A number of the Steve Jobs post-mortem articles have reported the (until now) little known fact that he fathered an out-of-wedlock child and denied paternity for years. While he was a wealthy man, his daughter and her mother were living on food stamps. Eventually, he acknowledged paternity and evidently mended fences with his daughter and even ended up sending her to Harvard.
Many wealthy, famous, and ‘successful’ people seem to have train-wreck or scandalous personal lives. Among this pantheon, Jobs’ pursuit of personal wealth over the well-being of his daughter, hardly raises a comparative eyebrow. Frank Lloyd Wright abandoned his wife and six children and ran off with his mistress, a number of the Founding Fathers found time to father more than the country, Martin Luther King Jr. had a number of extra-marital affairs, and the list of famous politicians, captains of industry, celebrated artists, entertainers, and world leaders caught in their own peccadilloes and scandal is dizzying.
My point here is not to place celebrities in ‘good’ and ‘bad’ camps, but rather encourage others to look at their lives holistically. It stands to reason that those who devote their time and energies to some cause - be it the pursuit of wealth, the acquisition of power, or even more noble aspirations (Ghandi by his own admission declared himself a terrible father) – must almost necessarily sacrifice other areas of their lives.
What effect do you think personal scandal has on famous/successful people’s legacies? Do you think it’s ‘character assassination’ to point out things these folks have done wrong? Does it diminish them or what they stood for in any way? How should we remember, say, Andrew Carnegie - as a robber baron or patron saint of literacy?