I recently watched a documentary and a movie about Freddy Mercury (“Bohemian Rapsody”). His genius and talent have crossed and united generations, his timeless songs and his energy on stage have made him among the best performers of all time.
Yet he was not at all the stereotype of “success” as we usually think of it. When the Emi representative asked him why to should choose them, he said, “we are the ones at the back of the room” and they were proud to be the representatives of the weirdoes.
As a boy he was an outcast, he has actually been one all his life. He suffered from his family background and was very particular. His incredible talent in music, his vision and personality made him the legend he was.
Success is represented into our minds with well-defined physical and behavioural characteristics. We automatically and unconsciously connect it to strength, intelligence, beauty and power. We think of people who have changed the world, heroes and Nobel. When we want to show others that we are successful we display objects, assume a certain posture and smile at the cameras. We love success because it represents a point of arrival.
I was watching on the news the images of the red carpet of the Venice Film Festival: the splendid dresses, the nominations and the smiles. But success is not just about lights and applause. What is visible is the optical effect that appears when the success has already happened. What lies behind that moment is fatigue, suffering and weakness.
We tend to reject or hide our weakness. We cry alone in our rooms and show others the most secure part of us. Sometimes we try to control our emotional side, the one that makes us react in an exaggerated way or not in accordance with what others expect from us. We try to repress it without understanding that great art, talent and difference occur exactly when we follow our emotional side. Through emotions, sometime bad ones, we express that more passionate, true and magical side of us.
Success does not happen simply because we are good. Success comes from hard work, tears and doubts. Those who succeed sometimes have no more ability or talent than others. The difference is that they dared to move on and didn’t back down. They maybe lost their face, fell down but tried again. They believed in themselves enough not to give up.
I’m also hiding my fragility. I’ve always considered very annoying my tendency to easy tears and extreme empathy which makes me feel the same suffering as those around. I tend to avoid these moments and continually rationalize everything. But over the years, I learned to listen my emotional side and to let it out. From this most intimate and delicate part comes the words I write and the best ideas of all the good things I’ve been able to do in my life. But listening to myself is a brave gesture and a constant exercise.
Our society sells us easy and superficial solutions while the real success lies in being able to give ourselves a space to allow the creative process. When we let go, something new takes a micro-space inside us. And if we are good enough to love and respect ourselves, that micro-space will expand and bring us new experiences and new choices that will make us happier and much more successful in future.
I like to think that everyone has its own genius. Being successful is not about fitting certain standards but rather finding your own way. Understanding the value you are able to create and then exploiting it. You can’t be good at everything and above all you can’t follow what others expect from you running the risk of never understanding what really moves you.
When Freddy Mercury created Bohemian Rapsody, no one gave him any credit, but it was one of the biggest hits of all time. He created his music according to his inner voice and instinct and wasn’t afraid to push himself. How many times have we stood alone with our idea in front of the world and backed down because maybe we didn’t feel confident? Imagine if Freddy had stopped in front of the reticence of his family or his agents?