I’ve been doing a lot of research into The Beatles over the past two years, reading many books about ‘the boys’ and interviewing people who were friends back when things got cooking for them. The goal is a novel I’m working on where John, Paul, George and Ringo pop up now and again and I want it to be as accurate as possible, even for fiction. When you really delve into how The Beatles were formed and how they came to be so successful, you see some patterns emerging, life lessons that might just work for the rest of us. So here goes — my list of 4 key life lessons we can learn from The Beatles.
1. Never Doubt Yourself — The Beatles were famously rejected by a Decca executive who told them “guitar groups” were fading fast. They were disappointed of course, but the boys were convinced the record execs were wrong and kept doing what they were doing, ultimately signing with Polydor where a guy named George Martin liked what he heard. A lot of people are going to doubt you in life — it’s human nature — so never doubt yourself. Let others have that job. Be confident — The Beatles always thought of themselves as a great band, even in the beginning.
2. Don’t let fear ruin what could be — When John met Paul, he knew right away that Paul was the superior musician. John could barely play banjo chords when they met and he knew that Paul had a lot to teach him. At the same time, Paul had the looks. Before John invited Paul to join the group, he thought long and hard because he knew this new guy could become THE guy. But John didn’t fear stop him from doing the right thing. I think he made the right decision, eh?
3. Take Chances/Don’t Play It Safe — The Beatles never played it safe. When every other group had a front man, they rejected that notion even when George Martin tried to make it John Lennon and The Beatles. Other groups played covers — they wrote their own songs and again rejected a sure No. 1 hit from Martin to record “Please Please Me.” (Both songs became No. 1 hits, the other for Gerry and The Pacemakers). Before The Beatles, virtually no performers wrote their own material. And even when they had success, they kept taking chances. Everyone knows about the evolution from “She Loves You” to “A Day in the Life.”
4. Practice –– Okay, so you’re good at whatever your talent is but you’d better practice to become great. Everyone points to The Beatles now-legendary trip to Hamburg, Germany where they were required to perform for eight-hour stretches at strip clubs — they became a very tight band. When they returned to Liverpool, even their local followers could not believe how much better they sounded.
5. Be Open to Possibility and Don’t Be Threatened by the Talent of Others — John Lennon formed the band that was the precursor to The Beatles and his band was popular. He was the unquestioned leader, but when Paul McCartney and George Harrison came along and wanted in, he embraced them because he knew intuitively that their talent could make him and the group better. He wasn’t afraid to let them flourish and you shouldn’t be either. Be open to the talent of others — it just might help you become a star.