Taylor Swift Gave a Great Speech on Giving Yourself ‘Permission to Fail’ at the 2023 iHeartRadio Music Awards

Taylor Swift merged her Reputationera aesthetic with a little Midnights-esque “Bejeweled” sparkle for last night’s iHeartRadio Music Awards, where the singer won the ceremony’s Innovator Award. Clad in a hooded, glitzy Alexandre Vauthier jumpsuit, Swift took the stage and gave a brief speech rife with candid, excellent advice on coping with failure. This is far from Swift’s first speech packed with meaningful life lessons for her fans; her NYU commencement speech is another great—albeit much longer—example.

taylor swift at the iheartradio music awards

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Swift started by acknowledging that she didn’t set out to innovate; she just made the best decisions for her that led her there. She said, “With the Innovator Award, I never a single time woke up in the morning and thought, ‘You know what I’m gonna do today? I’m gonna go innovate some stuff. Things need to be innovated and I’m gonna be the one that does it.’ But what I did do was try to make the right decision for me at the time, whether or not it had been successfully done before. And I think that maybe that might be the key because oftentimes, in any industry, people are looking for a precedent or data that shows this idea is a good one or a feasible one. People want an example of something working before, but I think the coolest ideas, or moves or choices are the new ones, the ones that set a new precedent. I’m very privileged because my fans have backed me up on things like switching genres or re-recording all my old music.”

She added that awards like this focus on success, but success often comes after a lot of trial and error. “But I do want to say that the thing with these exciting nights and moments and specifically this award that I’m so lucky to have gotten is that they’re shining a light on the choices I made that worked out, right?” she continued. “The ones that turned out to be good ideas, but I really, really want everyone to know—especially young people—that the hundreds or thousands of dumb ideas that I’ve had are what led me to my good ideas. You have to give yourself permission to fail. I try as hard as I can not to fail because it’s embarrassing, but I give myself permission to, and you should too, so go easy on yourselves and just make the right choices that feel right for you and someday someone one day might thing you’ve been innovative.”

You can watch and listen to Swift’s full speech below:

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Taylor Swift Acceptance Speech – Innovator Award | 2023 iHeartRadio Music Awards

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Senior News and Strategy Editor

Alyssa Bailey is the senior news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton). She previously held positions at InStyle and Cosmopolitan. When she’s not working, she loves running around Central Park, making people take #ootd pics of her, and exploring New York City.


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