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A lesson in success from Steve Harvey’s Miss Universe fail

Published:Wednesday | December 30, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Steve Harvey holds up the card showing the winners after he incorrectly announced Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutiérrez as the winner at the Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas.

It's been called many things - none complimentary. The worst flub in beauty pageant history. The biggest TV fail of the year. The most-flubbed TV moment of the year. The most cringe-worthy TV moment of 2015. The most awkward moment in TV this year. And that's just the start.

Of course, there's no suspense here, announcing the subject of these scathing characterisations: Miss Universe 2015 host Steve Harvey's inexplicable gaffe, in announcing the wrong contestant as the winner.

The 58-year-old host of the hugely popular US game show 'Family Feud', initially named runner-up Miss Colombia, Ariadna GutiÈrrez, the winner, instead of Miss Philippines, Pia Wurtzbach. He then returned moments later to apologise and correct his blunder before an estimated worldwide audience of over six million viewers of the December 20 live event.



Since then, the comedian has been the butt of jokes from all quarters. It has, however, not all been a laughing matter. He has been roasted over the smouldering coals of social media, particularly by supporters of Miss Colombia.

As if his initial blunder wasn't enough, Harvey tweeted a follow-up apology which compounded the embarrassing flub. In the tweet, he apologised to Miss Philippians - a book of the New Testament you'll recall - instead of Miss Philippines. He also misspelt Miss Colombia as 'Columbia'. Ouch!

Now, let's zero in on the success lesson that I believe could dramatically change your career and life for the better.

Steve Harvey's human, like the rest of us. He must have felt incredibly embarrassed immediately after his foul-up. Let me be straight-up with you: I'd feel devastated.

One imagines that he might have felt like he was having a nightmare from which he wanted to wake up. Not only had he blundered. He had done so in the most public way possible. And that's where our lesson is found.

You see, despite how he must have felt, Harvey didn't allow this experience to keep him devastated. On Christmas Day, he tweeted a self-directed gibe, wishing the world, "Merry Easter y'all." That's called resilience - bouncing back from his setback.

I believe many people dread the thought of dealing with an embarrassing experience like that. They have two deeply ingrained fears. One is the fear of failure. The other is the fear of success. And that's why many people habitually settle for mediocrity instead of striving to stand out.

They think: what if I fail, on the one hand. On the other, what if I succeed? And they decide not to risk it. They don't want to fail for fear that others may deride them. They fear succeeding because they don't want to risk possible public humiliation. You know, 'the higher the monkey climbs, the more he's exposed,' right?

What Steve Harvey's mistake can teach us is that failure is an inevitable part of success. Extraordinarily successful people didn't get that way by not making mistakes. It's because they were willing to fail why they succeeded.

That is perhaps one of the most significant lessons celebrities like Harvey can teach us about achieving success, in our own careers and lives.

- Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of 'From Problems to Power' and co-author of 'Profile of Excellence'. Email: