Overstimulated

One thing you’ll battle as a multidisciplinary is too many inputs (TMI 😜) vying for your time and energy. Heck—everyone alive in the modern connected age is bombarded with knowledge and information nowadays, not just Renaissance types.

Put aside all the ads, opinions, and data you don’t care about, even the knowledge we seek out can be TMI and overstimulating at times.

On any given day, there are dozens of books, hundreds of videos, emails, articles I want to consume, and thousands of decisions I could take, but just because I have the options doesn’t mean I should try doing them all (especially all at once.)

I always feel particularly overstimulated on days (like today) when I haven’t slept well or when I’m not at my best. Noticing this feeling is the first step to counteracting it. When you notice something is off, you can lighten your load for the day (as much as you can allow) and reduce the pressure of the daily fire hose of information.

Minimalism is a good practice to follow to reduce overwhelm. The last thing you want to do when you are overwhelmed is go shopping, or watch 15 shows on Netflix, or stress about all the important things you should be doing today but can’t quite muster up the energy to do.

Filtering is Key.

Quality over distraction. Fewer options. Remove any visible reminders of todo or potentially todos in your immediate environment. Limit access to your phone or computer (only the essential current needs.)

One Thing at a Time.

Do what you need to get everything else out of your head so you can focus on what’s in front of you. Prioritize your tasks, but focus only on the immediate priority. Pretend like nothing else exists during this time you’ve allocated.

Remember What’s Important.

Make sure you actually have to do the things you think you have to do. Is this required of me? Is this task mine? Is this my responsibility? Or am I adding unnecessary items to my to-do list?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1190

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Regret-free Decisions

Plenty of folks would look at my plate (interests/projects/dreams) and say that I say yes to too many things.

I’ve always been someone who has been interested in many subjects. Art, music, sports, exercise, technology, learning, etc. I also occasionally feel slightly envious of the people who can stick in one lane for most of their lives (for example, just graphic design). But I enjoy too many things to be that kind of person.

But you can’t do everything (at least not all at once 😜). So there’s always a matter of which pursuits to spend your time on.

I try to say yes to as much as I can tolerate without sacrificing health or quality. And if I walk outside of that tolerance range I rebalance.

Right now I’m less concerned about quantity and more about quality. Meaning, how can I say yes more to the right things (and no to the wrong things) instead of saying yes to things that don’t matter?

Ultimately what we decide is worth our time comes down to each of us. A question I ask myself is what I’ve found helpful is “would I regret not doing this in a year (or five years) from now?” Or said the opposite way, “would I regret saying yes to this after a year has passed?”

Pay attention to where you’re answers are coming from. Make sure they are coming from the heart and not from your wallet or from someone else’s mouth. Not that there is anything wrong with making money or following the path of another great leader—quite the contrary. And yet still. When it comes to making important decisions, make sure you know why or why not you’re saying yes.

Think of a decision like it’s not yours but a close friend making them. What would you advise them? Would you give them the same advice that you are giving yourself?

Consider all sides. And at the end of the day, if it turned out to be a bad call, then learn from it. Mistakes are scars earned. They can be something we try to hide and ignore, or something we learn from and wear like a badge that tells a story for others.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1050

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, consider buying me a coffee ☕️.

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Starting Over

“Begin – to begin is half the work, let half still remain; again begin this, and thou wilt have finished.”

Marcus Aurelius

“What’s so fascinating and frustrating and great about life is that you’re constantly starting over, all the time, and I love that.”

Billy Crystal

There was this silly board game called Don’t Break the Ice, that I vaguely remember playing as a kid. A character (Polar Bear? Penguin?) stood dangerously on a raised grid of ice cubes. I guess to simulate a frozen lake or treacherous mountain pass. Each player took turns chipping away at the ice with colorful little hammers.

If the little animal dude falls on your turn, you lose. Now that I’m thinking about it, It’s basically like if Jenga was played horizontally, not vertically.

Learning and mastering skills reminds me of Don’t Break the Ice.

