The Show Must Go On: What You Can Learn From Adele About Facing Your Mistakes


Have you ever made a mistake? Of course, you have, we all have.

The real question is “how did you deal with it?”

During Sunday night’s Grammy Awards, music superstar Adele provided a lesson we can all take to heart.

For those who didn’t have the opportunity to tune into the show, let me set the stage for you.

During a tribute performance to the late George Michael, Adele started her set severely off key. In a genuine Adele way, she cussed (she’s known for it), and in front of a huge audience – which included millions of television viewers, she stopped the song and asked to start over.

Think about this for a moment. Here you have a famous singer – who had just that evening won five Grammy awards, admitting that she had made a mistake and had not delivered her best performance while the world was watching.

After apologizing profusely, the music and video restarted, and so did Adele.

For me, it was a WOW moment. Besides having the courage to say “I’m sorry. It’s too important. I need to restart”, she demonstrated her commitment to deliver her best always.

Because of her decision, she was applauded by the celebrity audience, and forgiven by the show’s producers. Even the social media world offered her strong support. Despite experiencing what most would call a nightmare moment, Adele emerged with her reputation intact. In fact, she might have even picked up more fans, if that is possible.

It’s not easy to make mistakes, and especially not easy to make a huge mistake when we are known as the expert of our craft. Adele did just that.

Now compare Adele’s response to her mistake, to Mariah Carey’s response to her New Year’s Eve mishap, which also took place on live television with millions of people watching.

While I do not want to be overly harsh to Mariah – who is an excellent singer, she quite frankly blew it. Instead of saying “wait, this isn’t my best, let’s start again”, she kept singing, all the while trying to pretend that nothing was wrong and that the performance wasn’t going poorly.

Rather than receiving the same level of support that Adele had experienced, the audience’s response to Mariah’s actions was dismay and criticism, especially in the social media world. Despite having tremendous talent herself, Mariah’s reputation took a big hit.  

Some have suggested that personality has a lot to do with how each woman reacted to their mistakes. Perhaps it does, but at the end of the day, it is clear that being upfront about her misstep is what won Adele approval and ultimately a standing ovation.

So what about you?

When nerves get the best of you, and the right words elude you, what will you do?

Will you stay calm, pull yourself back, and ask for a restart because something is just too important to get wrong?

Besides accepting the fact that we all miss the mark from time-to-time, it is important to remember one thing; your reputation isn’t defined by the mistakes you make, but by the way you respond to those mistakes.

Like Adele, when you adopt this mindset, you will find a way to hold grace under pressure, rebound, and ultimately win respect.



P.S. Don’t miss the upcoming Art of WOW, scheduled for March 7-8, for women who want to honor their convictions and embrace their courage!

2 thoughts on “The Show Must Go On: What You Can Learn From Adele About Facing Your Mistakes

  1. Hi Roz. We discussed this in our Mastermind session at Verity club. Interesting as many felt it was a sign of authenticity which is a quality we need to embrace in leadership. Personally, I thought it was unfortunate that everyone now remembers her gesture versus G. Michael whose tribute this celebrated. She turned all attention to herself and this is her ‘brand’ – authentic, swears in public, self deprecating, etc….personally, I feel it is contrived. I think she made it bigger than it was….but totally respect your view and value 100% need to be transparent and honest with one’s audience…a true sign of leadership strength. Orchid

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