Just Show Up

“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.”
Chuck Close, photorealist

Quality matters. Creating crappy work isn’t going to going to bring the boys to the yard, so to speak. Whether we are talking getting people to read your writing, sign up for your newsletter, listen to your music, buy your product… — Sh🙈t gets you sh🙈t.

One unfortunate side effect of seeking quality is the more you seek it, the more it paralyzes you from creating. This can lead anyone down the slipper slope of chasing perfection.

Perfection is the enemy of creativity. It stops you from starting and finishing. Perfection is a chatty chap. Perfection says, “if it’s not the best idea you’ve ever had, it’s not worth publishing / doing / uploading” and “if you mess up, throw it all away”. Perfection also has a lot to say about whether or not your ideas are any good. What Perfection doesn’t realize is creating is a process.

Some of your ideas will suck. Some will be great. But it’s often the case, we have to wade through the sucky ideas to get to the great ones.

Deciding to create — be it art, music, business… you name it — whenever you feel like it will get you a few good ideas every now and then. But those ideas are few and far between when you dedicate yourself towards creating every day.

Daily habits make me better at what I do.

It gives me no excuses not to create.
Whether I feel like it or not. Whether I have inspiration or not.

I just show up every day, and do it.

Ideas and inspiration comes when you show up.

It’s funny, most days I’ve got zero ideas about what I’m going to write about until I sit down and write. But that makes sense in a way. Showing up gives you the space to create, otherwise, we’d fill the void with errands, errata, eating and other things.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #620

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A Little Tenacity

“If you hang around long enough, they think you’re good. It’s either my tenacity or stupidity – I’m not sure which.”

Adam West

We can get a little too close to our business or creative endeavors sometimes. It’s understandable of course. After all, we are the ones spending, day in and day out, trying to make something happen and real. But when all you can see is weeds and none of the flowers and herbs, your garden starts to look like an uncontrollable slop. You know you are working hard and the small, daily improvements are adding up to something… eventually, but right now it looks like nothing is working, nothing is effective. ‘Why am I even doing this anyway?’

It’s tempting to give up on the spot under the duress of thoughts such as this, or to give up subtly by putting less effort and less attention into your work, until eventually you stop all together.

I experienced this early on in my freelance career.

One of the hardest parts about freelancing is learning to balance the need to find new clients with the need to finish the work of your current clients. Current clients give you work now and have already paid (or partially paid) and sustained you up until this point and the near future. New clients enable you to keep your business going past the near future. Both needs demand all of your time and both can stress you out if your not careful.

When you are working for a company, you typically only have one thing on your plate: the current work. You might have an idea what you will do next after you finish what you are working on, but the demands of finding new clients is delegated by someone else and abstracted into a paycheck you get each month. The abstraction of a paycheck gives you peace of mind and a drip of money beyond the immediate needs. (Whether or not a paycheck is actually a safety net, or just an illusion of one as long as the company or sales people getting new clients continues is up for debate.)

Of course, early on in my freelance career, I didn’t know any of this. I was stressed out to the max, because I was not only dealing with this, I was also facing health issues and my expenses felt overwhelming. Which led me to the number one killer of freelancing: worry.

Worrying about where the next check will come from. Worrying about lack of time. Worry worry worry. And if you let the worry continue and consume you, it becomes a second full time job. By exhausting yourself with worrying over where your next client will come from, you push away the work you have in front of you and begin to feel incapable of doing it. You hit a wall, no energy left to find clients OR do the work in front of you. Which alienates yourself from what you need to do and also alienates you from your current clients.

To skip over the bloody details, early on, I dropped the ball. It was a hard lesson to learn, but a lesson that’s helped me later on. In hindsight, by letting worrying become my second job, I clouded my judgement and mindset on what I need to do and how to move forward.

What matters most is the work that’s in front of you — that’s #1. Go above and beyond with the work you have, and the next gig will follow. Everything else will handle itself. Research new clients, set up new meetings. But don’t let those distract you or suck away all your time from what truly matters: the work.

This lesson highlights two important questions:

What can I learn from the mistakes of others, and plan ahead / mitigate the risk of falling into the same traps?

Personal mistakes sting the most, and are hard-won lessons. But it’s better to learn from the mistakes of others if you can recognize the value and heaviness of the lessons someone else has learned through trial and error, without actually having to feel the weight yourself.

