On Tuesday, June 9th former New York Post editor Vincent Musetto passed away due to pancreatic cancer at age 74 while at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx.
Musetto spent over 40 years at the legendary paper where he served as both an entertainment and newsroom editor. As decorated as Musetto’s career was, his legacy is defined by a single headline written on April 15, 1983.
According to the Post, Charles Dingle shot Herbert Cummings, an owner of a topless bar. Dingle then held multiple women hostage forcing one to decapitate Cummings. Dingle, under the influence of cocaine, then drove around town with Cummings’s head in a box. All of this according to the Post.
Musetto then wrote one of the most famous headlines in journalism history – “Headless Body In A Topless Bar”.
If you read the numerous online tributes to Musetto, you learn very little about his life, his interests, or his passions. However, you will read much about those six words – “Headless Body In A Topless Bar”.
One moment. One headline. Six words. Nine syllables. 25 letters. And a life is defined.
Musetto’s life presents both a warning as well as an opportunity for leaders.
If you take a perfectly white bedroom sheet, stretch it across a room and put a single black dot in its corner with a magic marker, will you be looking at the 99% of the sheet which is white? Or will you be looking at the 1% of the sheet which is the single black dot?
Human nature says you will be looking at the 1%. The 1% is often what defines our lives. We are then forced to ask what 1% do we want people to remember us for?
Will it be a moment of incredible bravery? A brilliant decision? A breakthrough idea? An inspiring speech? Extravagant generosity?
Or will our 1% be a moment of indiscretion? Financial impropriety? A moral failure? A reckless comment? A burst of anger which damages the lives of others?
We hope our lives will be defined by a large body of work over many, many years. After all, we are all flawed human beings. But oftentimes, our lives will be defined by a single moment, the 1%.
Leaders, choose today what you want your 1% to be.
My single defining moment took place in August, 1980. Prior to starting my freshman year of high school, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. This single decision altered the course of my life and I was never the same.
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