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C Plus D Leads to E

As motivational speaker Pete Walkey says, “Don’t be blinded by the simplicity of the statement.” Determination is huge for the peak performer. Through it, you can get to the point to where you literally “will” things to happen successfully.


I firmly believe we all have a fire within us. When it gets stoked, look out!


There is a basketball player named Sydney Smallbone. Her youth basketball coach and trainer Rod Creech once told me a story of when Sydney was a couple of years old. She was at the top of the steps at her home when she tumbled down a whole bunch of steps!


Bomp. Bomp. Bomp. Thud. Bomp. Bomp. WHAP!


The family heard it from the other room and knew what had happened. They all came running like crazy with horrified expressions expecting to see baby Sydney squalling at the bottom of the steps. Instead, they rounded the corner to see her screaming at the steps!


Arrrrgh!! Rrrraaaarrrgh! Aaaarrrrgh! She wasn’t crying. Forget crying. She was letting the stairs have it for being there and leading to that unpleasant experience! She was ticked off!


Sydney took that fiery determination and put it into an unparalleled work ethic that led her to a full scholarship to play basketball for the famed Lady Vols basketball program of legendary coach Pat Summit. There are hundreds of girls with more athletic ability than Sydney, but few that can match her for C + D = E (Commitment plus Determination leads to Excellence). In the summer, Sydney would get up at the crack of dawn to train while others were sleeping. Before games, she would go to another gym and shoot hundreds of shots. Her dream of playing for Tennessee came true.


I was deep into my college experience when I realized, point blank, what I wanted to do as a profession. I happened to walk by the Journalism Building at the University of Mississippi. A sign was posted that read: Tryouts for Student TV News, Weather and Sports. Everything came into focus for me. Sportscasting! That’s what my passion had always been. I had never put two and two together to realize I could actually cover sports for a living.


I immediately put C + D = E into effect. Standing at the bottom of those steps, I made an internal commitment that I would bulldoze any barrier in my way. Showing determination, I bounded up those steps and strode confidently into the lobby. “Who do I see about trying out for the Sports position?” I asked to whoever wanted to come out of their office. Two bodies emerged with curiosity. They could tell I meant business. I secured a spot in the tryouts.


I was flat out awful on tryout night. I was so nervous I could hardly swallow. My southern accent made Jeff Foxworthy sound like Prince Charles. The knot on my tie was as big as a grapefruit. Thank goodness most everyone else wanted to anchor News and Weather. Only one other person showed up to try out for Sports. By default I got to anchor the Sports a couple of nights a week on the campus TV station.


As former Indiana University football coach Bill Mallory used to say, I “locked my jaw” and went to work. As famed golf instructor Harvey Penick would say, I “took dead aim” on my goal. I worked as hard as anyone in the Journalism Building, and I wasn’t even majoring in Journalism or Communications. On weekends I would go to the home of the campus TV station engineer and get the keys to the edit suite. I would go back to campus and practice and practice and practice. Many Fraternity students throughout campus would turn on our 6 pm cable newscast to laugh at us and all the mistakes we would make on the live broadcasts. It didn’t matter. We kept pressing forward. As an intern at WHBQ TV in Memphis I would cover a college football game all day Saturday. I would then stay at the station until 2 in the morning editing stories they could run for the next week for the whopping fee of $35 per report.


Three years after standing at the bottom of the steps of the Journalism Building with a spirit of commitment and determination, I was in Los Angeles accepting a Golden Microphone for Broadcasting Excellence at the Universal Sheraton. I was the Sports Director at KBAK TV in Bakersfield.


C + D = E.


WSBT TV Anchor Cindy Ward

One of the most determined people I have ever met is a News Anchor named Cindy Ward. She has been a driving force at legendary WSBT TV in South Bend for two decades. She is a living example of C + D = E. I worked with her for 16 years and saw first hand her commitment to providing quality local news to her viewers. If a plant was closed, she was fiercely determined to work the phone to get the truth as to why the plant was closing – not just the company line.


Cindy has always been more interested in the quality of the content of the newscast than her own vanity. I wish I had a nickel for every time she has waited until the last few minutes before going to get “spruced up” in the wardrobe and makeup area of the TV Station. Her top priority has always been to help produce a top quality newscast. Going to get spiffy looking has always come second.


One time she rushed out of the makeup area to make it to the 5:00 News set on time. It was 4:58. Cindy’s long earpiece chord dangled from one ear all the way down to the floor. She hustled down the hall and into the studio. Suddenly, the end of her ear piece chord got stuck in the studio doors. The sudden jerk caused her to lose her balance and she fell hard. She looked like Charlie Brown when Lucy would pick up the football as Charlie tried to kick it! She threw out an arm to break the fall, and broke her wrist in three places!


It was 4:59. What did she do? Go to the E.R. like any sane person, right?


No! She anchored the 5:00 news. Her customers were depending on her. Plus, there was no one else there to anchor. In her eyes, she HAD to anchor. It was her determination that gave her the fuel to gut it out over the next 30 minutes. Did she go to the E.R. then? No. A friend had passed away and Visitation was that evening. She went to pay her respects and THEN finally went to the E.R. He gave her an earful about waiting so long become coming to get the injury treated. What could she say?


It’s a determination thing.


Cindy Ward gets tremendous ratings from customers in her area. People can see when someone cares deeply and they reward them by being loyal customers. She has a lot of viewers that get distraught when she is off the air for vacation. They are that loyal.


C plus D leads to E.


The book “Stoke the Fire Within” is filled with motivational stories like the ones above. The book can be purchased through Corby Publishing at


- Charlie Adams, Motivational Speaker
574 807 2279 || Email Charlie