Listen To The Bee Gees
I met the Bee Gees once. That overexcited guy to Barry Gibb’s right? Yeah, that’s me. I’m sure many of you caught “The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart,” the recent HBO documentary on the brothers Gibb. As a lifelong fan who stuck with them through thick, thin, and disco, I loved it.
The film did a nice job of spotlighting the band’s too-often overlooked “first” career as key figures in the British Invasion of the early ‘60s. Alongside bands like the Animals, the Searchers, the Dave Clark Five, Herman’s Hermits, Gerry and the Pacemakers, and a little combo called the Beatles, the Bee Gees dominated the Top 10 for a few fab years. Funny thing, though. The one thing the Bee Gees managed to do that those others didn’t is to not fade away.
A big act like the Bee Gees is more than a band, it’s actually a pretty big business with lots of people involved, all of them dependent on the group’s success for their living. With the British Invasion coming to a close and their core business threatened, the Bee Gees did what they had to do. They decamped to Miami, headed into the recording studio and reinvented themselves. The music they came up with was more sophisticated, more powerful, and eventually much more popular than any of their previous work.
For any company looking to thrive through these challenging and changing times this trio offers a valuable lesson in survival. Under enormous pressure, they overcame creative and commercial stagnation and took their music, and their entire enterprise, to a whole new level, in the process distinguishing themselves as true professionals.
Many businesses today are at a similar crossroads. Some will dig deep to reevaluate and revitalize their mission to suit the times, emerging stronger and better than before. Others will cling to worn out paradigms and struggle to survive. As much as I am inspired by their music, I also admire the fact that, at the end of the day, the Bee Gees endured and stayed true to their art, facing and overcoming crisis to experience the greatest triumph of their career.
In his bestselling book, “The War of Art,” author Steven Pressfield explores the internal obstacles to creative success, defining the professional as one who overcomes inevitable resistance by showing up every day, shoving distractions aside, and tackling the job at hand. Pressfield’s definition of the consummate professional fits the Bees Gees to a tee and serves as a beacon for anyone struggling through these unprecedented times.
“The professional does not permit himself to become hidebound within one incarnation, however comfortable or successful,” Pressfield says. “Like a transmigrating soul, he shucks his outworn body and dons a new one. He continues his journey.”