Learning to See

I recently found my old sketchbooks from middle school and high school. Back then, I remember thinking my art was pretty good. I would get compliments on them too (and not just from my mom.)

Looking at them now, I see how raw my skills were, how little I knew. Rough sketches of keyblades, characters from my favorite shows, still life sketches, all drawn with a heavy hand. Not to belittle my younger inexperienced self. I don’t see his (my) work as terrible or cringe-worthy. It’s more nostalgic than anything.

A big part of creative work, be it art, film, music, writing… is progressing to new levels of understanding and seeing.

At each stage, we use the knowledge and experience we’ve got to work with. It’s only until we reach a new level of understanding that we glimpse the flaws in our previous work. No—not flaws. It’s more like we go from standard definition to high definition, and then from HD to 4K, and so on.

SD only looks blurry and muddy in retrospect. At the time, it was sharp to our inexperienced eyes.

When you look at your previous work and see the flaws and what you would do differently, then you are in a good place. Because you’re able to observe what you couldn’t before shows how much progress you’ve made.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1070

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Colin Wright: Writing, Entrepreneurship, Overcoming Failure and Creating an Intentional Life (RL #17)

This is another episode of the Renaissance Life Podcast you don’t want to miss. A conversation with Colin Wright. Colin is the author of many fantastic books, including Becoming Who We Need To Be, Some Thoughts About Relationships, and Act Accordingly. He is also a speaker and host of the podcast Let’s Know Things.

Topics include writing, traveling full time, entrepreneurship, how to start something, handling fear and failure and so much more—

Renaissance Life is a podcast for multidisciplinaries and is dedicated to the pursuit of creativity, mastery, and a meaningful life.

Download The Colin Wright Action Guide PDF:

I’ve decided to take a crack at Patreon. One of the perks of becoming a Renaissance Member is receiving a downloadable action guide from each episode of the podcast (including this one with Colin).

This is something I personally put together and spend a lot of time on. I distill the essential lessons taught by my guest, featuring key insights, challenges, and practical steps we can take and experiment within our own lives.

If you aren’t familiar with Patreon, It is a membership platform that provides helps creators and artists—like myself—earn a monthly income by providing rewards and perks to their subscribers. This is a cheap yet valuable way to support my work.

Another perk for being a patron (at the Renaissance Savant tier) is you get to know who I’m interviewing in advance so that patron members can provide me questions you want me to ask the guest.

Go to Patreon.com/RENLIFE to Join—or just to window shop 🙂

Show Notes:

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Links Discussed:

Get Active in Your Own Rescue

I love this quote from Marcus Aurelius:

“Get busy with life’s purpose, toss aside empty hopes, get active in your own rescue—if you care for yourself at all—and do it while you can.”

I read it recently in The Daily Stoic. I love it because it sums of own of my life principles so eloquently. Get active in your own rescue.

There have been quite a few quotes I’ve encountered on my journey that rings with a similar tone:

“To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.”Bruce Lee

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”George Bernard Shaw

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.”Amelia Earhart

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”Michael Jordan

My version pales in comparison, but it’s —

You are Your Own Renaissance.

Meaning, change starts with you. No one wants it more than you. Perhaps you’re dealing with problems, perhaps you dislike habits and things about yourself, perhaps you wish your life was different—well no one is going to make that happen for you.

Waiting for someone to change our lives for us won’t get us anywhere.

As much as I wish someone would do it for me, it’s not going to happen. I’m the one who has to get active and take steps to make the change happen. If with (generous) help, I still must be willing to change and stick to that aim.

It’s not about refusing help, or going it alone—it’s about owning up to your life and the kind of person you want to be.

If you care for yourself at all—then to hell with problems, fears, and circumstances—go out and create yourself and make it happen.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #950

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Finding Renaissance

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

Mary Oliver, The Summer Day, Pulitzer Prize winning poet.

Life is a series of awakenings and revivals. Sometimes awakenings happen inactively without our input. The loss of innocence for example. The multidisciplinary, Neri Oxman, describes the feeling as ‘discovering innocence at the moment you lose it’. Born in Haifa Israel, for her, it was her experiences in served in the Israeli Armed Forces as a teenager that opened her eye’s to the harsher sides of life.

Awakenings can also happen actively from our own curiosity and discovery too. The moment you think you have things figured out, an idea, a quote, a change, a friend or an influence rocks your foundation of who you are and what you think about the world. For me, health was a big one.

