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

IG: @Renaissance.Life

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

Interview: Jordyn Kelly @jordyn.kelly

Welcome to another We the People series: highlighting creatives who are a part of the Renaissance Tribe and represent our Ethos. I ask you questions, you give us insights from your own life.


We are more capable together than we are by our lonesome. We become our best selves by connecting with others. We are better together.

Enter Jordyn:

Follower her @Jordyn.Kelly

Q. A classic: “What do I do?”

I document people existence by freezing it in real time. I want my clients to look back on the past and replay a memory that was worth reliving. I am fascinated that we are able to freeze time essentially with technology. I don’t like to say I own a business, I am an artist. I create art for a living, and capture events people will one day want to share with other generations. I do adventure tourism, commercial, wedding, couple, and portrait photography. I used to do events, but that wasn’t as intimate! 

Q. “What are the best lessons your mom and dad taught you?”

My father taught me to work hard, and to always present my best work. I’d definitely have to say that’s where I get my work ethic from. Whenever I presented my best self I knew there was always room for improvement, and there still is in everything I do. My ability never reaches a limit to stop learning and stop growing. 

My mom taught me to be an artist first, and then a businesswoman second. That’s when my art started to flourish. I focused on quality rather than trying to take photos for a quick fix at money. She taught me to refine my craft over and over again. Sometimes you have to break away from your personal craft to get an idea for a project. It’s what’s outside your craft that gives you so much inspiration for why you love what you do.

Q. “How did you get into photography?” 

I was a young girl living with my mom in the attic of an apartment in upstate New York. The rooms were all connected because the apartment we lived in wasn’t entirely large. The bedroom, living room and dining room were all connected and a small wall dividing the kitchen, with a window in front of the sink so you could see into it from the rest of the house. I often times found myself fascinated by my mom’s college artwork. She did a less than perfect job at keeping in good condition, so I did my best job to put the pieces back together. She had an old film camera near her bed, so I would crawl into her bed and photograph my mom at her best moments dancing and singing around the house to Nora Jones in the kitchen. My mom is no longer with me, and looking back on how life panned out, I wish that old camera had film inside of it so I could visually replay one of the most memorable moments of my childhood. 

So I saved up my money to buy a camera. 

Q. “Who are some of your favorite photographers?”

The ones that create real art and aren’t opposed to going outside the norm of capturing a new idea or thought, rather than the kind that does it for the Instagram fame. That’s where I get most of my inspiration! If you are dying for a name I would say Ben Sasso’s latest artwork hits that theme very well. 

Q. If you asked to teach photography, what would be the top 3 key skills someone should know and focus on? 


  1. Focus on YOUR style. Editing, and shooting! It’s great to get inspiration from other artists, but keep pushing yourself to create new work or you’ll get lazy. You don’t want to just be a copy, you want your work to be organic. If it’s organic it will grow!
  2. Reflect – Why did you get into this line of work? What inspires you? What would you tell yourself in 10 years when you are burnt out, and the hype of photography has died. Do you love it enough to do it if you weren’t getting paid? Do you love it enough to do it even if the numbers on Instagram didn’t exist? 
  3. Consistency, sticking to your guns on pricing, and professionalism while communicating with clients!

Q. What are some decisions you’ve made that have made you into who you are today? 

  1. To try to be better tomorrow than I am today. Continue to try again the next day if that doesn’t work well. 
  2. To always honor people, and be genuine. If you ask me a question you will always get the truth!


Q. What’s your favorite travel experience? 

I was hiking the northern mountains of South East Asia. We hiked for hours in order to get to the house where we would put our packs and pitch up for the rest of the night! We would hike through bamboo forests and 3-inch wide ledge rice patties. Some of us fell into them and we had a foot full of mud the rest of the hike. We tracked on to find that our whole hike was filled with very beautiful lush tall grass that was springing up from the rice patties as far as the eye could see. After our third day hiking further and further into this village my camp mates and I were extremely sore. My hips were bloody and bruised from my pack rubbing them, and my feet in worse condition than my hips. We looked at our tour guide and she said, “follow me, I will take you to a secret waterfall to where you can soak your muscles.” We began on the trail again probably another mile out. My feet were screaming to take a rest, we walked through a lot of hanging vines covering an entrance way. Just behind the wall of vines was a waterfall in the distance spilling over between two large rock walls. We walked down to a large river the waterfall was pouring into and embraced it with all of our clothes on. The best part about it was none of us brought our camera or phones to document how beautiful the waterfall was. The villagers don’t bring tourist there very often because they don’t listen and get too close to the waterfall. The current is so strong it sucks them under and tourist often drown. 

