He wasn’t just a comedian.
He was crazy.
And smart, crazy people bring us a lot of joy.
He was the best in class of comedians, and also actors. It was because he was real, told the truth, and was present. What can we learn from him in our work lives?
1- Be Involved.
Robin Williams was so involved in his characters. He committed 200%. He brought in different nuances, surprised us, changed, stayed the same. But he was always involved.
Be committed to your team. Ask questions. Engage, listen to their ideas, and provide feedback. Commit to being a part of the team, and they will feel it, be inspired and work harder. So will you.
2- Be Present Mentally.
Robin Williams couldn’t be elsewhere. To create and live those characters, he was truly himself as the character. You wouldn’t ‘see’ Robin Williams anywhere. He was present.
You can’t just be there physically. That doesn’t get you any buy in. And people feel it if you don’t want to be there, feel rushed or impatient. Quite simply, you need to care. If you come to the meeting, be there. Otherwise, it might merit postponing. A negative vibration from you, or perceived lack of interest, even if you are tired, can be damaging.
3- Commit to Listening and Observing.
We all remember his funny banter. He was joy filled, had the greatest lines, and always had a zinger. Yet Robin Williams could not have been a great character, and actor, without great listening skills. He listened to others, observed life situations, and created characters based on these observations.
We need to do the same. Listen to people around you. Observe how they act and react. Some are warm, some need to chat a bit; others are very purposeful and direct.
Where appropriate, adjust accordingly. That doesn’t mean we change our personalities, but we can alter our communications. They might not say anything, but your team will intuitively appreciate it. You relationships will flow more smoothly.
4- Be Real. Be Relatable.
Why was Robin Williams such a great actor?
Because he was real. He wasn’t pretending, falling back on lines, or just aiming at the funny. He made an observation about life; turned it into a character; and made us laugh. He made us laugh because he spoke to the truth.
His acting allowed us to revisit a situation we have been in, or meet a person that we had met before……but with added hilarity to it. That’s also why he is one of the few comedians who can play dramatic roles. Dramatic actors tell the truth. So do good comedians.
So be real. Be relatable with your team. If they think you are putting up a front, they won’t stay. And if they can’t relate to you, then perhaps you need to be more approachable or humble. Or, you can share a personal or funny story. While we all should be professional, we also need to demonstrate humanity.
A joyful talent that is missed. Robin Williams’ brilliance and truth stays with us all. And he teaches us how to be ourselves in the workplace, and in life. Let’s learn and be true.
To read more about Robin Williams, peruse this lovely article: