I’m reading a great book by Judd Apatow called “Sick in the Head”. It is an amazing text that looks at the value of humor and laughter, and how comedy (whether it be through performing or writing) is more than just its own “thing”. There is a lot of leadership and learning embedded in thinking through humor.
The book is designed around a series of interviews that Apatow did over the course of a number of years, many beginning when he was an incredibly intuitive and entrepreneurial high school student up through interviews conducted just a few months ago.
In one of the interviews, Apatow is learning alongside Harold Ramis. Ramis, one of the minds behind Animal House, Caddyshack, Groundhog Day, and of course, the actor who portrayed Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters, shares quite introspective and reflective ideas around comedy and life.
Ramis’ ideas are born based a career of reflection, and though he is unfortunately no longer alive, this is a quote that I imagine he lived by daily (and one we should adopt ourselves):
If life only has the meaning you bring to it, we have the opportunity to bring rich meaning to our lives through service to others.
The interesting part is I originally bought this book to laugh quite a bit, and as I’ve read the book, yes I’ve laughed, but I’ve reflected and pondered even more.
Ramis’ quote is truly reflection-worthy. We are the keepers of our own worth. We determine the value we have to this world. And therefore, what the world gives back to us, and the meaning we can make from it, are dependent on what we’re willing to bring to the table. Since there are always good things to do for others, and always ample ways that we can live through service, then we can control the meaning we make, and how fulfilled our lives feel and become.
Serving others is the foundation of effective leadership. We smile at our own successes, and feel valued by recognition, but in order to truly lead, and to truly be recognized as a leader, we need to be willing to help others get where they want to go, and become who they want to be. And once we can do that regularly, and once we can take as much pride in the successes of others as we do in our own successes, then I think we truly encapsulate what Ramis was trying to get at.
It’s great when a book is a fabulous read. It’s even better when it causes you to reflect on your own life and your professional and personal actions, beliefs, and values. While I didn’t know it would at first, “Sick in the Head” is truly a book that is doing that for me.