There are a lot of self-diagnosed perfectionists working in public relations—myself included. In this field, we HAVE to be detail oriented and even a little bit anal retentive to ensure that we’re representing our clients and our organizations in the best possible light. But, let’s face it. We’re all human, and humans make mistakes. It’s how we deal with these mistakes, whether our own errors or our clients’ missteps, that make good public relations professionals great.

I couldn’t help thinking about this while watching the closing ceremonies for the 2014 Winter Olympics last night, when I saw that the Olympic organizers in Sochi made the genius decision to show the world that their country has a sense of humor.

Sochi Olympic Ring Fail - 2014 Winter Olympics

Sochi Olympic Ring Fail - 2014 Winter Olympics

After a technical glitch prevented the final Olympic ring from expanding during the opening ceremonies, organizers endured a wave of criticism and jokes that overshadowed what was otherwise a beautiful and flawless show. You can imagine the disappointment and heartburn felt by those who’d worked so hard to put together the program, but the error could not be ignored and most certainly would not be forgotten by the media and millions who watched it unfold (or fail to unfold, in this case).

So, they embraced the Olympic-sized failure and turned it into a public relations win. Dancers in the closing ceremonies re-enacted the glitch before expanding to a roar of applause, which could be heard in the arena and in homes around the world. They showed us all that they could laugh at themselves, and the response was overwhelmingly positive.

Humor isn’t always the answer, but this is a great reminder that sometimes we need to be able to step back and stop taking ourselves so seriously all the time. The result can turn into something even better than if the original plan had gone off without a hitch.

Photo by Adam Rinkin.