When we become good, even great at something, we can easily fall into the pattern of holding onto what we’ve got like we are about to fall to our deaths. We learn, and then we stop. We don’t stay up-to-date. We don’t want to try new things. And we eventually become complacent with our skills and inevitability grow rusty and obsolete.

But getting good at multiple skills requires us to be comfortable with starting over.

A Beginners Mind is learning to enjoy starting over. It’s not only the willingness to start again, but the drive to continuously learn and relearn what you know.

Starting over isn’t a bad thing. It’s a blank slate. It’s our chance to reinvent ourselves and take in knowledge with a fresh and deeper understanding.

Whatever skills we cultivate, we should always be reapproaching the fundamentals and what we think we know. Just because we think we know something doesn’t mean we actually do.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1033

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Pieces of You

“You change the world by being yourself.”Yoko Ono

I have a tendency to filter who I am depending on who I’m having a conversation with. It’s not that I’m lying or trying to create a false impression, rather, I’m looking for similar interests or things I don’t know about but am curious about so that I can ask questions about what excites the other person.

“Oh, you like to cook? What something you’ve cooked recently you’ve enjoyed? What are some go-to dishes you cook frequently?”

“You’re a martial artist? Tell me about your experiences. How did you get into it? Can you think of any big lessons you’ve learned from your practice that you’ve applied to your life?”

“How do you like being a mom? What’s it like raising kids in the digital age?”

When I meet someone like me—someone who is interested in many things—I’ll nerd out of course. But more often than not I’m filtering who I am to be more compatible with the person I’m talking to.

Is this a bad thing? I’m not entirely sure. As a multidisciplinary, I have a wide variety of interests, whereas most people only have a few things they are drawn too. This is likely why I’m good at being a podcast interviewer (once I get over the initial nervousness of talking to someone I admire or someone I haven’t met before!)

Think of it this way: If friendship were a series of concentric circles, then the close relationship in the innermost ring gets all of me (…cue John Legend song). My likes and dislikes. My thousand projects and interests. Books I’m reading. Problems I’m struggling with. And as you go further out, you get less and less about me. For example, if we just met (hi, how are you?) then perhaps you only know that I’m a writer or a designer.

The bigger issue with this kind of personality filtering is that a lot of people won’t know about all the cool things you are creating or how deep your interests go. They only know a piece of you. I’d say there are quite a few people that I personally know that don’t know I’ve written a thousand blog posts in a row, or that I even have a blog! That’s bad marketing on my part, for sure.

I think filtering yourself for strangers is fine, but there needs to be something you do or somewhere you give all of yourself to. A place where all of your interests and ideas and personal philosophies are out in the open. We do ourselves a disservice when we always compartmentalize ourselves to everyone.

Besides, who cares if you are too much for someone? Start slow, of course. But let yourself be known. Be your whole weird self. Let your freak flag fly. Can two friends have differences in tastes and opinions? Of course. But if someone can’t handle who you are—all of you—then maybe they aren’t worth your time.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1001

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

The Downsides of a Multidisciplinary Life

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

Stephen Covey

There are many benefits to pursuing a multidisciplinary life, as an endless supply of curiosity and ideas, but there are also plenty of downsides. If you’re not careful, you can —

  • be less focused
  • get less done
  • be less potent (less deep / more shallow)
  • be more scattered
  • become distracted by new ideas or things you want to learn

And you’ll likely be late for everything. 😉

There’s also the chance that people don’t believe that you are doing all multiple things. Some will think you are cutting corners, but really you are just adding more time to your day by cutting away the nonessential things most people spend all their time on.

As you can see, the majority of the downsides are all related to spreading yourself too thin and spending your time like it’s an infinite resource. 

Because our most valuable resources—time, energy, attention—are all spent on one thing, dividing up our time between various skills naturally cuts our time shorter than if we were focused on only one thing.

While you’re trying to learn 10 things at once, Jane Doe over there is giving 100% of her time and effort on learning design. (Not that comparing yourself to Jane is the smartest thing to do.)

But wait. Is this really true? Aren’t we all overbooked—despite whether we enjoy doing many things or just one thing? Aren’t we all busybodies nowadays, running around with too much on our todo lists and spending our free time vegging out in front of the TV and or our phones?

We (humans) all have to choose what we do with our time, whether or not we are pursuing a multi-disciplinary life or a one discipline life.

The first thing you must decide is what type of life do you want to lead. Are you going to go all-in on dancing? Or are you going to divide your time between dancing and microbiology? Or are you going to find a way to thread the needle between dancing, microbiology, music, painting, and pottery?

Once you have a good idea of what type of life you want, then you must prioritize what’s most important. 

If you decide to pursue multiple disciplines, know your limits. Don’t try to do everything. Rather focus on a handful of things. The less amount, the more time and focus you’ll have for each.

The last thing we want to do is spin a lot of plates but not accomplish anything we set out to do. Without consistency and discipline, we could easily jump from one shiny object to the next and never actually finish a project, or fully learn a craft. 

The key is to not try to do everything at once. Even if you are pursuing multiple things, whichever one you are focusing on right now, give it 100% of your attention and effort. As the inventor Alexander Graham Bell once said, “Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #906

If you enjoyed this post, consider leaving a tip or supporting the Renaissance.

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

The Benefits of a Multidisciplinary Life

The concept has many names:

Polymath, multi-hyphenate, multi-faceted, multidisciplinary, renaissance human, wunderkind

It essentially means being skilled and knowledgable in many things. Not a genius, per se, but someone who pursues a life of learning. And behind that learned skill is an insatiable curiosity that only grows the more you know and question.

The first person that likely comes to mind is Leonardo da Vinci. His curiosity knew no bounds. On top of being a master painter, he was also interested in architecture, geometry, engineering, mathematics, music, anatomy, botany, cartography, playwright stage design and more.

Being multidisciplinary isn’t for everyone. It isn’t an easy goal to take on. You have to spend time and them some to become competent—let alone exceptional—in one skill. More than one and you’re crazy. Luckily, you are in good company. The journey may be long and hard, but that makes it all the more special.

There are many benefits to seeking a multidisciplinary life:

Greater sense of wonder and curiosity. Instead of just following the path everyone else follows, or memorizing the answers and following the rules, a multidisciplinary life gives
you a mind that desires to understand the reason behind the rules. Questions awake curiosity and the desire to figure things out for ourselves. Instead of following the path most taken you to create your own path, leading to true wisdom and a fundamental understanding of how things work.

Ability to learn new things quickly. One skill relates to others. Your previous knowledge interweaves into new things you are learning. Wisdom combined with curiosity keeps you humble and in a beginner’s mind—never too arrogant enough to think you know all the answers. And with that comes the ability to easily apply what you know to other interests, soaking up knowledge like a sponge.

More unique ideas. Because you are interested in many subjects and crafts, your ideas tend to cross-pollenate. Skills influence one another. Lessons you picked up from learning photography might go on and influence how you learn to program, or what you use programming to build (a photography app for example). Each idea leads to another which leads to —

More connections and more opportunities. By learning multiple disciplines, you start to combine, mix and match interests with each other. Your love of film combining with your love of dance and your curiosity about sunsets. Each connection creates a new opportunity for a new project or a person you might meet.

All of these leads to better and more chances to create. And it also gives you more self-awareness of who you are and what you want in life.

curiosity > ideas > insights > skills > opportunities > connections > impact > more curiosity

But…

There are downsides too —

More on that tomorrow.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #905

If you enjoyed this post, consider leaving a tip or supporting the Renaissance.

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Applying Multiple Intelligences

“Creativity begins with an affinity for something. It’s like falling in love.”

