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From the Heart: Seven Rules to Live By

From the Heart: Seven Rules to Live By

by Robin Roberts

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The first-ever book from popular and respected Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts, filled with her own hard-won insights into what makes successWhile most people will say that the key to success is a willingness to break the rules, to think outside the box, to ignore boundaries, Robin Roberts — whose own spectacular success as a college basketball


The first-ever book from popular and respected Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts, filled with her own hard-won insights into what makes successWhile most people will say that the key to success is a willingness to break the rules, to think outside the box, to ignore boundaries, Robin Roberts — whose own spectacular success as a college basketball star, ESPN commentator, and co-anchor on Good Morning America is undisputed — is here to tell readers differently. In her considerable experience, there are seven rules whose importance cannot be ignored, and which must never be broken if true, meaningful success is the goal. In the tradition of bestsellers like Maria Shriver's And One More Thing Before You Go, Anna Quindlen's A Short Guide to a Happy Life, and Marlo Thomas' The Right Words at the Right Time, From the Heart is the perfect gift for new grads, and an inspiring read for anyone searching for the path to success.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Recently diagnosed with breast cancer, Roberts, coanchor of ABC's Good Morning Americaand former anchor of ESPN's Sports Center, has written a compelling book revealing the secret to her success. She reflects on Hurricane Katrina, recounting her ordeal on the Gulf Coast; her 15 years at ESPN; growing up in Pass Christian, MS; her faith; and much more. As a young woman, tennis was her first true passion, but she didn't realize her dream of becoming a professional. Roberts's rules include "Position yourself to take the shot; never play the race, gender, or any other card; venture outside your comfort zone; and keep faith, family, and friends close to your heart." She concludes by advising her listeners to break her rules and write their own: "live your life, let it happen, enjoy the ride." With musical interludes and the author's lively presentation, this moving program is highly recommended for most libraries.
—Ann Burns

Product Details

Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 5.62(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt


By Robin Roberts


Copyright © 2007 Robin Rene Roberts
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4013-0333-4

Chapter One

Position Yourself to Take the Shot

I'm a big believer that you have to put yourself in position for good things to happen to you. You can dream, hope, and pray all you want, but if you're not ready when opportunity calls, it will pass you by. Often, the person who catches the break isn't the most capable or talented, but the one who is standing there with his or her arms outstretched at the right moment.

This was a constant lesson for me growing up, because we moved around a lot. My father was in the Air Force, and we traveled all over the world when I was a kid. My siblings and I were each born in different states-Ohio, Arizona, Iowa, and Alabama. One of my dad's favorite assignments was being stationed in Izmir, Turkey, in the late 1960s. He thought it would be good for the family, and he was right. What a beautiful country-rich in history and culture. Instead of living on a military base with other Americans, my parents decided we would live in an apartment in town. They wanted their children to experience a different culture. My best friends were Turkish, and they taught me how to speak their language and play their games. My parents were constantly looking for creative ways to educate us. By immersing us in a different culture, they helped us become more tolerant and compassionate. They opened our eyes to the world.

Whenever it came time to pack up and move again, my parents would play a little game with us. They'd give us the first letter of the place we were moving to and make us guess the answer. So, after two and a half years in Izmir, they sat us down and said, "OK, kids, we're moving back to the States to a place that begins with the letter M." We shouted, "Montana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri!" Nope. We racked our little brains and hesitantly asked, "Mississippi?" Yep. Well, we threw a fit. We wailed that there was no way we would go there. It was 1969, and the Magnolia State wasn't exactly appealing to the Roberts children.

But when we moved to Biloxi, Mississippi, we were pleasantly surprised. Despite our initial objections-which included a lot of temper tantrums-the Mississippi Gulf Coast was a wonderful place to grow up. We instantly fell in love with this picturesque region and its lovely, caring people-not to mention the unbelievable food. And it was in Biloxi that my devotion to sports blossomed.

When my father retired in 1975, my parents decided to stay. Of all the places in the world they had lived, this one felt the most like home. They bought a house in Pass Christian, a small town about twenty miles from Biloxi, along the beautiful Gulf Coast. Locals affectionately refer to it as "the Pass."

I was just starting high school, which was housed in a charming redbrick building. It was the only high school in town, and most of the kids had been friends since the first grade. At first they didn't know what to make of me-this tall girl who came bounding into their lives. It's never easy to break into the tight-knit circle of small-town friendships, but I had two things going for me. First, because I was used to moving to new schools, I wasn't shy. I knew I could make people laugh, and the force of humor can never be underestimated. Second, I played basketball. Through basketball I met two girls who would become my lifelong friends. The first time I walked into the auditorium, Cheryl Antoine and Luella Fairconeture looked me up and down like "Who's this?" I was wearing some awful outfit-green plaid, as I recall. Cheryl later said she was immediately appraising my height for the team. She laughed, recalling. "I thought, 'Are those legs ever going to stop?'"

I quickly wore down any resistance that existed and became a fixture in the school. Cheryl, Luella, and I became so tight we called ourselves the "True Blues." Of course, at first I had a little trouble understanding that warm Southern drawl. For the longest time, when I was on the basketball court, I thought the cheerleaders were chanting:

Eat potted meat. Get up off your feet.

I just thought it was some kind of strange Southern custom. Finally, I asked Cheryl, "What is potted meat? Is it a special meat you all have down here?" She looked at me like I'd lost my mind. When I explained about the cheer, she laughed so hard she had to sit down. It turned out they were chanting:

Leap, Robin, leap. Get up off your feet.

Back when I'd started playing basketball in the eighth grade, at first I didn't have to work all that hard, because I towered over everybody else. But by the time I reached high school, I suddenly wasn't the tallest player on the court. That's when I learned the importance of position.

Our coaches always emphasized that in order to score, we had to get into the proper position to make it happen. If we wanted to get a rebound, we needed to get into the proper rebounding position. If we wanted to hit a topspin forehand, we needed to get into the proper position for that. It wasn't enough to hope for a rebound or a score. We had to work our tails off getting situated to make it happen.

If we were playing a team that clearly was better, our coach told us, "At least put yourself in position to win. Don't give up before the game even starts. Do whatever you have to do to keep the score close. Then if you get some lucky breaks late in the game, you can win. If you don't even try, and fall way behind, those lucky breaks won't do you any good."

Our coaches also stressed that when we took the court against an opponent who was superior, we had to have heart. An opponent could be stronger and have better skills, and we couldn't help that. But there was no excuse for not wanting victory as much as they did. That is a matter of heart. Why else are we so enamored with the story of David versus Goliath?

I played a lot of basketball games when I was in high school and college, but there's one game in particular that I'll never forget. It was my junior year of college, and we were playing a team that always dominated. They were the big school, and the girls seemed bigger too. The players had a swagger about them that went beyond confidence. They looked at us like we were bugs. They had never lost to us. And just that one time I wanted so badly to beat them. I wanted to do some damage to that swagger.

I had a good game, but as we got toward the end, we were down by six points. We needed the ball back. I purposely fouled a player who was one of the cockiest girls on the team. She took her place on the line to shoot the free throws, and as I watched her I saw that her knees were shaking. A couple of her teammates came up to her and she started screeching, "Get away, get away!" She was a wreck.

I remember thinking, "Hey, you're not so tough." I must have been grinning from ear to ear.

And sure enough, she missed the free throws, and we ended up winning the game. It was sweet.

I never forgot that game, because I realized that people are not always as together as they may seem. They can have a pretty convincing façade, but as soon as they're in danger of losing, the façade cracks like an egg. Once they're exposed, it's not so pretty.

