Stretch yourself into passion with a four-chord approach

A few months ago I bought a guitar with the intention of teaching myself to play it. I promptly did nothing with it, primarily because I felt like a heaping pile of suck any time I picked it up. My fingers just wouldn’t cooperate with me.

Recently, inspired by the video below, I decided I would drop the idea of learning to play the guitar (with its attendant visions of being able to hang out and jam with my friends) and just focus on playing four simple chords, over and over (and over) again.

I’ve been at it about a week now and I have to admit, it’s tedious. Boring even. And my fingers still won’t completely cooperate. But I can see some small improvement. Better yet, I can see a door opening to the path to learning to play.

What exactly does my awkward efforts to learn a new instrument have to do with getting Wild About Work in your career? A lot!

Part of staying energized and engaged by the work you do is stretching outside your comfort zone. When you stay in the same tired loop of what you know, stagnation can set in. What once made your heart sing can start to go out of tune.

Stretching beyond your current knowledge, skills, and abilities keeps you fresh. It keeps you challenged. And it keeps you growing.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to look beyond the comfort zone and have the same reaction as me with my guitar. We get a first taste of how not in the groove we are as we take those first tentative steps, how clumsy and awkward we feel, and say, “Ah screw it. Never mind.”

What if, instead of retreating from your discomfort zone, you stepped back and asked, “OK, what are my four chords here? What can small thing can I focus on mastering? What can I do over and over and over until I’m comfortable?

Let’s say you want to stretch yourself by being able to get up in front of people and speak. If you’re at the stage where even thinking about it makes your knees knock, maybe your four chords would be to give an impromptu five-minute speech to your dog every day on some subject that interests you. Your goal would be to get comfortable with hearing yourself speak and build belief that you can actually string two intelligent thoughts together.

If you’re slightly more comfortable with it, maybe your four chords are looking for any opportunity to get up in front of people and talk. Could be in a meeting at work, or introducing a speaker at a dinner meeting, or sharing your expertise at a brown bag lunch. Your goal here would be to get more comfortable in front of people.

If you’re comfortable speaking in front of people, your push past your comfort zone might be to turn up the volume on what you deliver, speaking to bigger crowds, with greater expectations of you. Your four chords here might be getting back to the basics. For example, you might practice the same talk over and over in the mirror, recording it, working on the timing and flow.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s something to be said for the dive-in-and-flail version of stretching yourself. But if the prospect of diving in and flailing keeps you from even dipping your toe in the water, taking a four-chords approach is a good way to create some positive momentum.

While my fingers are still less cooperative than I would like, I have been finding myself able to explore and play around just a bit more. The four chords are opening the door to a possibility of diving in deeper. And that’s the beauty of taking four chord approach. It both builds a foundation and opens the door to more.

What about you? Where do you want to stretch yourself? What could your four chords be?

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]


Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide