As Cool As The Other Side of the Pillow
Two years ago from the posting of this article, longtime ESPN anchor Stuart Scott passed on from a rare form of cancer. A leading sports entertainer and journalist, Stuart was a television mogul who could invite you to drop everything you were doing and watch him work.
He was a young, black anchor that shook the status quo of how to deliver a sports highlight. Stuart was an effective leader that brought a new edge to the worldwide leader in sports.
Listening to him felt like the first time, every time. He made you smile while making everything look effortless on camera.
When my own mother passed away from cancer, I eulogized her with a quote from Stuart — “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live.” Stuart Scott achieved incredible success, none greater than the lessons he taught that are unforgettable.
The best thing you can ever hope to be is remembered; nothing is worse than being forgotten. And it’s in the realization that being forgotten is a possibility that pushes many of us to becoming unforgettable.
We always remember our positional authority as a youth, the ones that taught us the world. We looked up to them as guides through the playful years of childhood and stressful years of early adolescence.
Whether a parent, math teacher, or soccer coach, they influenced our every step. We trusted their judgment and worked to make them proud.
As older teens, we sought out approval from our friends. We formed social circles, exercising good and bad judgment that creates our unique experience. We have more latitude to create, but lack all of life’s freedoms to generate a larger impact.
As adults, we have the freedom to lead our own world. And through that liberty we need to ask ourselves: How can I be a leader of real authenticity and be remembered for it? You can lead by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live.
The “how” – Focus on what’s important
We all get 24 hours in a day and how you use every single moment counts. It’s such a trite phrase, but for a good reason.
Life seems to get in the way more than we care to acknowledge. Balancing work, play, health, family, travel, community involvement, volunteering, and everything in between is exhausting.
As a whole, we’ve become sleep deprived, unhealthy, and stressed out. Scientists want us to get at least seven hours of sleep per night which frustrates all of us who don’t fall asleep until tomorrow and wake up before it’s appropriate to say “good morning”.
To focus your life, eliminate lesser priorities and become great in areas that matter to you. We are very quick to first try to fit everything into our lives, nudging priorities around before coming to the edge of our sanity. Compromising commitments does not make us better, more efficient, or “multi-taskers”.
It spreads us thin to the point of mediocrity.
Take a good hard look at what you truly care about and discard anything that does not make you a better person or is not a primary reason to get out of bed in the morning. It’s better to be great in fewer areas than mediocre in many areas.
The “why” – Inspire confidence in those around you
Think of someone in your life who has promoted your confidence, given you the green light to reach higher in your life.
The person who balks at the expression “the sky is the limit” because even the sky is too low of an altitude for you. If you have this person in your life, they own a nice plot of grey matter in your frontal lobe. They gave you the “permission” to be great.
Be a leader that allows others to feel inspired. Think about how you felt when you received their “permission”. You felt emboldened, confident, and stuck your chest out. You get a firm, metaphorical slap in the ass from that person that gives you a little boost of confidence to go do whatever the hell you just got permission to do.
Of course, you don’t need “permission”. But this reassurance fortifies in your mind what you already wanted to do! The difference is you looked for guidance, and this person acting as the authoritarian figure(the leader) allowed you to do it.
Inspiring confidence happens when we push ourselves and others to strive for more than what we think is capable. It’s the art of motivation. Be a leader that inspires.
The “manner in which you live” – Be curious and listen
During a graduation commencement in 2014, comedian Jim Carrey stated, “I can tell you the effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is.”
Be cognizant about what is happening in the lives of those around you. Find those small, but somehow relatively frequent times when you can take a breather and chat with someone.
Close your social media and the internet browser that is redlining with twelve tabs open. Unleash the power of your ability to listen to someone talk about their life!
Turn the focus from you onto others. Give them your full, undivided attention and be curious about their life. In the office, at home, or in public, utilize the 2:1 ratio you were blessed with; 2 ears and 1 mouth.
Great listeners tend to be better communicators, exude greater maturity, and show deeper respect. All of this builds rapport.
Rapport builds trust. Trust builds leaders.
The manner in which you live is about the positive effect you have on others around you.
Being remembered is a powerful motivator. Leave your mark. Just like Stuart Scott did.