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Five Leadership (and Life) Lessons From Stuart Scott.

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A great journalist and entertainer, Stuart Scott, died after a seven year fight with cancer Sunday morning. He was 49 years old. My sons grew up with Stuart. He was their introduction to sports from a perspective to which they could relate. He was different, he was fun, he was COOL.

Stuart Scott was more than cool, however, he was a leader. He was a Black leader in a business of salt and pepper haired white men who thought sports should be reported a particular way. He really was THE ONE who made ESPN cool (there’s that word again).

After witnessing countless tributes, farewells and memories in the days since Sunday morning, those of us who didn’t have the opportunity to meet him or know him as a person, have a better understanding of who this wonderful man was and the impact he had on those he touched. For me, and maybe for you, there are some lessons Stuart Scott leaves us for our businesses and for our lives.

  1. Be yourself. Stuart Scott had a different vision in 1993 when he began his career at ESPN. That vision was to provide sports entertainment to the young, the hip, the cool. It was not always well received. In fact, Stuart faced a ton of adversity (even hate) to his style and delivery early on. Luckily for us and for the network, he stayed true to being HIMself, to being the authentic, real life Stuart Scott. Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself. Every one else is taken.” Stuart was Stuart. True leaders, real inspirations are who they are, without apology, without regret. They embrace being “the cool side of the pillow.”
  2. Know Who You Are Leading. Many will follow. The knack to being an effective leader is focusing on the right tribe to lead. In a way, Stuart Scott saw the future of sports broadcasting and spoke to it, long before the establishment knew it existed. Without vision, leadership has no effect on those it could lead.
  3. Be Relentless. From everything said about Stuart Scott, he was a professional. His quest to be the best he could be was, well, relentless. A leader rarely knows satisfaction, or worse yet, complacency. They are on a constant mission to take it to the next level every day, every moment. Obstacles, like cancer in Stuart’s case, are simply things to be fought, and ultimately overcome.
  4. Preparation is Everything. This whole leadership thing cannot work without the tireless efforts of the leader. From the countless stories told by his colleagues, Stuart Scott thrived on being prepared. Even in the throes of sickness, his unwavering pursuit to excel never slowed. He looked at every aspect of his profession in an effort to deliver the best end result product possible. If Malcom Gladwell was right that we need 10,000 hours of “practice time” to become awesome at something, Stuart understood. And worked triple time.
  5. Love Others. Stuart Scott was loved. By his fans, by his colleagues, by his friends, by his family, Stuart Scott was loved. The biggest reason for such love was simple: Stuart Scott loved. Love is a powerful mover of people and it was that love for what he did and for the life he led that separated him from the masses. Great leaders, powerful inspirations know that the best results happen when the focus is not self, but others. Stuart Scott existed in an entertainment world that is all about “love me, love me, love me.” Yet he led by loving others.

We can learn a lot from the life, as sadly cut short as it was, of Stuart Scott. And maybe that is some of what he always wanted. Rest in Peace, Stuart Scott. And BOOYAH!