What Fleetwood Mac Taught Me About Obstacles

Obstacles are to be overcome

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.

How to boost your results in one quick move

It’s been my experience – both personally and as a coach – that we humans have our activity cycle back-to-front. The process by which we make the decisions that lead to action are tied up with our emotional state and belief structures. Let me explain.

The activity cycle has three steps:

  • Confidence
  • Clarity
  • Action

This is a cycle. In fact, it’s a feedback loop. It could be a negative or a positive loop depending on the results of the activity. And, of course, the step in the cycle that is either elevated or depressed is confidence. And, confidence is key.

The reason I say we are back-to-front is where we start in the cycle. We want to be clear on everything before we get started. This builds our confidence and then we take action. Me included.

The thing is while we want to go around the cycle from clarity to confidence to action, reality is not that simple.

Clarity comes after action. We cannot get clear on anything if we do nothing. So activity is required to produce clarity. Clarity never comes first.

Clarity comes after action. Confidence comes after clarity. Once we have taken action, gotten clear on the result of that action (and maybe repeated this a few times) the result is confidence. I’ll admit sometimes this takes a while. But confidence, like clarity, doesn’t just magically appear (at least not for most of us).

The key to boosting our results is simple: take action. The act of taking action will provide the data needed to make the next decision and take the next action. We all have to stop hyper-analysing everything to the point of paralysis, and get on with the doing.

As we take more action, we become clearer on the what, why and how of our activities, and that eventually leads to confidence.

Confidence feeds our future actions and the activity cycles starts to work for rather than against us.

In conclusion, take action. Now!

The key to self-confidence

Believe yourself

Success is simple. You’ve heard that before, right? You’ve heard it and you’ve wondered, “well, if it’s so bloody simple, why am I having so much trouble?” Yep, I’ve felt like that too. But here’s the thing: success is simple, it’s just not easy.

Success isn’t easy because it requires you to deal with fear. Fear of failure. Fear of ridicule. Fear of rejection. And even fear of success.

Fear causes inertia. That feeling of fear can keep you rooted to the spot. It can mean you make the decision to not make a decision. It can mean you don’t take action, when doing something is exactly what you need to do. Fear is a business killer.

Right now, you might be thinking, “if only I knew how it would turn out, I’d go for it!” Well, no one knows how it’s gonna turn out. That’s part of the thrill. It’s also part of the risk you take owning a business.

You might be thinking, “I’m just unsure of what to do” or “I’m not sure it will work.” If you’re thinking like this it’s down to a lack of confidence in yourself. And sure, maybe you shouldn’t be confident right now if you haven’t done what ever it is that you’re planning before. But that’s no excuse to do nothing.

Confidence comes from progress. As you make progress and start to rack up little wins your confidence will grow. You must take action to generate progress.

The key to self-confidence is taking action.

Take action when you’re unsure.
Take action when you’re scared.
Take action when you really want to do something else.

You can create your own positive feedback loop by taking action, generating progress, and building your self-confidence. The more times you go around the loop, the greater your self-confidence will become.

So, take the first step. Better still: JUMP!

Persistence – It’s the secret sauce

Black belt

How many times have you given up on something too early? If you’re like me you’ve done it far too often. There could be any number of reasons for it. Perhaps you got rejected. Perhaps you got lazy. Perhaps you got distracted. I’ve been all three at different times.

We all give up at some point. Giving up isn’t the problem. Giving up too soon is.

There are a number of contributing factors in our willingness to throw in the towel early. The biggest of which is self-confidence. We get rejected and our confidence takes a hit. We don’t get the rapid results we want, our confidence takes a hit and we lose motivation. We’re unsure of ourselves before we get started and our efforts just fade out.

Self-confidence is hugely important in you achieving what you want in life. A lack of it and you’re little chance of making it. Low self-confidence can see you staying idle when you know you have to do something. It can see you fail to pull the trigger when the solution to your troubles is right there in front of you.

And then there are the people who’ll try to drag you down even when you’re just building up. Some will call you brash or arrogant. Some will want to pull you down because they can’t lift themselves up.

It’s hard to stay confident unless you practice it. Yes practice it.

So, how do you practice confidence? You make progress.

How do you make progress? You take action.

How do you continue to build confidence? You take repeated action and you remain persistent.

Think about it. When do you feel good about yourself? I’m guessing it’s when you’ve accomplished something or when you’ve made progress. It feels good to get to the end of the day knowing you’ve made progress.

In life and in business you will have your ups and downs. It’s persistence that will see you achieve the results you desire. It’s persistence that will get you through the tough times. It’s persistence that will see you create a legacy.

Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through Hell, keep going.” On the flipside, I say, if you’re kicking goals, keep kicking. It is persistence, practice and progress that get you there.