I wanna be like Stu

Written by one of my LinkedIn contacts, Tara Jaye Frank, VP of Diversity for Hallmark

This piece embodies and speaks to a number of the principles that we are learning. Never give up, persistence, the power of support and being in harmony with others, and doing your best are just a few. Stuart Scott was an ESPN host that recently passed from cancer.
See what you think.

I wanna be like Stu:

I admit it. I’m not a big sports gal. When my colleagues use sports analogies, I only catch 50% of them. I prefer organic metaphors—roots, trees, seeds, growth. Stuff like that. But because I have a husband and sons who like sports, I find myself watching ESPN at least a little every day.

While my brain is only marginally up to speed with the sports world, my heart joins it in mourning the passing of Stuart Scott. In reading about him and watching him over the years, I’ve found inspiration in the true leader that Stuart Scott was and will continue to be. The personal lessons inherent in Stuart’s life are obvious, but there are several leadership insights to be gleaned from his journey as well. Here are a few I’m reflecting on today, and felt inspired to share.

1. Authenticity = Innovation

Stuart was unashamedly himself. He was talented, knowledgeable, experienced, youthful, and culturally transparent. Even when his colleagues thought his style might be too much for viewers, he brought his whole self to the screen anyway. He didn’t leave his culture behind, or “wear a mask” to conceal his uniqueness, his manner of speaking, his energy…his one-of-a-kind flair. He was himself. And for the most part, viewers loved it, and him. Stuart energized the network and brought a new voice to the sports world. His authenticity became ESPN’s innovation.

2. Pursuit of Excellence > Odds

This morning Stuart’s colleagues talked about working alongside him while he was sick. They recalled how he would sometimes nod off between recording sessions. But when the red light turned on, so would he. What does it feel like to be so committed to your purpose that you self-generate in order to do it well? That you “wake up” to deliver your best, even when the odds are against you? Stuart Scott was determined to get the job done with the level of excellence he had become known for…in the face of the most difficult form of resistance.

3. Living Loud = Living Well

Stuart didn’t let his greatest challenge rob him of his will to live. I’m sure he had moments of weakness, but he seemed to know that while life itself is worthy of our gratitude, choosing to live it fully becomes the true gift. As his illness took its toll, he continued to engage his body in physical activity. He kept working. Fathering. Loving. Inspiring others. In his 2014 Jimmy V award acceptance speech, Stuart reminded us all to “Live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, lie down and rest and let somebody else fight for you.” Which leads me to the last insight.

4. We Are Better Together

Toward the end of his ESPY speech, Stuart remarked, “This whole fight, this journey thing is not a solo venture. This is something that requires support.” The same is true for those of us in leadership. I’m constantly reminded of how much we truly need each other. Human beings are interconnected…we each have skills that are strengthened when combined. The higher you ascend, the more people you need in your corner. Build relationships. Be generous with your talents and your insight, and welcome support from others as well.

While I may not be the most qualified to comment on the life and times of Stuart Scott as an anchor and sportscaster, he was a human being first. And from the little I do know, a darn good one at that. It’s always beneficial to remember our own personal power. Stuart Scott modeled this truth for all of us. Wishing you and yours wellness in the New Year, and a healthy dose of introspection.

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