I am big fan of Robin Williams. In particular I enjoyed watching him just talk. He had a mind that worked in directions others of us could only imagine. And as his mind took off into whatever stratosphere it decided to inhabit, he exuded a joy of discovery ... as if he wasn't sure what was going to happen until his brain made it up. He caused me to laugh out loud (really loud) and it seemed he was right there laughing with me — two friends who never met watching the impossible occur.
Now he is no longer with us.
And I sit down to work on a presentation or a seminar or an article or a blog post or whatever project was the most important thing in the world to me a short time ago and I cannot concentrate because something important has happened, something much more important than anything in the world of internal audit.
Let me share a story.
I still remember vividly, within the first year of my career as an internal auditor, sitting at my desk feverishly working on a report. I was struggling to portray the findings in a light that would make everyone understand the importance and impact of what we had found. I can't remember what was so darned important. I can't even remember what was being audited. All I remember was that, at that moment, it was the most important thing in the world to me.
And then I heard a wail from across the room. One of the clerical staff in our Claims Department had just learned that her father had passed away.
I was in a new moment and everything else now paled in comparison. The report didn't matter, the finding didn't matter, internal audit didn't matter. The real world had raised its ugly head, forcing me to put it all in perspective.
A friend of mine recently made an interesting comment about internal auditors. He was talking about how we are all so serious, so focused, and so convinced of the absolute importance of what we do. "Come on," he said, "It's not like we're curing cancer."
He's right. Yes, what we do has some importance. But it isn't "end of the world" important. And every once in a while the news of the day has to come up and slap us upside the head to help us remember that.
We have lost a great talent. And it is a loss that I am feeling personally. Everything else is kind of paling in comparison right now.
But here's a recommendation I'll pass your way. At some point today/tomorrow/every day, step back, take a breath, and remember that it isn't really that important.
Then go back to work with a perspective that isn't quite so skewed.