Becoming your own superhero with Stuart Lawrence
It was such an honour to sit down with Stuart Lawrence, the author of Silence Is Not An Option for a truly moving Meet The Author interview. Stuart is a former teacher, youth engagement specialist, motivational speaker and the brother of Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in a racially motivated attack in 1993.
I was nine-years-old when this heart-breaking story broke, and I’ll never forget the way it dominated the headlines and how the story evolved as I grew up. It took 18 years before a murder conviction was reached, and this fight for justice shone a stark light on institutional racism in the UK and led to many important shifts in culture and attitudes.
Stuart was just 16 when he lost his older brother, who was also his role model and superhero. After Stephen’s murder, Stuart asked himself, “What would my big brother want me to do? How would he want me to act?” and these questions led him on a wonderful path to becoming a teacher, author and a powerful youth activist.
Stuart wrote Silence Is Not An Option to pass on his brother’s wisdom and his own experiences, to help young people understand their power. As Stuart said to me:
“Stephen was the big brother who enabled me to be the best version of myself and this is what I want for other people.”
Although the book is meant for young teenagers, I couldn’t put it down! I read it in one evening and I found myself bookmarking every second page. Stuart shares so much wisdom, inspiration and genuinely useful advice – but what I loved most is how he wrote it like an older brother offering guidance without preaching.
Stuart’s wonderful book covers everything from how to build a growth mindset; viewing failing as a ‘first attempt in learning’ (love that!); managing your decisions, emotions and behaviours to achieve your goals; and telling young people to “never doubt how amazing you are, and what you can bring to the world.” Page after page is filled with inspiring tips and advice on how young people can strive in life.
I particularly loved reading the section Stuart wrote about purpose. Helping people and businesses find their purpose is my biggest passion in life, and Stuart shared some fascinating thoughts on how young people can use their purpose as a reference point and a navigator throughout life.
During our conversation, Stuart and I spoke about everything from being kind to yourself; to finding the positive in every situation; seeing failure as a first attempt at learning; grabbing your purpose with both hands; living in the present; sitting with stillness; and focusing on progress when it comes to big issues like racial inequality.
For someone who has been through so much, Stuart was one of the most optimistic and warmest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. He only ever looks forward in life, but also lives firmly in the moment. In his own words:
“The biggest lesson I learnt from Stephen’s murder is that tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone, and I try to not waste a day, an hour or a minute.”
Stuart is someone who understands that the most important project you will ever work on is yourself, and his book is such a wonderful guide to help us tackle such a big project. Whether you’re a teacher, student, parent, or anyone looking for a bit of direction, I couldn’t recommend Silence Is Not An Option highly enough.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me Stuart, and thank you for upholding your brother’s legacy in the most wonderful way.