Last night I was devastated to hear of the news of Robin Williams’ death. However, what saddened me, almost as much, was to see Christian friends writing Facebook posts about what we can learn from his death. Sometimes I think we have to be careful trying to win points off of tragedies.
Robin Williams was a man I have always admired, despite his obvious struggles. For years I have watched and re-watched clips of him on chat shows and stand up; not even mentioning the numerous times I have seen many of his hit movies. He truly was an entertainer and people were always drawn to him.
So rather than lessons from his death, I would like to instead focus on lessons we can learn from his life:-
1. We should always be transparent
One of my favorite Robin Williams interviews is from 2007 with Michael Parkinson. Although he entertained as usual I also noticed he freely spoke of rehab and his alcohol addiction. Although his death was unexpected, he made his struggles well known. As leaders we must have transparency in our lives in order to fully steer through the storms of life.
2. You can always be the life of the Party
His life may have been marked with struggles, but he never let it interfere with his calling. He entertained and was the life of the party no matter what he was going through. As leaders we can admit our brokenness and struggles, but we should never let it get in the way of our calling.
3. A sense of Humor always wins hearts
Many, many, many people today will mourn the loss of a complete legend. Of course he gave us Good morning Vietnam, Mrs. Doutfire, Good Will Hunting, Hook and many, many more…but I believe it was his spirit and sense of humor that drew people in. Sometimes as leaders it’s important to lighten up, to joke and spread a little joy. This will win the hears of many.
4. Live with No inhibitions
In his interviews with Michael Parkinson, Robin just oozes confidence and you can see that he thrives off the attention of the crowd. He excelled in the spot light where many people shy away. To remove self awareness and shyness is so important to the life of a leader. We live with eyes on us, especially when on a stage, and while nervousness and fear are natural, they are things we must learn to shake off.
5. Be a Greater person than you are performer
There are many great performers, of which by far he was the best, but there are few truly great people. Reading through the tributes of the hundreds of people who knew him it is clear to me that he was a humble, kind, generous and sincere man. Many commented about his talent, but all commented about his character. We must learn to excel in Character, rather than rely on our charisma.