Growing up, I didn’t know a thing about health and wellness. (Neither did my parents.) Being a 90’s baby, I practically lived off fast-food, soda, refined bread and lucky charms. I was constantly catching colds and having sinus problems, but I didn’t know that was not normal. I had no frame of reference to compare my health to. It honestly never occurred to me until much later that food changed how you look and feel. I had no idea how impactful food, exercise and sleep could be on the quality of your life. It was until much later after high school when I read a few books on health and exercise and discovered the impact of health. The crazy thing is I know I’m not the only one who was asleep to the ideas of health. Perhaps this blog post is the first time you are waking up to the importance of health yourself.

A more common word for awakenings we experience is change. Life is continuously changing.

The historical Renaissance (14th – 16th century) was a time of innovation in art and human potential based on the revitalization of Roman and Greek thinking. To put simply: It was an age of discovery, creativity and pursuit. Today, life and technology moves at breakneck speeds. So must we if we are going to take advantage of our brief and precious life. Because life is moving so fast and becoming more connected, things can easily feel overwhelming at times. It’s easy to default to living a life of someone else’s dreams, instead of one you decide on yourself.

Today we face a new renaissance — A personal renaissance. And a renaissance of like-minded individuals like us all seeking a different and more meaningful way to live. We must become more resilient, adaptable and creative to be who we want to be and to do what we want to do. Dreams of a lifetime don’t happen with wishes. We must create them happen.

‘Renaissance’ comes from the combination of the French verb ‘renaitre’ — ‘to revive’ and the noun ‘naissance’.

Your renaissance life is your own, but it begins the moment you decide you want to seek out change and recreate yourself into the best you possible. The more we can learn about ourselves — who we are, what we like, what we stand for — the better we will get at reaching for the ideal. The renaissance life isn’t about perfection, it’s about pursuit. It’s about pursuing intentional changing and being lifelong learner in the skills and characteristics we want to master.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #733


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Breaking the Fear Wall

What is your fear telling you not to do?

When you hear the phrase, ‘public speaking’, do you break out into arm sweats? Does the idea of writing a book or build an app (or to fail at writing a book or building an app) curdle your blood?

Are the things you want to do — dreams you desire more than anything — always seem to take the back burner, the last thing you do, or something you procrastinate into oblivion?

Then what your fear is telling you not to do, is exactly what you need to be doing.

Don’t get me wrong, fear sucks. No one ever said it would be easy to start a band or build an audience on YouTube.  But the ones who do and stick with it are the ones who are masters of their own fears. Fear is how we grow into our best selves.

The stronger the fear, the more you need to take action and do it.

Creative fears always feel impossible until you do them.
Creative failures always seem fatal before the fact.
Pushing past these creative barriers will amplify your confidence and creativity.

What fears do you need to tear down to build a better YOU? 

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'” — Eleanor Roosevelt

“If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” — Dale Carnegie

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” — Mark Twain

Decide Who You Want to Be — Life Principle #24

Labels give us power.

We label ourselves with our work, our hobbies, our brands.

But what do you do when other people label things for you? What do you do when you find yourself in a place where your life is labeled by other peoples hopes and dreams?

You decide to change.

Life Principle #24: Decide and Commit to Who You Want to Be

Decisions are the foundations of making change happen. 

What areas in your life are you seeking change?

When you want to create a change, something new and exciting, you first have to make a decision. Decide on the change, commit to I­t­ 100%, will I­t­ into existence.

Life can either happen to you, or you can choose what you want your life to be. Again, a decision.

Choose Creativity.
Choose Freedom.
Choose Differences.

Decide who you want to be, then go make I­t­ happen.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Hello, World!

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Related Insights

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”Arnold Schwarzenegger

“I don’t want other people to decide who I am. I want to decide that for myself.”Emma Watson

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.” — Amelia Earhart

Let It Go — Life Principle #21

What do you do when something isn’t working?
What do you do when you run into a dead end?
What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

Life Principle #21: Let It Go.

Let Go of Holding Yourself Back

More often than not, I️ find that I️ am ultimately the one that holds myself back. Little moments of fear or setbacks slowly keep me back from doing what I️ want to do.  A little piece of me thinks that I’m not good enough, I’m not _________ (successful, happy, connected etc ) enough yet, but really that type of thinking is just getting in my way forward. Success, happiness, and friendship is a state of meaning. That’s one reason why the happiest people in the world are in a third world country. They’ve naturally detached themselves from chasing happiness because they already are happy.

We decide what we perspective we want to live in.

You are as ready as you’ll ever be to START your dream right now.
Experience will come through time and practice.

Let Go of Being Cool

Being embarrassed isn’t fun, but also helps you grow into a better you. Vulnerability is relatable.

