What Paul McCartney can teach us about fulfilling our potential

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I was lucky enough to attend Sir Paul McCartney’s GOT BACK arena performance in Sydney last week.

Like many, I was blown away by the evening. As I told my son, Felix, “we’re watching one of the most famous people on the planet and enjoying an experience we’ll remember for the rest of our lives”.

The most famous living Beatle led his uber-talented band as they transitioned flawlessly from 11/10 LOUD rock numbers (like Live and Let Die and Got to Get You Into My Life) to delicate ballads (the most moving of which was Here Today, Paul’s emotional solo tribute to John Lennon written shortly after his assassination in 1980).

Maccas ability to rock the roof off a 45,000 seater stadium (if it had one!) and then create a sense of chilling intimacy just a few minutes later was spellbinding. I’m not a muso, but the level of technical mastery, nay genius was obvious.

And all this from a man who is 81 years old!

In addition to the appreciation of undoubtedly the best performance experience I’ve ever seen, on reflection, I think Paul McCartney offers life lessons for us all.

Don’t live in the past

I work with a lot of pros aged 45-60 who feel stuck, jaded, or overwhelmed and are unsure about how to write their next chapter. Many have been very successful in the past, but don’t feel they are now. That can be age-based, technology-based or just a real or imagined mindset of failing to kick on.

The GOT BACK playlist had elements of nostalgia, for sure. But not overly so. The songs ranged from the whole of McCartney’s 60+ year career, including brand new material.

Avoid the easy path

It would be easy for the GOT BACK tour to simply roll out a Beatles tribute band playlist. All the favourites, beautifully performed by THE MAN. Everyone would go home happy.

As McCartney said himself, “We know what you like. You like the old Beatles songs, ‘cos when we play them the arena lights up like a starlit sky as everyone videos us. Then when we play the new stuff, it’s like a black hole!.”

But Paul doesn’t choose easy. The next sentence to the quote is, “We know – and we don’t care”. In other words, McCartney doesn’t see the tour as a museum exhibit of his best-known music from 1960-1970.

It’s a celebration of a life’s work – one that’s very much still in progress.

I wonder what past glories you may be clinging on to too hard?

Do the Work (and keep doing it!)

Paul McCartney is mega wealthy. He doesn’t need to tour. And if he wants to, as I write above, he could just go through the motions for a standard two-hour set and no one would complain.

Instead he continues to challenge himself creatively and physically.

Sure he has massive talent, but, as with most successful people I know, that’s just the start. Producing a 180-minute tour de force performance of such power and variety requires a lot of hard work and physical conditioning.

What are you doing to stretch yourself?

Age is a mindset

Did I mention, Paul is 81?

81 and rocking it out.

Current, contemporary, energetic.

So if you have any part of your self-talk along the lines of ‘it’s time to slow down/cruise into retirement/I’m too old’ going on, it’s time to rethink.

I regularly help professionals in their 50s, 60s and even 70s to reinvent themselves. The best chapter of your career and life can still be ahead – if you let it be (sorry – you’ll forgive me one!)

Optimistic and future-focused

Finally, there was a great sense of possibility – of more-to-come from Paul and his band.

He and Ringo Starr are shortly to release ‘Now and Then’ their final ever original Beatles song made possible by AI and digital re-mastering.

I meet many people who talk and think themselves old too soon.

We’re all going to the same destination, but you get to choose how you get there.

Don’t be in a hurry to slow down, hang up your boots, or cruise.

You’re a long time dead!

Paul McCartney certainly looks to the future.

His parting words at the end of one epic night in Sydney?

“See you next time”.


PS – if you want help unlocking your inner Paul McCartney, book a discovery call here. 

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