Oh Captain, My Captain: The 2 Greatest Lessons I Learned from Robin Williams

Two of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in life came from Robin Williams.

From the risk he took in taking the role of John Keating in Dead Poet’s Society, I learned how to use my fears to take my life to the next level. From his character I learned how a leader helps others to roar.

Robin Williams will be missed. Today, I remember him fondly for these two great lessons.

Robin Williams as John Keating in Dead Poet's Society
I think you have something inside of you that is worth a great deal.” – Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society (Tweet That) | Share this Graphic on Pinterest | Share on Facebook

Lesson One: A leader helps others to roar

A leader’s job is to help others to find their courage.

A leader’s job is to help others overcome their fears and find that something inside of them that is dying to come out; that something that will change the world and give them life.

That’s what Robin Williams’ character, John Keating, does in Dead Poet’s Society. He helps his student, Todd Anderson, played by Ethan Hawke, find his talent and worth…and his “barbaric YAWP.”

You Don’t Have to be Perfect to Change the World

“How can I change the world when my life is so messed up?”

So, your life isn’t perfect. Join the club.

This is something I hear so often. People who question their ability to be a world changer just because their lives aren’t right out of a black-and-white sitcom from the 1950’s. Their lives aren’t bright, shiny, sterile, and wrapped up in a pretty little bow.

In other words, their lives are real. Their problems are real. And yet, somehow, they can’t change the world? I don’t think so.

You don't have to be perfect to change the world
You are a world changer. Right now. In the midst of your own struggles. (Tweet That) | Share this Graphic on Pinterest | Share on Facebook

The notion that you have to be perfect to change the world is ridiculous. In fact, no world changer in history (save for one) was perfect.

3 examples from history

Abraham Lincoln

If he were alive today, Abraham Lincoln would probably have spent the past twenty years watching soap operas in a Snuggie while popping anti-depressants. He was prone to severe and debilitating bouts with depression that often led to suicidal thoughts. But he described his depression in a letter to a friend as “a misfortune, not a fault.” That is the attitude that allowed him to be a world changer.

Help Others to Roar

If you are a leader, it is your job to help others find their courage.

And by the way, if you are reading this, you are a leader in some way.

“Encouragement” means to help others find courage. And courage, in my opinion, is daring to live out what can be imagined.

Robin Williams’ character does just this in Dead Poet’s Society…he helps Ethan Hawke to find his “barbaric yawp!”

How should you respond to failure?

“I am a failure.”

With those words, I launched this blog more than seven months ago.

Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. - Quote from Winston Churchill

But I was wrong. I meant well, but my words were poorly chosen.

If you have ever listened to Zig Ziglar, you have probably heard him say that “failure is an event, not a person.” I certainly had.

So why did I write those words? Why did I declare that “I am a failure?” Probably for effect more than anything. But that doesn’t make them right.

Can you imagine anyone saying:

“I am cancer.”

“I am the flu.”

“I am a bad haircut.”

“I am a fan of the Backstreet Boys.”

Of course not. These are all events, not persons. They are phases of life that we pass through. They do not identify us.

Inspired by the Billionaire and the Hare

THIS is what makes blogging fun for me.

Tortoise and the Hare Book

I recently got one of the best emails that I have ever received from a reader and I wanted to share it with all of you.

Here is part of it:

“I want to say ‘thank you’ for your blog – it is becoming my everyday ‘must’ to check your blog.  It’s always uplifting to read.  Specifically I was inspired by your post “The Billionaire and the Hare“.  I never thought seriously about giving, but I just couldn’t help thinking after reading your post.  I also started giving (not big amounts) and I have to say doing that releases me from some fears (I may not even have noticed them before) – really amazing to have more freedom.”

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