I've learned that it's the people who have been tested and have persevered who you want to watch. I remember the great prizefighter Floyd Patterson once saying, "I've been knocked down more than any heavyweight champion in history." But, he added, "I've gotten up more than any heavyweight champion in history. Don't forget that." I've applied the same principle to every challenge I've faced. It is the number-one rule I live by. I don't shy away from difficulties. If I get knocked down, I get back up. I at least give myself an opportunity. I don't quit the game when I fall behind. I have always believed that if I hang in there and keep the "score" close, I'll be in a position to benefit from the lucky breaks. Proximity is power.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast isn't exactly the center of the universe, but that didn't mean there weren't possibilities. It tickles me that some people think you have to be from a big city to "make it." There are opportunities everywhere. Instead of worrying about whether you'll ever get that big break, spend time preparing yourself so you'll be ready to benefit from each opportunity that comes along.

It meant a lot to me when my classmates named me Miss Pass Christian High in my senior year. It made me realize that nine out of ten times, people will accept you and encourage you if you let them. You can always "belong" wherever you are.

Positioning yourself to win isn't always so easy. In a flash doubts can creep in, and before you know it you can start wavering and lose your focus. When that happens, the key is finding a way to keep your eye on the ball.

Last year I had the opportunity to visit Julie Foudy's girls' soccer camp in New Jersey. Julie was a member of the 1999 World Cup team that captivated the nation-especially little girls. It was a leadership camp, with twelve- to sixteen-year-olds from all over the country. The theme was "Live, Lead, and Pass It On." Julie invited me to give the campers a pep talk and share a few of my experiences. I welcomed the chance to talk to these young girls and hopefully give them something solid and inspirational to take away with them. The girls were gathered around, asking me questions, and one of them asked, "Have you always been sure of yourself? Was there ever a time that you doubted yourself?" I could see by the intense expression on her face that she really wanted to know-I guessed because she herself had experienced doubts.

"Absolutely," I assured her. "Everyone has doubts sometimes. And I mean everyone."

She looked relieved. I get this all the time from young people. They assume that doubts are a sign of weakness, and all the truly great people in the world don't have them. The truth is, we're all pretty fragile to begin with. There are only a very few people who are cocky sons of guns straight out of the womb. And they're not always the most successful. I think I worry more about someone who never has doubts.

Most of us struggle with thinking we're not good enough. I always said that if I was the smartest or most talented person on the team, we were in big trouble! What makes the difference between success and failure is not whether you have doubts, but what you do when the doubts creep in. And they will. How do you get past them? What works for me is taking action. Doing something tangible to get myself into position. I can't control everything that happens, but I can be ready.

I didn't just learn this key principle through sports. My parents were a huge inspiration. My dad was showing the way before I was even born. You see, when my dad was a young boy, in the 1930s, he dreamed of flying airplanes one day. He'd take a broomstick handle and put it between his legs and imagine he was flying. People told him he was crazy. A black man would never be allowed to fly a plane. Remember, back then African Americans didn't have those kinds of opportunities. But my dad refused to listen to the naysayers. Instead, he learned everything he could about aviation. He sought out the chance to do what he loved, and he refused to accept defeat. He joined the military, and became one of the famous Tuskegee Airmen-the first black American air corps. The Tuskegee Airmen flew 1,578 missions during World War II. They never lost a single plane they escorted into battle.

My dad positioned himself for success. He had the career he dreamed of. He traveled the world on exciting assignments. He proudly served in three wars for his country. He gave his family the opportunities he'd never had growing up. He made sure his children were in a position to succeed.

My mother is also an inspiration. It still amazes me when I think about the quiet, steady way she pursued her goals. Her parents never went beyond the sixth grade. My mom was the first in her family to go to college. She attended Howard University on a $100 scholarship. But like most women of her era, she didn't really set goals for herself beyond having a family. As she once said, laughing, when someone asked her what she majored in at Howard, "I majored in extracurricular activities and I minored in finding a husband."

Mom never pursued a career outside the home while we were growing up, yet today, at age eighty-two, she is a polished woman whose credentials are awe-inspiring. She was the first woman to serve as president of the Mississippi Coast Coliseum Commission, the first woman to chair the Mississippi State Board of Education, and the first woman to serve as a member of the board of directors of the Mississippi Power Company. She also served as chairperson of the New Orleans branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. And she did all of this after her children were grown!

