The Cringe Factor

As mistakes go this was quite a big one – at the 2017 ceremony giving the Oscar for Best Picture to the wrong film, and it couldn’t have been more public, beamed live to a global audience.

Despite all the glitz, glamour and sophistication, in the heat of the moment The Academy is also not immune to the human reaction of finger pointing and positioning blame, however the ‘losers’, the producers of La La Land, have been praised for their poise and dignity.

How did it make you feel? Did you enjoy the spectacle or cringe in empathy for those involved? Scientists tell us it’s a small area of the brain involved in the natural human reaction of embarrassment – blood pressure goes up, heart rate increases and breathing changes. 

We’re all human; we all make mistakes, so we’ve all been there. Whether they are public mistakes or not, we’ve all experienced those awful cringe feelings.  

History is littered with examples of mistakes people have made, big and small. For many,  learning from the failures paved the way to success. Henry Ford had two companies that failed before the one we know that revolutionised the motor industry.


It’s not the mistake that matters,

it is how we manage our emotional response,  

deal with it and move on.




 “I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  Thomas A. Edison
 Our tips for handling mistakes positively.
  • Fight or flight? Man up, choose to stay and fight.
  • Accept those cringe feelings, manage them and rise above. Retain your composure and dignity, stay engaged.  
  • Be courageous. Be open and honest straight away and take responsibility.
  • Be remembered for how you resolved it and moved forward, not the mistake.
  • In public (those presentation technical hitches) – breathe, be honest and be yourself. Making light of it dispels nerves and relaxes the situation. 
  • Forgive. Until you stop beating yourself up you won’t be able to move on. 
  • Maintain perspective, whether it’s your mistake or not, don’t get caught up in the vortex of blame and believing that this is the worst thing that has ever happened. Life goes on.
  • Learn from mistakes – ask ‘what will I do differently next time.’  It will make you stronger and more resilient.
  • As a manager and leader be aware of your reactions and how it contributes to your team or company confidence and culture. Encourage calm in the face of a crisis, openness, honesty and mutual support to resolve and move forward. 
From Courageous Success Growth