It's pretty difficult to dislike Sam Smith. He's talented, soulful, humble and genuine.
In a world in which celebrity is often defined by simply being wealthy or physically attractive, Smith is a breath of fresh air.
His music is palatable to people of all races, ages and backgrounds. It's reminiscent of classic soul music yet simultaneously unique and refreshing.
Thus, it comes as no surprise that Smith won four big awards at the 57th Grammy Awards: Best New Artist, Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album.
Yet, as Smith highlighted during his acceptance speech for Best Pop Vocal Album, he struggled a great deal on the path to success.
Before I made this record, I was doing everything to try and get my music heard... I tried to lose weight and I was making awful music. And it was only until I started to be myself that the music started to flow and people started to listen.
Indeed, Smith's rise to the top was anything but smooth. He's only 22, but he's already seen his fair share of hardship.
Smith started pursuing a career in music when he was 13. At just 16, he was already seeing his name in the headlines, but not for the reasons he wanted.
At that time, his mother had been fired from her bank job for allegedly taking time out of her work day to manage Smith's career.
When she sued her employer for unfair dismissal, the story was immediately in the news. People he'd considered friends began to turn their backs on him in the process.
The experience made him very wary of who he trusted.
When Smith was 18, his parents divorced, and he decided to move to London to seek fame. Instead, he found himself working in a bar and cleaning toilets. He worked Monday through Sunday full-time and wasn't even making enough to pay for public transportation.
Feeling incredibly discouraged, Smith considered quitting music altogether when he was just 19.
The singer has also struggled with his weight his entire life and continues to be self-conscious about his size. On top of this, he suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Ultimately, Smith found the inner strength to keep moving forward. No matter what challenges he faced, he forced himself to remain positive about the future and the possibilities it held. Obviously, this mentality paid off.
Smith is a testament to the fact that success is a product of just being yourself. Simply put, you have to recognize the value of failure while realizing your opinion of yourself is the only one that truly matters.
Not to mention, Smith's hit songs were inspired by a man who broke his heart. Suffering can often lead us to bigger and better things in the long run.
Like Smith, some of the most successful individuals in history faced enormous obstacles and immense failures in their early lives and careers. Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, Jay Z and Charlize Theron are a few.
The key to success is learning from failures and using obstacles as a source of insight and motivation.
As JK Rowling once stated,
Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I've met people who don't want to try for fear of failing.
When we stop defining success by other people's standards, we can finally be ourselves and flourish.
Congratulations to Sam Smith! Thanks for reminding us hope and persistence make the most potent combination in the world.
Citations: Sam Smith Im so scared for when its going to stop (The Guardian ), Sam Smith wins four prizes (BBC), 16 Wildly Successful People Who Overcame Huge Obstacles To Get There (Huffington Post), Grammy Awards 2015 The Complete Winners List (Rolling Stones )