When two great minds meet, sparks fly. That was never more true that when veteran newsman, Charlie Rose would interview Robin Williams on his PBS show. I recently watched one of those exchanges from years ago.
Charlie asked the king of improvisational stand up, “Is there any fear of failure when you’re up there?” Great question.
Robin’s response: “Oh, yea. But you kinda get over it and take a chance. Because you have to fail in order to find the new.”
I have heard that sort of thing so many times before. I’m sure you have, too. It’s the ‘ole risk and reward thing. “It’s OK to fail. Everyone does.” “You learn from your mistakes.” “If you don’t try, then you can’t succeed.” “Try and try again.” (There are probably dozens of these)
And yet, when one of the most brilliant, quick silver, comedic minds anyone has ever known shares that kind of insight, it sticks. Most of us have seen Robin Williams reduce audiences to tears of laughter. Notwithstanding some of his movies that were clunkers, we were rarely exposed to his moments of professional failure. We weren’t there during the formative years when he was trying out a style that was, “out there.”
David Letterman was around back then. Letterman says he remembered Robin came out like a “hurricane” and that he and the other comics working the circuit were like the “morning dew.”
Daring to be that different from everyone else in your niche is scary. It is risky. We can’t know if it will work. Ever.
I’d never before heard anyone explain that failure is an absolutely integral part of the creative process. Williams embraced the fear of failure because he was anxious to see what wondrous comedic riff would come from it. As a result, audiences around the world applauded his choice to take that approach.
If you think about it, you can’t really find that new “something” if you keep doing what you’ve always been doing. The question is, are you brave enough to go out on that limb? Are you courageous enough to fail in order to find the new?
Mary Jane McKittrick is a Messaging Expert and professional story-teller who specializes in the art of the pitch. As a Consultant, Mary Jane inspires and empowers business professionals to craft messaging that gets measurable results. Mary Jane is a former TV News Anchor, Reporter, and Producer for 3 network affiliate stations. She has worked behind the camera in Entertainment TV, and as on-camera host of 2 nationally syndicated TV shows. Ms. McKittrick was in charge of overseeing communications for 5 statewide offices while serving as Director of Corporate Communications for a large healthcare company in North Carolina.