February 24, 2014

Lessons from the Olympics: Turning a mistake into a win



If you watched the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, you noticed that there was a snafu with the display of the Olympic rings, when an electronic snowflake that was supposed to expand into the fifth ring never opened.

I've written in the past about elite and Olympic athletes who don't dwell on mistakes, but get up from a fall or crash and keep performing, sometimes going on to achieve even more than expected. Well, clearly, Olympic ceremony designer Konstantin Ernst has the same die-hard spirit.

In the closing ceremony, the rings were formed by a group of dancers wearing glittering costumes. As the rings formed, one group of performers instead stayed in a small, tight circle (to represent the opening night snowflake) for a few hilarious moments, parodying the opening night mishap. But unlike the opening ceremony, the fifth ring finally expanded and joined the rest.




By incorporating his mistake and poking fun at what initially was probably somewhat embarrassing, Ernst shows his sense of humor, his flexibility, his willingness to laugh at himself, and his ability to take a mistake and make something even better out of it. Here he is on Sunday wearing a newly designed t-shirt:




We're all going to make mistakes on stage. For most of us, millions of people around the world won't be watching. But for our audiences who are, demonstrating grace and resilience under pressure, a sense of humor, and the understanding that we're all human will go far to entertain and connect with the audience -- and perhaps give our presentation that extra luster that people will remember long after it's over.

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