While watching the news coverage of Walter Cronkite’s death this week, I started thinking of comparisons to pop star Michael Jackson. I realized that Michael had “fans,” and Walter had “admirers.” People loved Michael’s music and what he did on the stage. His personal life however, left much to be desired. Walter Cronkite on the other hand wasn’t terribly spectacular, but he was brilliant at his job, and it literally impacted an entire nation. Personally, Cronkite was married for nearly sixty-five years to Mary Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Maxwell Cronkite. They were married on March 30, 1940, and remained together until her death in 2005. Jackson on the other hand had
a bizarre and often unhappy personal life to say the least.
The bottom line is that people loved what Michael did, but they loved who Walter was. It’s common these days to say that an artist, performer, leader, or celebrity should only be valued for the work he or she performs, and their personal life should have no bearing on the issue. Perhaps I’m a little old fashioned in that regard, and tend to believe your personal life, moral values, and spiritual bearing says a lot about the bigger picture of what your life and work means.
Do you want fans or admirers? Are you more interested in what people think of what you do? Or who you are?