Hard lessons are inevitable, eventually. But avoiding as many as we possible can is the smartest move we can do to avoid derailment and roadblocks on our journey. Obstacles don’t prevent us from freedom, unless we allow them too. Ultimately, they give us stories to tell (like this one) and give us the opportunity to help others on their own journey.

How do we keep going after failure?

Dropping the ball sucks. But it’s not the end of the world. There’s always a way forward. But if you hold onto failure to tightly, there’s no wiggle room to move forward. And if you hold onto a certain outcome to tightly as well, everything feels like failure, like weeds blocking your garden, unless that single outcome occurs, (an outcome blinded by lack of clear certainty and knowledge) versus the potential outcomes and opportunities that exist that we can’t see clearly yet.

We all need a goal, something to reach for, something to drive our actions. But the goal is the aim, not what gets us there. The aim is important, because it gives a ballpark direction. What gets us their is meeting each day by giving it the work and energy it requires.

The best way to holding drum sticks is to have a firm but soft grip between your index finger and thumb in the lower middle of the sticks, while the rest of your fingers lightly rest on the space underneath. This allows you to keep hold of the sticks without they flying out of your hands, but also give you moment and control in creating the sounds you want to create.

We must firmly grip the life we want to create, while not grasping to firmly to prevent our movement and ability to change when we need to change.

In many ways, life is fluid, not fixed.

Acting as though it is fixed only makes us brittle and resentful when we break or when things don’t go our way.

We must also adopt fluidity to create a life of meaning and worth.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #575

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What Gets Rushed Gets Redone

I think it’s healthy to consider why you are trying to get something done as quickly as possible in the first place. If you have to rush through it, is it really that important to you?

Rushing usually doesn’t create the desired effect.

Not to say we should throw away all deadlines and constraints. Constraints used well are guardrails that keep us on track and set us up to finish what we start. However, repeatedly setting unrealistic deadlines and constant rushing through things not only stresses everyone involved out, it completely diminishes our ability to do great work.

Rushing usually comes into play when your desire to do more outpaces your time and resources available. A classic example is traveling to Europe for a weeks vacation and trying to fit 30 countries in. Instead of enjoying one city, such as London, and all the wonders and excitements that the city holds, you spend 90% of your time hopping from one place to the next, taking a flyby trip to London, Paris, Rome, Hamburg…. on and on. You leave with a few great memories and one universal sentiment: “I wish I hadn’t planned so many destinations to visit”.

Rushing happens in all types of day to day life as well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught myself quickly reading a book just to get it over with so I can go to the next one. (And barely able to recall what I just read.)

What’s the point of reading a book if you aren’t learning anything or enjoying it?

And the biggest capital offender of rushing is work. We rush to get to work, we rush to meetings, we rush to eat, we rush projects, we rush leaving work, and we rush through conversations, answer a few quick emails and go to bed to start all over again.

Have you ever stopped to consider why we as a culture do it this way? Is this the most effect way to build a business or is this just the default?

What if we instead focused on quality versus quantity. What if we gave ourselves just enough time — not to little, and not to much — to create high quality projects and meaningful conversations and relationships.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #535

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Making Time for the Most Important Things

How do I motivate myself to do the important things when I don’t feel motivated?

“I’ve noticed that my motivation to start my own freedom business is always at an all-time high when I’m at work, sitting at my desk, with the realization staring me in the face that I do not want to spend the rest of my life sitting in a cubicle all day every day… I feel a burning desire to take immediate action towards a freedom business. The only problem is that I’m at work so I can’t! When I’m finally on my own time and can focus on learning and creating the motivation is still there but not nearly of the same caliber.

Have any of you experienced a similar situation? If so, do you have any tips or tricks to channel, on command, that same level of motivation that I feel when I’m face to face with the reality of what my life will continue to be if I don’t take action now?”

 

Dear Creative Like Me,

I usually find myself in the same situations after work. A burning desire to work my pursuits — to write, learn, connect, code, design, write songs and build successful business — but also the need to rest.

Such a paradox —When I finally have time for what my soul is pining to do, I feel unmotivated to do them. (Heck!) Even more so recently since my energy hasn’t been great, and my three-headed demon.

