In a 2012 interview, Simon Cowell credited his success with being “driven by revenge” and a desire to “get back” at his enemies. Cowell is undoubtedly known for his unrelenting honesty, and while his assertion should have been more or less expected, I was still taken aback. Don’t get me wrong – I completely understand the satisfaction of excelling in life whilst erstwhile boyfriends, mean classmates, and frenemies turn into dumpy, plain underachievers who never left the town you were raised in, but is it wrong to be driven by such motives? Or is success the best revenge?
When Frank Sinatra said, “the best revenge is massive success,” I believed he was right. All too often, revenge is a destructive, desperate, and vicious form of expression. And if you think about it, ultimately revenge can be useless.[Tweet “Success is the only form of revenge that actually benefits you.”]
It makes you a better person and makes it crystal clear to your rivals that you’re a force to be reckoned with.
In a interview with Cosmopolitan, Lady Gaga shared the following: “I had a boyfriend who told me I’d never succeed, never be nominated for a Grammy, never have a hit song and that he hoped I’d fail. I said to him, ‘Someday, when we’re not together, you won’t be able to order a cup of coffee at the f—ing deli without hearing or seeing me.’ ” Not only did she go on to win several Grammys, but she’s also one of the top grossing artists of our time. With her heartbreak behind her and her ever-growing success on the horizon, one can only imagine her ex kicking himself — repeatedly!
Model Winnie Harlow went from being the target of malicious bullies to fashion’s “It” girl. Diagnosed with vitiligo at the age of four, she would often be called names such as “zebra” and “cow.” The bullying got so bad that she was forced to drop-out and be home schooled. Later, a chance meeting with a Toronto photographer led to an interest in modeling. Eventually, she was cast on the 21st cycle of America’s Next Top Model. She came in sixth place, but the world’s interest had already been peaked. Winnie is the now the face of Spanish fashion label Desigual and has modeled for Diesel and Vogue. She now uses her success as a platform to widen the fashion industry’s perception of beauty. If I were Winnie I’d be quite satisfied with myself. I hope her former classmates feel a bit of remorse and are teaching their children to value uniqueness and diversity over stereotypes.
When it comes to matters of revenge, I don’t think anything works as beautifully as focusing on your own life and success. Unlike other forms of revenge, it doesn’t hurt anyone per se and will only make you better. Resist the urge to be petty and channel all of that rage and anger into your own personal and professional goals. When all the pain from the haters wears off and the glow from your success is shining through, you’ll be proud that you did.