Howard Gardner

The first time I came across the idea of Multiple Intelligences (MI) was a Creative Live course I took by Vanessa Van Edwards called Master Your People Skills. Multiple Intelligences is essentially the idea to group intelligence (cognitive power/ability) into separate modalities (particular paths of doing something) instead of seeing intelligence as this generic blob of ‘dang pretty good at stuff’. In the book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Howard Gardner proposed this theory of multiple intelligences and gave eight examples (meaning there could be more) of unique types:

  1. Musical-rhythmic — sensitivity to sounds, rhythms, and music.
  2. Visual-Spatial — ability to visualize things with the mind’s eye.
  3. Verbal-linguistic — storytellers. People who are are great at reading, writing, memorizing.
  4. Logical-mathematical — ability to think logically and abstractly.
  5. Bodily-kinesthetic — dancers. Athletes. Actors. control over your body. Great sense of timing, response, and clear physical action
  6. Interpersonal — conversationalists. A sensitivity to other people’s feelings and moods. The ability to sway others in a particular way.
  7. Intrapersonal — self-aware. A strong understanding of yourself and what makes you, you.
  8. Naturalistic — in-tune with the natural world.

Don’t think of these as separate or fixed silos we fall into. Like the Enneagram, we might gravitate towards one or more intelligence over the others. For example, you might be better in tune with your body’s movement and what it needs, where as I might be able to pick up math class easily, or play songs by ear (but completely deaf to what my body is telling me). 

You could argue (and many have) that this a very subjective way of looking at intelligence and just another way to reframe ability. It doesn’t fit neatly into our educational system, as IQ does. But as a self-learner, I don’t really give a bleep about what my IQ is. I’m seeking new ways to become more knowledgeable and wiser and to fill in the gaps — and potential pitfalls — of my thinking. Can MI help make you and I a better creative? Potentially!

What’s exciting to me about the idea of multiple intelligences, is that it gives us a framework and a more focused definition we can use to learn how to get better in all the sub-modalities of intelligence. (That’s my crazy Renaissance mindset coming out.)

Each ability is highly valuable to not only learning and creativity but to all nooks and crannies of our lives. MI gives us a better vocabulary, or even a checklist to challenge ourselves with and questions to ask ourselves.

  • How can I add music practice into my life?
  • What if I started a visualization practice?
  • What makes a great story? How can I become better at communicating my ideas?
  • How can I approach my problems logically?
  • Where am I ignoring my body?
  • Who can I surround myself with to create the life I want to live?
  • Am I paying attention to myself and my needs? Do I have a good idea of who I am and what I want out of life?
  • Am I spending time in nature?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #869

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

All In

Learning never exhausts the mind. Leonardo da Vinci

It’s a misconception that a renaissance human — someone who practices multiple skills — can’t be as good as a specialist who only focuses on only one skill.

Yes, It’s true that the more you divide your focus, the less amount of time and energy you can give to each. And yes, there is a limit to how many things you can pursue at once without scattered yourself in too many (ineffective) directions.

But a multi-disciplinary can be just as great if not more so that single-disciplinary individuals. Divided time doesn’t mean you aren’t putting in the hard work.

Even pursuing one skill, there’s only so much time and energy you can give to something before you need to stop and take a break. For a renaissance type, it just so happens you’re likely going to take a “break” by jumping into another skill. You aren’t reducing work, you are adding in different work.

You can go all-in on multiple things. Not too many — there are only so many hours in the day. Try too many things at once and you won’t be able to go deep enough. (This is the jack/jill of all trades zone.)

While alive, our hearts keep beating. Our minds keep thinking. Even while we sleep our mind and body are still active.

When you are jumping from one skill to another to another, you are feeding your curiosity. The key is to pursue interests that rejuvenate you and keep you doing and learning new things. We get stale when we stay in our comfort zones instead of challenging ourselves. (That goes for both specialists and renaissance humans.)

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #868

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

The Downside of Doing Multiple Things

There are dangerous lands on the road towards a Renaissance Life (aka a life of creativity, mastering and meaning). Namely, when you decide to pursue multiple things, you are also deciding to split your resources. Where a ‘one thing’ kind of person has the power to prioritize all their resources to a single focus, we have to divvy our resources into multiple.

