I’ve been a guitar player since 1984. I started with classical and switched to blues and rock. In the late 80s I played in a rock band and gigged around northern California. I had great fun with it, and then I stopped.

Around that time I was graduating from college and started thinking differently. I was thinking about the need to get working in the corporate world and start building a career. I was married at the time to my first wife and the conversations of purchasing a house, buying life insurance, starting a 401K, and so on were swirling through my mind.

“Of course I will never play like any of these greats. That’s because I’m not them. I’m me.”

More to the point, from time to time I would listen to some of the greats of guitar playing, Jimmie Hendrix, David Gilmore, Carlos Santana, Joe Satriani, and others. Their playing was my inspiration, and also my demise. When I listened to their music I was so blown away by how good they were, the raw power of Hendrix, the subtle phrasing of Gilmore, the rhythm of Santana, and the sheer awesomeness of Satriani – I thought, how could I ever measure up to them.

Of course I will never play like any of these greats. That’s because I’m not them. I’m me, and I will always play like me, with my own style and emotion and passion. I don’t have to be like them, and if I were I wouldn’t be offering anything new or necessarily valuable.

It’s no different in the realm of work and career. We each have our own style and perspective and our own mojo to bring to the table. We only need to seek to discover what our unique mojo is and then have the courage to bring it forward.

I’m sure Hendix, Gilmore, Santana, and Satriani each had moments of self-doubt as they were launching their careers, but somewhere within each of them they knew they had something unique to bring to the world, and they brought it forward.

What is your unique mojo? Not the skills or the knowhow necessarily, but the unique quality that only you can bring to the table?

“In the work we do we can play our work like riffing a guitar solo.”

I’m inspired to write these words because in the past few weeks I’ve been rekindling my guitar playing, and not just scratching out old licks and forgotten songs, but writing new ones and riffing out with reckless abandon – like in the old days. Something within me changed. I can now accept that I’m a good guitar player simply because I’m allowing the authentic me to come through.

In the work we do we can play our work like riffing a guitar solo with eyes closed, head cocked back and our unique feelings flowing through our veins, coming out through our finger tips, and resonating through the amp sounding like something new — something others can feel along with us.

This is how we create breakout businesses, products, and services that change the world. All we have to do is allow our authentic self to come through.

[tweet “This is how we create breakout businesses … allow our authentic self to come through.”]
I would like to thank Seth Godin (here) for the idea for this blog. I would also like to thank my life-long friend and brother Alfred San Miguel for inspiring me to take up the guitar.

Tip of the Week

To tap your inner creativity look back to the creative things you used to do in childhood, or perhaps in your teenage years. Rekindle that creative passion. Whatever it was, go do it again with reckless abandon, spending just a few minutes a day engaged in this activity. Is it the old clarinet collecting dust in the attic, or drawing, or poetry, or skateboarding, or what? Bust it out and be creative. By returning to your roots — your early years — you will rediscover the passion of youth. It doesn’t matter how rusty you are, just go for it.