I got it done again. Just 3 in a row, but that’s the start of a streak to me. I aim to keep this consistent and it’s helping me having this deadline. It’s only self-imposed too, so this is really an exercise in self-mastery. I chose to be here doing this today…no gun to my head. Knocked out 1250 words in under an hour. Check it out:
Well, a week’s gone by and rather than what could have happened (failure) I made it. I got another 1000 word piece done over on Medium for #WritingWednesday I’m linking to it below. Also have a new video I’m editing right now but you can also check out My First Day On Snapchat (and follow Multitude 277 for the real moments of this journey as they happen)
It may sometimes be here on this blog, but more likely than anything is I’ll do the majority of my Writing Wednedays over on medium. Here’s the first of what I want to be a new habit that deepens my writing practice and brings consistency to my creative weeks.
Was able to churn out over 1k words in 28 minutes, not bad. Let me know what you thought in the comments below, or write me a response on Medium.
I love goals. I’ve been setting them for years. I’ve got quite a few done, but many more loom over me spurning me forward. How I began setting goals is a somewhat vague recollection, but I’ll explain as best I can. I think that goals began to take focus between 12-18 years old. I wasn’t constantly setting goals and using visualization techniques, but I was making lists. I could go on about lists for thousands of words, and a little later down the line, I will. But for now, let’s just say I started making simple lists at 12. The freedom of a blank page and pen captivated me. What am I going to put on my list? What do I want to do? Both questions are also a very foundational element of goal setting—understanding the objective (goal). What is desired? For me the process of living list driven made me suited for making a list of goals. I believe setting goals and making lists is a skill like any other that can be developed and improved en route to future mastery. I continue making lists and setting goals and will likely until I cease to breathe.
Okay why all the goal rhetoric? “I get it you like lists.” What does any of this have to do with your catchy title? I’ll explain, don’t hasten to the headline and miss a chance to understand my intention of valuable takeaways sprinkled throughout a true story. I did meet Tim Ferriss, but I don’t think it would have happened without having that as a clearly defined goal on a list I made in 2012. No, though the meeting was unexpected and indeed fortuitous, I do not believe it was an accident. I think timing can suggest something is accidental, or ‘by chance’. But, looking at the broader scope of multitudes of simultaneous occurrences in visible and non-visible dimensions you can’t deny the power of intentions. Why so many big words in one sentence? It was my intention. Why did I get to meet Tim, and not perhaps have this goal go unrealized as words on a piece of paper? Intentions. It was something that I kept in my mind and intentionally gave focus to. I chose the outcome and had faith that it would happen one day. I’ve learned that forcing timing rarely works, and I’m working on allowing things to be serendipitous, intentionally. Okay, that’s one of my favorite words, don’t know if that’s apparent yet but I’ll lay off of it for the rest of this piece I promise.
I’ll include the text of a piece I’ve written on Medium here to continue the narrative, and I’ll add the YouTube video here once I’ve gotten the music added and it’s uploaded. The video will be #21 of the #52WkVideoChallenge and its taken even longer than any other not because of time conflicts but through more effort on making it a good use of 5-6 minutes of a viewer’s time. Making sure it’s concise and as good as I can do with my abilities right now. That being it’s done and here it is:
This story has both the accidental and the purposeful. A balance between dumb luck, and the willingness to act and commit. Here’s my piece from Medium:
Wow. So even with ample time, I still let 2015 go by with hardly the proper attention this blog deserves. I’m grateful if you’re reading this and want to share some of my vision for this blog’s future as well as my own.
Since this is the first post of 2016 I just want to briefly touch on 2015 and what was an amazing year of self-discovery and adventure. I will be writing a dedicated post with the highlights and lowlights of last year, but for now, let me keep it concise.
