Pete Best’s Life Lessons

John, Paul, Pete and George

One of music’s saddest figures has been the focus of my attention lately. There’s so much to learn from the story of Pete Best, I felt compelled to write about it.

Best was the drummer for the Beatles from 1960–1962. Blindsided by his abrupt dismissal from the band shortly after they landed a recording contract, Best lost three good friends — never to speak with any one of them ever again — and watched their blistering rise to stardom.

It certainly wasn’t the first or last time something like this happened. Many bands see personnel changes before finding the right combination. Pete Best just happened to the guy who got booted from the most influential band in rock ‘n’ roll history at the moment in time their train to fame was seriously picking up steam.

Although a myriad of reasons for Best’s dismissal persist, it should be obvious to anyone who considers the evidence that his band-mates found a better drummer and Beatle personality in Ringo Starr. Pete was, in a sense, a historical placeholder.

Best managed to irk out a 20-year career in the UK Civil Service. By all accounts, he is a happy husband, father, brother, grandfather, and gracious human being.

He returned to music in 1988, touring all over the world. His band, The Pete Best Band, put out an album in 2008 that rivals anything Paul and Ringo have produced in recent years. Sure he relies heavily on his Beatles connection to fill rooms, and why not? Paul and Ringo have been doing it since 1970.

Lessons applicable to modern, workaday life can be gleaned from Pete Best’s story. We can learn about what pitfalls to avoid and how to overcome the most adverse circumstances.

Practice your craft

Perhaps things would have worked out better for Pete had he worked on his chops, and maybe that other Liverpudlian drummer wouldn’t have entered the story.

Show up for work

Maintaining a low level of absenteeism is a good idea if you care about your job because somebody more talented may likely take your place. Pete called in sick one to many times, the band called on Ringo to fill in, and the rest is history.

Secure employment does not exist

Pete claims he was blindsided by his firing from the Beatles. Many of us have experienced the same in the corporate world. Don’t forget you’re expendable. Be prepared for a job loss.

Do your best (no pun intended) in the face of adversity

Pete was devastated personally and humiliated financially after being fired from the Beatles. He continued in the music biz for a while before quitting. He then worked at a bakery until he landed a civil service gig. The point is: keep moving forward even if you find yourself without direction. Do what is necessary to survive. Hang on to your pride.

Be your own boss

I’ve tried this two times and failed, but I don’t regret it for a minute. If you want to prevent yourself from getting fired, consider starting your own business and working for yourself. Pete has his own band now with his name in the title; they can’t give him the boot … without changing the name.

It’s never too late

Whether it’s learning something new or resuming a pursuit long ago abandoned, any time is the right time. Pete returned to music in his mid-forties and has been making a living at it ever since.

When Work = Laziness

My office cubicle, where I sometimes avoid life

It’s easy to become complacent. You come home and sit in front of the TV, listen to music, or do some other passive activity. There’s always tomorrow, right?

At this point in my life — halfway through by my estimation — I seem increasingly anxious about developing skills and pursuing interests. When I don’t feed these interests of mine, I become disappointed with myself.

Another type of avoidance exists that we don’t typically associate with laziness: work. Pamela Skillings talks about it in her book, “Escape from Corporate America: A Practical Guide to Creating the Career of Your Dreams.”

Sadly, we often choose our jobs over other things in life that need our attention. I volunteered recently to work extra hours over the weekend when I could have easily passed. I didn’t earn extra money for it because I’m salaried. I guess I wanted to help the team.

But maybe I also chose to avoid the challenges of writing, blogging, learning photography, creating PHP functions, being a father and husband, and the many other things I should be doing on the weekend. The list seems daunting when I look at it in writing.

Yes, throwing oneself into work can be a form of laziness, and I’m guilty. I’ll probably do it again, too.

5 Obstacles to a Successful Midlife Career Change and How to Deal with Them

Mid-life Career Changers

Switching careers midway through life or well into an established first career can be a difficult but worthwhile journey. Just over four years ago, I decided to switch professions at 38 years old, after 12 years’ worth of toil in another line of work, and during the worst economic climate I hope to ever know. Not very far into my new career, my first child was born.

Despite imperfect personal and financial conditions, I felt I had no choice but to try something new and interesting. Call it career fatigue or a midlife crisis, it was time to switch gears.

The following are obstacles I have either faced or currently confront as I progress in my new profession:


Expect to make less of it and plan appropriately. My wife and I had to drastically cut back on our discretionary spending after I left my well-paying IT job. I’m sure this is one of the biggest reasons people decide against changing careers.

Save as much money as you can before leaving your current job, then prepare to live on less for a while.


So what exactly do you want to do with your life? I’m still not sure the answer to that question, but I feel like I’m on the right track. When the opportunity to change directions presented itself, I had a few interests I wanted to pursue: writing, internet marketing, and web design.

I wrote pieces for internet content sites. I took a low-paying contract gig managing pay-per-click campaigns. I designed a website for a friend. I took an editing class. I worked as a copywriter for a web design agency. I started an internet marketing business. Now I work full-time for a large hospitality company.

Explore your interests and see where they lead you.

Finding Work

This is tough. A polished resume (hire a professional if necessary) that makes your past skills relevant to a new industry is important. One thing that worked for me was accepting low-paying jobs and/or free assignments to help build my credentials.

Check out some local Meetup groups related to your new line of work and consider joining professional associations. This way, you can learn new things and network at the same time.

Learning and Acceptance

It takes several years to become good at something. You may suck at first, but eventually you’ll gain competence and confidence.

Accept that you are a neophyte, try not to get too flustered when you make mistakes, and ask lots of questions. Enjoy the learning process.

Change of Status

I don’t command the salary or respect I used to. I went straight from being a Cisco network administrator, responsible for the communication equipment of an entire toll road system, to a web content writer. I now work for a large hotel chain as a content editor and copywriter, and nobody there gives a crap about my past … and why should they?

Don’t let your change in rank get you frustrated. If you’re learning new things, having fun in your new profession, and making money, then you’re doing fine. You may miss certain things about your last career, but keep in mind the reasons that made you leave it behind in the first place.