Creative Capacity

“The marble not yet carved can hold the form of every thought the greatest artist has.”

Michelangelo

Building skill takes time, but the nice thing about creativity is that you can still create while you are developing. Sure, it might not be at the level you want, but don’t worry, because honing yourself at your current level is what’s going to push you higher.

If you’re just starting out, know this—

Anyone is capable of creativity.

And the thing about creativity is it comes in many flavors, not just art.

Imitate the greats

You’ll find that you can’t quite do what they do (did) but in the process of imitation, you’ve created your own original way of doing things.

Focus on getting better today.

As you increase your skills, you’ll notice that your previous work kinda sucks. You’ll notice the flaws and mistakes, but that’s natural. It’s a sign that you are moving forward, versus stagnating.

Question: Is there anything you aren’t doing but wish you were because you think you aren’t ready or don’t have the skills yet?

Action: What’s one thing you can do today to challenge yourself and push your skills a little higher?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1082 ☕️

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Amplifying Effect

“The first wealth is health.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are many types of skills and knowledge in general that, if learned, can amplify everything that you do.

Improving your ability to communicate, for example. What part of life doesn’t involve some form of written, graphic, or verbal communication? Think about it: blogging, writing emails, tweeting, caption, website copy, speeches, journaling, wit and banter among friends, sharing stories about yourself with relationships, getting your ideas across, job hunting, pitching clients… communication is at the heart of what it means to be human.

Health is another great skill that has reach across your life. Eating well, exercising, and resting can all increase the quality and longevity of your life. How can you put a quantifiable impact on that?

One big part of being multidisciplinary is to cultivate these types of foundational skills.

  • How to learn
  • How to think
  • Health
  • Writing

Even just one of these could improve your life in immeasurable ways.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1060

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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

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Skip the Fundamentals

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

Walt Disney

Learning the fundamentals is an important part of mastering any skill. By building a solid foundation, you give yourself a broader vocabulary to work with. For example, learning scales, chords, and playing by ear on an instrument will open the doors to learning any song.

But, I question whether or not starting with the fundamentals is a good idea. Or at least, I don’t think it works universally as a perfect starting point for beginners.

Have you heard of the concept of something “being on rails”? It’s generally applied to video games or a ride at an amusement park.

Fundamentals are fantastic and an essential thing to learn, but they can also lock us into a specific way of thinking—which also happens to be how everyone else and their mother thinks too.

Structure isn’t always beneficial. Sometimes you just need to sit in front of a sketchbook, or piano or box of legos, and see what comes out of your imagination. Sometimes it’s better to just throw ourselves in the middle of something and figure things out.

Skipping the fundamentals can also be an advantage. By jumping right in, playing around and learning things on your own, you can give your art/work a unique angle. Why? Because you don’t know the rules. You don’t know you’re doing something out of the ordinary or “wrong”.

Without the fundamentals, you don’t know any better. Which one hand, could cause you to pick up some bad habits, but on the other hand, could lead to new ways of thinking and creating.

When we don’t know the rules, we don’t know we are breaking the rules. This is hazardous for public pools, office rules, and social situations. But when it comes to creativity, not knowing what’s “impossible” is an opportunity to create something original.

As artists and entrepreneurs, thinking something is “impossible” or “improbable” is very closed-minded thinking. By thinking something is impossible for us to do, we’ve already boxed ourselves in from ever being able to do it. While at the same time we think it’s impossible because of X, Y Z reason, some naive bold person out there is building it and figure it out anyway.

Of course, fundamentals aren’t always bad. Knowing how to do your taxes is a good skill to have. The key is to take the time to discover things on your own first and to let your curiosity and imagination drive you first. Then add the fundamentals to what’ve you’ve discovered and experienced on your own to enhance your skills even further.

It’s much easier to add to your knowledge than take it away.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1022

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A Whole Lotta Learning. Not A Whole Lotta Doing

“He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast.”

Leonardo da Vinci

Learning is a double-edged blade. It can be your greatest opportunity to knowledge and becoming the person you want to be, but it can also be your biggest hindrance. Without practice and application of what we are learning, we are essentially wasting our time. If all we do is jump from one interest to another without using them, we might as well be binging TV.

Skills, values, character, dreams, goals, ideas—none of these things amount to anything without putting them into practice.

Reading a book is the start.
Taking a course is a great way to learn.
Watching tutorials on Youtube can save you a load of time.

That’s more than most will ever do.

But that’s just the first step. Learning doesn’t replace doing. And learning doesn’t get us anywhere by itself. Sure, we can talk big, but one look at our work and any professional will be able to see that we don’t have anything tangible to back up our words.

We need both learning and application to succeed. Now we have to put our knowledge to the test.