Q. What advice would you give to someone pursuing creative work? 

It’s going to be hard, but if you are dedicated you can do it! If you work your ass off for 10 years you can make it big! Don’t expect your name or your creative outlet to instantly become famous! Measure yourself in smart goals. 

Q. What advice would you give someone going through a creative setback right now? 

Keep going, it’s going to be hard, it’s going to make you doubt your ability in everything you do, but continue to remind yourself of your worth. COMPARISON IS THE THIEF OF JOY. You can do it! You are amazing, and anyone that tells you otherwise can shut up! 

Comparison is the Thief of Joy.

Q. If someone gave you 10 million dollars, what would you do with it? 

I’d plant it in places that have the potential to have more impact than my pocket. Be responsible enough to tell it exactly where to go, and how to impact people in the right ways. 

Q. One thing you liked about last year, and one thing you want to improve this coming year? 

I liked how much I saw myself grow. I’ve had opportunities in life that have humbled me, and have allowed me to push my work to become even greater. I’m grateful to see such a huge change! There are always things I like to change, but with time I think it comes best through naturally growing instead of forcing it. 

Q. What are some impactful book’s you’ve read recently and why? 

  1. Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey  — Everyone needs to get out of debt! 
  2. Through the Eyes of a Lion by Levi Lesko — If you want to read a raw book with a lot of real emotions in it, and will encourage you and speak power into you I would highly encourage this book. Bring a box of tissues with you. 
  3. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers – I’d say this book taught me how to love, and love fearlessly.

Q. If there were 5 skills you could master instantly, what would they be and why? 

  1. How to win friends and influence people.
  2. Learning a new language, so when I travel I can help people feel important by learning their native tongue. 
  3. Acquire the skill of obtaining more relevant information more rapidly in a way I can genuinely understand. 
  4. Accounting, I find it incredibly difficult but amazingly important. The struggle is real! 
  5. Business skills, you can always learn more especially in the modern day! 

Q. If you were never paid for something in your life, what hobby, pursuit would you still do? 

I would do what I’m doing right now. I’d show them just how beautiful of a human being they are through how I got to capture them. 

Thank you Jordyn for taking the time to answer my Q’s!

You can follow her @Jordyn.Kelly on Instagram

 #StayBOLD #KeepPursuing ,

— Josh Waggoner, Dec. 1st 2017, Chattanooga TN

Me Me Me! Over Here!

In a world of Me Me Me, what if I did the opposite?

What if I️ lifted other people up instead of me?

Of course, I want Renaissance Life to be huge. I want to create a massive tribe of friends pursuing mastery and living life to the fullest. But is pushing out one more social media post really going to do it for me? 

Binge reading Ryan Holiday’s blog has shown me how timeless our work can be. I’m reading his thoughts from over a decade ago, and yet there they are — fresh as the day they were conceived. What stands out most to me is not the insights (although there are a bunch of them) but the connections he made along the way. And the same goes for us.

My writing is important, but it’s the connections I make that matter.

That’s why I’ve started interviewing Creatives Like Me on the blog.
I want to create deep and lasting bonds with likeminded humans.
I want to surround myself with charismatic and energetic people who are striving to make the world a better place.

Action Steps: Focus on the we culture, not the me culture. Focus on lifting others first.

Who knows what kind of friends we’ll have if we do?

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Wisdom:

“What tribes are, is a very simple concept that goes back 50 million years. It’s about leading and connecting people and ideas. And it’s something that people have wanted forever.” — Seth Godin

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” — Steve Jobs

Let’s Assume I’m Right

My biggest mistakes and faults in life tend to be centered around making assumptions about how things work.

Actually, its more like two assumptions: I️ make an assumption about how things work, then I️ assume that I’m right. Or in other words I’m making false assumptions based on nothing concrete.

