Start the New Year with Your Values, Goals and Relationships
As 1968 became 1969, George Harrison felt as if the Beatles “were reaching the end of the line.”
it may have been twenty years ago today that Sgt. Pepper taught the band to
play, in the 16 months since that landmark album’s release, the Beatles had morphed
from collaborative colleagues into bickering bandmates barely able to stomach studio
was our grandest endeavor,” Ringo remembered. “It gave everybody—including me—a
lot of leeway to come up with ideas and to try different material.…The great
thing about the band was that whoever had the best idea—it didn’t matter
who—that was the one we’d use.…Anything could happen.”
recording their ninth studio album—The
Beatles (known also as the White
Album)—the creative forces that propelled Sgt.
Pepper to the
top of UK and U.S. album charts for 27 weeks in 1967 and earned the group four
Grammy awards boiled over into acrimony during mid-1968.
written collaboratively earlier that year were recorded without all four of the
Beatles present. The
presence of John’s new partner Yoko Ono created a divisive distraction that
violated previous agreements among the Beatles that wives and girlfriends would
not attend recording sessions.
the tension mounted, producer George
Martin took a sudden leave of absence and engineer Geoff
Emerick quit abruptly. Ringo left the band briefly
around this time, and three of the album’s songs were recorded without him.
finished album reflects this developing discord, and some tracks are little
more than fillers between higher quality songs. And yet The Beatles reached number one in the UK and US and contains some
of the group’s best material.
How can we
rise above pettiness, selfishness and genuine differences of opinion to come
together to produce a worthwhile or significant result?
the album’s 30 tracks, only 16 include all four of the Beatles performing
three tracks, Paul played bass, drums, piano and guitar, overdubbing tracks to
create the final song. John worked alone on one song. As did Ringo. Of the 14 songs
on which only some of the Beatles played, nearly half were performed by only
two of the four group members.
were a group in name only. And a bad sign of things
teams share five characteristics, and the Beatles were challenged by all five:
Clear common goals
Trust + Respect
Fun or Fulfillment in accomplishing something significant together
of these five critical success factors must we enhance in our organization?
gathered in January 1969 to make another album.
Paul hoped playing
together live in the studio might lead to resuming touring. George hated the
idea—he was worn out from that experience.
didn’t take long for old tensions to surface. George and Ringo resented Paul’s
constant critiquing of their playing. John had disengaged from the group,
having grown weary of battling Paul and fed up with over-engineered and
On January 6, George
walked out of the studio, went to his home in Surrey and wrote “Wah-Wah,”
reflecting his frustration with the group.
coaxed back the next week but the damage was done—and caught on film. The
group’s dysfunction is plainly visible in the film Let It Be. Rather than documenting the making of an album, the film
became famous for showcasing “the break-up of a band.”
George’s “I Me Mine” became the final song recorded by the
band before its split.
autobiography, George recalled his own self-centered focus, seeing everything
“relative to my ego, like ‘that’s my piece of paper’ and ‘that’s my flannel’ or
‘give it to me’ or ‘I am.’ It drove me crackers, I hated everything about my
ego. It was a flash of everything false and impermanent, which I disliked. But
later, I learned from it, to realize that there is somebody else in here apart
from old blabbermouth. Who am ‘I’ became the order of the day. Anyway, that’s
what came out of it, ‘I Me Mine.’”
subconsciously, the song also reflects the clash of egos in the studio as the
Beatles moved toward their split.
“‘I Me Mine’ is the ego problem,” George explained. “There
are two ‘I’s: the little ‘i’ when people say ‘I am this’; and the big ‘I’ – is duality
and ego. There is nothing that isn’t part of the complete whole. When the
little ‘i’ merges into the big ‘I’ then you are really smiling!”
offers insight for us as a New Year dawns.
“The truth within
us has to be realized,” George said. “When you realize that, everything else
that you see and do and touch and smell isn’t real, then you may know what
reality is, and can answer the question ‘Who am I?’”
What kind of person do you
want to be? What obstacles are in your
of the hardest questions any of us must answer for ourselves are “Who am I?”
and “What do I want?” Here’s to your
About the Author: Greg Bustin advises some of the world’s most admired companies and leaders, and he’s dedicated a career to working with CEOs and the leadership teams of hundreds of companies in a range of industries. He’s facilitated more than 200 strategic planning sessions, and he’s delivered more than 500 keynotes and workshops on five continents. His fifth leadership book—How Leaders Decide: A Timeless Guide to Making Tough Choices—examines 52 of history’s greatest triumphs and tragedies and will be published in 2019 by Simple Truths.