April 16, 2024

How Taylor Swift taught me to be Gracious & Resilient in the Face of Disappointment.

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Here are the facts:

Taylor Swift is a global mega superstar. An icon. A role model to women and men around the world. A singer-songwriter juggernaut who has broken more records in her two-decade musical career than most musicians.

She is the only artist to have won Album of the Year four times at the Grammys.

Among the many records broken by her recent Eras tour, she just broke the biggest of them all. The Eras tour surpassed the vaunted $1 billion in gross ticket sales—the first by any musician, ever. The record was previously held by Elton John, who grossed $938 million.

Clearly, there are more than enough reasons for the entire world to look up to and be in awe of Taylor Swift.

Myself included.

Yet, my admiration for this remarkable woman extends beyond her record-breaking feats and her empowering influence on other women, whether within her close-knit personal circle or across the globe. Amidst the grandeur of her larger-than-life image, it’s a small incident, delicately captured in the 2020 documentary film “Taylor Swift: Miss Americana” that always gives me pause and fills me with awe for this young woman.

Time magazine captures this moment in its review of the documentary:

One of the film’s most revealing vignettes takes place in late 2017, when Swift learns that 1989’s divisive follow-up, Reputation, has failed to earn a single nomination in any of the Grammys’ major categories. ‘This is fine,’ she declares into her phone, studiously calm but also palpably hurt. ‘I need to make a better record.'”

This moment is such a profound lesson on how to handle disappointment.

Swift could’ve ranted and raved and argued about how she was ripped off. She could’ve fussed and cried about missing out on some of the biggest nominations for an album that she had toiled over and perfected for months. She could’ve mentioned the many records that the album itself broke.

But she didn’t. She simply said, “I need to make a better record.”

Skeptics can argue that she knew she was being recorded for the documentary and so she played it safe. I disagree. She produced the documentary and could’ve easily edited that moment out, and none of us would’ve been the wiser.

I remembered this moment last week because an Indian film director, Siddharth Anand (aka Sid Anand), is getting majorly trolled at the moment. The backstory is that his newest film, “Fighter,” recently crashed at the box office, even though Anand is one of the biggest, hot shot directors of Hindi cinema and his 2023 film, “Pathan,” was a box office smash that rejuvenated Indian superstar Shahrukh Khan’s then-flagging career.

Not to mention that “Fighter” features two of the biggest superstars of Hindi cinema, Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone, in lead roles. For a quick comparison, imagine a Hollywood flick about fighter pilots featuring Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie.

During the post-release autopsy of the film’s tanking at the box office, the director became extremely defensive and argued that the reason “Fighter” underperformed is because the majority of Indians do not have any experience flying in airplanes. I don’t think any of us need to explain to Anand what the majority of films are about—and that’s imagination!

His lashing out at the media about the failure of his film made me think of Swift and the graceful way she handled bad news when “Reputation” did not pick up any of the lead category nominations at that year’s Grammys.

What struck me the most was her ability to remain graceful under pressure, which extends beyond the spotlight. Her measured response is a lesson on how to pursue our passion, improve upon it, and never deflect blame.

In a world that often measures success by numbers and accolades, Swift stands out not just for her chart-topping achievements but for the quiet strength and resilience she exhibits in the face of setbacks. Her response to the Grammys snub is a timeless lesson on how to navigate disappointment with poise and determination.

It’s a lesson I am trying hard to implement when faced with disappointments in my own life.

What about you? How do you handle your disappointments? Let me know in the comments!


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