2015 I left the “full time” workforce and waded into the ever growing freelance economy. Pretty soon I wasn’t just wading in I was drowning in an endless sea of opportunities, and my own personal struggles. With a buffet of chances and choices, the actual process of deciding becomes very important. I can’t make everybody happy, and capitalize on every opportunity while still having quality as a primary emphasis. There are people out there that can definitely manage more projects, execute more ideas, and balance a life better than I can do at present. Yet, I am learning and will eventually grow my creative work capacity. 2015 taught me that I have some conditioned behaviors and changing things that are very ingrained has a high difficulty factor. Nothing is impossible, but the effort level put into changing these kinds of behaviors is very high versus accepting and adjusting to get around or through the road blocks. Use what you’ve got rather than starting construction on a new thoroughfare. I recently wrote about this on Medium and had the realization that I benefit from a physical location to show up to do my work, that is separate from my home. This is true at least in my current situation, possibly having a larger house with a dedicated office I could indeed “show up” and get to work the way I’ve conditioned myself to from years of working in restaurants and events. So I emphasize my newly found awareness of this because this was one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in the last year. The second great lesson or teaching 2015 had for me was a greater understanding of the power of choice. The more choices that face an individual, the less likely that each choice will be a rational and well-made decision. Understanding what kind of decisions you make under decision fatigue, and how to adjust or avoid this autopilot if it’s not in your best interest. This is an ongoing evolution in my mindset and behavior adjustments, not a master by any means yet but I do put focus and attention into better and fewer choices. What else did 2015 mean for me? I took lots of chances, and had many go well, but many also fail to materialize or be executed. My third takeaway is that I’m on the right path, and those failures were a necessary part of my growth as a man and a professional. I’m still here breathing, healthy, strong and ready to move forward so reflecting but not dwelling on failure is a facet of my mindset I’m developing. I pushed myself hard at certain points throughout the year, but the push wasn’t sustained. Pace. The same as doing an Obstacle Course Race can’t push the pace to a frenzy if you can’t recover from a frenzied pace. Better to give a constant 80% push dipping down to 70-75% to recover than pushing at 98% but dropping down to >60% to recover. A steady pace in my creative projects, fitness, and professional/personal development is what I’m aiming for in the coming year(s). That (s) shows a maturity in my thought process—I’m okay with not everything happening this year, or next year. I learned in 2015 what a year really feels like on my terms. How much time I really made the most of and how much I’ve wasted. Going forward, I’m glad to think of things unfolding over several years as opposed to wanting instant gratification and results without enough emphasis on PROCESS and PERSEVERANCE.
That essentially gives a brief snap into 2015, here are some of my key takeaways:
I can’t make everybody happy, and capitalize on every opportunity while still having quality as a primary emphasis.
The more choices that face an individual, the less likely that each choice will be a rational and well-made decision.
I learned in 2015 what a year really feels like on my terms. How much time I really made the most of and how much I’ve wasted.
A touch on the past and now a look to the future. I’m chasing my dreams, period. It’s not all sunshine and light refracting through water droplets (rainbows) though. There is plenty of pain mixed with the pleasure. Most of the pain is self-caused through my interpretation of events meanings. That’s a hard one to accept, but I find a lot of truth in that statement. Looking towards 2016, 2017, 2018 and beyond, I am happy with the vision I’m creating. I’ve looked at my major goals and desires in life and have done my best to create a large enough vision to enable great progress and eventual completion of the most important goals. Deepening self-awareness as I move forward is a commitment I’m making. Sharing that development is another commitment I’m making and that’s what this blog is ultimately for. A record of my becoming on the path that I’ve decided on. I am pledging right now to make the records more frequent, insightful and valuable to others. I will be posting 1-2 blog posts a week minimum for the rest of this year and likely beyond. They will likely take many formats and vary from deeply personal, to relevant and useful tactics, techniques and information for others. I don’t’ want to flood this blog with a bunch of crap, so 1-2 quality posts a week is my goal. I’m also creating on Medium and YouTube more and more often. My Instagram and Twitter are also part of the record. That’s why I show the Twitter and Instagram feed for readers right here on my blog, because not everything that I do in life is captured and instantly translated into a thoughtful blog post yet, but my tweets and Instagram are great insights into the actual flow of my life—what I’m learning, feeling, and working on. My focus for 27th Renaissance the blog is to create, share and develop useful, truthful and evergreen content on my journey.
