How Faith And Family Helped Me Conquer Life’s Challenges

For those of you that are Fans of CBS and their news coverage, the name Byron Pitts will be well known to you. He is a contributing journalist on the iconic 60 Minutes, and a regular on the CBS Evening News With Katie Couric. You do not reach these lofty goals without a great deal of hard work, and maybe just a pinch of luck thrown into the mix.

Step Out On Nothing is a very heartfelt memoir in which we get to understand the struggles that a poor little black boy with lofty goals faced in the still segregated America of the 1960’s.

As a reviewer I tend to shy away from those ghastly ghostwritten biographies of what my fellow countryman Robin Leach euphemistically calls The Rich And Famous. Step Out On Nothing did catch my eye though. I have always admired Byron Pitts, even through the veneer of what masquerades as Network TV News he has always come across as both knowledgeable and caring. Traits that are rare in this day and age, particularly when it comes to the news business.

I was not wrong with my choice of this book, Byron Pitts is every bit the strong individual in his private life as we have become to admire on the TV screen. His story is one of struggle and adversity.

His early life was not a happy one, his father maintained an outward facade of being the family man while the other side revealed a tendency to stray from his wife. Even more than four decades later Byron Pitts has an uneasy relationship with his father. One gives, the other takes, or at least would like the opportunity.

Byron Pitts faced great adversity, one school claimed that he was ‘Functionally illiterate’, indeed Byron was very slow to master the arts of reading and writing. In college he came very close to quitting when a lecturer delivered the encouraging words that Byron was wasting his time and the governments money by remaining in class.

To everyone’ s joy (today) he did not back down. And with the help of a friendly professor moved his grades up and up. Not only did he prove the man wrong, he graduated.

I am on the lowest step of the journalism ladder, my big friends offer encouragement, but even my friends face that constant challenge of moving up the ladder. A bigger market, a bigger audience, it is always a challenge!

Byron has faced these challenges. Not all of his battles were fair, many seemed to revolve around race. This is a cesspool that really bothers me. I don’t care what color or creed someone is, it is the person inside that I care about.

One tends to think of segregation as something that happened a very long time ago. That is not true, and Byron cites several examples from personal experience. He also cites various examples of where he perceived unfair treatment in the workplace, but this is a man that is no quitter. He stood his ground, in fact he quotes from a Chinese proverb:

If you stand by the river long enough, you will see the bodies of your enemies float by

Now that is one I am going to remember.

There are also some highly amusing moments in Step Out On Nothing, one in particular had me laughing so hard I had to read the passage to my wife who erupted in laughter. While embedded with the army in Iraq he finds himself in a firefight with insurgents. While this clearly was a life or death situation Byron manages to find humor in it. I would share the quote, but it is a little ripe for the delicate eyes of some of our readers. Suffice it to say that page 218 alone is a great reason to buy this book! I also discovered that a vital supply to take with you when entering war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan is a large bottle of Tabasco! Apparently this can used to mask the flavor of whatever disgusting food comes your way.

I can honestly say that I enjoyed Step Out On Nothing a great deal, it is well written, and clearly comes from the heart.

You can order your copy of Step Out On Nothing from Amazon.

Simon Barrett

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