The news was shocking and tragic. Our beloved smile-maker, Joan Rivers, died all too young. Though 81 years old at the time of her passing, she was eternally young at heart.
Like many others since, I have been following news stories about her life. I watched the PBS documentary, “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work”, which gave me a glimpse into her life and her personal struggles. I watched the “Fashion Police” tribute on E! where her co-hosts Giuliana Rancic, Kelly Osbourne and George Kotsiopoulos paid tribute. I felt much like Kelly and George, who broke down in tears and held hands for support. I admired Joan’s daughter Melissa’s strength as she spoke about her mother. Joan’s life ended abruptly, but not without her rising once again to immense popularity, in part with the show “Fashion Police”, but most importantly as the person who taught us so much about life.
So what are the life lessons, gleaned from the life lived by Joan Rivers that we can all learn from?
Risk Taking. Joan got her start by sticking her neck out in a man’s world where few women had ventured before her. She was a female comic playing with the big boys. Getting noticed on the Johnny Carson Show was her big break. When she left Carson to start her own show after 18 years of appearances and guest hosting, something several of the male Carson guest hosts had done before her, she was shunned by Carson for the rest of her life. As gleaned from the documentary, this hurt her both professionally and personally. Looking at this today, one has to question what relevance there was to Joan being treated differently than the men. Joan was a trailblazer for all women. I, for one, admire her for taking the risk of playing with the big boys in a man’s world.
Tenacity. Joan didn’t let any setback stop her. Yes, getting banned at NBC, suspected fallout from her leaving the Carson show, didn’t stop her from blazing trails in other markets. This was a gal who never gave up. If anyone can teach us how to shake the dust off and hit the trail again, it was Joan Rivers.
Work Ethic. Listening to all the people who knew her, and the documentary on her life, one thing rings loud and clear. Joan was a workhorse. No one worked harder than Joan Rivers. There was no job she wouldn’t tackle if brought her way. In the documentary, she even entertained the idea of speaking for a penis-enhancing supplement, even though (clearly) this is a man’s issue. I’m sure, had Joan been offered the job, she would have had plenty to say about penis enhancement. Too bad we missed out on that one! It would have been hilarious!
Reinvent yourself. If one way doesn’t work, give it a twist and turn and take another run at it. This seemed to have been Joan’s mantra. She was always looking to reinvent herself. She was an actress, performer, comedienne, talk show host, author, playwright, screenwriter, motion picture director, columnist, lecturer, syndicated radio host, jewelry designer and cosmetic company entrepreneur. She was a mother and grandmother. Whew! That’s one long list! This one woman accomplished and gave us so much to look up to.
Keep getting back up. Life will get you down, but Joan taught us how to keep getting back up. She had her down moments. She had her disappointments and setbacks. She had her insecurities and fears. She had people close to her who disappointed her. But, she always got back up. She got back on the path she chose for herself. Through grit and determination she lived her best life.
So, take these lessons from the incomparable Joan Rivers. Go out and live your best life!
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