The Least Talked About Secret of Success From The Life of Paul Cezanne

Posted Jul 11 2016 05:11 AM

By Anand Satheesh

Paul Cezanne is one of the greatest painters of all time. His work led the way into a whole new way of doing art, which has never been the same since he was around. However, his immense genius took a long time to unfold. In fact, the paintings he did after his 60th birthday are worth 15 times more than the paintings he did as a young man. Why did he take so long to create anything of worth? It is not like he was not working hard during the time between his younger days and his 60th birthday. He was almost constantly painting during that time. The reason it took so long is that he was trying to do art in a way that no one had ever envisioned before and this naturally takes a lot of time. He had immense work ethic and creativity, but his work was of such complexity that it required years to perfect.

Throughout these lean years, he had a circle of people supporting him. First was his father, who left him 400,000 francs so that Cezanne could provide for himself and focus on his art career. Second was his friend Emile Zola. He was his guardian throughout the years where Cezanne was struggling to produce the greatness that would later come. He helped him with his finances and ensured he was well taken care of. Third is Camille Pissarro. He was the one who took Cezanne under his wing and taught him how to be a painter. He would take Cezanne on long trips to the countryside and they would paint side by side.

However, perhaps the greatest support came from Cezanne’s friend Ambrose Vollard, the sponsor of Cezanne’s first one man show, at the age of 56. He sat for Cezanne without a break over 150 separate 12 hour stretches. He would remain there even when Cezanne would frequently slash the canvas in frustration or when he berated Vollard for moving.

We often talk about work ethic and creativity and secrets of success, but these are qualities inherent in us. Cezanne certainly had these qualities, but they wouldn’t have mattered if he had starved to death. One factor of success that we often ignore, and one that is integral to the story of Cezanne and all great people is the unconditional support of other people.

Cezanne’s father had full right to tell his son to quit painting and go get a job. There was no sign that anything would come out of Cezanne’s artistic endeavors. However, he left his son 400,000 francs and allowed him to pursue his dream. Zola, Pissarro and Vollard had no obligation to him and could have left anytime they wanted, but they stayed. Even when Cezanne looked like an abject failure, they kept on giving their support. In this love and support, we find the secret that success is not only dependent on your efforts, but also on the earnest efforts of others.

When you are struggling to bring your ideas to life and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel, the most valuable assets are people who believe in you even when there is no reason to believe in you. One important key to success is to surround yourself with people who will keep on supporting you and do whatever is necessary to ensure that you achieve your dream.

For most of us, this support system comes from our closest friends and family. They will believe in us even there is little reason to. When you have people like this encouraging you and carrying you through the times of failure, it is almost inevitable that you get through it. Often, we lose heart when our efforts look like they are doing nothing and we feel like giving up. We lose our perseverance because we lose our belief. Nature puts roadblocks in the form of failure in front of those doing great things in order to test them. Only those who go through the failure are rewarded. If you give up, then all the effort prior is wasted. It is very hard to find the energy to keep going purely in ourselves, no matter how passionate you are. The energy and support of others is often the catalyst that you need to get through the failures and lack of results so that you can reach the goal on the other side. When someone believes in you even when there is no reason to believe in you, their belief becomes your own. Belief is a necessary component of success, but it works the same whether it comes from you or from others. When all looks lost, it is belief that will keep you on the path. Sometimes, you cannot generate that yourself and it has to come from other people.

This is why it is of utmost importance to prioritize your friends and family. They are the only people who will believe in you, even when you don’t believe in yourself. If you want to succeed, you need immense perseverance to drive through obstacles and that perseverance comes through faith. However, sometimes the world becomes so overwhelming that you lose your self-belief. This is when the belief of others will propel you past the challenges and keep you on the road to success. You have to keep that support system around you and never let it go. You cannot let yourself to get into the egotistical trap of thinking that success is purely from your own efforts. You have to respect the fact that your success is highly contingent on the support of others. When this fact is respected, you will keep the important people in your life around you and unparalleled success and happiness is the inevitable result.

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