My future for creative projects is bright, and I’m building a framework, schedule and deadlines into my everyday life. 2016 will be a year of imposing deadlines and eliminating what stands between me and those deadlines.
Thank you for reading, and as always feel free to reach out or comment and share your thoughts on what I’ve written.
Look forward to many more posts and an authentic look at me, Brendan McCaughey.
Polymath, expert generalist, renaissance man. All representative of the life-long learners quest, the quest for full potential. Is a person made to fit into a narrow niche? Or, to expand across all fields of achievement? I believe everybody can have more than just one skill, talent, or ability that can be developed to a high level. Not everybody who chooses a singular role and perfects it is settling in life. Personally, I would feel like I was settling for less than I’m truly capable of, by going for one thing. Not going after all the things that fascinate me would haunt me. I enjoy learning, practicing, and immersing myself in many diverse realms. Many true experts are without a doubt some of the most disciplined and committed individuals to live throughout human history. But, countless souls may never even reach their full potential in any one endeavor. Falling into the grey and forgotten hinterlands between amateur and master. There is however, a rare breed: a breed that is diverse yet singular, masterful yet child like, competent and curious. This rare breed is the Renaissance (Wo)man. The path of renaissance is not reserved for the masculine. Truth be told woman are just as adept if not better at becoming skilled in a wide repertoire of capabilities. Anybody can choose to learn, practice and master many things.
Within everybody, there is a higher calling (or callings). For many they may have gone dormant, but deep within it remains. A spark of inspiration, or a faint voice saying—“Imagine that! Go. Go after that!” Listen to that voice and try what you’ve always wanted. Your path to renaissance begins with the clear understanding of what the ultimate version of yourself would look like. And, what capabilities they would have. Can you imagine if you were able to do everything that you’d ever dreamed of? Do this as an exercise: write down notes, record audio, or even make a video…what would I be able to do if I’d learned everything that interested me? What if I let all my passions express themselves? What things when looking back on your life in it’s last stages you’d regret not doing, or wonder to yourself what you could have done had you just tried. Those are the things to consider when defining your Renaissance. If I look at my list it’s the ultimate realization of allowing myself to have dreams and share them. Building the skills necessary to reach even 50% of what I’ve listed will make me into a much better man. There’s something cool about working on a list like this. Once certain skills become absorbed, practiced, and repeated until enough mastery has been attained something interesting happens, the list becomes shorter. Shorter because mastering the right skills first, can speed up the ability to learn and absorb others. Learning how to learn is the gift and ultimate reward from defining and pursuing your own renaissance. Learn a second language like French; Italian and Spanish become that much easier. Understand how to de-bone a chicken, and duck, pheasant, and turkey become simplified. Learn oratory, and political power can follow. Some abilities may seem completely separate or disconnected, but their connectivity reveals itself through pursuing deep and diverse learning. Masters can draw inspiration from anywhere. Their brains remain connected to the core of their abilities and constantly curious. A trip to the cinema could spark a new painting, essay, or piece of music. A viewing at an art gallery may give the Master Chef insight into a new dish. Learning how to learn, keeps the brain fully active, and a lifetime of enjoyment can ensue.
I compel you to define what your renaissance means—if you’re reading this you’ve got one to craft. Become part of the under-recognized Renaissance Period we’re all currently a part of. Every industry and field is having a renaissance as technology and information become widespread. It’s easier now to be a person of renaissance than ever before. Leonardo Da Vinci would absolutely be Crushing it today. Just imagine what someone who was so diversely masterful could do in our day and age. Then think of what we the individual are doing. Can we do more, be more and become more? Yes. Let’s craft our own renaissance. Are you with me?
