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Battle of the Bands

“Work until your idols become your rivals.” – Drake

The rivalry between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones back in the ’60s is well-documented, but whether it truly existed to the extent the popular press reported or was merely a cunning marketing ploy remains up for debate. In his book Beatles Vs Stones, author John McMillian says, “The two groups clearly struck up a rapport, but that never stopped them from trying to outperform each other wherever and however they could.”

Is it possible to be friends and rivals? Social psychologist Sam Sommers believes so. He says, “Love and hate are not necessarily polar opposites, but in some respects only a few degrees away from one another.” A rival is a competitor, but a competitor you admire is also someone who will motivate and push you to be better.

In the case of the Beatles versus the Stones, the battle itself was perhaps being waged between the band managers rather than the band members themselves, but it’s fair to say that having each other as competition and trying to outperform one another undoubtedly helped both bands to keep raising their game.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney are arguably two of the greatest songwriters of all-time, but it’s possible that rivalry between them gave them the drive to pen their best lyrics. In a recent interview, Paul said, Yeah, we were competitive. Not openly, but we later admitted it. John would think, ‘Yeah, you know, so Paul’s written a good one there, I better get going,’ and I would think similarly, ‘Hmm, that’s a bit good, right, here we go, come on.’ If he’d have written “Strawberry Fields,” I would write “Penny Lane.” He’s remembering his old area in Liverpool, so I’ll remember mine…”

In the ’90s a whole new battle of the bands emerged between Britpop bands Blur and Oasis. There can be no doubt that this “battle” was contrived with the aim of selling more records, but the love-hate relationship between Blur’s frontman Damon Albarn and Oasis’s Liam and Noel Gallagher made the rivalry much more personal. In the beginning, there was a mutual respect for one another, making them competitors who motivated and pushed each other to do what they did to the best of their ability, but when respect turned to hatred, it’s fair to say that the motivation switched to outselling their rival rather than producing better music.

“There were reports in the papers of people breaking up their relationships, because one liked Oasis and the other one liked Blur…One woman left her husband because he put our CD in the microwave.” – Damon Albarn

Rivalries can be positive, helping to bring out the best in all concerned, but when a rivalry becomes “bitter”, it can bring out the worst. Wanting to outperform a rival can give your performance a boost, but when beating a rival becomes your only focus, you’re no longer putting positive energy into your thoughts and actions, and your “winning” performance is not necessarily anywhere near a best performance.

Take a moment to consider who your rivals are; are they competitors you admire? With the right attitude, your rivals will be the people you thank one day for pushing you onwards and upwards, helping you to realise your true potential.

Don MacNaughton is a High-Performance Coach and has worked tirelessly to help clients achieve success in the world of sport and business over the past 15 years.   The next, highly popular, NLP Diploma and Life Coaching Certificate course starts in September 2019.  Click here for more information or to sign up.


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