Advice to Taylor Swift on Sustaining Success

January 24, 2015
Mike Stallard

As seen on Fox News

Taylor Swift has successfully managed living in the frying pan of fame for nearly a decade now. That's difficult to do, especially for singers who come on the scene in their teenage years (ahem, Britney, Miley and Justin). Personally, I think she may become the Queen of Media who reigns for decades, akin to the first Queen Elizabeth who ascended to the throne of England at 25 and ruled England for more than 40 years during its Golden Age and was beloved by many.

Because I advise leaders, I took a moment to imagine what it would be like to advise Ms. Swift about maintaining her realm, just as the faithful William Cecil, Lord Burghley advised Queen Elizabeth I.

Taylor, I appreciate your humility and focus on others. You care about people. Rather than trying to escape your fans, you consistently and creatively connect with them. You are generous in supporting causes that help others in need. This is good. You’re focusing on what is most important and when you look back on this period, you will not regret it.

A word of caution: it’s wise not to let your emotional highs get too high. It’s fine to celebrate your successes, just don’t let it go to your head lest you begin to think you are better than everyone else. Hubris leads to thinking you are infallible, incapable of making poor decisions.  Let me assure you, history has recorded a long list of successful people who blew it because they started feeling all-powerful and untouchable, which contributed to poor decisions and foolish actions.

Your humility, Taylor, will also help you adapt to inevitable changes. You have a vision for what you want to do but at the same time seek and consider the opinions of others. That’s so great. When Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player ever, was on the U.S. Olympic Team, he asked Coach K to help him with certain aspects of his game. Jordan was already a superstar like you, but he knew he didn’t have all the answers. He knew he could always learn, grow and get better by listening to others who have expertise. In that way, be like Mike.

Finally, and most importantly, protect your relationships with family and friends. They have your back. Treasure those relationships like they are the crown jewels. Too many megastars become disconnected from family and long-time friends, and surround themselves with people who say what they think the star wants to hear and are along for the ride. When the storms in life come, as they always do, fair weather friends flee and leave you alone to fend for yourself. Do not let yourself drift into a state of loneliness because it frequently leads to the destructive chain of anxiety, depression and addiction.

Bono once said that people with strong relationships tend to be the strongest people, which is so true. Notice that Bono has the same band mates and best friends he had in high school. Smart guy. It’s no accident that U2 has won more Grammy awards than any band in history and they’ve had the most financially successful tour ever. One reason they have done so well, for so long, is the connection they have with each other and the wider U2 family. You should emulate U2's example.

You're very talented, Taylor. Still, no one is perfect and you will make mistakes. Expect it. Stay humble, treasure your family and true friends, and keep moving forward. It’s going to be exciting to see what you do.

Michael Lee Stallard, president and cofounder of Connection Culture Group, speaks, teaches and consults on leadership, organizational culture and employee engagement. He is the author of Connection Culture and Fired Up or Burned Out. Follow him on his blogTwitterFacebookGoogle+ or LinkedIn.

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