Sully, Scully, and Arnie

Sully (Captain Chesley Sullenberger)

Last Saturday Pam and I saw the movie Sully, the story of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, starring Tom Hanks as Sullenberger. The film follows Sullenberger’s January 2009 emergency landing of a US Airways jet on the Hudson River (amazingly all 155 passengers and crew survived with only minor injuries) and the subsequent publicity and investigation.

My connection to Sully: Within a week of Sully’s water landing on the Hudson River, I drafted an article for publication in my magazine Leadership Excellence. The article, based on his statements to the press, revealed his authenticity as husband, father, and dutiful captain and his humility in his new role as an American hero:  “I was just doing my job.”


Scully (Broadcaster Vin Scully)

Last Sunday was the final broadcast of Vin Scully, the announcer of LA Dodger’s baseball since 1958!  Fittingly, the Dodgers clinched their fourth consecutive division as Scully called the 3-hour 33-minute game that culminated in a 10th-inning home run: “Swung on and a high drive to deep left field, the Dodger bench empties. Would you believe, a home run?”

After the game, Scully told the crowd and the players on the field that, since 1958, “You and I have grown up together, through the good times and the bad.” He said he was “terribly embarrassed” at all the attention given him and mentioned that there had one thing he’d like to give the crowd. A recording of him singing “Wind Beneath My Wings” was played. His wife, Sandi, emerged and together they mouthed the words.

My connection to Scully: As a young boy and teenager, I often slept on summer nights in a small cabin by a stream at my grandfather’s summer residence in Vivian Park, Provo Canyon. There I had access to an old radio, vintage 1940, with upgraded antenna. At night, the radio could receive signals from a great distance. When the Los Angeles Dodgers played baseball at home, I would seek station KFI and listen to the broadcast of Vin Scully. Through his voice I was not only able to “see” many games but also expand my small world.


Arnie (Golfer Arnold Palmer)

Last Sunday legendary golfer Arnold “Arnie” Palmer died at age 87. Palmer’s go-for-broke style made a country club sport popular for the everyman. He was at ease with presidents and the public. Through his remarkable life, he never lost his personal touch. “Arnold transcended the game of golf,” Jack Nicklaus said. “He was more than a golfer or even great golfer. He was an icon, a legend, a pioneer. He took the game to a higher level, virtually by himself. Along the way, he had millions of adoring fans. He was ‘the king’ of our sport and always will be.” Arnie was also an exemplary husband, father, citizen and business leader.

My connection to Arnie.  I started playing and watching golf on TV in 1958 when Palmer began collecting 62 PGA Tour titles, including seven majors (4 Masters from 1958 to 1964). Arnie also played life and business with the same daring and flair. By emulating him, I improved my golf game and was named best all-around athlete of my high school.


Lessons from Authentic Leaders

These three men—Sully, Scully and Arnie—personify authentic leadership. They teach us many lessons; among them are these three:

  1. Leadership is manifest in your love of vocation and avocation.
  2. Authenticity is evident in every role and dimension of life.
  3. Loyalty and fidelity are seen in daily duty to family, faith and profession.


I encourage you to identify authentic leaders in your life and draw lessons from their influence on you.

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