As it turns out, I’m not alone on this pursuit. There are others already pursuing their renaissance, and I’m always thrilled to meet another striver and polymath. Serendipitously through Twitter I met such an individual: Michael Mehlberg who runs Modern Da Vinci is actualizing his own renaissance and, like myself, helping others do the same through his blog–Enter: Modern Da Vinci:
What goals drive your behavior? Which challenges excite your passions? Can you name a few activities that renew and revive you?
With a little thought, these answers will come. We all have driving goals, exciting challenges, and reviving activities. Whether we consciously know what these goals, challenges, and activities are, they motivate us. But until we make them conscious, they are nothing more than motivators. By forcing them to be a part of our daily routine, we can turn them into a personal renaissance.
I’d be lying if I claimed to completely understood my own personal renaissance. No matter how much we simplify, life is complicated. No matter how easy they seem at first blush, our goals end up being loftier than expected. But I recognized that I needed to tame these complications and overconfidence. It took a specific exercise to provide the insight that allowed my personal renaissance to take shape.
Sitting at work, tired of countless emails and interruptions, I took a “thinking day” to redefine important priorities in my work. Many thoughts raced through my head that day. But one imaginative exercise in which I pictured myself 10 years in the future, set the stage for my renaissance and Modern da Vinci.
Surprisingly, I pictured myself doing something quite different than my current profession. I pictured myself studying, learning, inventing, and working to help people solve complex problems with creative solutions. I pictured myself healthy, confident, and knowledgeable on a wide range of topics–a true modern renaissance man–always interesting, and always helpful.
Of course, not all men picture themselves studying and inventing in their day job. Those aspirations were my own; personal in nature and driven by my character. But many of us do picture ourselves as healthy, confident, and knowledgeable people. I knew that I could pursue these goals myself, but I also wondered if I could help others to the same. I knew that, if I were to do so, I would have to make this pursuit public. Hence, Modern da Vinci was born. It was a way to publicize new knowledge, discuss new experiences, and help others find their own path to becoming a confident, interesting, helpful, lifelong learner.
With that in mind, it’s worth taking a moment to recognize the incredible period of history in which we live. We have never before better understood freedom, technology, culture, art, or science. Like the classical 14th century European renaissance period, modern art, music, and technology flourish. At times, it feels like we are crossing a bridge between our age and the ultra-modern, high-tech, culturally beautiful future.
I often wonder if, looking through history books 500 years from now, children learn about the 21st century as a modern renaissance period. I often wonder if we should recognize this for ourselves today. Perhaps by recognizing it we can build a bridge to such a future. Perhaps by staying curious, by constantly learning, and by following our passions we can better recognize opportunities and live a fuller life with fewer regrets.
Now more than ever, it’s important to study, learn, invent, stay healthy, and push yourself to grow. You have limitless opportunities at your fingertips with which to inspire yourself and others. Through Modern da Vinci, I hope to inspire others to push themselves to become more knowledgeable, grow more confident, and achieve more. It all starts with defining your own personal renaissance.
I sincerely hope you are inspired to create and maintain your own personal renaissance. Find your passions and explore them. Maintain your curiosity dig into life. Most importantly, never stop learning. And while your renaissance will change (sometimes daily), you will clear your path through life and be able to seize any opportunity along the journey.
Life is a great journey. Defining, and pursuing your Renaissance will make it a more rich experience. Thank you to my friend Modern Da Vinci for his insights and thoughts. We hope you find all the things you want in life and learn to become a true master of your own Renaissance.
I was inspired reading this morning to record my voice and thoughts on the recent passing of Dr. Wayne Dyer, and his impact on my life. The video with the recording and some photos and link to my YouTube are below.
Grateful for such an amazing man and the massive impact he had on the globe in the most positive ways.