I recently had a meeting with a fellow I respect and admire and I was truly inspired. I will call him Fred.
First I will give some background. Fred was a Chartered Accountant who had been Chief Financial Officer of a large company with head office in Toronto. The company decided to move head office to the west. He helped the organization move but decided for personal reasons not to go. The next job he took really surprised me when he became Chief Administrative Officer of a large law firm. At the time several law firms were hiring non-lawyers to do the back-office work. Most of these people were not successful. Supporting a group of high-powered lawyers with outstanding administrative support is a big challenge.
Fred was a star and supported the law firm in amazing ways. He was the model of a person who does excellent staff work but does not get involved with the work and management of the firm. I really am impressed when people adapt to different circumstances and do a great job. The story does not end there.
About nine years ago, he was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. About the same time his firm was having a sporty outing of golf, tennis and bicycling. Fred described himself as a couch potato and did not play golf or tennis and had not ridden a bike since he was a teenager. He decided to do the biking and the firm provided a famous biker as coach. Fred took to biking like a duck to water. He now bikes all over the world and at age 62 he completed an Iron Man Triathlon. The event consists of a 2.4 mile (3.8 km) swim, a 112 mile (180 km) bike ride, and a marathon (26.2 mile, 42 km). How amazing is that.
I think Fred is a great example to making the best of significant challenges, from being a very successful CFO to an outstanding CAO to now a very fit bike rider, who sees the world on his bike. How many of us can say that we took an apparent setback and made it into a real opportunity. Well done, Fred.