Come on, think about it. Here she was, approaching sixty; she'd never really had a career outside the home-I asked my mom recently how'd she do it? Inquiring minds wanted to know.

She answered simply, "Well, when your father retired from the Air Force and we moved to the Pass, the first thing I wanted to do was get involved in politics. And my involvement in politics led to other things. I became acquainted with the governor ..."

"Wait a minute," I interrupted. "How did you become acquainted with the governor? Here you were, a housewife in Mississippi who had never had a career."

"Well," she replied, "I became acquainted with the governor because I was willing to take an active role in the community. I became the Harrison County Democratic Executive Chairperson. And with that, I met the governor. When he had an opportunity to appoint me, first he appointed me to the children's rehab center in Jackson. And I enjoyed that very much. That was my first appointment. And then all of the mayors along the Gulf Coast selected me as their representative to be a commissioner for the Coliseum. So that was another stepping stone. From the Coliseum, I was appointed to the Federal Reserve. The governor then had an opportunity to appoint lay board members, so I became part of the lay board. And I've always been interested in children and their education, so that was a stepping stone to helping me move into other areas."

She makes it sound obvious and easy. My mother is pretty humble about her remarkable capabilities. But one thing is plain: She positioned herself to achieve. The opportunities didn't just come to her out of the blue. In fact, when I look at what Mom made of her life, given all the barriers she had to overcome, I am truly proud. I'm also grateful because I feel she put her dreams on hold so Dad and her children could pursue theirs.

Mom rose from poverty to prosperity. She grew up in Akron, Ohio, where her family was devastated by the Depression of the 1930s. It didn't help that her father, my Grandfather Tolliver, was an alcoholic. My dear grandmother, Grandma Sally, worked as a maid, a cook, a babysitter-whatever she could find. The most she ever earned was a dollar a day. Mom remembers a particular summer evening in Akron when she was six years old. Grandma Sally was cooking dinner on a potbelly stove in the basement. All the utilities in the house had been cut off because they could no longer afford to pay for them. As Grandma Sally cooked, the family sat around a makeshift dining-room table in the basement, lit by the glow of a kerosene lamp.

Lucimarian was a precocious child. (I guess having me later was her payback.) She wanted to make her parents feel better, so she announced, "I have a song in my heart, and I'm going to sing it!"

My unemployed grandfather was not amused. He told her, "Not at this table you're not!" So what did Mom do? She gobbled down her dinner and raced outside. When she reached the basement window, she sank to her knees and serenaded her family through the screen window. It was that unconquerable spirit that carried my mom to unimaginable heights.

Because of my mom's example, her brother, William, went to college on the G.I. Bill and became a certified public accountant. Her sister, Depholia, became a nurse. And her father turned to Alcoholics Anonymous. By the time I was born, Grandpa Tolliver was sober. I never remember him drinking. I do remember him reading from the Bible as he ministered to other alcoholics. Perhaps my grandfather would have found Alcoholics Anonymous even had my mother not excelled in life. But I strongly believe that seeing his daughter position herself for success gave him a greater confidence that he could too.

Today, when people ask me for the secret of my success, I say, "Being born to Lawrence and Lucimarian Roberts!"

My parents taught me through their example that any individual can succeed. Don't get stuck in that awful trap of thinking others with more material advantages or happier childhoods or better educations have more of what it takes to get ahead. The secret to succeeding is to find it from within. We all see plenty of examples of people who seem to have it all, yet they're not happier or more successful at life. And we see other examples of people who rise above unbelievable challenges to make it.


Excerpted from FROM THE HEART by Robin Roberts Copyright © 2007 by Robin Rene Roberts. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Robin Roberts was named the third anchor of Good Morning America in May 2005. Ms. Roberts has contributed to the show since June 1995, and has worked in broadcasting for more than 20 years. Other ABC assignments have included segments hosting "Good Morning America Sunday" and "Prime Time." She has done high-profile reporting from the Persian Gulf and from the Gulf Coast. A native of Louisiana, Robin was a college basketball legend and served as the commentator on the WNBA for ESPN.

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