Learning to play through the challenges.

by William Childs

When Brett Bacho was eight years old, he wanted one thing. He wanted to be able to play guitar like Ace Frehley of the rock band KISS. The year was 1978, and KISS was one of the biggest bands in the world. So, after months of bugging his parents to buy him a guitar, they finally relented. “They bought me this little red acoustic guitar from Sears that had strings that were thick and stiff like barbed wire,” said Bacho. Brett’s parents signed him up for guitar lessons, and he was on his way. Brett was enjoying the lessons and progressing nicely, until one day, he arrived at what he likes to call the dreaded F chord. For many reasons, the F chord is one of the toughest chords for beginners to learn how to play. “My fingers were a little too small to play the chord properly, and I grew extremely frustrated. My instructor scolded me for not practicing enough, and I told my Mom that I wanted to quit my guitar lessons,” added Bacho. What Brett didn’t realize at that moment was that he was about to learn what can happen when you refuse to let a difficult challenge determine your next course of action. Brett had two choices. One, he could quit, or two, he could play through the discomfort. His parents encouraged him to keep practicing, which he reluctantly did.

After some trial and error, he learned to play, as he likes to say, “that F-ing chord.” He got to experience a big lesson in leadership and learned at an early age how good leaders solve many of the problems they encounter every day. When frustration sets in, many of us are not in a good mental space to draw out any of the lessons that might be hidden below the surface.  

These days, Brett Bacho is the CEO & President of Kitchen Magic, a kitchen & bathroom remodeling company based in Nazareth, PA. Brett’s role does not require him to teach people how to play guitar, but he does use the lessons he learned from those years. “I have thought about that F chord whenever the team at Kitchen Magic experiences difficulty. It taught me the power of persistence, consistency, and encouragement,” said Bacho.

There’s no doubt leadership is a complicated process, and for many, it can take years to begin to understand how to generate positive, actionable results. At its core, leadership is servanthood, because it’s less about being in charge and more about taking care of those in your charge by setting up a culture where everyone gets treated with dignity and respect. It may sound easy, but it’s not. “I am fortunate to be surrounded by great people that I trust and who trust me. I give them the encouragement and support they need and help determine the priorities. They know they can count on me never to shy away from difficult challenges,” said Bacho.  Leadership expert and best-selling author Simon Sinek sums leadership up like this, “The true price of leadership is the willingness to place the needs of others above your own. Great leaders truly care about those they are privileged to lead and understand that the true cost of the leadership privilege comes at the expense of self-interest.”

The leadership Brett provides is rooted in his deep understanding that we all experience setbacks and get frustrated when dealing with challenges at work as well as in our personal lives. His experience has taught him that the most significant lessons are learned during challenging times. Anything new you’re ever going to attempt will invariably present unforeseen challenges. Stay the course. Play through the challenge.

Your success will ultimately be determined by how you chose to navigate those obstacles. Like many of life’s challenges, the F chord has the power to trip us up and take us off the path. I hope that when you find yourself dealing with a frustrating situation and unsure how to proceed, you remember that life is always ready to teach us a lesson. All you have to do is be willing and open to learn from it. 

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