What am I doing here? Sitting breathlessly while listening to Maya Angelou read her poetry while she is seated directly across from me or embracing the sudden onset of emotion after placing a wreath on the tomb of a soldier at Arlington National Cemetery or discussing America’s fight against terrorism with Condoleezza Rice on the anniversary of 9/11. These are some of the moments that I have been lucky to be a part of because of my job as a network news anchor, but it would be disingenuous if I didn’t say that it wasn’t just hard work that got me to the great place where I am now.
I’m never too surprised by where I am and what I am doing at any given time because I have always dreamed BIG. I remember toiling away in my first job as a small-time disc jockey in Corpus Christi, Texas, and actually envisioning myself hosting the Olympics and—believe it or not—a network morning show. I know that may sound crazy, but you have to see it before you can do it . . . and then work your butt off to accomplish it.
I am a big believer in preparation. Before every interview I conduct for CBS News’ The Early Show, I do lots of homework. For instance, if Hugh Grant is scheduled to come into the studio, I will watch his new movie and read every recent article written about him. I may only end up using a fraction of the information that I’ve gathered when the cameras are rolling, but knowing that I’ve done my homework empowers me, and I am able to relax and handle whatever comes my way.
My friend Joe Montana (ND Class of 1980) told me the same thing when I interviewed him for my book Notre Dame Inspirations. Montana is considered one of the greatest clutch quarterbacks in history and was credited with an uncanny ability to find his receivers. Folks said he had great field vision, the ability to know when and where the other players were in a split second, but Montana says it wasn’t some special gift that he possessed. He said it was good, old-fashioned preparation. He studied his playbook again and again until he knew it perfectly and was able to make those quick decisions and win so many games.
So back to the question: what am I doing here, with my dream job and having already had the experiences of a lifetime? All of the vision and hard work might be the foundation and to a large extent it is, but God has blessed me immeasurably with talent, determination, good health, a free country and a supportive family. There have been challenges along the way: being forced into rock climbing for a segment on overcoming fears or interviewing a convicted murderer. There have been silly times: laughing uncontrollably during an interview with Ben Stiller or Vince Vaughn and breaking into a rendition of “Goldigger” with Jamie Foxx. There have been exhilarating moments: witnessing firsthand the sports triumphs of Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning and talking to them about their accomplishments afterwards.
But even more special are the stories that enable me to leverage my position to contribute, in some small way, to a greater understanding of the world around us: reporting on Hurricane Katrina, reporting on the war in Iraq or even revealing my birthmark in hopes of increasing awareness about the health concerns for people with port wine stains.
So what am I doing here? Cooking with Bobby Flay? Being serenaded by Kenny Chesney? Playing with my three beautiful daughters? There are so many moments that one can never predict or prepare for, and those moments are born of God’s blessings and His grace. God has placed so many people and special moments in my life and given me the emotional capacity to feel those times and live them fully. So I can only conclude by saying, “Thank you Lord, because You are what I’m doing here.”