The tricky thing is we keep staying in learning mode because we think our skills are good enough. We want to be a professional, so we keep learning but never practice or show the world what we have to offer. This is a lie.

The best thing about practice is its learning in motion. When you practice something, you are both learning and doing at the same time. You might not be as good as you want to be (…yet). But every time you pick up the guitar, or pen or paintbrush, you are getting in your reps.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #893

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A Skill is Only Useful When You Use It

“Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it.”

Leonardo da Vinci

As a developer, one of the easiest traps you can fall into is always learning new programming languages, but never using them to build things. There are over 700+ programming languages out there. What happens is you learn one, hear something exciting about a new language, and you start learning that one instead of using the first. And so we hop from one language to the next, without actually doing the thing they were each made for— to create stuff.

But it’s not just programming, anything we learn can get stuck in “learning mode”. Learning is one important part of the equation — using what you learn is the other part. Both are required. And the order doesn’t necessarily matter. You can act first and learn from those actions, or you can learn and act on what you know.

Is a skill still important if you never use it?

Perhaps. Anyone who knows how to defend themselves in a fight is grateful for their training and skills, and even more grateful if they never have to use them in a real toss-up.

But, in most cases, skills are more important if we use them. Otherwise, why did we spend so much time and energy learning them in the first place?

Knowing how to doing something isn’t enough. We must also do something.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #883

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Life Skills: Force Multipliers that Improve Your Life

In my research of people who live in the Renaissance Human / Polymath / Multi-hyphenated category — people who are masters of multiple things — I’ve come across interesting traits that could be argued as a contributed factor to their prestige and creativity.

I’ll define these as ‘Life Skills’.

Life Skills are force multipliers. As the old economic aphorism goes, ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’, Life Skills are skills that elevate all areas of your life.

Sometimes the improvements create direct effects, but most of the time Life skills improve adjacent areas that we might not even notice unless we are looking. Let me explain with a classic example of a Life Skill: public speaking.

Public speaking is one of the infamous skills that most of us fear, and all dream of being great at. Naturally becoming great at public speaking enables you to improve in a lot of things you would expect: communication, captivating an audience, storytelling, selling, marketing etc.

But it also improves adjacent skills you might not consider: confidence, clear and concise thinking, respect and influence, charisma, and fear.

Imagine the impact on your life if you were more confident and had better control of fear. What would your business look like if you were more able to sell your ideas and had the respect of a public speaker? How would clear and concise thinking measure on your goals in life?

Public speaking is just one Life Skill. There are others with less barrier to entry, reading, for example.

Reading is the cheapest, direct source to the greatest minds that have ever lived. Learning to have to ability to read well and often can completely change your life. Think about that: a few words have a massive impact on who you are, what you do, how you think, where you live, who you know, how you communicate and more. Plus, you can do it all in your underwear in the comfort of your home, no stage required.

Another way to think about Life Skills is they are skills that improve character.

If character traits are the foundation of who we are and the quality of life we experience, then Life Skills are the practices we can challenge ourselves with to reach that potential.

And the more Life Skills you master, the more you can elevate your life.

The nice thing too is that some Life Skills overlap, and new ones are constantly popping up and evolving through technology over time. Maybe you have no desire to get up on a stage to give a speech. But what about a podcast? Or how about starting a YouTube channel? Both are great options that lead to improving your ability to think and communicate (as well as other skills that don’t overlap with public speaking, like being comfortable on camera).

The nice thing about podcasting (and YouTube) is, even if the only views you get are from your mom, you’re still improving your ability to communicate, connect, think and tell stories. And any skill you learn you can take with you to the next thing you do. which means life skills are lifetime.

Life Skills are lifetime. Learning them, even from a failed experience, means you can use them wherever you are, whatever you do.

What are some other Life Skills out there (in no particular order):

  • Money: Imagine being great at money. What would an extra $1000+ a month do for your life?
  • Travel
  • Health
  • Fitness
  • Reading
  • Thinking
  • Decision Making
  • Habits
  • Patience
  • Breathing
  • Sleep
  • Happiness
  • Friendship
  • Selling
  • Marketing
  • Design
  • Coding
  • Writing
  • Physics
  • Electronics
  • Observing
  • Listening
  • Making / Building
  • Self-awareness
  • Discipline
  • Learning
  • Teaching
  • Resilience
  • Creativity
  • Drawing
  • Music
  • Acting
  • Foraging
  • Gardening
  • Cooking

Mastering even 1 of these can improve your life in innumerable ways.

Life Skills are something I would like to focus more on here at Renaissance Life.

Let me know your thoughts, and reach out and email me other Life Skills that I’ve missed!

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #555

IG@Renaissance.Life

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