  • I can assume someone doesn’t want to hang out or talk to me, but really they’re just busy. (and were assuming you would reach out first
  • If I️ make a mistake at work, it’s usually because I️ made an assumption that bandaids a problem I’m not seeing.
  • With Gabriella, I️ can assume something I’m doing is good, but really it’s annoying the H E double hockey sticks out of her. (Same goes with friends and family)
  • When something negative happens to me I️ assume the worst. (a one-way train to rock bottom)

A great example is first impressions. Sometimes you run into a guy or gal who is a master of bad first impressions. Maybe it’s how they speak, or what they talk about (or their stupid hair). We make assumptions about who they are and that they’re like this all the time. But really they could have had a bad day and came across as negative or boring. (a dinosaur stepped on their kitten, they’re just really hangry or a thousand other reasons). And when you run into them again they usually actually nicer than you thought. (hmm their hair’s nicer today)

Assumptions can cause frictions that lead to bigger problems.

A timely example is false news. It’s easy to make the false assumption that everything you read online and in books is true fact. (even though we’ve all heard the classic phrase ‘don’t trust what you read on the internet’) It’s hard, because you read something that sounds true (why would it not be? there are hundreds of other people who have liked this post…) but really someone is trying to manipulate us. Psychological factors like confirmation bias comes into play too — we want it to be true, so we see only what we want to see.

I’m not saying that all assumptions are bad. (There are two sides to every coin)

However, assumptions can cover up flaws in our way of thinking that lead us to make mistakes. We assume our way is the only way. 

Assumptions are how we perceive the world around us.

The best way we can stop making false assumptions is to make your intentions clear and keep an open dialogue of communication. Talk it out.

The more we can catch ourselves assuming things, and asking whether our assumptions are correct or not, the better our decision making will be.


Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

related wisdom:

“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” — Henry Winkler

“It’s sad that we never get trained to leave assumptions behind.” — Sebastian Thrun

“When you’re surrounded by people who share the same set of assumptions as you, you start to think that’s reality.” — Emily Levine

After going under the name Renaissance Man Life for the last year and a half,
I am officially the proud owner of

I’ve been agonizing over not having it for a long time now. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent on, — and every other domain registrar on the planet — looking for a domain close to it. ( Close but no cigar-scented candle) 

I hoped I would get, but the seller wanted $10,000 for it. (That’s a lot of donuts.) After a year of negotiating it down from who owned it (sitting on it like a troll under a bridge), I couldn’t be happier.

For me, Renaissance Life is an investment in myself. A commit to keep pursuing and pushing my abilities. It’s a promise and affirmation saying I can and will build the RL into a media company focused on helping us reach mastery and create an extraordinary life.

Names are important.

Any idea I have that I think has potential, I immediately come up with a name for it. Names give your ideas a grasp of reality. With a name, you are own step closer. You have edges you can grab hold of, climb up and plant your flag on.

Consider my flag planted.

What are you planting your flag on?

Why Renaissance Life? What does it mean?

Renaissance means rebirth.

From the combination of the French verb /renaître — ‘to revive’ and the noun
/naissance/ — meaning birth comes a word that lives near and dear to me.

The historic Renaissance was a time of innovation and human potential from the revitalization of Roman and Greek classics. To put simply: It was an age of discovery, creativity and pursuit of excellence.

Today we face a new renaissance — The Renaissance of Ourselves.

Your renaissance life begins the moment you decide you want to recreate yourself and grow into a better person. Modern life changes at break-neck speeds, so too, must we. We must become more resilient, adaptable and creative to be who we want to be, to do what we want to do. Dreams of a lifetime don’t happen with wishes. We must create them happen.

Maybe for you that means doing something you fear. Starting a restaurant, building an app, running a marathon. Or maybe it means a rebirth from a past failure. A bad break up, lost friends, a poor career.

By choosing to live a Renaissance Life, you’re choosing to believe that you can and will turn your trails into triumphs, and learn how to become a master at what you do, despite setbacks, pain, and fear.

My greatest moments of pain and failure have become the most defining moments of my life. Isn’t that crazy (stupid) to consider? I would never wish bad on anyone, but through my own troublesome experiences I come to appreciate more, desire to be more and to life my life to the upmost.

We all go through dark moments in our life:

Injury, health issues, financial meltdowns, friendships, frustrations, body issues, brokenness, bad decisions (to name some of mine).

Ultimately, what matters is what we do about them in the aftermath.

Do I give up? Or do I find a better way?

Your Renaissance has unlimited potential. Choosing the pursuit of better is how you begin.

Welcome to the Renaissance.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Follow @Renaissance.Life on Instagram

Related Wisdom:

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” — George Eliot

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

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