Today will go down as a dark day in the history of cinema. A day when an absolute genius was lost. A rare combination of a brilliant comedian who was also a stunning performer was lost, a little too soon.
People who look from the outset might only seen Robin Williams as the Oscar winning actor. But deep within, he was a great person – Humble, generous, and an absolutely beautiful human being. President Barack Obama, in a statement sums it up beautifully: “Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. … The Obama family offers our condolences to Robin’s family, his friends and everyone who found their voice and their verse thanks to Robin Williams.”
But something tells me the man wouldn’t have liked people mourning for him. He would have wanted us to celebrate him and remember the good times he has shown us. Here goes 5 lessons every entrepreneur should take from Robin Williams
1. Be yourself.
If you have followed his movies close enough, you might have realized that there was a bit of Robin Williams in all his characters. Williams never faked who he really was. He was naturally spontaneous and crazy, and he actually figured a way out to be himself and make a living out of it.
If in your heart, you are a Jewelry designer, there is no point toiling away as a bank accountant. Nobody says it is going to be easy. But it will be worth it. In Williams’ words: “You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”
2. If you try hard enough, you can make miracles happen
Williams was grossly overweight as a boy and voted ‘Least Likely To Succeed’ at High School. Robin, to overcome his loneliness at home and/or as a defence mechanism to the constant bullying in school developed a sense of humour as a solace. He dropped out from college where he was studying Political science and joined the Julliard school of acting. Williams performed on streets and public places for a few years before landing small roles in some TV series. The role he played in “Happy days” – Mork, the alien – got so popular, that its creator, Garry Marshall, eagerly made a spin-off titled “Mork & Mindy” aired through ABC in the same year. The series instantly soared to become TV audience’s favorite until its end in 1982, even led Williams to nab an Emmy nomination in the category of Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series while won a Golden Globe Award for that of Best TV Actor – Musical/Comedy by 1979.
A year later, he landed his first film role as Popeye. The rest is history.
But what he taught us on the way is that it is absolutely okay to have a bad start. It is okay to be bullied and feel lonely. As long as you are determined to turn it around and make it your strength, you can be a genie. You can make a miracle happen.
3. It’s okay to make a fool of yourself.
I guess Robin Williams was an epitome of this. See what he does when you give him a stage and a few water bottles:
Thing was, he was perfectly fine with making a fool of himself and this was exactly why he was loved. Like Richard M. Nixon puts it beautifully: “If you take no risks, you will suffer no defeats. But if you take no risks, you win no victories.”
4. Help. Even if it gives no returns.
A bit of trivia: Steven Spielberg hired Williams to entertain the cast and crew during the notoriously gruelling shoot for the harrowing Holocaust drama Schindler’s List. Robin Williams was otherwise not involved in the film, but his relentless ad-libbing provided a much needed boost to morale between shots.
Williams also jumped at any offer to entertain soldiers, hosted a series of TV specials as part of the nonprofit Comic Relief to raise money for America’s homeless, and in general gave away to at least half a dozen charities, never expecting anything in return. Let’s sum it up with Winston Churchill’s words: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” – In all honesty, what we sow is what we reap right?
5. When you need it, Ask for help.
Williams has struggled with substance abuse since the 1980s. And for a while, he had thought he could handle addiction on his own. But then he confessed “You can’t. That’s the bottom line,” he said. “You really think you can, then you realize, I need help, and that’s the word … It’s hard admitting it, then once you’ve done that, it’s real easy.”
Not just addiction, with any problem, it is perfectly fine to ask someone for help. It is a lot better than struggling alone after all.
I wish Robin Williams had asked for help one last time before choosing to end his life. Nevertheless, like the Academy tweeted, You are free Genie. We will miss you lots.
Genie, you’re free. pic.twitter.com/WjA9QuuldD
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) August 12, 2014