On Learning from the Lives of Others

Even if you’re not a journalist or news junkie, you’re probably familiar with Tim Russert, moderator of “Meet the Press,” who also covered political news and election results for NBC. As Martin Brown noted in his SMW blog post yesterday, Tim Russert collapsed and died at work this past Friday, at age 58.

When people die unexpectedly and die young there is always shock, and reactions and tributes tend to be especially moving. What struck me about the aftermath of Russert’s death was the intense emotion that people felt and shared, and just how many lives he touched.

His colleagues at NBC, many of them men, were visibly shaken. As might be expected, they spoke of their coworker’s dedication to the job and the impact he had on the political landscape. Yet, again and again what people emphasized was Russert’s love for his family, his genuine interest in and concern for his friends, and his enthusiasm for life.

In other words, Tim Russert got it. His work was a passion, but it wasn’t his only one.

Today, work/life balance is a popular phrase, as well as a goal for many people. But it seems to me that in order to find true balance you have to be extremely grounded.

How a person becomes grounded is potentially a huge topic. Nevertheless, what I realized in listening to and reading about Tim Russert’s life is that, when you strip away the rhetoric, grounding isn’t really that complex. It requires developing a set of principles and priorities and living with attention to both.

A positive attitude, an appreciation for life, and respect for others were among Tim Russert’s principles, and based on the comments of his colleagues and friends, there’s no doubt that he lived his values as he focused on his life’s priorities: his family, his friends, his work, and his interests, which included baseball, football, and the music of Bruce Springsteen.

It’s easy to get swept up in the daily swirl of life and lose your grounding, whether momentarily or for an extended period of time. It’s helpful when the lives of others remind us of what’s important. For inspiration, I urge you to take a look at the video clips about Tim Russert at MSNBC.

Paula Santonocito

Career Editor, SingleMindedWomen.com