by Lynette Silva
When I think of extraordinary humans, frankly, Hollywood stars don’t usually rise to the top of the list. An exception – Michael J. Fox. Okay, I admit to the tiniest of crushes on his Alex P. Keaton character from the TV show Family Ties (and a much bigger crush on him as Marty McFly from Back to the Future). Undoubtedly, he’s done great work in his “day job” as an actor. Yet it’s the work he’s accomplished in seeking a cure for Parkinson’s disease that has truly marked him as extraordinary.
Michael has taken his own personal pain and turned it to the benefit of the many millions (including my uncle and my father) who suffer from Parkinson’s. Many fight the disease every day with grace and determination. But how many of us, when hit with such news, might want to crawl into a hole and pull the hole in after us?
Not only has he chosen the higher path in the face of adversity, he does it with an outlook that many of us can learn from. Just look at the titles of his books – his first memoir, Lucky Man, and his most recent offering, Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist. It’s this last book that I find particularly fascinating – to quote the book summary:
“Always Looking Up is a memoir of this last decade, told through the critical themes of Michael’s life: work, politics, faith, and family. The book is a journey of self-discovery and reinvention, and a testament to the consolations that protect him from the ravages of Parkinson’s. With the humor and wit that captivated fans of his first book, Lucky Man, Michael describes how he became a happier, more satisfied person by recognizing the gifts of everyday life.”
In many ways, that could be everyone’s story. Life has a tendency to throw us curves we could never have anticipated. As we adjust, we are all on a continual journey of self-discovery and reinvention. I think those of us that weather those changes best are the ones that can, as Michael does, pause and reflect on all that we have to be grateful for.
I’ve long been inspired by Michael and am thrilled at the opportunity to hear him speak at WorkHuman 2016. Grace under difficult circumstances. Kindness for others and an outlook for how his struggles and personal learnings can benefit others. How much better – how much more human – would our workplaces be if we could respond similarly with our colleagues during our go-go-go work days?
I hope you can join us for Work Human where you can hear Michael, too, as well as a range of other leaders:
- Amy Cuddy, social psychologist and author of Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges; Connect, Then Lead: Balancing Warmth and Strength to Build a More Human Leadership Model
- Shawn Achor, Harvard-trained researcher and New York Times best-selling author of The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness; Shawn Achor: The WorkHuman Conversation Continues
- Gary Hamel, world-renowned business thinker and innovation guru; For Human Beings to Thrive at Work, Bureaucracy Must Die
- Michelle Gielan, Positive Psychology Researcher, Founder of the Institute for Applied Positive Research; The Optimism Quotient: Changing our Mindset, Fueling Success
- Steve Pemberton, Divisional Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Walgreens; The Advantage of Disadvantage: How to Transform Adversity Into Action
- Eric Mosley, CEO and co-founder of Globoforce, and co-author of The Power of Thanks; The Power of Humanity at Work
See the full WorkHuman’s conference agenda here.
Who are the extraordinary humans in your life?