I always try to stay in my own “swim lane,” and only write about things that I know and practice, i.e. hiring, searching for a job, successful interviewing and successful. I do a lot of reading, listening to podcasts, CDs etc. outside the “lanes” because many, seemingly distant or external issues effect that subjects that I practice daily.
As most of you now, Charles Krauthammer died Wednesday and the world has lost a heartfelt thinker, philosopher, commentator and author. It wasn’t so much that he was a “great” human being, although he might have been, what struck me about him more than anything was how hard a worker he was, what he overcame and how simple and clear he made what he wrote and said.
He never made any big deal out of the wheelchair because of the accident. Even though he sustained it when he was young, he completed medical school and went on to a tremendous career as a writer and commentator hardly ever mentioning it. You never used it as an excuse or impediment to doing what he needed to do. I can’t tell you the number of folks I’ve interviewed over the years who blamed their poor judgement and lack of success on no where near as drastic as being a parapalegic. (I had a candidate tell me just this week that her whole year was a disater and her carreer was totally off track because her dog died.)
Any of us that write, even poorly, try to read as much as we can other people’s writing so we can get better by learning from them. One of the few books I read more than once was Krauthammer’s Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics. The topics of the book were not as important as the way with which he wrote. Most of what he wrote about, especially politics, went over my head because I’m not that much of a historian. What made his work especially good, was that you could tell that he worked at it really, really, really hard. There is a tendency to think that with good writers the words simply flow out of them. But, the truth is, that good writers make you think that’s how it happens. It is supposed to appear that way. Most of us who try our hand at the art of writing, know how hard it really is.
In order to get the beauty, simplicity and flow that Krauthammer had, he must have written, rewritten and rewritten many times. Editing your own writing is probably one of the hardest things all of us do. You can simply tell that the guy worked his rear end off to make things concise and clear.
He did the same thing when he made comments about the world. Maybe I liked him so much because I also, believed in the 60’s that the Great Society was going the save country. And, like Charles, I came to understand that it probably did the opposite. He went from being a liberal to a conservative. But he did it never offending anyone even when he pointed out how misguided they might be. And that, in itself, takes a tremendous amount of thoughtful work.
I heard him say how lucky he was to be able to work so hard and how humbled he was to think that people actually payed attention to his work. He was subtle, understated and brilliant. It is a real joy to watch people like Charles, LeBron James, Clayton Kershaw and the few others on the top of their game. You do stand in awe.
Some just leave us too soon. Thank you, Charles. (I even appreciate baseball a little more because of you.)