Robin Williams Provides Lesson in Empathy

I’m a huge fan of Robin Williams’ work. He was a brilliant artist who unfortunately lost his battle with internal demons.

I remember many scenes from his movies and TV appearances, but nothing is more vivid to me than one of his discussions with Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting. Williams plays a psychologist who is trying to help a brilliant, yet troubled inner-city Boston kid (WIll Hunting played by Matt Damon). In this scene on a bench in the Boston Public Garden, Williams is explaining to Damon the difference between intellectual knowledge and emotional understanding.

Here’s an excerpt from the beginning….

“So if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the Pope, sexual orientation, the whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling. Seen that…”

The scene provides a parallel commentary on the difference between analytics and empathy.

The bottom line: RIP Robin Williams. May the spark you brought to our lives continue to live on.

Written by 

I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about leading-edge XM topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

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