Friday, October 15, 2010

Moving On: Courage or Cowardice?

Meredith Vieira interviews former President Bill Clinton in 2006.
Photo Credit: NBC News

I saw a headline on the Huffington Post website about NBC Today co-anchor Meredith Vieira that caught my attention-- Meredith Vieira: "I'm Not Afraid To Go" From The "Today" Show.

Photo Credit: NBC News
Vieira's contract with NBC expires next year and there is already speculation that she will leave the top-rated morning news program.  That speculation seems to come from an interview she granted Ladies' Home Journal last November in which she said, "I'll know when it's time to go, and I'm not afraid to go."

While many people might think that once a television journalist or personality reaches a pinnacle position, like the one Vieira has, they want to hold on to it for as long as possible, no matter what. That is not always the case.

The story reminds me of a scene in Star Wars: Episode III where Chancellor Palpatine shares with a vulnerable and conflicted Anakin Skywalker that "all who gain power are afraid to lose it."  There is a certain amount of power and prestige, not to mention fame and fortune, that come from anchoring a news program, especially a top-rated program like Today.  Clearly, all of those things don't intoxicate Vieira.

The important lesson in this has nothing to do with the power, prestige, fame and fortune that can come and go with any given work situation.  The lesson has everything to do with not being afraid to live life on your own terms, even professionally.  A concept Vieira has never had a problem embracing.

It's not about being afraid to move on.  It's about having the courage to move on.

It's not about being afraid to lose power associated with a job.  It's about having the courage to gain power associated with your calling. 

It's not about being afraid to lose what you've gained by following someone else's lead.  It's about having the courage to gain-- through following your own lead-- what you would lose if you didn't.

My recent transition from a 23-year career in television news has helped me learn that valuable lesson.  I don't know why Meredith Vieira, who also hosts the syndicated game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,  may consider walking away from the #1 network morning news program.  Maybe the opportunity to spend more quality time with her husband, who has multiple sclerosis, will prompt her to leave.  Or, maybe-- just maybe-- Vieira's situation at NBC isn't as perfect as many people may think.  Appearances can be deceiving.  Trust me.


  1. "The lesson has everything to do with not being afraid to live life on your own terms, even professionally. "

    So true! I think truth personal growth has been achieved when one reaches that insight. Thanks Mike. great post!