BBC Interview Gone Wrong: a lesson in vulnerability

Posted March 14, 2017 in Authenticity, Leadership

Last week, a video of BBC interview guest Professor Robert Kelly went viral when his toddler and baby burst into his home office in mid-sentence and crashed the party. Most people found the clip hilarious. Personally, I found it a bit sad. Here’s the clip in case you missed it:

Here’s what I love about this clip… the authoritative way his daughter struts into the room. The wheeling in of her baby sibling in his walker. Comedy gold no doubt. But here’s where I felt sad: wouldn’t it have been great if Professor Kelly had dropped the ‘I’m a distinguished Professor’ act and just rolled with what was happening? I hate that he shoved his daughter in an attempt to push her out of camera. I hate that his wife was so panicked that she had to physically drag said daughter and infant son out of the room.. smashing her oldest into the table and door jam on the way out (why so much panic??).

The reality is that he appears to have defaulted to what we all tend to default to in a crisis (or in this case, unexpected chaos)…the need to uphold our ‘image’.  Our ego leaps out front and panics. We react in a way to try and preserve our cultivated expertise or authority or image. Professor Kelly and his family did recently respond to the hoopla, showing a much more authentic side. I just wish we had seen that happen in the moment.

When are we going to acknowledge that work and life are intertwined? If you’re doing an interview from a home office when you have small kids, expect the unexpected. I remember, early on in my self-employment life, when my then 3 year old daughter stood at the bottom of the stairs while I was on the phone pitching a new client screaming the words ‘I WANT FROOT LOOPS!!!!!’ My client, who also had a 3 year old, laughed and said ‘I feel your pain’. When he had to cancel a meeting a while later because his daughter was sick, I got that too.

Let’s stop trying to pretend that we always have our shit together. Sometimes things go wrong and it’s not a reflection of your character or your ability…it’s just life. Roll with it.

Happy leading!


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