Jan 6, 2015

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The Gift of Paying Tribute

The Gift of Paying Tribute

thL48YVV1FThe passing of ESPN anchor Stuart Scott has received prominent coverage and deservedly so but the thing that stuck with me is that ESPN being fully aware that Scott was living with cancer had the foresight to conduct a series of video interviews with colleagues and athlete’s.  It was moving it was powerful and it was ready to go within minutes.  There was one unfortunate thing; Scott never got to see it and I suspect it never occurred to the interviewees to pick up the phone and repeat those words to him.  It seems to be one of the blind spots of humans, the ability to acknowledge the impact others have had on us, not to others but to that person.  The rationale is a desire not to make the person feel uncomfortable.  Of course the recipient feeds the notion by protesting any attempt at public adulation.  For some reason we buy into the notion that to accept the praise means you lack humility.    That used to be me.  I cowered from acknowledgement and did everything in my power to defect it, make light of it, or worse, belittle the praiser.

Then one day  I got it.  It took 100 plus men paying tribute to me in the presence of my wife and daughter.  But in the moment I shut up and listened for the first time.  What I realized was it was not about me.  It was about how others had their world shift  because they chose to pay attention to and put stock in either my words or way of being.  This was their opportunity to be complete with that transformation by sharing the lesson with others, paying it forward so to speak.  It has happened often for me and I am continually amazed by who has been affected and by the little things that have proved impactful.  It has also given me the ability to feel complete.  There is always more to do but it is comforting to know how broad the ripples have been from my pebbles.

So, take the time to acknowledge someone today. it is great gift for you and the person you praise.  If you are on the receiving end, it is not your job, nor is it the time to offer praise in retort.  Just, smile, say “thank you” and move on.


in case you haven’t seen it, here is Rich Eisen’s (Scott’s longtime co-anchor at ESPN) in the moment reaction to learning of Scott’s death.




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