A Specialist becomes really good at one thing and aspires to be a master of one.
A Generalist becomes really good at a bunch of things, and aspires a jack (or jill) of all.
A Multiplist* (Renaissance Human, Polymath, Multi-hyphenate) becomes really good at a handful of things and aspires to master the chosen few and connect them in interesting ways.

Our time, attention, energy and money all have to be carefully given, otherwise we can stretch ourselves too thin and dilute our ability to make progress. Even if you have all the money on the planet, you still will be limited by how much time you give to your pursuits within the span of a day.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Steve Jobs

Guard Your Resources

Like a mamma bird protecting her young, we need to guard our finite resources with care.

Ultimately, every resources used comes down to what we say yes and no too.

It’s difficult in the moment, but t he more we say no, the more we can say yes to what we really want to say yes to.

Knowing what you want to master is a great way of what you should say yes or no to. If the opportunity doesn’t align with your pursuits, it’s a no. If it does then its a yes. This balance of yes’s and no’s is a continuous process. It’s like mowing grass —you have to keep doing it. Of course, saying yes to the wrong things has a bit more consequence than a tall, messy lawn.

*Not a word but should be.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #647

Join the Renaissance:

IG@Renaissance.Life

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider becoming a patron.

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

The Biggest Issue with a Multi-Disciplinary Life

I’ve been reading Total Focus. From the beginning, Brandon Webb talks about the idea of One Thing. 

“If you can’t pour yourself 100 percent into an idea when you start it, then you’re starting it half-assed, and you’ll never have more than a half-baked plan. When you have a half-baked plan, you can’t expect any more than a half-baked outcome.”

“By nature, most entrepreneurs have some form of attention deficit disorder..
‘Yeah, I’ve got three startups going,’ and I don’t need to hear any more, because I already know how that story ends. You may think you’re going to do three of four things at once and keep that up until one of them shows itself to be the winner — but you’re kidding yourself. All you’re doing is shortchanging all three or four projects. You need to choose one. Not two. One.”

I’ve heard about this before in the book The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. (Really on the nose with that title aren’t we, Gary?)

And he’s right.

There’s only so much you to go around. No matter how much you say or desire to do, there’s only so much time, and energy you can give to each pursuit you have. It’s the classic opportunity cost scenario. The more you give into one thing, the less time you have to give into another.

What Brandon and Gary are telling us is that it’s not that we can’t or shouldn’t do multiple things, it’s that without other resources to help counterbalance the time need to do something right, we’re going to end up doing something less than our best.

The only analogy I can think of at the moment is juggling. When you’re juggling 4 or 5 different objects, you’re really only touching one at a time and passing it on. You’re focusing on one object at hand while being situationally aware of everything else in front of you. And when you have the financial capability to delegate someone else’s time and energy to the mission, you can give your full attention to more things. Two jugglers, four hands.

Goals can be compatible with one another, but they also have to compatible with what you have to offer (time, energy and money)

The biggest problem I’ve been butting up against this past year is money. With multiple disciplines and goals, I only have so much capital to go around. Am I going to purchase a new amp and equipment for my guitar, or am I going to buy a new mixer for podcasting? I want both but I would need to increase my finances for that to happen or save over time (which requires more time and energy put into my business).

You can see the benefit of focusing on one thing, and how multi-disciplines can get hairy quickly. (Like a great time travel movie)

And here lies Brandon’s conclusion:

“If I had to pick a single core principle for success in business, it would be this: choose one thing, focus on that one thing, and execute it to the absolute limit of your abilities. Focus on your career, invest in yourself, and learn how to say no to everything else.” 

“Once you reach the point where you have the financial capacity to hire out or partner with the talent and team power to manage a range of different areas, you can start adding additional projects to your portfolio… maybe.“

If you want to have a Renaissance Life, be a Master of multiple disciplines and an extraordinary life, start with one thing. Focus in one area that is meaningful to you. Give it all of your attention until you master it. Once you do that, expand your circle with an additional focus, rinse and repeat.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner