You don’t have to be a serious music fan to know who Chris Martin is. As the frontman of the band Coldplay, he’s everywhere. Fans love his smooth singing, his ability to convey strong emotion through his voice, and his genuine love for his work and his fans. He and Coldplay broke onto the scene in 2000 with their first single “Yellow,” and they haven’t dropped off the musical map since.
In fact, Coldplay is one of the most successful bands of the past decade and a half. They’ve released seven studio albums and sold over 80 million albums around the world. Martin and his bandmates seem to have struck gold with their approach: appealing melodic structures, intriguing lyrical content, and a friendly attitude to anyone and everyone.
Surely, there are many lessons we can take from Martin’s climb to the top. Here are the ten rules of success according to Chris Martin.
1. Do the best you can with what you’ve got.
You may not be the best at everything, or even anything, but you’ve got a specific set of skills that can take you far. Rather than lamenting over what you don’t have, take what you do have and just go for it. Martin acknowledges that he’s not a great dancer, and he’s a good but not great singer, and he can write good songs but maybe not great songs. Still, he gives his music and his performances all of his energy and all of his enthusiasm, and audiences respond in kind.
2. Let your true self shine through.
Being yourself — being open and honest and true — is the only way to live if you want to achieve success. Pretending to be someone else isn’t sustainable, and tamping down your true feelings will only leave you unhappy. This is especially important if you’re in a more creative line of work, like Martin is. He always works to express his true self in his music, and he understands that hiding emotions is never productive if you want to make something real and honest.
3. Remember the past, anticipate the future, but live in the present.
Any successful person will tell you that achieving initial success is only part of the equation — it’s keeping and sustaining your success that’s the most challenging of all. Because of this, it’s crucial to live in the present. Understand your success and enjoy your success. It’s a result of your past hard work, and while you’d like it to continue into the future, there’s no real guarantee that you’ll be successful tomorrow. Martin understands that living in the moment is necessary not only to appreciate the success that he’s achieved, but to make his live performances special for his audiences.
4. When you’re challenged, you have a chance to grow.
We all go through difficult times in our lives, and you can look at them in one of two ways. You can see them as negatives that interfere with your comfortable life, or you can see them as challenges and find something positive in them. It’s not easy to do, but Martin tries to take this perspective on everything in life. So far, it seems to be working well for him, and it will probably work well for you too.
5. There’s always room for improvement.
No matter how talented you are, no matter how good you are, you can always get better. This not only earns you initial success, but it can sustain your success over the years. Martin recognized this early in Coldplay’s success — he knew that other great bands were coming up through the ranks, and if he wanted his band to stay competitive and continue to sell records and concert tickets, they had to always be working on their craft.
6. Try to find the good in every situation.
As an international pop star, Martin has his fair share of success, but he also faces a surprising amount of negativity. According to him, the trick to staying happy and enjoying your success is to manage the negativity and not let it drag you down. He recognizes that it’s totally OK if not everyone likes you or agrees with you, and that your best bet is to focus on the people who do like you and who do agree with you. Similarly, as you walk your path toward success, you’re practically guaranteed to come up against people who don’t like you or want to resist you at every turn. Instead of expending all of your energy being concerned about them, focus on the positive aspects of your journey.
7. Never stop being creative.
When you’ve created one thing that’s become successful, it’s easy to rest on your laurels and take a break from the creative process. However, if you want longevity, you don’t want to take a break for too long. Keep creating, keep pushing yourself, and think about what comes next. Martin will tell you that writing songs is his passion, and that even when he’s got a song at the top of the charts, he’s still working on the next one. Taking a break may feel good, but do it for too long, and you risk fading into the background.
8. Pay attention to others who are successful.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, and you don’t have to search for success in a vacuum. Others have walked this path before you and reached their destination — how have they done it? What can you learn from them? Martin is constantly listening to other music and trying to understand to the ways in which other bands have crafted their best songs. No matter what line of work you’re in, pay attention to those who have found similar success and study how they did it. You’ll benefit greatly.
9. Cultivate strong relationships and team dynamics.
While some people do achieve success all on their own, the harsh truth is that most of us find success either as part of a team or with the assistance of others. That’s why it’s so important to foster those relationships and nurture that team chemistry. Not only will it improve your chances of success, but it will make the time you spend reaching your goals much more enjoyable. Martin knows this all too well: as part of Coldplay, he knows how well things work when the guys are clicking and how difficult it is when people aren’t seeing eye to eye.
10. Enjoy what you do.
If you’re not smiling and having a good time on your way to the top, then you have to stop and ask yourself if it’s really worth it. Martin clearly enjoys what he does — he loves writing songs and performing and expressing himself through music. Do you love what you do?