By Isa Maïsa
The irony of success is when we lose ourselves in it. The fickle thing is that everyone wants it, not everyone has it and even when we do, some are not able to handle it. As our society today considers fame and fortune to be the Holy Grail of our sense of purpose, living a life in an attitude of a happy medium is hushed as insufficient. Yet it is shattering to hear the news about great talents leaving this world prematurely. Just these past few months we saw the loss of two, Alexander McQueen and Michael Jackson. How disturbing to think they had what many would consider to be the winning lottery ticket of life: fame, fortune and success. Or did they? What made them and so many others get lost in (their) success?
It is obvious that they lived under extreme pressure to succeed, which ended up absorbing life out of them. Discovering their past childhood, we realized how their dysfunctional families had made their short-lived lives difficult and unhappy. While no one family is perfect nor needs to be, the ability to cope and to have a balanced life would bring out the best potential in all of us. How to overcome failure and challenge is vital for success, and having emotional support from loved ones is crucial for survival. Both seemed to be missing for Alexander McQueen and Michael Jackson.
Of course, there are those who argue that their childhood was what caused their genii, their source of strength and their drive. However, it remains difficult to think an insufferable and miserable upbringing can bring out the genius in someone when most specialists believe geniuses are born as geniuses regardless of their environment. Look at the genius talent of Pablo Picasso who was nurtured as a very young boy. His euphoric artistic career excelled beyond belief while living a life of harmony with his art, friends and family to a ripe old age of 92.
There are exceptions, where the horrible ‘family legacy’ of a painful childhood brought out delicate sensitivity and a subtle visionary, such as Doris Lessing.She coped and survived thanks to her fantastic imagination which led to her happy vocation as a writer, earning her the Nobel Peace Prize. In this case, her agony and memories led to her creativity. This shows two opposed cases of possible sources of success: what must be remembered is the importance of awareness in dealing with what life brings, making the best out of it, by keeping harmony and balance, even when doing so seems impossible.
Below a great documentary “George Michael, a different story” showing how he dealt with success and almost drowned in it during the “Wham!” period… And what was needed: A heavy dose of business acumen to learn how to swim with sharks.