It’s no secret. We love Taylor Swift! We’re sold-out Swifties. Taylor fangirls through and through. Both of us. From her country-playing “when you think Tim McGraw” days to some of her most recent albums 1989 (the first one we bought in years!) to Reputation, the first concert we attended in years and one of our first big dates after Beckett was born.
When it comes to Taylor, we just. can’t. get. enough.
Her writing is some of the most clever and creative out there; and, as two admitted math failures but above-average English students who appreciate the power of words when they’re strung together in just the right way… we have a lot of respect for her!
She’s catchy, too, right?
We don’t know about you, but we find ourselves singing (badly) to her beats everywhere we go. We like it so much, in fact, that even in the age of Spotify, her CD still has a permanent place in our 6-disc changer! Whenever we pick-up out-of-town guests from the airport, Jordan blasts “Welcome to New York!” and makes everyone sing the chorus out loud — except he changes the lyrics to “Welcome to Scottsdale!” He also changes lines like “the lights are so bright but they never blind me!” to “the cacti are so sharp but they never prick me!”
It’s worth flying into Phoenix just to see it. Really, it’s something. But we digress!
If there’s anyone who knows what it’s like to build a successful brand from the ground up, it’s Taylor Swift.
We’ll never forget something she posted on Instagram a few years ago: a photo of one of her first concerts.
In the middle of a park.
With almost no one watching.
We think her caption says it all.
That same night… she posted this.
A few weeks before, she posted a photo of her in a park just like the one above, except it looked like this.
That’s why we think Taylor Swift is someone worth learning from. We could probably write an entire book on what we can all learn from Taylor, but one thing we want to remember is this…
We all have times in our career when we’re playing in the empty parks of life and it feels like no one’s watching and nobody cares.
Maybe it’s shooting your first few weddings in church basements, or eating vendor meals in coat closets.
Maybe it’s staying up all night helping with your child’s homework, or caring for sick toddlers.
Maybe it’s editing your latest portrait session late at night when everyone else has gone to bed.
It’s the stuff that’s not glamorous, the things that nobody sees, the moments we don’t get any public praise or credit for.
But you know what? That doesn’t mean it doesn’t count.
In fact, it might just count for more, because the small stages of life, those parks where no one is watching, is where we get to grow. It’s where we get to make our mistakes. It’s where we get toughened, weathered, and eventually, strengthened. It’s on those small stages of life that we learn who we are, what we’re about, and what we want to stand for. It’s a training ground and a practice field.
And the “small stage” isn’t a permanent personal or professional purgatory, like it feels, it’s a stepping stone to significance. So enjoy it. Embrace it. And remember there is NO such thing as an “overnight success.”
Our friend, Taylor?
She never forgot what it felt like to be where so many of us are right now: between where she was and where she wanted to be.
She hasn’t forgotten the hustle.
We also believe she loved the process as much (if not more) than the destination.
So no matter where you are in life right now, in this second, in this moment, whether you’re in a cubicle and you don’t want to be.
Or it’s late at night and you’re fighting to keep your business alive even though you wish you didn’t have to.
If you feel like you’re in the middle of “forever” even though you’re really just passing through “for now.”
Whether you feel like you’re stuck on a small stage in life, or even backstage, never stop dreaming about your big stage, okay?
Whatever that looks like for you.
Never stop giving it your all. Never stop playing to that empty park like it’s a sold-out stadium. Because there’s something special about someone who came from humble beginnings. There’s something special about the hustle.
We can bet when Taylor Swift was playing to that empty park, she never could’ve predicted what her life looks like now.
That’s certainly our story. When we felt trapped at our day jobs, we never could’ve predicted that there’d be a day where we could do what we love for a living full time. Maybe you’re feeling the same way right now.
Remember, there’s something beautiful about the process. Lean into it. Learn to love it. Because people who stand on the mountaintops of life aren’t usually the people who love the views.
They love the climb.
The views are just a bonus.