Like most, I was both shocked and incredibly sad that the great comic Robin Williams died last week. I followed quite a good bit of the news both on mainstream and social media. I was most moved by pictures of people standing on their desks professing: “Oh Captain My Captain” – a line from one of my all-time favorite movies, Dead Poets Society. I tried to glean what it was exactly that so many people from so many generations from so many different parts of the world loved about this man. I have concluded it was his ability to tell the simple truth. Sure he was a genius at characters and comedic impromptu performances, but these were merely the window-dressing to the truth on so many subjects that came out of his mouth. Every professional comic will tell you that humor is an incredible truth-softener.
Telling the truth is quite an arduous skill that most of us lose at a very young age. Usually, the consequences are not positive but mostly because fear of offending a not-ready audience is too high. In the workplace, the truth is either virtually non-existent or the time it takes to get to it is unforgivably high. Yet, we admire people at work who can, in their own inimitable way, tell the truth. The truth might not be the “actual” truth, but it is as they see it – and their courage to express it is envious.
I see the same admiration on personal levels too. When we are younger, what we found attractive in others has been everything from their appearance to their profession or passion but as we get older, most of those attributes wither away and one remains – truthful authentic people. This is the new Sexy! And that’s what we all loved so much about Robin Williams – we lost a powerful truth-teller.
This week, make a short list of some truths in your life, home and work, that you have been keeping to yourself. Pick one – just one – and find a way to express it to another person. If you are courageous enough to Carpe Diem, then express it to the one that needs to hear it.