Let Go of What You Can’t Control

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

Let Go of Trying to do Everything at Once

Nothing good ever comes from spreading yourself too thin. I’ve burned myself out before and let me tell you, it’s not a happy place to be in. Burning yourself out is a sure fire way for you to not get anything do, not make a lasting impact, nor have any energy to do what you love to do.

Let Go of Expectations

Expectations is another word for perception. It’s perceiving a future value in the outcome. Put in a different light, it’s like saying, ‘I can’t be happy unless this happens.’

Perhaps the old adage, ‘expect the worst, hope for the best’ is actually wise. Low expectations are not about living based on negative attitude toward life, it’s about fundamentally understanding that anything can happen to us — good or ill — and what really matters if we stay true to who we are.

In essence, high esteem could be believing that no matter what happens, I’m still complete. My life is still worthy and full (worthful?) It’s saying I️ have this vision of what I️ want to look like, and knowing that no matter what happens, If I️ stay true to me, trust those I️ look up to, consistent in my actions and pursue my life with fire and gusto everything will turn out okay in the end. (No matter the setback or failure I️ may face).

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

Book: Let Go by Pat Flynn

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

“What’s the greater risk? Letting go of what people think – or letting go of how I feel, what I believe, and who I am?” — Brene Brown

“Abundance is a process of letting go; that which is empty can receive.” — Bryant H. McGill

See Change as Good — Life Principle #20

You don’t realize how quickly time moves until its already passed. 

When I was in high school (and middle school) I had a really tight-knit group of friends. We were into making music, movies, jokes, making funny short videos, and being your typical, well-rounded goofballs.

I’ll never forget a video that one of the guys (Jonathan) stitched together from us jamming out and having a helluva good time. He set it to the song, I’ve Got Friends by the Manchester Orchestra. It’s like he intuitively knew our time in high school as a group was about to close, and we would be moving on to college and would never see each other as much as we did, every day, waking up at 6 am and hanging out at and around school.

I don’t remember the details, but I do remember the feeling it gave me, (and gives me every time I play that song)

I miss those moments we had and think about fondly on them.

Life Principle #20: See Change As Good

If you’re not changing, you’re not growing, and if you’re not growing your stuck in place.

Happiness and meaning are fluid — they happen on the journey, not the destination (put that on a poster and smoke it).

Change is good. Its the conduit that takes us from sad times to happy times (and sometimes vice versa). Change can lead to unknown adventures and wild places. It’s hard we were stepping away from something or people we love to follow a calling or jump into a new way of living, but you always have those collective memories. I always have those times with my friends goofing off in my room at my parent’s house (I’m tearing up thinking about it). No one can take that from you. (Another reason why health is vitally important too. A healthy mind is a more capable collector of memories)

I think we fear change for the same reason that we can love change: Because it breaks our status quo and leads to unknown, potentially exciting places.

The best part about change is we can make it. We have the power to change our minds, opinions, the direction in your life and more at ANY MOMENT. Usually, it takes a failure or painful experience to see that, but the power to change is always within our reach. Even small actions can lead to big change eventually.

Often times, you’ll face situations or setbacks you don’t want to be in. This is where change is not only good but can become your best friend. When you’re feeling stuck or have hit rock bottom, burnt yourself, or pulling your hair out because you’re at your wit’s end, it’s time to make some change. 

Change starts with you. Be the change you want to see in your life and in the world. Break the status quo.
And when change happens, be good with the new possibilities.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” — George Bernard Shaw

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

“There is nothing permanent except change.” — Heraclitus

 

ASK — Life Principle #19

Learning to Ask

At a very young age, we go to school and have the opportunity to ask the teachers any question we might have about their class. When you’re younger, you don’t care — you’ll shoot up your hand and ask anything. ‘Why is the sky not purple?’ ‘What’s inside a ballon?’ ‘What’s a huckleberry?’

But somewhere along the way, most of us stop asking. Whether it’s not wanting to be embarrassed or bullied or not wanting to be labeled as a nerd, we stop asking and begin to fear asking.

If you think about I­t­, most schools are designed for answers, not questions, unfortunately. 

After school, most of us take this fear into our adulthood. We fear standing out, yet desperately want to. We fear asking, but can’t think of anything else. We fear trying, because what if we fail?

But what has anyone gotten from not trying? Nada. Zip. Zilch. Nothing.

Questions are our North Star towards a meaningful life. Questioners rule the world. Become someone who asks great questions, and you’ll become someone who reaches mastery and creates an extraordinary life for themselves. 

Life isn’t a solo adventure and won’t always be butterflies and apple pies. That’s why questions and asking are vitally important. When you learn how to ask for I­t­ — whatever I­t­ is — you take control of your life into your own hands.

