The Seven Skills You Need To Survive, Thrive and Accomplish More Than You Ever Imagined
per·se·ver·ance: To carry on in your course of action, even in the face of difficulty, with little or no evidence of success.
Our North American culture often tells us that we should look, feel, and be successful. Yet any success I’ve had has come only after significant ordeals, and rarely did I ever feel successful along the way. But I’ve learned to persevere. This is an important point to hold on to: perseverance can be learned. We can grow in our ability to withstand difficult times. We can learn to push forward in the face of failure. We can develop the determination to keep slogging ahead until we reach that remarkable day when someone in our life points out how “lucky” we’ve been.
Jenna was ten when her father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of fifty. Unlike most ten-year-olds, she understood the gravity of the diagnosis—and set herself to doing something about this thing that had attacked her dad. When she learned that funds were needed to help people live well with the disease and to spur on research for a cure, she decided to help those who could help her dad. Five years later, “Jenna’s Toonies for Tulips” campaign is going strong; she’s raised more than $50,000 for Parkinson’s. (In Canada, a toonie is the two-dollar coin.)
Jenna is the daughter of a good friend of mine. I’m continually amazed and inspired by her work for Parkinson’s; she’s a constant reminder of the simplicity of what it is I want to do with my life. Like Jenna, I want to help. Whether it’s her dad or others like him, I want to see people lifted above the misery of their circumstances and inspired to live their best.
Hence this book. My greatest desire in writing it is to shine a light deep into people’s souls and convince them that there is a better way. Throughout the book I’ll provide practical steps, but my first goal is to help us see the bright reality of what can be. Then we can set ourselves on the course to that reality.
Then there was school. I hated school. I remember heading off to kindergarten with new clothes and a new lunch pail, all excited. There I met Mrs. Popovich (along with “Soundy,” her paper-bag puppet who taught us how to spell) and encountered more rules than a five-year-old could imagine. I clearly recall thinking after a couple of days, “Okay, that was fun. Time for something new.” Sitting at a desk all day and doing this school stuff was just not working for me. There had to be more interesting things to do with one’s day. But there was something else going on as well. The first seeds of realization were being planted: these other kids were not like me. Thus began what felt like an extremely long educational career that I never grew to like and longed to be free of.
I imagine that my middle-school experience was much like that of many others—a nightmare. It was in grades five and six that I fully came to understand my differentness. I began to realize that my world was made up of white people, black people, Latinos, and me. Now, when I say “me” I really mean “us,” as in me and my adopted siblings. At the time we were an entity unto ourselves. Outside of my immediate family, I knew absolutely no other mixed-race individual.
It became apparent early on that it mattered to people what category I fit into. Virtually as far back as I can remember I’d be asked “What are you?” In the early years I’d say “white” because, of course, my parents were white. But it didn’t take long for that error in thinking to be slammed to the ground. The first few times I was called a nigger I had no idea what it meant and finally had to ask Mom. I don’t recall the explanation she gave, but it did become clear in my mind that many did not consider me “white.”
Then there’s that pesky little friend named Parkinson’s, which came into my life at a comparatively early age and which allows me to call myself patient, client, advocate, and fighter. I have a complex relationship with this “friend.” I love much of what Parkinson’s has brought me, while hating it and specifically its symptoms. It’s a disease that typically afflicts individuals over the age of sixty. Seldom is it a bother to those under fifty, with only about ten percent of the Parkinson’s population diagnosed before the mid-century mark. I was forty-six.
Not all lottery wins are good things, and I’m not particularly happy about having won this one. But although my new best friend—whom I hate—has brought a certain level of grief into my life, it also played a direct role in my next lottery win.
Perseverance. It’s not always sexy. It’s not often exciting. And it can be lonely. What does it take to keep walking forward despite all the evidence that you’re likely done? What does it take to keep moving when there’s little chance you can improve your position and a likely chance that you’ll be sent home? That day we proved that just showing up and continuing to work hard, regardless of what it looked like, was enough. Tomorrow would be another day.
We also did what we said we were going to do: we had a great time. When people ask what my favorite race destination was, I always put Carcross at the top of the list. We learned to enjoy and have fun with the race. We tackled the day to the best of our ability, and we were exceptionally content with the results.
Talk to me about Parkinson’s. Tell me what I’m not supposed to be able to do. Tell me about all the limitations that will be placed on me and I’ll tell you about a guy who beat Parkinson’s on a snow-covered sand dune in Carcross, Yukon. I’ll fight to prevent this disease from defining me, and I encourage you to live the same way. I can’t get rid of my burden outright, but in Carcross I reminded it that it wasn’t in charge.
Published May 2018 by Penguin Random House Canada PERSEVERANCE can be found anywhere good books are sold. For specific details visit www.TimSr.ca.
Tim Hague Sr. is an Author / Professional Speaker / Parkinson’s Advocate / TEDx Speaker / Winner of The Amazing Race Canada season #1. Tim was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 46. He hails from Winnipeg Canada where he resides with his wife and children. For event bookings or to learn more about Tim go to www.TimSr.ca.