What I Learned From Robin Williams

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I just finished watching Robin Williams Remembered – A Pioneers of Television Special (PBS). After watching this wonderful PBS special, not only do I miss him more than before, but I feel I have learned new things about him that might help me and, hopefully, you as well. What new things did I learn from Robin Williams? Here they are:

  1. When you have talents that you are keenly aware of, be open to improving your craft by watching, listening and asking for help from others. Robin did this best with his friends whom he looked up to; guys like Richard Pryor and his mentor, Jonathan Winters.
  2. Don’t be afraid to fail. Most of us only remember him for his successes, his award-winning performances on television, stand-up comedy and film. What we don’t remember is that he failed from time to time. Mork & Mindy was cancelled after only its fourth season. The movie Popeye bombed at the box office. Not all of his stand up nights were a success.
  3. He listened and was open to taking direction from trusted friends and colleagues. Of his Oscar-winning performance in Good Will Hunting, he spoke of doubting himself after shooting a scene and wondering if he was getting it right. Robin said of Director Gus Van Sant, “With Gus Van Sant in Good Will Hunting, … at the end he said, ‘Just have the conversation. Just talk.’ So you’re not acting per se, but, eventually, things start to happen.”
  4. He went with what felt right, what was true to himself, and let it come together if, and when, it was supposed to come together. He hadn’t know if it would all come together. But eventually, he found a way to combine his genius in stand-up comedy, serious Juilliard-trained method acting, and film roles into a unique style that set him apart from all others.

I am a bit weird. I have talents that are not conventional or normal. I love listening to people’s stories, I immediately have questions pop into my mind that encourage more of their story to reveal itself, and I continue to want to know more with sincere interest and genuine curiosity. That’s what happens in my mind. I can’t begin to wonder what happened in Robin Williams’ mind, but I know it was strange to most people. From his example, however, I have learned to continue to believe in what I do, and, hopefully, one day soon, the talents will be recognized and appreciated by a larger audience.

“You’ll have bad times, but it’ll always wake you up to the good times you weren’t paying attention to.” – from Good Will Hunting

Thank you, Robin Williams, for teaching me these valuable lessons. May you rest in peace. I miss you!

Honoring a Hero Today, Col. Richard Cole

Today is Veterans Day, 2013. Not just any Veterans Day, but one that is especially meaningful. Last Saturday, at a ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, a final toast was made for the Doolittle Raiders. A bottle 1896 of cognac was ceremonially uncorked and a toast was made, delivered by Col. Richard Cole, a man I had the honor of interviewing in November 2012. He is one of only four surviving members of the original 80 member team of Doolittle Raiders. Here is a screen shot from the interview, part of a film Lee Kirgan produced for The Yellow Rose Project, a short film to celebrate the B-25 and to support The Yellow Rose. The 1944 B-25, the Yellow Rose, is hangared in San Marcos, Texas, and is maintained by the Centex Wing of the Commerative Air Force http://tinyurl.com/TheYellowRoseFilmProject.Col. Richard Cole 12:7:2012

For the story of the ceremony and a bit of the history of the Doolittle Raiders, click on this link: http://tinyurl.com/opyazj3. Many years ago, 80 goblets were made, on each one was carved a name of a member of the Doolittle Raiders. Every year at a reunion of the surviving Raiders, the goblet with the names of those who died in the previous year is ceremonially turned over, then a toast is made to those who died in the raid, those who have died since the raid, and to those still living. Today, there are only four goblets standing upright, representing the four Raiders still alive. Three were at the ceremony last Saturday evening.  

A bottle of 1896 (the year of Col. Doolittle’s birth) cognac that was given to Col. Doolittle was uncorked. Many years ago, the survivors of the Raid vowed not to open the bottle till most were gone. It was decided that this was the year to open it and give a final toast. Here is a video of the ceremony: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDKPYpkU5Cg. Fast forward to 48:53 to watch Col. Cole open the bottle and give the final toast.

On this Veterans Day, let us all remember all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, as well as those who served and continue to serve our great country in order to preserve that freedom.