Leadership from an “Average Guy”

Have you ever been inspired by an interview on T.V. or the radio?  I know I often gain great inspiration from different mediums, outside of the usual business events.  This happened in mid-September when I was listening to an interview with Daryl Fox, National Director of The Terry Fox Foundation.  Daryl is the younger brother of Terry Fox and accompanied his brother in the cross-Canada Marathon of Hope.  Terry was an amputee due to cancer in his knee.  In 1980 he decided he wanted to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research.  Unfortunately, Terry was forced to end his trek in Thunder Bay, Ontario – just under halfway of his intended journey.  Later that year, Terry succumbed to a second bout of cancer.

During this interview, there were several points that resonated with me.  Daryl described Terry as “an average person who had incredible vision.”  He also commented on Terry’s unshakable integrity.  Terry wanted to ensure that he ran every mile he set out to run.  When they couldn’t find the marker from the previous night, Terry would go back to a point he knew he had covered and start there, often covering 2-3 miles he had previously travelled.

Terry was also very driven – enduring on-going pain during his daily marathons.  Daryl shared that Terry always put his pain in perspective.  He was in pain for about 12 hours per day and could then find some relief.  Many cancer patients are unable to gain any relief from their battle.  His focus was unselfish and focused outward on his vision and others.  In addition to running, Terry ensured his vision was shared with others, by generously conducting interviews and doing presentations around his daily runs.

To achieve his dream, Terry aimed to collect $1 from every Canadian.  This dream has subsequently been achieved many times over.  The annual Terry Fox run every September now raises about $22 million in Canada.  There are also runs in over 50 countries worldwide.  What a great legacy!

Why did I feel compelled to share this story?  Terry demonstrated so many key traits of a good leader.  He created a movement to fight cancer that has lasted long after he lost his battle.  Terry connected with people across Canada and they were willing to continue his work, under the leadership of his parents.  Terry is a great example of how “an average person” can lead amazing changes when you have a clear vision, determination, and authenticity in communication and actions.  Like Terry, sharing your vision and engaging others in a way that is achievable for them will create a strong following.

Our everyday challenges and set-backs cannot compare to those Terry faced.  Now it’s your turn to lead your own vision and create your mark in the world.

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