What we can learn from Mariah Carey

“The Show Must Go On”

A phrase that use to be synonymous with Show Business, however, in recent years we have seen this phrase become a distant memory as we continuously move forward into the future.  To some the phrase is an outdated reference to days past, while others still use the phrase as a motto that embodies a work ethic that is slowly disappearing in today’s society.  

Let’s take a look at the phrase, as defined by various sources:

“The show must go on” is a phrase generally used in show business, meaning that regardless of what happens, whatever show has been planned still has to be staged for the waiting patrons.

The saying and principle are traditional in the theater, but they both originated in the 19th century with circuses. If an animal got loose or a performer was injured, the ringmaster and the band tried to keep things going so that the crowd would not panic because “it is a point of honor not to let the other players down by deserting them when no understudy is available.”

By now everyone with access to national news has either heard of or actually witnessed the New Year’s Eve debacle of the artist known as Mariah Carey.


Before I continue, let me first state that this blog posting is not about adding additional commentary to this unfortunate incident with Ms. Carey.  My thoughts are centered on a much bigger issue that is plaguing our society and is really a direct by-product of what the Carey incident represents – the death of professionalism.

What does it mean to be a professional?   What is professionalism in the workplace?  Why is this idea so important to our society?   Let’s first look at the definition of some of these terms to gain some understanding.

Definition of professionalism

The conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person

 Definition of professional
Characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession:  exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace

Definition of profession
A calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation:  a principal calling, vocation, or employment

We can see that the definitions are all pointing to an important idea: professionalism or the act of being a professional really is about a person’s character.  How a person is expected to act and conduct themselves while performing their profession.  Most importantly, how we as clients and/or co-workers should expect others to act while performing said duties.

Looking back at Ms. Carey’s performance, we can very clearly see that she did not act in a professional manner.   This is further exemplified in her conduct after the fact.  Professionals take responsibility for their actions generally out of respect to their profession.  Reports from credible witnesses stated that she chose not to complete a sound check before going on stage, and was very nonchalant about the entire process.  The footage shows that she was more concerned about her appearance than about her performance.  That she may have planned to lip sync the entire thing from the beginning is not an entirely new concept in Show Business.  It has become an action that has become the M.O. of many very talented artists, which is unfortunately sad.  The fans certainly deserve better for their endearing support through both time and money.  There are many examples of this situation happening with other performers over the last few decades, and it reflects a change in character that is also a reflection of society’s attitude in a more general sense.  We allow this type of thing to happen by not withdrawing our support when performers disappoint us.

If we are working at a job and were to demonstrate such an unprofessional attitude, we would experience a   reduced income, a diminished reputation, and a loss of trust from our co-workers.  These are normal by-products of cause and effect.  Action and reaction.  The loss of trust and reputation means the loss of opportunity to work or be promoted.  This leads to the loss of revenue or job raises.  Co-workers no longer feel that you are reliable and their disappointment can cause your work environment to become unstable.  Personal relationships are what our society is built upon, so this is an important piece to understand and manage appropriately. Think you are an island unto yourself?  Check out my previous blog regarding Self-made success: Reality or Fiction.

What have we learned from Ms. Carey’s example?  Being a professional and acting in a professional way tells allot about how you are.  Character defines you like nothing else can.  Your Work Ethic tells people what they can expect from you as a partner or co-worker.  Lastly, how you react to a situation does count in people’s opinion of you.  Lou Holtz once said, “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.”  Conducting yourself in a professional manner is not only smart, but the appropriate way to operate in society – the show must go on.


Please leave your comments below.


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