Back in my teens and 20’s, I knew each Sports Center anchor better than my own family. I memorized their catch phrases, read their books, and laughed along while ESPN was making each and every one of them a star. My first job out of college was as a sports anchor, and I shamelessly imitated. After Chris Berman, and before Bill Simmons, these men and women walked the earth like rock stars.
Of course, getting older and more domesticated has all but ceased my connection with Sports Center anchors. Even if we weren’t watching highlights in a new way today, I still wouldn’t be devoting time to the show because I have commitments elsewhere. As such, I wasn’t even aware of Stuart Scott’s fight with cancer.
Apparently, it was found by accident, sent to remission, and then returned with a vengance. I hurt for the man as much as I can, and hope he beats it a second time.
Last week, because of his profile and fight, he was presented with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at last week’s ESPY awards. Almost like a Make-a-Wish kid, Stu was presented with the award by his favorite actor, Keefer Sutherland. I would have gone with Jim Carrey in Joker makeup, but you go, bud.
In his speech, he was humble in comparing himself to previous winners, declaring his intention to keep fighting the good fight, and stating his responsibility in winning the award. It was rote in nature until he got to this critical part in the speech.
“I can’t do this ‘never give up’ thing by myself.”
In the sports world, we talk about individual achievement like it’s second nature. Insurmountable odds are overcome by people every day. They see the goal, and train day and night to reach it. How in the world could Stuart Scott be highlighting the important part of his survival is relying on others?
“When you get too tired to fight, lie down and rest and let someone else fight for you.”
Deep down, we all get that. There’s only so much time in the day, energy in the tank, desire to overcome. At some point, we are going to have to lie down and let someone else pick up the baton.
“I couldn’t fight, but doctors and nurses could,” He stated.
The next few minutes were accolades for family and friends taking his calls. Bosses that offered to bring over meals. His two daughters that helped him feel like a normal dad, while still providing all the inspiration he needed.
So what happens if he dies? Does that mean he failed? Scott disagrees:
“You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live.”
All of this reminds me not just of the little success I have had in my daily fight with Type I diabetes, because it was only when I asked for help that my numbers improved. I was reminded of the fight my teams face every day in trying to march together towards a single goal with insurmountable odds.
Some days are just really hard. Clients demand the best from us, complex systems are difficult to integrate, and last minute polish items sometimes throw us into a tailspin. In those moments, we try to just push through and tough it out. Scott reminds us that sometimes, it’s okay to just rest and let someone else fight for us.
That’s what teammates and communities are for.
Agile coaches often help me find the right result, development circles frequently post issues and help each other up, QA groups sit together and help find the issues often missed. In each of those situations, along with millions of others, relief only comes when we admit our struggle and raise our hand.
Scott understands this, mostly because he doesn’t have a choice anymore. Would he know how to let others fight for him if he was in this same spot? Tough to tell, but often many of us think we are all we need until we are at our weakest. One thing I want to teach my kids is not to wait that long. Admitting you aren’t an expert not only raises your profile, but can also help remove your problem sooner.
Whatever your situation, just take Scott’s word to heart and take steps to widen the circle:
“This whole fight is not a solo venture.”