Developing Character Muscles

“We develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.” Stephen R. Covey

What do Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox have in common? They both share the struggles associated with having Parkinson’s disease.

When I read an article this week about Michael J. Fox and the fact that April is Parkinson’s awareness month, I was reminded of the quote by Stephen Covey.  I’ve read the book, Lucky Man, by Fox and I am inspired by his continued positive attitude. Where most of us would use this disease as a reason to hide away or give up entirely, he has not let this disease stop him and has continued to be productive. Since he wrote Lucky Man, Fox has gone on to fight his battle with Parkinson’s and has even written two other books, Always Look Up: The Adventures Of An Incurable Optimist and A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Future….

I have not read either of these books, but intend to put them on my priority reading list.

While Fox may have many of his muscles taxed and weakened by his disease, he certainly has strengthened and built up his “character muscles.”  Most of us fortunately will not face a devastating illness like Parkinson’s, but when we do experience the setbacks and challenges of day-to-day life, I think it is important to put them into perspective and always maintain a positive attitude.  As I said in a prior blog, I am a glass overflowing type of person, but even I need the occasional reminder and inspiration from folks like Michael J. Fox.

Just as the steel blade is tempered and made stronger by the heat of the fire, all of us should come out a bit stronger after facing the fires of day-to-day life. Having a positive attitude not only makes things easier to deal with, but it also makes us easier to work with – well at least I hope it makes the doer in me easier to work with, I’ll let you be the judge.

So when you face the next challenge in your personal life or the next Fire Drill at work, take a deep breath and think of Ali and Fox and put your challenges into perspective. At the end of the day, remember how you handle yourself during these moments is not only what leaves a lasting impression, but just the fact that you have had these experiences is making you stronger.

As I think of all the people I know who suffer from Parkinson’s, I am humbled by their continued drive and determination.


2 thoughts on “Developing Character Muscles

  1. As usual, you continue to inspire. Great choice in individuals to emulate when we face our own, and often much smaller, problems. Each of us deals with important decisions every day that do make a difference to not only ourselves but those we interact with professionally and personally. It is always good to step back and put these ‘opportunities’ in perspective. A calmer view often leads to better compromise and strenghens the result.

  2. This is a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing it. I have admired these two men for a long time. I have followed Michael J. Fox’s career all the way back to the “Family Ties” days when I was growing up. His positive attitude, and perspective on his disease should be an inspiration to us all. Every time I see him interviewed these days, I think back to that teenager who was in our “living rooms every week”, and now a crusader for a very very important cause. Thanks again!

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