There’s No Test for Grace Under Pressure

By now you’ve all seen and heard what happened at the 2017 Academy Awards. It’s the end of the night where they announce the biggest award, Best Picture, and those announcing the award were given the wrong envelope, so the wrong movie gets announce. Mass confusion and you can see here what happens:

Jordan Horowitz, the Producer of La La Land, was put in the most extremely embarrassing situation most of us could imagine. 120 Million people on live television have just witnessed his greatest triumph turn into defeat in a matter of seconds.

How would you have handled this?

Jordan handled it with complete grace. There’s nothing that prepares you for being in an awkward time like this. His first thought was only to congratulate the true winners. I can’t even imagine how hard that was, but for him, it wasn’t. It was his true being, his natural state. If that happened to Jordan a thousand times, he’s most likely always be gracious.

Grace under pressure is such a wonderful trait to have in your character. I honestly can tell you I don’t have this grace, and I’m ashamed by that.

In 2006 I was working for Applebee’s and we had this huge leadership meeting. Probably a thousand employees in attendance and they gave out annual awards for top performing regions. My region was number one in all three main areas: Operations, HR, and Training. The winners got an award and a Rolex watch. Boy, I couldn’t wait to put on that watch!

The night went along and our operations leader accepted his award and watch. My training partner accepted her award and watch. Then it came time for HR! Our VP of HR got up there on stage. I straightened my shirt, cleared my throat, and oh no you didn’t just say what I thought you said, another name, not my name, I don’t understand, why is everyone telling me they’re sorry, what the fuck just happened!

The award was given to another deserving HR pro who improved their region a significant amount. She wasn’t number one like I had been back-to-back years, but who’s counting. I was counting! That’s who! I was pissed with a capital P. I excused myself from the ballroom and walked out.

I was not graceful. I was embarrassed. I was hurt. I let that VP have it as soon as he found me. I was not someone I ever wanted to be in that moment.

Grace is a funny thing. We all want it. We all think we have it. But until you’re actually put in a position to show it, you truly don’t know if you have it.

Shout out to JP! You screwing me out of that Rolex still stings! By the way, I was number one in HR metrics for a third straight year the next year, but the company decided to end doing awards that way. Man, I really wanted that Rolex! In hindsight, I wish I would have had the grace, like Jordan.


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