There has been considerable writing and discussion about the legendary Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes fame who just died. Some of it contains helpful messages for all of us. For example, Beth Knobel, who co-wrote Wallace’s book “Heat and Light” says he understood the importance of drama or what Wallace called “heat” as well as the light Wallaceof objective information. She says he was always impeccably prepared and set high standards for investigative journalism. Leonard Shyles, who is a communication professor at Vellanova University, says that his interviews “were like theater.” There is something to be learned from those observations by all of us who are involved in the world of communication. 

Steve Forbes has written about the lessons to be learned from Mike Wallace. http://www.ceo.com/flink/?lnk=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.forbes.com%2Fsites%2Fericjackson%2F2012%2F04%2F08%2F5-lessons-from-mike-wallaces-life-for-all-of-us%2F.. Here are some of them. 

The first, he says, is this: “If you don’t wake up in the morning excited to pick up where you left your work yesterday, you haven’t found your calling yet.” I couldn’t agree more that this is the litmus test for whether you are doing what you were meant to in life. As Forbes says “We all have a calling in life.” Each person’s is personal to them and may not be what someone else would pick for us. 

Another lesson is that “If you aren’t breaking the rules a little in our profession, you aren’t going far enough.” I don’t know that I would express my view of this idea in that way, but certainly, in all areas of life we need to push against the perceived limitations that keep us back. Thinking outside the box is important. A new way of thinking or doing something keeps us young and on the cutting edge. 

Forbes adopts the epitaph Wallace picked for himself and asks “How would your life be different if your epitaph read ‘Tough but fair.’” Being tough doesn’t mean pushing or shouting. It means the courage to continue in the face of intimidation or fear. Certainly fairness is an important part of the lesson as well. Treating people fairly is an important character asset.

Forbes says another lesson from Mike Wallace was to “Face your demons head on.” He points out that with Wallace one of his problems was depression. He suffered from severe bouts of depression and once tried to take his own life. Abraham Lincoln suffered times of depression and once said "I am now the most miserable man living." Winston Churchill called his periods of depression "the black dog."  They dealt with it and moved on. Wallace did too. He faced the problem and even went public with it in order to try to help others. All of us have our own demons that might wake us in the middle of the night and follow us through our life activities. We all have to face our personal demons and deal with them head on.

We should learn from the examples of others in are jouney through life and these are some helpful ones to reflect upon.


  1. He’s made it that far into the ER and no one has bothered to remove his hood? …or take off his top/ shirt to gain better access to the trauma area (the abdomen)… or at least pushed his sleeves up to accommodate his IVs? I’d love to find out that this photo is real. But it isn’t. If, however it is, let me say “God bless the Hippocratic Oath”, and “isn’t this guy lucky his doctors aren’t as ignorant as he is”.

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