Editor Picks

taking time to understand meaning and purpose

By heather mcarthur

Robin Roberts has seen many highs and many lows the past few years. But for the co-anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America the key to it all is “taking the time to understand the purpose” to whatever challenge we face. For Roberts, this challenge has been meant battling cancer, not once but twice—an experience overall that has “transformed” her life.

After her mother urged her to share the “mess of her message” with others, Roberts began speaking out about all that she has gone through. A powerful message to all attendees at this year’s SHRM 2014 conference that just concluded in Orlando.

“I’m an optimist by nature. Which is a muscle that gets stronger with use.” The proud daughter of a Tuskegee Airman, Roberts grew up as a passionate athlete whose life ambition was to become a sports broadcaster. After gaining experience at a local radio station she went on to work for ESPN before gaining her coveted spot on Good Morning America. Sharing her journey, she pointed out several key learnings that helped her on the way.

  •  Put yourself in a position for good things to happen. “Proximity is power” she advised, she made the wiling sacrifice to work as a country music DJ on the weekends, just so she could begin to get experience during the week reporting on high school sporting events.
  • Dream big but focus small. “You have goals and dreams which you need. But you have to focus on the day-to-day, little things that get you there.”
  • The destination might not be what you think, but that’ s ok. When Roberts finally made it to ESPN and was reporting at Wimbledon, she thought to herself, “Is this all there is, what else should I be doing?”
  • Venture outside your comfort zone. When she reached her goal of being a sports anchor she was extremely grateful but not quite content. In 2002, the opportunity arose for her to become a news anchor and join Good Morning America, which leads to her next life lesson.
  • Always be authentic. In 2005 she was covering Hurricane Katrina. A fact made especially hard, as she had lost contact with her sister and mother (who lived in Mississippi during the storm). She eventually found them but in reporting the story, Roberts broke the golden rule of journalism and became emotional on air. The emotion in fact communicated to people the height of the devastation and led to an outpouring of support.
  • We are always stronger then we think we are. When Roberts first got cancer, she did not want to share the news. Her mother told her “make this your message, be the voice for those people who don’t have your resources and let people know that early detection can save your life.”
  • Be compassionate as you never know what someone is going through. “Someone might not be a bad person but just might be having a really bad day. Always give people the benefit of the doubt.”

In her powerful conclusion, she advised, “You choose to be here and be a part of this conference and what you learn will be vital to your organization.” Quoting the beloved Maya Angelou, she powerfully ended with Angelou’s inspirational reminder to us all, ‘’I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’

Categories: Editor Picks, People Who Achieve, Work We Love

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By heather mcarthur

Heather McArthur writes stories about recognition’s ability to transform corporate cultures and lives. As former Managing Editor, she published quarterly Kudos profiles celebrating people who make a difference. Growing up and living abroad, Heather now resides in the U.S., after working and writing in publishing, organizational development and advertising. After interviewing so many leaders with a vision, she’s seen firsthand the inherent possibilities that occur when people are appreciated and recognized for their great work.