What Fleetwood Mac Taught Me About Obstacles

In 1977, Fleetwood Mac released what is regarded as one of the best albums of all time. Rumours is an outstanding work of art that sounds as great today as it did on its release decades ago. Each member of the band put their heart and soul into the album. As a result all of the 11 tracks stand alone as remarkable in their composition, playing and production.

The making of the album is the stuff of legend. At the time the two couples in the band were dealing with the dissolution of their relationships. Christie McVie and John McVie had divorced. Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were falling apart. The fifth member of the band, co-founder Mick Fleetwood was also facing relationship turmoil, his wife was having an affair with a friend of his.

With all this happening within the band they could be forgiven for disbanding and never creating another piece of work together again. Instead their second album became their most successful. Instead of giving in, they focused their emotional energy and used it to create something wonderful.

During the recording of Rumours many of the band members were not communicating except to get the work done. Imagine working in that kind of an environment. Imagine trying to build something when you would really prefer to be as far away from the person you are working with as possible. Lindsey, Stevie, Mick, John and Christie were locked in the recording space for hours upon hours, day after day, crafting something that was greater than each of them individually.

Fleetwood Mac Rumours

The songs on Rumours tell the stories of the members of the band at the time. “Gold Dust Woman” speaks of Stevie’s drug use. “You Make Loving Fun” is about Christie’s new lover. “Second Hand News” and “Never Going Back Again” are Lindsey’s musings about the end of his relationship with Stevie. They were writing songs about each other, and they recorded them together.

We all face obstacles in our life and our work. Sometimes these obstacles feel insurmountable. Sometimes it feels like the best thing to do is just walk away. But what does that lead to? Another feeling of loss. A missed opportunity to create something wonderful.

Ryan Holiday, author and marketing wunderkind, recently published a book titled, “The Obstacle Is The Way”. The title really says it all. Ryan takes lessons from Stoic philosophers and historical figures to illustrate that what we often see as block can often be the path we should be taking. Often those periods of turmoil present opportunities. Sometimes the darkest hours are truly right before the light. Those mistakes, failures, wrongs done to us by others, can all serve us rather than crush us. That is, if we decide to let them.


Fleetwood Mac made their obstacle their way, and they produced one of the greatest albums ever recorded. They took what was happening to them and around them and used it to their advantage. Just listen to the album. You can hear the passion in the playing. You can almost feel the tension in the studio. It takes something special to create something of the scope and brilliance of Rumours. Sometimes that special thing is the obstacle that is right in front of you.

Rather than give up and walk away, find your way over, around, or through your obstacle. If nothing more you will learn, you will grow, and you will be better placed to overcome your next obstacle. Persistence and consistency are a must it you want to be more than mediocre. Rumours is anything but mediocre, and it clearly illustrates how we can all turn adversity into strength, and loss into growth.

2 Replies to “What Fleetwood Mac Taught Me About Obstacles”

  1. LOVE that album on so many levels. I went to their concert at Festival Hall in Sydney years and years (YIKES!) ago and heard every one of those songs live. They weren’t just getting through it…. MAGIC happened.
    Such an insightful view on their situation. Thank you (We are a bit quick to spit the dummy and walk away these days).

    1. I would have loved to see them live in the 70s. I just missed their recent Melbourne tour. That would have been great too. Such a magical album. Best appreciated on vinyl. 🙂

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