Never has Louis Armstrong’s song ‘We Have All The Time in The World’ been more poignant. I’m sorry, we simply don’t. The sad death of Robin Williams brings this into stark focus and highlights exactly how every second counts.
I have never held any religious beliefs and never will with my focus on achieving as much as possible in this life as we never know when the whole ride is going to end. We’re still in control (I’m sorry, I don’t believe in fate either) but it’s difficult to line everything up to fall perfectly into place.
Robin Williams battled with his own personal demons and his fight with depression ultimately lead to his decision to close the book on his life as he’d completed his final chapter. We feel cheated and we wanted another book, more of his comic and creative genius and feel sad about the personal tragedy and loss to us all.
I never met Robin Williams so I’m not lining up to add a personal story – just that he was always on my fantasy dinner party list and now I’ll have to leave that place empty. It was a big seat to fill.
He brought an extraordinary energy to all he pursued but those incredible highs were matched by shattering lows. As with many of the world's greatest entertainers, visionaries and creative individuals, depression and often a compulsive personality go hand in hand with the visible public results. Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Alexander McQueen, Ernest Hemmingway and many more have fought to maintain control. Thankfully the genius of Stephen Fry is still with us.
It’s a criminally unfair balance but one that exists for many nonetheless – but we only hear about the topflight personalities. All the more reason to be aware of those around us and take enough interest in loved ones and colleagues to notice changes in attitude and behaviour.
I’m writing this whilst sat in the gardens of the Kremlin in the centre of Moscow, having given a lecture in a stunning open air auditorium at the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design last night. I spoke about incredible future opportunities for creative technology to change our lives (both good and bad) and some of the stunning projects we’re working on at Brandwidth to shape this.
Am I lucky? I’ve engineered that luck and I’ve pushed well beyond my comfort zone. There have been a few happy coincidences but they wouldn’t have happened without years of groundwork.
I used to be petrified of public speaking but I created situations where I’d have to ‘perform’ in front of an audience. As a fourteen year old, I attended a business seminar with my Dad (I was running the business – you all know I’m not normal) where I had to stand up, Introduce myself and explain why we were there. It may seem a small thing to do, but it was a massive step for me. Even though I’d been on TV the previous year, the live audience was an entirely new experience!
As if my regular radio, podcast, TV and conference appearances weren’t enough, I’m smashing more personal barriers at Silicon Beach in September by co-presenting with Apptain America (one of my many alter-egos), including a musical number and Oculus Rift light saber battle. What could possibly go wrong?
Speaking of comfort zones, I’m a pretty hopeless traveller as I’m geographically challenged, to the point of struggling with route-planning on UK roads and trains – even with satnav! But here I am, in Moscow, following speaking engagements and business trips to Poland, America and Dubai.
My active (with an e) right brain fights with my left on a daily basis but the right side’s always going to win. If I let the rational, sensible and ultimately safe side take control, I’d never push beyond my boundaries, take chances or leave my comfort zone.
Lisa Edwards wrote a great blog post last week on pushing boundaries, so it’s good to see more personal barriers being breached – although I’m not attempting Tough Mudder any time soon.
I'm raising a last vodka to Robin. Goodbye you wonderful man.