Live by Design Newsletter

Happy Thursday!

I hope this newsletter finds each of you enjoying the new season, wherever you are and whatever season that may be.

Last week's newsletter had my nerves in knots sharing Mosaic Life Style with you. For me there's no feeling more vulnerable than working hard toward a goal wondering if anyone else will care. There's a lesson in that (see below).

Thankfully—and a huge thanks to you—there's far more excitement for the initial apparel drop than I could have hoped for.

That and I just received the final samples in the mail.

As a subscriber, I'm offering 15% your first order. Let me know you want hooked up and so it shall be done.

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In another decade and another life I wrote a novel. It was (it is ... unfinished) a story of a young girl growing up in a post-post-apocalyptic world in which she was bred to genetic perfection. The secrets withheld from her by her family and government set the tone of a story aimed at challenging our perceptions of right and good, wrong and evil.

I mention this because it was written during National Novel Writing Month one November. The evening following its "completion" I invited (coerced) friends out for drinks to celebrate the completion of my goal.

Even while drunk I remember a competition taking place between my heart and my mind. On the one hand I was incredibly proud of my accomplishment. I had written 50,000 words in 30 short days. I was beaming. It had always been a goal of mine to write a book, and there I stood, hundreds of blood-, sweat-, and tear-soaked pages at my digital fingertips.

On the other hand, in that moment I had a stark realization. As supportive as my friends were, they would never care as much about my creation as I would myself.

It feels sad to see that in writing, but in actuality it's a massive relief. Living in that reality has allowed me to set proper expectations when sharing parts of myself with others.

Do I wish I had an audience that clung to every word I wrote? Part of me does, yeah, but at the same time that feels in direct contradiction to the ethos of this newsletter, which leads to a tremendous amount of ...

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This won't be the first or last time I write about self-doubt. Every single one of us faces it, the problem is some try their best to hide it.

There's very little Instagram appeal in showing the struggles which led to a shiny finished product. It's one of the many reasons I believe Instagram is far more toxic than TikTok, but I digress.

It's impossible for me to count the number of times I've tried convincing myself to quit. This week alone I've told myself I should stop trying to learn how to swim because I'm not progressing fast enough, I should quit publishing this newsletter because it's not good enough, and I should quit trying to build a lifestyle brand around Mosaic Life because it'll never be as successful as similar brands I admire.

What it boils down to, why I decide to stick with these goals, is an honest reminder about why I began pursuing them in the first place. At the surface, I may have convinced myself I want to be like others (Michael Phelps, Mark Manson, or Good Good Golf respectively), but then I dig deeper and remind myself of what Theodore Roosevelt once said, "Comparison is the thief of joy."

I began each of these challenges because I enjoy doing hard things and learning (sometimes failing) along the way. As frustrating as it may be, when I make incremental progress (and on the rare occasion when progress flows more freely), I feel fulfilled. Never mind the praise or attention that hitches a ride along with it.

My aim is to do better and learn more, which is why I prefer ...

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At times I fancy the idea of being the best in the world at something, at anything. I ask myself why I didn't just stick with golf and focus all of my time, energy, and effort into the sport growing up. The same question could be asked for writing, or web development, or any other pursuit I've clung to.

You don't need to look beyond the previous section to understand why that wasn't in the cards for me, but that doesn't mean I don't feel bad about myself from time to time for not specializing in one area.

In his book, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, David Epstein makes the case for those of us who didn't devote our lives to a singular pursuit. Range offers a reminder that we are more likely to find success with a diverse set of skills rather than a narrow specialization.

When I find myself questioning why I haven't spent more time becoming an expert in an area, I remind myself that the grass isn't likely to be greener. Those with a narrow focus are at tremendous risk of burning out and wanting to pursue new activities.

No matter on what side of the fence you fall, it's an invitation to appreciate the ambition(s) you've been given.

Critical Thought

"To find fault is easy; to do better may be difficult." —Plutarch

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