite. If you’re cold, someone will figure out a way to find warmth. If you’re hungry, someone will discover a clever way to cook/find food.

Problems naturally create an opportunity for creative solutions.

The desire to make stuff and share it with others is in our DNA, but the ability to make good art (as Neil Gaiman would say) and become masters of what we love takes hard work and patience.

If you want to be more creative — go be more creative.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #822

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Related:

Born Standing Up: A Comics Life by Steve Martin

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull

Making it Look Easy (Creative Tennis Part 1)

“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.”

Michelangelo

Creativity reminds me of tennis. I played tennis in high school. Double’s was always my favorite. My friend Cameron and I were unstoppable (at least that’s what my memory tells me) with our powers combined. Our secret was we cared enough to have fun but didn’t take ourselves too seriously. I don’t think either one of us was the best when it came to singles. I can play, but I wasn’t putting in the hours of training and practice as some players do. There’s skill involved with tennis and any sport for that matter. From the bleachers, it looks like you’re just smacking a fuzzy yellow ball with an oversized ping pong paddle, but if you know the game there’s a lot going on for the players. Accuracy, speed, agility, coordination, balance, power, cunning, action and reaction, and — of course — the mental gameplay.

The same is true for your creative pursuits. There’s a lot of skill and thought to go on behind the stroke of a pen, the strum of a guitar or the footwork of a dancer. Professionals make their art look much easier than it is. Anytime you hear of an idea so simple you wish you would have thought of it, you are seeing a professional* at work (*most of the time anyway :). Experience is lost to the untrained eye. If you see something that looks easy, it likely isn’t. The same is true when the tables are turned. When your art feels easy, you reached a level of skill and insight that most don’t actually have.

It’s easy to forget how far we’ve come and how much we know about a certain skill or subject. Usually, because we are so engrossed in it on a day-to-day basis, and are surrounded by others who have similar skills. One conversation with someone who doesn’t do what you do will immediately highlight how much you know about what you do. And one conversation (or class) with an expert on what you do and you’ll see how little you actually know about what you do. Art and skill are a continuous spectrum of discovering new things and unlocking wisdom through time and practice. Even the creatives at the top of their game continue to learn and experiment with better ways of creating. We can learn to make it look easy too with a commitment to our craft and longevity in our practice.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #809

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Seeing in 4K

The more I learn about the skills I want to master, the more hot garage my previous work becomes. This sounds like a negative, but I mean it in a positive sense. By seeing what great work looks like, I can learn to elevate my skills to match through practice.

If you’re any type of an artist, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Look at any of your art from ten, five, even one year ago and you might feel slightly appalled at the quality. That’s good — it means you are improving.

I equate this into seeing in higher and higher resolution.

First, you start out in black and white boob-tube. You kind of have an idea of what good work looks like, but you know you are not there yet. You have the basic outline of what you want to make, but you don’t know how to make it.

Then, you move to color. You read a book or take a classy. Or you just start fumbling around. You don’t know how to make it, but you are trying anyway. You take a step. Next, standard definition. You think your work is good. Others around you might think it’s good too. In fact, it is good… for just starting out. You stay in standard land for a while. You start with a 4:3 aspect ratio, but the more you work, the wider your view is getting.

Finally, one day you start seeing your work in High Def (aka HD). You have a greater understand of what you are doing and what you are capable of. You vision matches your work. Everything you did before HD looks a little bit weird and off. You can clearly see the seams of your abilities.

Somewhere in the middle of seeing in HD you come to realize that the resolution increase never ends. There’s always a next level. 4K. 8K. 16K… And just like resolution in real life, the quality is certainly noticeable, but it’s also subtle. Anyone who doesn’t do what you do might not even notice, or they might notice and prefer it, but they don’t have the vocabulary or ability to see what it is they are seeing.

Mastery is the constant act of seeing just beyond your abilities and figuring how to do it. Taste, talent and work.

Work is what get’s us there.

“The most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work.”

This quote is from a fantastic interview by Ira Glass.

I’ll close with a film by storytelling Daniel Sax that illustrates Glass’s insights:

Film by Daniel Sax

I included the film last because it’s impossible to follow that up with better words.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #623

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Related:

The Annoying Gap Between Theory…and Practice – This American Life

The Taste Gap: Ira Glass on the Secret of Creative Success, Animated in Living Typography – Brain Pickings

The Bleeding Heart of an Amateur

I think you have to be a little bit of an idiot with everything you are trying to learn.
Otherwise, you know too much and things can get daunting / overwhelming very quickly.

