It has been a four week period of incredible loss in the entertainment industry with first Robin Williams and now Joan Rivers. Both were amazing doyens of the comedy circuit and for that reason alone we should pause and remember. In the case of Joan Rivers, who passed away this morning in New York it is best to remember the very things that made her special, enabled her to succeed and, in doing so, empower so many other people.
So, what can we learn from the life of Joan Rivers and how can we weave those things into our own daily lives? The best lessons lay in her own words:
“I succeeded by saying what everyone else is thinking”
Joan never stood back from coming forward because she knew, what a lot of other successful people know, that in doing so you never make headway. In life, in business, in our workplaces and more generally the majority hold back from telling people what they think. You don’t have to be negative in what you say if you then take it to the next level by offering a solution to a problem or, indeed, an alternate way of thinking. If you don’t ask you never know and if you never say then no one else knows you have a view or opinion. Never just follow the crowd.
“Life is very tough. If you don’t laugh, its tough.”
Joan is right, life is tough and often we need to make the best of bad situations and circumstances outside of our control. However, we also need to take time and check in with reality and, in doing so, laugh. Laughter is often the best medicine and as Joan recognised growing up and establishing a career in the 60’s, 70’s and beyond for a woman of her talent meant just that – laughing more often than she cried.
“Our natures are a lot like oil, mix us with anything else and we strive to swim to the top”
This is a very important lesson because success and striving to the top is a trait all human beings have irrespective of social status and location. Take me for example. I was an underachieving failure at school even though I tried really hard. My parents worked two jobs each just to keep a roof over our heads and while we were not poor – they struggled and they strived to enable me and my siblings to strive to the top. I went on to successfully run a multi-billion company, establish five start-ups and even Chair a University Research Institute (ironic right given I have little or no formal qualifications). Strive, work hard and swim to the top.
Joan made millions of people over many decades laugh and sometimes they laughed to the point of crying. I was one of those people when she bought her comedy routine to Australia some years ago. But, even though Joan was successful she remembered one other important thing – to laugh at herself more so than just make other people laugh.
some years ago she said:
“Acting is my true love. I would like to have been a serious actor, and I plan to in the next life. I’m gonna be Meryl Streep Rivers.”
I prefer she was never a serious actor – I prefer her laughter, her fast wit and passion for life.
(for the record, and thank you all for the comments so far, this article was not written as click bait nor was it written in any way to take advantage of the breaking news. In actual fact I was sitting here in my office at home at 5.30 am in the morning when I heard the news. We all deal with death and bad news in different ways. I choose to write about it as a way of expressing how I feel in the moment. I also took some of Joan’s most inspirational quotes to share with others – I am really appalled at some of the comments so far about “click bait” and too soon. Also for the record, I recall a great many articles being posted on the death of Robin Williams within hours of it being announced on LinkedIn. I didn’t post anything at all so If I was somehow taking advantage of the news of Ms Rivers passing then why would I not have done the same with the passing of Robin Williams – i’ll tell you why, because I saw Joan perform live and she left one hell of a mark on me.)