The world was rendered speechless on August 11, 2014, upon learning of the death of one of the most beloved comedic and acting talents to grace our time: Robin Williams.
In the days proceeding (as you may have seen), the Internet was set aflame with a tremendous explosion of blogs, social media posts, images, articles and more paying tribute to the legendary entertainer.
While his death was a tragic reminder that even the brightest personalities can be subject to a dark and hidden place (and there’s much to be learned from that) he himself shouldn’t be remembered for his heartbreaking final moments; what he gave us was too bright to be overshadowed by darkness. So let’s focus on that.
Robin Williams truly changed the world with his inspirational speeches and frank utterances (both in film and TV and off), his pure creative ingenuity, and finally, his compassion and humility as an extraordinary human being.
Today, we honor Robin Williams by acknowledging the lessons both he and his characters taught us. He was a multifaceted human being and therefore taught us a diverse collection of lessons that can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Whether it relates to the way you operate your business and the work that you do, the way you treat others around you every day, or the way that you live your life, one thing is for certain: they’ll inspire you to want to be better.
Lesson 1: Find Passion, Be Passionate and Make Your Mark on the World.
We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race and the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer: that you are here; that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?
From the movie Dead Poets Society, which spawned some seriously inspirational quotes, this quote is perhaps the most moving. While not created in tribute to Robin Williams, Apple utilized this speech flawlessly for their iPad Air commercial this year. The commercial shows iPad Air users creating “their verse” so to speak; living life while doing extraordinary things. That’s what the quote is all about. We’re given a role, a chance to live a life filled with passion and meaning, it’s up to us to write our verse.
Lesson 2: Embrace Creativity.
You’re only given a little spark of madness, you mustn’t lose it.
– Robin Williams
When you have a crazy, creative or different idea, don’t dismiss it. Innovation spawns from creativity – and the world is better for it. Robin Williams was indeed a creative genius. Listening to his work, I imagine his mind working so fast, so creatively. He was so clever and quick – if any role attests to this fact, it’s his role as Genie from the movie Aladdin. The character was a critically acclaimed masterpiece and, like so many of his other memorable moments on screen, much was improvised. Not just anyone can succeed at improvisation, but he took his spark(s) of madness and he ran with them, much to his success.
Lesson 3: Write, Speak, and Share Your Ideas.
No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.
– Dead Poets Society (1989)
People whom write do it for purpose. Whether it’s simply therapeutic, to conceptualize ideas, to communicate those ideas to others or to tell a story, there’s a reason, a purpose behind words. All of the amazing technology we utilize today was once just an idea. Each new, innovative product or process was once simply an idea: and those ideas changed the world. Whether you blog to share your ideas, or maybe you write your ideas on endless post-it notes, understand the power of your words and share that power with the world.
Lesson 4: Everything Happens For a Reason.
You’ll have bad times, but it’ll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to.
– Good Will Hunting (1997)
Whether in your business or your career, your personal life or your finances, something has gone wrong that you most likely did not foresee coming. It’s very difficult to “look on the bright side” or nod in agreeance when people say that “it could be worse” or “things will look up from here”, but this quote is telling you just that. Often times, terrible happenings open our eyes to opportunities we weren’t paying attention to, they’re catalysts for the changes we need to happen, but didn’t know. The next time something bad happens to you, look for the good that came with it, however small.
Lesson 5: Adjust Your Perspective.
I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.
– Dead Poets Society (1989)
We often are too caught up viewing the world from where we stand. It’s crucial to shift your perspective to understand how other people view the world. In business, it’s necessary to understand your customers’ perspective so that you can give them what they need and want for you – otherwise, you’re doing business for yourself. Similarly, if you only considered your own opinions it would be impossible to make everyone else happy. View things as someone else does, and your own perspective just might change.
Lesson 6: Life Is Too Short – Stop Worrying so Much and Live It.
Please don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky, when the stars are strung across the velvety night, and when shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day, make a wish. Think of me. Make your life spectacular. I know I did.
– Jack (1996)
The movie Jack is a cinematic metaphor for the sheer briefness of life. Simply put, we all spend too much time worrying about every little thing; work, home, money, relationships – there’s always something to spend time stressing over. However, if one thing is undeniably true, it’s that life is ultimately very, very short. We only have a small while on this Earth that we’re able to pursue our dreams, have experiences and make our mark on the world. Take some advice from this quote: make your life spectacular.
Tell us your favorite inspirational quote from Robin Williams or a character of his in the comments section. Or Tweet the ones from this post below!
[Tweet ““Make your life spectacular. I know I did.””]
[Tweet ““I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.””]
[Tweet ““No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.””]
[Tweet ““You’re only given a little spark of madness, you mustn’t lose it.””]
[Tweet “”…That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?””]
Editor’s note: This resource was originally published in August 14, 2014, and has been updated.