It’s safe to say that Bill Cosby has been having a rough few months.
Ever since comedian Hannibal Buress called him a “rapist” on stage in October 2014, a number of women have surfaced (and re-surfaced) accusing (and re-accusing) Cosby of all sorts of sexual attacks that occurred over the past few decades. He has been vilified, pilloried and ridiculed everywhere in the media. He has had major endorsement deals and a string of live appearances cancelled. He’s seen both friends and fans alike turn their backs on him in disgust.
Cosby's reputation has likely been forever ruined. And yet, through all of the attacks, finger-pointing and accusations leveled at him during these past few months, Cosby still works. He continues to go on stage, in front of crowds of people and perform his stand-up routine, wherever a venue will have him.
Doesn’t that sound odd? Not to most successful business owners.
I am not defending Bill Cosby. I don’t know if he’s guilty (although the evidence does appear overwhelming) and, like everyone else, I’m very disturbed by the allegations. But you have to wonder: Why does he keep working? Why does he keep doing what, for many, is one of the world’s toughest jobs -- making people laugh -- particularly when so many are hating him right now?
It’s doubtful that he needs the money. It’s improbable that he can fix what’s been damaged. He’s older and would have every incentive to just give it up, relax and stay out of the limelight. Who needs this? But he doesn’t. He keeps coming to work. Why is this?
Ask any successful business owner and they’ll tell you why. There are two reasons. And they define what makes a successful person a success.
He has a job to do. The successful business owners I know rarely take sick days. They get to work early. They leave late. They work hard. They endure all sorts of ups, downs, calamities, disasters, complaints and problems every day. They struggle to find good people. They have to listen to customer grievances. They have to yell when things aren’t done on time. And yet, like Cosby, they keep coming to work.
That’s because they have made a commitment to do so. Their employees are relying on them. So are their families, customers and partners. Cosby works because he is a comedian and his job is to make people laugh. But the job goes beyond that. People have paid for their tickets and he doesn’t want to let them down.
Like any business owner, he knows that agents, lighting people, drivers, accountants, housekeepers, makeup artists and dozens and dozens of other people have a livelihood that rely on him showing up to work. He’s fulfilling existing commitments and seems committed to continue providing his service as long as there’s an audience out there who demands it.
More important, he has a higher calling. He clearly loves what he does and would die if he couldn’t do it. He knows that he was put here on this earth to make people laugh and that is his little contribution to the world. Business people that succeed don’t view their companies like it’s just a thing, a warehouse or an organization that distributes pipes or sells packaging materials. Every good business is more than that.
Every business, in its own, little, boring way, is contributing something of value to the ecosystem of businesses that helps make the world go around. The successful business owners I know take inspiration from the contributions that their company makes to this world. They don’t always enjoy the minutia of their everyday jobs. But when they step back, they love what their company, in its own little way, is offering to society. It may not be comedy, but it’s no less important.
That’s why, amidst all of the difficulties he’s enduring right now (and very likely deserves), Bill Cosby still gets up and goes to work. It’s for the same reasons that successful business owners do too.