My dad used to tell my brother and me that life is too short to make all the mistakes, so you have to be sure to learn from other people's.
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and ABC sitcom star Roseanne Barr offered a master class Tuesday.
Both Greitens and Barr implored us, after the fact, to consider the innocent bystanders harmed by their downfalls. But mid-downfall is the wrong time to think of your innocent bystanders.
After Barr wrote a tweet calling Valerie Jarrett, an adviser to former President Barack Obama, a cross between the Muslim Brotherhood and the "Planet of the Apes," ABC canceled its "Roseanne" reboot, her agent dropped her and her reruns were yanked.
"Don't feel sorry for me, guys!!" Barr wrote Tuesday night in a tweet that appears to have since been deleted. "I just want to apologize to the hundreds of people, and wonderful writers (all liberal) and talented actors who lost their jobs on my show due to my stupid tweet."
Greitens, who is accused of assaulting, blindfolding and taking blackmail photos of a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair, had this to say when he resigned Tuesday:
"This ordeal has been designed to cause an incredible amount of strain on my family. I cannot allow those forces to continue to cause pain and difficulty to the people that I love."
(He's also accused of misusing his veterans charity donor list to help his 2016 political campaign.)
I have no doubt Greitens' wife and children are suffering a great deal of pain from the investigation into the allegations against him.
Missouri lawmakers read aloud the transcripts of his accuser's grand jury testimony in a Capitol committee room, livestreamed for the public, last week. "Incredible amount of strain" is likely an understatement for what his wife is enduring.
It's lousy that the writers and actors and support staff on "Roseanne" are out of work. I hope Barr delivers a sincere apology to them, not in the form of a later-deleted tweet.
But the lesson here, for all of us, I suppose, is to remember whose hearts and hopes and livelihoods are in our hands, and let that privilege be our North Star.
When you rise to a leadership level – whether that's governor, sitcom star, school principal, CEO or parent – you assume a level of responsibility for the people in your orbit: The people who wield less power than you. The people who make less money than you. The people who need you to behave in a way that protects not just your assets and best interests, but theirs too.
Ideally, that occurs to you before you do and say abhorrent, career-ending stuff. Ideally, that stops you from doing and saying abhorrent, career-ending stuff.
Sometimes it doesn't.
Greitens and Barr acted recklessly and maliciously, wielding their considerable power to harm others. (Even if you don't believe the woman's assault accusations, Greitens was, by his own admission, cheating on his wife.)
In the process, their slings and arrows hit more than just their intended targets.
And if that weren't bad enough, Greitens and Barr then tried to use their unintended targets to condemn the accountability process.
I'm sure crisis management experts are out there furiously taking notes. (Quit Twitter! Scratch that! Blame the Ambien! Wait ... )
It's also a valuable lesson in how interconnected our lives and fortunes are with those we're surrounded and supported by – and a reminder to treat those connections with care.
– Heidi Stevens is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune.