One of the funny things about listening to what the various members of the Beatles have to say in the interview snippets within the Beatles Anthology documentaries is how they themselves view and think about “the Beatles.” To them, it seems, “the Beatles” is something that happened to the rest of the world while they were busy making some music. And the musical greatness and cultural influence and all that are things that simply happened, almost in retrospect. At the time, they were too busy being musicians to really think about being “Beatles” (at least for most of the band’s life).
So, if Paul McCartney can look at the Beatles as though they are some exterior entity, if Ringo Starr can unpretentiously talk about the Beatles in the third person, if George Harrison can say that he felt like news of the Beatles was separate from the goings on in his own life, then perhaps the lesson is that NO ONE can ever be a Beatle. Or rather, you can only realize that you WERE a Beatle … Beatle-ness is something that happens to you retroactively.
Less poetically, it is rare (or maybe even impossible) in life to recognize your great moments while you are in the middle of having them. It is only with the fullness of hindsight that you can realize (with any certainty) that what you did has real merit, impact, and staying power. You only know you have a hit when it’s announced on the charts, not when you’re making it.
No matter how good you think the thing you’re working on is, you won’t know for sure until you’re done and working on something else … and THEN the public will let you know what they think of your previous thing. In the meanwhile, you’re working on this new thing that might (or might not) be even better.