I used to love to hate Taylor Swift. It was mostly her *surprised* face that got me. She was a superstar and must have understood this, yet she would win an award and don this shocked face every. single. time. It felt phony to me. I wasn’t buying what she was selling.
Things have changed big time though, and now I’m obsessed with Taylor Swift. If you watched this speech at the GRAMMYs Monday night and didn’t want to shout “YES! TELL ‘EM!” at your TV, then you may want to verify that you have a soul.
In just a few years, Taylor has become a confident artist who knows how hard she’s worked. Sure, she truly is surprised when major things happen, but she also isn’t afraid to be proud of her insane accomplishments.
While we might not all be winning GRAMMYs and selling out tours, in some way in our own careers we are all Taylor Swift trying to graduate past the surprised face stage. There’s often this vague pressure to justify your own professional victories. I don’t know if this is a female thing or if it’s a young professional thing, but I experience it regularly, and I know a lot of my friends do too.
You get promoted faster than someone who’s worked at your company longer. You landed a big assignment that someone else was eyeing. These things can make you feel like you owe someone an explanation or an apology.
It’s great to be humble. It’s great to appreciate people who have supported you along the way. It’s not great to diminish your own accomplishments and hard work. It’s not great to question whether you really deserve the success you’re enjoying. That speech at this year’s GRAMMYs brought this idea front and center.
Remember: you can be likeable and humble, while still owning every ounce of the success you’ve worked tirelessly to get.
After further consideration, I think I may actually be working to get out of my own *surprised face* stage of my career. I find that when I’m at a networking event, I have a tough time talking about my writing projects when asked. I don’t want anyone to think I’m bragging, and yet I work very late nights and on weekends specifically so I can earn my bylines. Sometimes I find myself listing the names of the publications I’ve written for and then trying to dismiss it all away with “It was just once or twice” or “I got really lucky.”
When you think about it, that’s (on a much smaller scale) like hearing your name called for an award and pretending to be shocked. I’m trying to really drive home the point that I’m modest, when I really should just be proud of my accomplishments and my hard work. No one likes fake surprised Taylor. Everyone loves confident, proud, thankful Taylor. I need to take this to heart with my own business.
If we take one thing away from the 2016 GRAMMYs, besides the fact that Sam Hunt is a complete smokeshow, I’d urge each one of us to stop shying away from our accomplishments. You put in the hours and the brain power. Don’t apologize when it pays off. Value your own time. Appreciate your success and help others who haven’t gotten to where they want to be yet, but don’t diminish your hard work.