Like 23 million other people, I watched the 40th anniversary special of Saturday Night Live this past weekend. I laughed at the latest installment of Jeopardy, mourned Chris Farley all over again and enjoyed the comedy of Louis CK and Jerry Seinfeld.
There were a lot of laughs but also some awkward moments, such as Eddie Murphy's return. It was like he hadn't been on a stage in 35 years. As uneven as the show was, it still produced a lot of laughs and it also was a reminder about an important business / life lesson. Life is uneven.
I read an article in the Hollywood reporter about Lorne Michaels, the genius of SNL that has been a mainstay of the show for 40 years. He created and continues to lead SNL and put together what was the spectacle of the 40th anniversary special. He had this to say about SNL, specifically as a response to the question of whether he has ever felt satisfied with the show.
I used to say that on my tombstone would be the word 'uneven' because [the show has] never been described any other way in a review. It's only cumulatively that you sort of go, "Oh yeah, that." You can't be perfect for 90 minutes. We don't do spectacle and don't have much of a wide shot, so when you see somebody going into lens and taking it to some level that you hadn't seen even at dress rehearsal, it's a magical thing. I believe there's at least one or two of those in almost every show.This quote made me think about the unevenness of life and specifically business. You can't 'bat a thousand' yet the cultures in many of our organizations expect or even demand perfection. Co-workers use your stumbles as opportunities to score political points and managers lose their ability to allow mistakes as a result of having previous decisions second guessed.