If you’ve spent the last fifteen years, as I have, with ESPN as the background soundtrack in your home, you no doubt know Stuart Scott. But even if you haven’t, you probably heard this ESPN anchor eulogized last month in the mainstream media — on his untimely death January 4 at age 49.
In 2014, when Scott received the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPYs (the Oscars for the sports industry), he gave us all a gift: his acceptance speech. It was real, unvarnished – about his fight against cancer for the third time. The indignities of life-saving interventions. The promise of medical research. The importance of crying. USA Today called it his “finest television moment.”
Scott spoke matter-of-factly, yet from the heart. He spoke with conviction, and without tears (though there was not a dry eye in the house).
He talked about the need to lean on others, about the necessity of a shared fight. And how that was good. And he spoke about his love for his young daughters, and how fatherhood defined the man he became. Scott stood on that stage a mere few days after being discharged from a grueling week’s stay at the hospital that included four surgeries. His presence was a testament to the strength of his will to live.
I invite you to take a look at Scott’s acceptance speech at the ESPYs as a guide to reflecting on your own life. I also believe you may find some nuggets of meaning here for your professional audiences – both current and prospective clients. His words are contemporary, fresh, and may resonate particularly with the sports aficionados in those groups.
With the skill of a commentator who has been sharing what he sees on the screen throughout his professional life, Scott shared his view from the wide angle lens. First, he redefined the “battle” against cancer. “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live.” Clearly, we can each insert our own term in place of “cancer” in that sentence without any reduction in meaning.
And lastly, he pulled back that lens even further: “Every day I’m reminded that our life’s journey is about the people who touch us.” With the pride, thoughtfulness and confidence he exuded behind the ESPN anchor desk when describing nearly-perfect sports plays, Scott closed the televised chapter of his life with his own nearly-perfect commentary: elegant, simple in appearance, difficult to execute, and inspiring.
Randi J. Siegel, MBA, is the President of DocuBank (docubank.com), which ensures that the emergency information and healthcare directives of its 200,000+ enrollees are available 24/7/365 through the largest advance directives registry in the U.S., as well as access to an online safe for storage of digital assets and other vital documents. Working with estate planning professionals since 1997, Randi frequently speaks at national estate planning conferences and has appeared on radio and television as an authority on registries. A member of the Philadelphia Estate Planning Council, the International Society of Advance Care Planning and the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care, Randi is active in health education and public engagement related to advance care planning/advance directives. She serves as Pennsylvania liaison to the National Healthcare Decisions Day initiative and as a board member of the Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly. Randi is an ongoing contributor to the Academy blog.
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