It’s been a minute. I will tell you why I have been absent for so long soon…probably in my next post. But for now I wanna share what I learnt today. If you are in the U.S, unless you have been living under a rock, you probably know that Barbara Walters retired today after five decades of television.
I’ve always known she was a pioneer, one who broke the glass ceiling for women in journalism but I didn’t know how big or huge her impact was till I watched her special today. It was aptly titled HER STORY. I learnt and was reminded of a lot watching the two hour special some of which I would like to share with you.
1. Excel Where You Are: In the beginning, 1960’s, she took anything she could get her hands on without forgetting her ultimate goal which was being a news anchor. She ignored the naysayers and did things like fashion show reporting and lame commercials that she says makes her cringe today but she did what she had to do to get to where she wanted to be.
2. Unexpected Blessings: Finally after all the hard work, she got to be a news anchor but get this… it wasn’t for the network she had worked for 13 yrs-NBC but another station ABC. This reminded me that God can change your life suddenly. But you have to be flexible. He will bless you but it may not be in the form of what you imagined. Always remain open to receive your unexpected blessings.
3. Lemons To Lemonade: So, she got what she had always wanted, with a much higher pay, but her male counterpart hated her. So she was told she could only ask one question, and it had to be outside the studio. She was failing miserably as an anchor because of sexism but in a bid to survive, she turned lemons into lemonade. So she looked for interviews outside the studio, thus the numerous interviews and one hour specials she is known for today was born.
4. Finding Balance: Asked if she had any regrets, she said not spending time with her daughter. Although I think I do this quite well, but sometimes when writing I get so engrossed and have to force myself to stop. In everything you do, always take time to smell the roses. According to Barbara, “At the end of your life, nobody says I wished I have spent more time in the office. It’s always family at the end of the day.”
5. Toot Your Horn: This struck a cord for me as an author who sometimes feels guilty about self promotion. Even with her name she still plugs her show 20/20 right up till the end. For Barbara, what’s the use of working so hard on something if you are not going to tell people about it. So the next time you or I feel guilty about promoting ourselves, remember, we did the work, it’s your passion, nobody can talk about it better than us.
6. The Process: She is known for her killer interviews and interviewing the most influential and famous people around the world. So how does she ace it every time? By doing her homework, she knows more about the people she is going to interview than they know about themselves. She writes down over 100 questions for each person and revises, edits, revises and edits again..then she asks random people what they think. Now if you are an author, I don’t need to tell you how this is similar to our process. Point is she doesn’t wane on the quality because of the quantity she had done. Every time she gave her absolute best.
7. Food for Thought: they showed so many snippets of interviews she had done. One that stuck with me was when she asked Christopher Reeves ( The late Superman) what he would do if he never walked again…this was his response “In life, you play the hand you are dealt. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. But play, it’s worth it.”
Final thought, I am reminded to keep pressing toward my mark, with my eyes fixed on things above. No matter the failures or risk or things that go wrong, I will look at it as the road I am meant to be on to lead me to my destination. And the only way to do that is to keep my hope anchored in Jesus.
We will not all be a Barbara Walters but we are called for a purpose. Whether its a big or small purpose make your life count for something. When asked what her legacy would be, she pointed to all the female journalist that have come after her and said, “This is my Legacy.”