The need of rest is good, but after resting, it’s easy for me to slide into mindlessness, which is the enemy.

Rest is equally important as effort, but mindlessness is the enemy to creativity.

I know I need to spend time creating and pursuing my goals, but I feel exhausted, obligated to other things and others, and reluctant to do so. (Even though I know doing so would create a better reality for me!) ‘Maybe Tomorrow’, I think. (But you know what they say about tomorrow.)

So what’s an motivated unmotivated creative to do?

One solution I’ve found is to

first re-energize yourself.

  • Go for a walk
  • Mediate
  • Talk to a friend / loved one
  • Read
  • Workout
  • or do something you enjoy that’s restful yet mindful

and second, sit down and

Start with purpose and intention.

It doesn’t have to be the best thing you’ve ever done, it just has to be something.

You just have to start and stick with it for as long as your able.

Oddly enough that lazy, tired feeling I have fades away once I start and keep pushing through. I think this idea goes along well with one of Dale Carnegie’s strategies for removing worry and despair by ‘losing yourself in doing.”

Taking action consumes your mind and leaves no space for exhaustion. 

My feeling of reluctance and fatigue doesn’t completely go away, but I become more comfortable with it, each day I do it. I think that’s how most people find their success, they learn to thrive in un-comfort. They make the uncomfortable, comfortable and do so continuously.

Personal success comes to those with the largest comfort zone.

 

Keep Pursuing,

Josh Waggoner, Renaissance Man.  April 18th 10AM EST, Chattanooga TN

If this article helped, let me know in the comments below, or via email: josh@renaissanceamanlife.com.

Dear Creative Like Me, If you are struggling with something and want some advice, email me your thoughts, and you question might be featured on the RL.

 

related wisdom

 

The secret of being miserable is to have leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not. The cure for it is occupation.

— George Bernard Shaw

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.

— Zig Ziglar

Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.

— Mario Andretti

Todd Henry: On Brilliant Work

Excerpt from Die Empty, Unless Your Best Work Every Day by Todd Henry:

Brilliant work is forged by those who consistently approach their days with urgency and diligence

Urgency means leveraging your finite resources (focus, assets, time, energy) in a meaningful and productive way. 

Diligence means sharpening your skills and conducting your work in a manner that you won’t regret later. 

When you adopt the mind-set of urgent diligence, you’ll pour all of who you are into your days, and subsequently you’ll find that the unique value you bring to the world comes more clearly into focus.

(note: bold and italics highlights by me — Josh Waggoner)

 

The goal of brilliant work is value,

because value creates lasting impact.

Things made cheaply don’t last very long, whereas things crafted with excellence and thought are sought after and desired.

Remember,

When we go All In — when we pour who we are into all that we do — It shows.

Brilliant work shines bright in a quantity filled world.

 

related:

Die Empty, Unless Your Best Work Every Day by Todd Henry

 

#KeepPursing,

Josh Waggoner

‘Polishing Bricks’

Simplicity, Refinement, Minimalism —

are all admirable pursuits…

as long as you’re not trying to simplify a brick.

A brick is a brick.

You can polish a brick all day long, but at the end of the day, it’s still going to be a brick (albeit a shiny one).

The ones that are capable of learning to take a step back, self-assess, and see the difference between a brick and a gem, have the traits of someone brilliant.

 

related:

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” — Jonathan Swift

Book: Seeing What Others Don’t: The Remarkable Way We Gain Insights

“A blind man who sees is better than a seeing man who is blind.” — Proverb

#KeepPursuing,
xoxo Josh Waggoner

‘Brevity is the soul of wit.’  Email me your thoughts on this post. Can you reduce the essential idea further?

Input Equals Output =>

Your output is determined by your input.

Meaning, what you consume affects what you produce.

When you take in negativity, or worry, or gossip, or stupidity, or anger… (consciously or not)

you push out the same sentiments (aware of it or not).

The same holds true for positivity, and brilliance, and excellence…
 

Extraordinary output, needs quality input. 

Related:
That’s why they say you should surround yourself with smarter people than you.
Or why they say you are the combination (Voltron style) of your closest friends.

 

#KeepPursuing,
xoxo Josh Waggoner

‘Brevity is the soul of wit.’  Email me your thoughts on this post. Can you reduce the essential idea further?