What can Madonna’s fall at the Brits teach us about business?

Last night, Madonna performed at the Brits.  Doubtless she would have spent many hours rehearsing. Refining and practicing her routine only for a totally unseen incident to completely derail her.  During her performance she had to untie a long cape she was wearing and at an exact moment, a chap holding the other end who could not see what was happening due to being Madonna’s back being turned on him, had to whip the cape from her back.

What happened was that the cape was tied too tight and was not undone when it was whipped off her.  This resulted in her being violently pulled backwards down a flight of steps, landing heavily on her back in front of hundreds in the audience and millions of television viewers.

What happened next was the crucial point for me.  After a couple of what appeared to be awfully long seconds, Madonna pulled herself awkwardly to her feet but then carried on as though nothing had happened.

So how does Madonna’s fall relate to business?

Madonna proved herself to be a true professional.  She had planned everything perfectly, had a huge support team around her to help her and then an unforeseen incident took her crashing to rock bottom (literally).  She had two choices at this point.

  1. She could have felt sorry for herself, hugely embarrassed and whimpered off into the shadows to lick her wounds and the show would have been over for her. People may have felt sorry for her but they were likely to have talked about her downfall when her name was mentioned in the future as that was their lasting impression.
  2. She assessed the situation with lightening quick speed, picked herself up, dusted herself off and just simply got on with it. She held her head up high and proved herself to be the ultimate professional.  People now when they talk her about her downfall are also likely to talk about how professional she is and what an inspiration she is.  She will have gone up in the estimation of many.

And this is what happens so often in business.

Something comes and kicks us in the teeth and all the hard work and effort we have put in to building our business suddenly seems pointless.  All our careful planning and preparation has been for nothing.  We feel sorry for ourselves and feel we just can’t go on any more.  We go hide in the shadows until the embarrassment of failure has died down a little and then gradually try to bring ourselves back out in to the open world.

What successful business owners do when faced with adversity is exactly the same as Madonna.  They quickly assess the situation, identify what has happened and what they can do to salvage the situation.  They pick themselves up instantly and just get on with it once again.  No moaning, no whining, no feeling sorry for themselves.

And then they learn from their mistakes to ensure they don’t happen again.  They don’t look upon any hiccup in business as a failure.  They look at it as a learning curve.  I am sure that if Madonna ever wears a cape on stage again she will either have checked it is more loosely tied or she will have a false tie with a Velcro fastening.

So what would you have done in a situation like Madonna’s?  Have you hit a situation where you feel you have been treated unfairly and your business has failed?  What choice did you, or will you make?  Don’t be so quick to feel sorry for yourself and blame the situation for the failure or demise of your business.  Use the opportunity to learn a lesson, pick yourself up and get on with it for another day.  Act like a true professional.  Act like Madonna!

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