Why is Madonna seemingly eternal, even in the face of massive changes in the music industry whether in terms of fan tastes, culture or the passing of generations? And what can you learn from her to assure your enduring and adaptive leadership?
Prepare so that detail becomes memory >> Madonna is no prima donna. She doesn’t swish into a stadium 30 minutes before a concert and wing it. It was noted that before every performance of her last world tour, she would run through the complete show, beginning to end, so that her muscle memory and what’s called proprioception (that ability to operate on seeming autopilot) would take over. This allows her to play on stage, to be more responsive and interactive with the audience – that is what makes her live performance so special. Practice and visualization makes perfect. And it frees you up to be extemporaneous.
Get fit >> Madonna, whose highly athletic dancing can mesmerize a stadium, is nearly 60. You can use technology to fix someone’s tonality in the studio, but you can’t fake fitness. And when a robust personality is core to your brand, it’s going to take discipline and sweat in the gym – and more than one trainer. When you study most leaders, they are in the gym every morning or at least married to a rigorous workout programme. And Madonna is known to work out daily. More than that, she has been very public about maintaining her lean strength by eating whole, organic foods, eliminating processed foods, practicing mindfulness meditation and cultivating long-term intimate bonds with family & friends. All of these activities add up to the perfect neurochemical for youthfulness and longevity.
Stand (strongly) for what’s important to you >> Madonna has been a long-term, fearless and vocal advocate for many causes. Her consistent, unapologetic and fearless advocacy for the dignity of all people is her unique selling proposition. Beyond that, she defends her core values vociferously and is not afraid to wrestle with the powers that be.
Experiment with style >> just because your values don’t change doesn’t mean your hairstyle or shoes don’t. Part of Madonna’s genius has been to deliver her consistent message of bold self-expression through different packaging. And that packaging often exactly represented her response to a culture that tries to box her in, define her or trivialize her voice. When they tried to demean the early Madonna as a has-been big-hair pop act, she electrified the music world with Like A Virgin. When her financial success caused so many to dismiss her as just another rock star, she redefined scared music with Ray Of Light, inspired by her work with kabbalah, an ancient belief that reveals how the universe and life work. I am my own experiment. I am my own work of art. Says Madonna. By living it authentically, she has inspired many to have the courage to do the same.
Constant reinvention keeps you and your personal brand alive. Madonna is not afraid to be outlandish and she never confuses her current stylistic expression with her core values as a person. She’s versatile and keeps herself relevant to each generation. Each time, she remakes her image fit in with the current trend while still maintaining her Madonna-ness.