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.

Obstacle-Holiday

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.

Five reasons you should be meditating. You’ll remember #4.

Meditation woman

Meditation is amazing. Not for any esoteric reason (although those are cool) but more for the practical, scientifically proven benefits. I’m not overstating the truth when I say that meditation can change your life. That said I don’t recommend anyone starts meditating to change their lives, I recommend you start meditating solely to start meditating. Sorry if this sounds a wee bit Zen. I’m not trying to be mysterious. Meditation works best when you don’t take anything with you. Just meditate. No strings. No right or wrong. Just meditate.

Let’s smash down the first barrier: time. There’s an old Zen saying I’ll paraphrase,

Everyone should meditate for at least 20 minutes each day, except those who don’t have the time, they should meditate for an hour.

You have the time. Now let’s look at some reasons why you should start meditating today.

1. Pain

Meditation improves the way you react to pain. It doesn’t decrease the pain that you feel but alters the way in which you perceive the pain. One study suggest that meditation reduces the anxiety associated with imminent pain. Another indicates that those who meditate feel pains less (the mechanism may be the same).

2. Stress

Modern society has seen a marked increase in stress levels across the board. Ironically it’s most likely the case that the less stressed humans are the ones who have avoided modern civilisation. The more we progress, the more stressed we become.

A study of cancer outpatients indicates that meditation helps deal with stressful situations. The Harvard Medical School has found that meditation can help deal with mental stress.

3. Focus

One of the areas that I focus on with my clients is focus (no pun intended). I have found over and over again that people do not often lack the requisite skills for success but the ability to focus on what’s important and find clarity in the chaos.

Mediation is a tool that can help with focus. As a study titled, “Mental Training Affects Distribution of Limited Brain Resources” states:

Meditation includes the mental training of attention, which involves the selection of goal-relevant information from the array of inputs that bombard our sensory systems.

Need more focus? Sit and meditate.

4. Memory

Meditation has been shown to improve memory. Studies have shown improved memory for detail and working memory.

I really hope you remember this one.

5. Emotional intelligence

Emotionally intelligent people are generally more likeable. You want to be likeable, right? One of the great things about being alive is meeting and interacting with other awesome people. Various studies have concluded that meditation improves compassion and connectedness. Effectively, meditation brings you in touch with that part of your that feels for others.

Conclusion

I have shown just a few scientifically validated benefits of meditation. But again I want to point out that meditation works best when you participate without an agenda. Meditating to be a better person has too much weight. Just meditate for the sake of meditating. The act itself will bring with it the above benefits and more.