After the recent news of the loss and suicide of one of the most adored, talented and funniest comedians of our time, Robin Williams, I find myself, like so many others, thinking… how could this happen?
After all… he made us all laugh. He made us all cry. He made us all ”connect”!
Money, fame, and success just weren’t enough. People wanting the same find it hard to understand. Maybe, here is where the message resides
In the 1988 film Punchline, actors Sally Field and Tom Hanks starred in a movie about aspiring comedians. It displays the deep-seeded insecurities that many performers have, and how performing is their way of coping. The film examines the question: How does a performer deal with rejection? It also highlights the desires of fame and fortune, while sometimes being opposed with the expectations and demands placed on people by their own families and everyday life. These are things that many of us don’t have to deal with.
With these questions raised, we can now broaden our search to include deceased performers like Kurt Cobain (of the group Nirvana), Lwren Scott, (fashion designer and partner of Mick Jagger), and even Ernest Hemingway. The list is extensive. These people all had fame, money, and the admiration of countless millions. They also all brought their own demise. How could people who attained so much, feel like they had so little? So what are we missing and what can we learn?
I am reminded of one of my sales managers when I was “coming up through the ranks”. I always considered him a mentor and someone to emulate. He was a man with a calm disposition and an observant eye. He was always in control… he had to be. He was the “zoo keeper” of fifty young commodity brokers in South Florida …in the 1980s! We were all making money and not many of us were equipped to handle that.
Now here is what I was told:
“You must develop your life like a wheel,” he said. “Your life has many spokes including family, health, and the arts. Concentrate too much on one part of the spokes and the wheel won’t turn,” he added.
What!? My sales managers always had whips, reminiscent of a Roman slave galley. To not devote 120% of your blood, sweat, and tears into raising business for the firm would be heresay! Now here is a guy (and my boss) telling me to work on all aspects of my life. I stopped and thought about this. If I don’t go to the gym and eat right, my health will suffer. If my health suffers, I can’t work. If I enjoy snow skiing or golf, and I don’t go when I get a client on the phone that wants to know something about me personally, I am a loss for words. You guessed it, work and sales suffer! If I want to travel, but sacrifice my trips for work, I will be burned out, or again, unknowledgeable of places that my clients have gone to.
Clients do business with people who are similar to them and who they can relate to. Starting to understand?
I am not saying that this is the simple answer to depression. This is a real and serious disease afflicting many. Nor am I saying that I am any kind of mental health professional. I recognize that one person’s demons might not be another one’s. I recognize that I can only control my scales and seek to fulfill my needs, wants, and desires. What I am saying is that in order to live a fulfilled life, one should be mindful to “watch all of the spokes on the wheel” –and not just the professional one.
The bottom line is that I believe “what we do” is not “who we are”. Rest in peace, Robin.