I don’t know if you’ve seen Wicked on Broadway before.
There’s a famous scene where Elphaba (played by Shoshana Bean) is hoisted up and “flies”. Behind the scenes, this is done by a cherry picker lifting her up.
Apparently during one Broadway performance, Shoshana stood on the cherry picker, started singing, and realized the machine was broken. So she just kept singing and walked off it. However, the rest of the cast was in trouble. They were supposed to run on stage and point up in the air while she was “flying”.
Instead, they all laid on the ground and pointed at her from there, singing, “Look at her!”
Talk about improv.
Apparently this type of improv is not uncommon. A friend in theater once told me they've experienced the same thing. They explained how much sweat, blood, and tears went into one single play. The hours and HOURS of learning the material…memorizing their lines… and getting ready for the show.
Yet - despite all this preparation, something inevitably happens the day of the show.
More often than not, someone will forget their lines or make a mistake on stage. So not just a mistake but a VERY PUBLIC mistake. (In some cases in-front of hundreds of people)
What do they do about it?
When it happens, the cast members simply adjust to the mistake.
They flow with it.
They roll with it.
They play along with it.
They even make up lines if they have to.
I had no idea! Looking back on all the plays I’d seen, I wondered how many had to be adjusted because of mistakes.
Crazy thing is, I didn’t notice and neither did the people I was with…
The truth is… most people don’t.
I heard something similar from a former Chicago Cubs employee. He told me how one day, they were preparing for the first pitch of the game, when the guy who was supposed to bring out the ball, waltzed out there WITHOUT it…
(Mind you, that’s in-front of thousands of people and on LIVE television.)
Once he realized it, he just kept waving to the crowd, casually walks back to the dugout, grabs the ball, and goes back out there.
Besides management, hardly anyone noticed it…
Now think about both of those situations. Hundreds if not thousands of people are watching when these mistakes happen…
Yet hardly anyone notices the mistake.
If a VERY public mistake like that is hardly detected - what are the chances that the little ones in our daily lives are?
Very often though, people beat themselves up about little mistakes they make – and think that EVERYONE is going to notice what happened.
Chances are no one saw it…
And as long as you “mend the fence” or “course correct” you have nothing to worry about.
So instead of pummeling yourself (Which most people are VERY good at!)
Maybe we should take lessons from theater (and the Cubs) when mistakes happen…
Roll with it
Play along with it
Have fun with it
Because the show goes on.