Mariah Carey Shows Us How NOT to Fail

By | 2017/01/03


Like many of you, I was watching Dick Clark’s Rockin New Year’s Eve on Saturday night. My sister’s family and my family have been getting together on New Year’s for 20ish years and watching the Times Square ball drop is always part of our tradition.

It was painful to watch as Mariah Carey failed to properly lip-sync for her performance. All she had to do was start singing, but she failed…big time.

I am not a performer, but I am required to speak to groups of people, give business presentations, and teach college classes. What I found most surprising about Mariah Carey’s performance was her poor handling of the problem.

Let’s look at how this failure could have been turned into a success.


It’s reported that Mariah may have used a body double for some or all of the rehearsals. Even if she did rehearse, it wasn’t enough.

It’s a good idea to practice any presentation until you’re confident enough to “wing it” when something goes awry.

Imagine if Mariah had started singing along, rather than lip-syncing the song as she intended. People would have been impressed with her ability to adapt quickly and to handle a difficult situation with poise and dignity.

Have a backup plan

True professionals in any industry know that the show must go on. Sometimes this is a simple solution. For example, when teaching a college class last year, I copied my presentations to Google drive and to a thumbdrive — in case of Internet connection problems. I realize Mariah’s failure was a much larger scale, but that just makes my point even more valid. The bigger the show, the more important the backup plan.

True professionals are able to adapt and continue when things don’t go as planned.

Never blame other people

When you are the person performing, whether it’s a sales presentation or a New Year’s eve show, it is never good to blame others. Even if someone else caused the problem, a true professional takes the heat.

True professionals take the blame and give the praise.

Imagine everyone’s response if Mariah had said I’m sorry that I was unable to perform. I should have tried harder to make it work and I’m sorry that I gave up. This would have earned her more respect than her rep’s comment that “production set her up to fail”.

Failure happens. How we handle it shows our strength of character. And learning from failure continues to strengthen our character.

“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”
Criss Jami

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