Duran Duran has been a very successful band in their almost forty year career. One does not have to look far to see statistics backing up this claim. Wikipedia states the following, “Since the 1980s they have placed 14 in the Top 10 of the UK Singles Chart and 21 in the US Billboard Hot 100 and have sold more than 100 million records.“.
If that wasn’t enough, Duran Duran has been nominated for countless awards and won many of them, including lifetime achievement awards. In an industry in which many careers are short lived, this band has been around for decades showing their staying power. Clearly, they are not content to just sit home and enjoy their rewards as they spend months writing and recording new albums. They still tour the world selling out arenas.
Despite this success, I’m willing to bet that Duran Duran experiences self-doubt. I’m thinking about those times in the studio when they are writing and recording new material. At times, they might think that they have found the beginnings of a great track. At other times, they might decide that they can’t create anything new that is worthy. Then, I’m sure that looking at current charts or album sales might lead to self-doubt. After all, they haven’t been as successful, commercially lately in comparison to the early 80s. Does that get to them? Does it bother them? If so, how do they deal with these feelings of self-doubt?
I have been thinking about this a lot lately in my own life. Over the course of my life, I can’t say that I have been successful with everything that I have done. I’m not that lucky or that good, but I have usually been successful when it comes to school and work (as opposed to my social life). As a kid, I figured that if I worked hard and studied a lot then the good grades and high praise from teachers would follow, which indeed was the case. Other students saw me as “smart” and “articulate”. Teachers recommended me for various tasks, usually not given to students. Academics generally made me feel good about myself, which continued through college where I earned accolades as well as attention from peers and administrators for my political activism.
After college, I immediately began teaching, which is the reason that I’m in my 19th year of teaching now. I grew up very quickly and took on responsibilities in my early 20s while my peers typically were exploring relationships and careers. Instead, I laser focused on my teaching career, determined to be the best teacher ever. After a rocky start, I found myself experiencing similar success as I did as a student. Principals filled my evaluations with positive comments and many students declared that they liked having me as a teacher.
This feeling of success stretched into the political world as I began campaigning in earnest in 2008 resulting in good turnout and high votes for the candidates I campaigned for. Even here, I felt successful more often than not. Our numbers grew as time went by. On top of that, people attended our events and expressed satisfaction in doing so. All of this resulted in a lot of confidence on my part, at least when it came to my work life.
While I never felt great about myself, socially, I always had work to fall back on. Lately, though, my confidence with work has wavered. I have a couple of classes that are making me question my skills as a teacher. My campaign team this year is much smaller than the past years. Likewise, I am not sure that as many people are reading our blog as before. I get few comments on the ones that I do write. Now, of course, I can give reasons for all of this. My classes are unbalanced with too many tough kids in just two classes. This year features different candidates than in the past and a lot of people in Wisconsin are tired of campaigning. We are in the midst of Duran downtime. All combined, though, makes it difficult for me to dismiss my feeling of self-doubt.
Is this the same for Duran Duran? Do the members experience the same feeling when they look at album sales or the chart positions that do not match what they once were? Do they question their skills as musicians? As artists? What do they do with those feelings to keep going? I wish I knew. I wish I had a better plan to deal with my own self-confidence beyond just trying to make it through one day at a time.
I know that many Duran critics believe that their best is long behind them, that they should have stopped in the 1980s. I have always admired Duran’s ability to fight this, to prove that what they do still matters. Now, I would love to know how they do it because there are days lately that I have found myself thinking that my best days at work are behind me. I would like to be like Duran, who refuse to listen to those voices that tell them to quit.