Life Principle #19: ASK 

You probably have something that comes to mind that you’ve been wanting to ask someone about, but haven’t quite got the nerve yet.

ASK IT. 

Do I­t­ right now. Don’t let fear win again. 

Let me ask you this, what do you get when you decide not to ask? What do you get when you let fear win?

The exact same thing you’ve got now — nothing. A bag of pennies and a fountain full of dreams. The worst they can do is ignore you or say no.

A ‘no’ is always better than a ‘what if’.

And if they do say no, GREAT! You’re building your asking muscle. But if they say yes, that changes everything doesn’t I­t­? I­t­ puts the power of change into your hands.

Making asking a daily practice in your life.

Practice asking for what you want. Ask for help. Ask questions. Ask for career advice. Ask someone out on a date. Ask for a raise. Ask for knowledge. Ask for a break. Ask for directions. Be curious. Like the old phrase goes, Ask and you’ll receive.

You never know until you ask.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

“Take the attitude of a student, never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.” — Og Mandino

“The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.” — Thomas Berger

“You create your opportunities by asking for them.” — Shakti Gawain

“No one is dumb who is curious. The people who don’t ask questions remain clueless throughout their lives.” — Neil deGrasse Tyson

Live a Little (For Josh’s Sake) — Life Principle #18

Lately, I’ve been bad about being spontaneous. 

I️ think it’s the fact that I’ve been working so much this past year that any time remaining is incredibly precious to me. It’s ironic that I️ had to give up the majority of my time to work, to understand how precious time really is.

When someone asks me if I️ want to go hiking, grab some sushi, or whatever on the spot, I️ stammer and mumble out a no and lame excuse more often than not. It’s not that I️ don’t want to go hiking, it’s just that I️ already have a mental checklist of things I️ want to do (or have to do). My expectations of what I️ could be doing get in the way of what I️ am doing. It’s kind of a lose lose. I️ could get sushi, but I️ would also like to write. Or the other way around! Okay, I’ll say yes to sushi, but then be thinking about all the great writing I️ could be doing!

I️ don’t want to let others define what I️ do with my time. 

But I️ also don’t want to be a tightwad.

There’s a fine balance between making time for priorities and actually living a little. 

Which bring me to the next Renaissance Life Principle:

Life Principle #18: Live a Little (For Josh’s Sake)

It’s good to be responsible and intentional about our goals and habits, but don’t let I­t­ sideline you from actually living. Focusing on today is how you make tomorrow brighter, but take yourself too seriously and you’ll create the opposite result.

Being responsible shouldn’t also mean ‘Up your own butt’.

Take your shoes off and stay awhile. Learn to live in the hectic moments, and learn to enjoy the silent moments too.

The key to a meaningful life is not cramming your calendar with so much stuff.
Minimalism can apply to not only things we own but things we do. (This is sometime I️ still need to learn and apply.) Trying to add 48 hours worth of work into 24 hours will leave you exhausted and not very excited about what you’re doing, even I­f it’s enjoyable to you.

The quality of your time means everything, but spend too much time focused on yourself and your own goals and aspirations and you’ll end up doing a lot but not really living

How to Live a Little

Create room each day for negative space — time in which you do nothing. No podcasts, no music, just enjoy the silence and reflect on the moment. I­t­ could be 20 minutes, I­t­ could be 1 minute — whatever you have to give.

Practice intentionality. The more intentional we are about how we live, the more we can squeeze out happiness in every moment (even the sucky ones).
Go for a walk weekly or daily, with the mindset of practicing being intentional. From the small blades of grass to the buildings around you — focus on the world around you. Look at the sky, feel the wind, see and smile at the people you come across.

Plan Spontaneity. If you’re sometimes a tightwad (like me), plan to be spontaneous at least once a week. I️ know, planning spontaneity is not very spontaneous… but it’s a step in the right direction. When someone asks if you want to do something, be open to I­t­ if I­t­ sounds enjoyable to you. Get yourself ready for someone to ask you to be spontaneous. Steel yourself up. Make time to live a little.

Prioritize. Ask yourself, “Am I️ trying to fit a week’s worth of work into one day?” If you are, take a step back and reprioritize. We create the life we live with the decisions we make with what we have to go on. Reinvention is just one action away from reality.

Go on that hike, grab that sushi. 
Whatever you need to do, I­t­ can probably wait. But if I­t­ can’t, don’t fret about I­t­. Do what you have to do and grab sushi next time.

Live a little.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

“Youth is something I never wanna take for granted. I just want to smile and live life.” — Tyler, The Creator

“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

One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” — Dale Carnegie