What Sam Smith Can Teach Us About Success
The Grammy awards were as ever, a lavish and flamboyant affair. As a celebration of the breadth of the music of our time, there’s not much else that comes close. Anglophiles will have been delighted this year too, as soul singer Sam Smith scooped a whopping four awards. And collecting them he linked together his music, his emotional intelligence, and his success.
Find Your Own Voice
“Before I made this record I was doing everything to try get my music to the world,” the 22-year-old said as he accepted his first win of the night. “I tried to lose weight and was making awful music. It was only until I started to be myself that the music flowed.”
We all have people we admire in business, people who we want to emulate and match in their success. It’s great to learn from your heroes, but none of us can be anything other than ourselves. As Sam Smith discovered, trying to be someone else stops you from playing to your particular strengths.
So when looking at the people you admire, pause to work out what it is about them and their style that resonates with you and go with that. Leave the rest behind.
Authenticity leads naturally to trust. After all we can all spot a fraud, or someone who is trying to hard to be something they’re not. By working out what your strengths are and how to play to them, when you take the lead it’ll be easier for people to follow you, because they’ll recognise your integrity.
Use Your Story
“I want to thank the man who this record is about, who I fell in love with last year,” Smith said on winning the Grammy for Best Song with ‘Stay with me’. “Thank you so much for breaking my heart because you got me four Grammys.”
Often we think we need to keep our lives in compartments – this is the work bit, this is the family bit, this is my spare time – but no matter how hard we try to do this, our cumulative and collective life experience all mushes together. So take your experience and apply it wherever you go and whatever you do. For Smith it meant taking a personal heartbreak and turning it into song. In business it might be that you’ve learned how to resolve conflict well at home. That’s a skill you can apply in the workplace.
Don’t be afraid to bring your life experience as well as your work experience to the table in what you do. The skills you’ve gained and the lessons you’ve learned might prove to be the keys to your success.
Share The Limelight
Collaboration can transform something great into something stellar. Sam’s performance of his hit would have been wonderful had he done it alone. Performing it at the Grammys with Mary J Blige made it both incredible and memorable.
In spite of all the acclaim Smith isn’t too proud to collaborate. He worked with Blige on her last album The London Sessions. After all it’s tough being out in front all alone, and as we all know from the endless thank yous at any awards ceremony, the person in the spotlight very rarely got there by themselves. Success comes from sharing our collective strengths, bringing them together towards a common goal. In business as in music, if it’s all on you, then your strengths will not be enough. But shared between a team, you can become stronger than the sum of your parts.