Courage for the Work

Last week, I had the chance to hear Robin Roberts speak.  She is an athlete, sports journalist, newscaster, and a cancer and MDS survivor.
Robin Roberts interviewing Barack Obama.   Photo by The White House from Washington, DC
Robin is an incredible speaker, as you would expect–engaging, interesting, inspiring.  She shared the story of her life, from childhood through the present, and the words she has lived by along the way. 
Robin details this lessons in greater depth in her book From the Heart: Seven Rules to Live By
What amazed me most about her story was the courage she showed in committing to so much work.
First example:  Robin went Southeast Louisiana University.  For four years, she carried a full class load and starred on the basketball team. To get practical experience, she convinced a local radio station to give her a sports journalism show.  They agreed, on the condition that she would also be their weekend country music DJ as well. 
She shares her schedule in her book: her commitments started at 6am, every morning. She wasn’t able to start studying until after 9pm, when her basketball practice finished.  She spent the weekend evenings at her work. And she graduated with honors, a wealth of practical experience, and two years as MVP of her basketball team.
Here’s what she says about that time: “…believe it or not, my loaded schedule helped me focus,” and “doing what you love makes everything possible.”
The second moment I thought was incredible: she turned down an offer for her dream job to wait and train for it.  When she was a newscaster and anchor, ESPN offered Robin a sportscaster role–which was her dream from the beginning of her career.  But, she didn’t feel prepared.  So instead, she turned it down, moved to a bigger market, kept her job as a television anchor, and took a side job as a radio sportscaster to get the experience she needed.  And a few years later she took a position at ESPN.

The shortest path might not be easy or straight
I’ve been reflecting lately on the idea that there are no shortcuts The fastest way to achieving a goal is often to find a topic you enjoy enough to persevere with, and put in the necessary work.  The lessons I took from Robin’s speech were this:
  • Have the courage to say yes to work you love, even when busy
  • Believe that the time, effort, and experience will be worth it
So stay encouraged, and keep moving towards your goal!

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