The original meaning of the french word naiveté (which I always forget how to spell) was being “innocent or natural”. Another way I would interpret ‘innocent’ or ‘natural’ would be ‘childlike’.

When you approach learning with a childlike quality, you are more likely to look past how difficult the journey to mastery will actually be. On the road to mastery, here ‘ther be many dragons. The iconic photojournalist Alfred Eisenstaedt) had a saying, “Once the amateur’s naive approach and humble willingness to learn fades away, the creative spirit of good photography dies with it. Every professional should remain always in his heart an amateur.” (He also said “keep it simple.” 🙂

We all need a little amateur’s naive spirit on our path towards learning. Too much and we might fall off a cliff’s edge we didn’t see coming, too little and we might be too smart for our own good to start.

“I have observed that the world has suffered far less from ignorance than from pretensions to knowledge. It is not skeptics or explorers but fanatics and ideologues who menace decency and progress.”

Daniel Boorstin, American Historian

An amateurs naivetè can give you superpowers:

  • The ability to ask dumb questions without knowing or caring that they are dumb.
  • Endless curiosity — the ability to ask a million questions and only stop because it’s bedtime.
  • Endless imagination — When everything is unknown, everything is possible.
  • Fearless — the ability to start things, without the fear that starting new things usually brings.
  • The ability to fail towards success — sometimes without even knowing your ‘failing’.
  • And the ability to look stupid and not care.

If you can tackle any endeavor with an amateurs heart AND the wisdom to be aware of and avoid pitfalls, you just might become one the best at what you love to do.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #622

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Live It Out

We all have people in our lives that talk more than the walk.
They know everything about a subject, but don’t actually live it out themselves. Or their list of things they want to do runs laps around their list of things they actually do. In short, they are really good at doing everything BUT what they say.

Did I say people?
I really meant us. We do this too, more that we would care to admit. In fact, we do it so much we don’t even notice it anymore that we are doing it. Instead, we just see what everyone else is saying and not doing, versus what we are saying and not doing ourselves. (Harsh josh, but true…)

I can see three fundamental reasons behind this:

  1. Fear — We want to do it, but we are terrified of trying, failing, succeeding and / or looking bad.
  2. Belief — We don’t think we can because we don’t have enough time, resources, abilities, motivation, trust in ourselves etc.
  3. Uncertainty — We want to do everything, so we end up doing nothing because we aren’t sure what’s best and what will give us the most bang for our buck.

Luckily daily habits addresses all three of these reasons.

Daily habits give you a practice, something to work at and improve each day. If todays practice sucks, no problem. Tomorrow’s practice will be even better. If I can focus only on today’s work, the fear and uncertainty is small and the belief in myself grows and accumulates each day. There is no tomorrow, just today. There is no uncertainty, just the task in front of me. And the fear is smaller, because it’s down to a single action. I just need to do this one thing, that’s it and I’ll be better for it, even if I fail or look bad today.

Daily habits give you a practice, something to work at and improve each day.

My impetus [driving force] for writing at RenaissanceLife every day (and ultimately discovering the power of daily habits,) was that I was fed up.

I was fed up with wanting to write but not have the time. I was fed up with wanting to be more, but not being more. I was sick of just saying what I wanted to be, rather than actually being it.

Instead of having to say ‘I want to be a writer’, I am able to say ‘I am a writer’.

And it wasn’t just writing. It was music and exercising and art, and all the other little things that have been found to elevate our lives in little ways, such as making our bed, flossing, walking every day, solitude and community. All the things we never have time for.

Or at least, all the things we never think we have time for.

Like magic, once you start your daily habit, time for it appears.

You could also equate it to money. Say you decide to invest one hundred dollars a month in a retirement fund. At first you might think that’s impossible, because you need every dime to live on and can’t afford to lose the hundred dollars. But if you did it anyway, you’re spending adjusts. You still pay for everything you need (gas, bills, food, etc) but you subtly don’t spend the extra hundred dollars on things you want. It’s so subtle you don’t even notice you didn’t buy an extra shirt the other day, or you watched Netflix instead of buying a movie on iTunes. You’re finances adjust to the new reality.

It’s the same with doing something daily. You adjust your day to fit your practice. Whether that means getting up early, staying up late, doing it during lunch time, or just not spending time elsewhere, your life adjusts. Just like how deadlines are a good idea for projects because they give us a window of time to work in or otherwise we would work or procrastinate ad infinite, so too does our day give us time to work on our practice. It might mean that we are doing it at 11 pm at night on a hectic day, but we still find a space to fit it in somehow.

Life adjusts to change

Combine that with the power of streaks and accountability, and there always seems to be time for our practice.

Every day I ask:

How can I challenge myself today?
How can I get uncomfortable today?
How can I improve today?

Have I written a book yet? Have I recorded an album yet?
Nope. But I’m working on it every day. I’m working towards those goals.

And that’s the real secret of daily habits.

Daily habits give you a reason to wake up early and pursue something meaningful

It gives you something meaningful to work towards and wake up for. Even if your life is crap, you have your practice, you have a vision of your life you are working towards every single (josh d*mn) day. And you become the kind of person who doesn’t just talk.

How many can say that?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #574

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Why Do It?

If no one read my writing, listened to my songs or podcasts, would I still do them?

110%

Just getting by is not enough for me. Excellence is the only way for me — that’s who I’ve decided to be.

I must create and challenge myself. otherwise I think I would go crazy.

I create because I love the journey, and the progress of learning something for the first time and experiencing growth in each step you take.

If you are not saying 110%, then you should probably say no. 

And if you aren’t loving what you’re doing (or doing something you meh on in order to build up to doing something you love), then you should definitely say no.

Stay BOLD, Keep pursuing,

And wherever you are on your journey, keep smiling 🙂

 — Josh Waggoner

Beginner’s Body

Beginner’s body is the disconnection between what you’re mind says you can do and what your body is capable of doing.

Drawing is a great example. If you don’t know how to draw and you sit down and try to draw a landscape or from your imagination, most of the time you’ll be disappointed because you can only manage to draw stick figures.ww

When we think, ‘I can run a triathlon’ and then go do it — without a day of training (unless you count MarioKart) — but our bodies say ‘what the h🌋ll you think you’re doing?

At this stage, our skills aren’t aligned with our mind. Beginners bod can be really discouraging especially when we are trying to learn something new. We think we should be great immediately (like the movies) and when we’re not we tend to give up before we get going.

However, the beginner’s body is just a part of the learning process. In fact, I think successful people are envious of you. To see the world with a fresh set of eyes without the weight of success. Of course, you’re going to suck at the beginning. That’s why they call it the beginning. 

Fear not: Keep going — despite the suckitude — you will grow out of your beginner’s bod. If you really want to master a skill you have to learn to be okay with failing at the start. What could possibly stop someone who decides to never give up?

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Wisdom:

“Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.”Jack Ma, Alibaba

“Don’t quit. Never give up trying to build the world you can see, even if others can’t see it. Listen to your drum and your drum only. It’s the one that makes the sweetest sound.” Simon Sinek, Start With Why, Leaders Eat Last, Find Your Why

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”  — Winston Churchill

Priority of Mind Leads to Mastery

You gotta commit

In everything you do and love, make sure you commit.

From all facets of your life. Friends, Family, Love, Community, Mind, Body, Spirit..

From the few outlets you have decided to pursue,  out of the many you could have done.

Commit.

You are not your job, but you are the priorities you uphold.

And most importantly,

commit to being you +

To who you are and what you stand for.

We master time by mastering priority, And through priority we begin to master life +

But if committing to your current life seems overwhelming —

Then commit to this dayDo what you can to make it a well lived one, and deal with tomorrow tomorrow.

Tomorrow is tomorrow. Today is today. Make it a good one. 

Put some Elbow Grease’ on it — Josh Waggoner

related wisdom

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” — Vince Lombardi

 

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.” — Napoleon Hill

 

“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.” — Winston Churchill

 

 

Introducing Renaissance Ethos — A Path To Excellence, And Living Well

My mission in life

is to be a Renaissance Man

Mastery in multiple crafts (for me that’s music, design, coding, finances, entrepreneurship, fashion, wellness.. etc)

And pursing excellence in all that I do. (ha sounds easy right?)

My mission has led me to start the Renaissance Life, an extraordinary life of meaning and worthwhile.

The Renaissance Ethos,

is a focus on the spirit of a Renaissance Life.

It’s a series to help define and clarify what an extraordinary life is and what it takes to create it.

 

Excellence and Growth is the core of the Renaissance spirit.

However,  pursing an extraordinary life will not be easy (all great things aren’t),

we will be faced with many challenges and questions, such as

What is excellence? And how do we achieve excellence in all that we do?

How do we become our best selves — living towards our greatest potential, in the time we have been given?

But that’s okay, because we are in this together. We are a community.

We all have something we want to accomplish, or obstacles we must to face in our lives,

The Renaissance Life is about finding clarity, and meaning, so we can focus on what’s truly important — 

living

and impacting others.

Together we will start a movement — a new Renaissance — of change, and growth in our lives,  in the lives around us, and ultimately, the world.

Welcome to the Renaissance.

#KeepPursuing,

Josh Waggoner

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