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Try stepping out of the sweet spot once and a while

It's ironic.

I spend most of my time coaching people to find their sweet spot.

You know?  A place where things just flow.  A job or biz opportunity that fits like a glove.  Something they are passionate about.  Something they'd do, even if no one paid them.

Yup.  The sweet spot.

But this past week... I attended an event that intentionally took its participants out of their sweet spots.

And guess what?  It was a beautiful thing.

The event?101_0626

East Village Books (located in Des Moines' historic East Village) hosted 'The Art Fusion Experiment.'

Part of the experiment was to take four artists out of their various sweet spots and have them work only with charcoal and white paper.

So, for example my wife Melissa who is an artist who's sweet spot is working with LARGE canvases and acrylic paints had to shift to charcoal.

Then there was Brent Houzenga who does AMAZING things with spray paint.  He also had to make the switch to charcoal.

The third... Darren McKeag... an incredible tattoo artist, also had to step out of the sweet spot.

Then... there was Allison Schneider

Her passion?  Graphic design.  And yes she had to step up the plate and work with the black on white palate too.

The next aspect of the experiment?101_0614

There were 4 pieces of white paper hung on the wall and each artist started by facing one of the blank white sheets.

Then, the clock started and they were given 15 minutes to work.

At the end of the 15 minutes they had to switch to one of the other pieces of paper.  And they repeated this process 3 times!

So not only were they working with a medium they weren't comfortable with. 

They also had to switch and restart with someone else's art work, not once but 3 times!

It was amazing to watch. 

And it was also amazing to debrief with the artists afterwords because they talked about wanting to both respect what their fellow artists had done, while also incorporating their own style into each piece.

They said that it stretched them to try new things. 

It forced them to look at their own style in new ways. 

Yup.  It forced them out of their sweet spot and out of their comfort zone.

I started to wonder. 

What are some ways... whether we're 100% in our sweet spot or not, that we could step out and be forced to experiment with some new things?

Take a class in wine tasting?  Maybe try a sport that we've never tried before?  Maybe even ask to shadow someone for a day that's in a completely different profession than us? 

What would stretch you?  Where might it take you?

Still need some convincing to step out of the sweet spot... out of your comfort zone?

Well,  I know for these artists they couldn't wait to bring back what they'd learned and incorporate the new ideas to their sweet spot work. 

How could that work for you?  What could you learn?

Okay, need one more piece of evidence to push you to try something new?

101_0629 Well one of the other elements of the Art Fusion Experiment was to take the metal band freaklabel and force them to play an unplugged acoustic set.

The band was quick to admit this was a first for them but they delivered. 

During a 45 minute set, they displayed some truly impressive musical chops and some amazing heart even though they were completely out of their sweet spot.

The band's lead singer told us afterwords that the event had forced them to sit down, write some new songs, look at their music differently, and stretch. 

Heck they even generated some new fans who were demanding that their next CD be an acoustic compilation.  How about that?

Yup, proof positive that it's good to step out of the sweet spot once a while.

How about you?

How could you step out this week? 

How could you stretch in 2008?

Lastly, thanks to Teri and Andy at East Village Books for hosting another incredible event.  It was another example of the value of trying something outside the comfort zone!

See more pictures... including the final versions of art by clicking here.

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