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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


Seven Lessons I Learned From Taylor Swift

Yesterday, I blogged about leading for a “cause” not for the applause. In other words, leaders must consistently do a motive check for why they do what they do. Often, we drift from our original “spark” of using our gifts to serve people or solve problems.


By Keith Lehwald (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

To be honest, I believe one Generation iY girl who “gets it” is singer/songwriter Taylor Swift. I know, I know, you’re shocked. But after studying what drives her to do what she does, at 22 years old, she’s got a better perspective than entertainers twice her age. Although she has dominated the pop-country landscape, and has become the fastest selling female artist ever, the youngest artist to win Album of the Year and Billboard’s Woman of the Year, she hasn’t lost her identity. She lives in a condo in Nashville and actually invites groups of her most devoted fans over for barbecue. Yep, you read that right. She has made an art out of being human. Swift doesn’t drink or swear or even rat her hair. She once considered getting a tattoo, but decided not to, and she is glad it did. She wasn’t sure it would look good at age 80.

Taylor bakes, eats salads, but prefers fried chicken, and picks fruit from a garden to create home-made jam. She poses for pictures when her fans spot her in a restaurant and even remembers some, from seeing them at a concert. Given the choice between flying on a private jet or a commercial airliner—she’d choose commercial. She said, “If I am flying all the way to India, I want to be with people and have someone sitting next to me to talk to.”

Sure she makes a lot of money. She made a reported $57 million last year. And, she is famous, just like her Generation iY counterparts want to be. But—she’s different. She hasn’t forgotten the “why” behind what she does. It’s about others. It’s about donating to causes that she believes are serving the needs of humanity. And she’s given lots of money away.

In short, while Taylor Swift is growing into a woman, she remains the same person who started singing at 15 years old. Here are the lessons I learn from her:

  1. Stay modest.  People are attracted to humility in those who have influence.
  2. Remember what got you where you are. Funny how celebs often get amnesia.
  3. Value people over things. Conversations with ordinary folks keep you honest.
  4. Give back when you receive. Always see surplus as a chance to be generous.
  5. Do the work even if someone else could. Work keeps you patient and real.
  6. Keep your hobbies. They help you stay humble, practical and authentic.
  7. Practice your values. If you do, you’ll actually like who you see in the mirror.

The thing that struck me most about peering into the life of Taylor Swift is that she’s navigated transitions in her life with poise. She’s grown into a celebrity with grace. Because growing through life’s junctions is so important, we are releasing a new Habitudes book next month called: Habitudes For the Journey. It’s targeted at students moving from one stage of school to the next. To preview it, CLICK HERE.

Are there any other lessons we can learn from Taylor Swift?


  1. Brooks on December 4, 2012 at 10:55 am

    I am now a Taylor Swift Fan even though I don’t like Country Music

    • Tim Elmore on December 4, 2012 at 4:18 pm

      Her music is catchy – even if you don’t normally consider yourself a country music fan.

  2. Robin on December 8, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Great Article,, lots of lesson learned!!!

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Seven Lessons I Learned From Taylor Swift