Tim Hague: Persevering Through a Parkinson’s Diagnosis at 46 to Win The Amazing Race and Find New Purpose #27

Warwick Fairfax

July 14, 2020

Fewer than 10 percent of those living with Parkinson’s Disease are under 60. Tim Hague is one of them. As a nurse for two decades, he sensed immediately what was wrong when, at age 46, he noticed a tremor in his left toe.  His self-diagnosis was soon confirmed, and in the months that followed he pressed deeply into his Christian faith to grasp “Why has God done this to me?” But he refused to wallow in regret or self-doubt, and just three years later he was competing on, and winning, The Amazing Race in his home country of Canada. The platform the show provided led him to see Parkinson’s as winning the lottery, as he began a successful speaking career and launched a nonprofit to put his medical training to use helping others with the disease. In this episode of BEYOND THE CRUCIBLE, he tells host and Crucible Leadership founder Warwick Fairfax that he’s learning every day to live the lessons of his book, Perseverance: The Seven Skills You Need to Survive, Thrive, and Accomplish More Than You Ever Imagined. “I have to believe that there is something good in this for me,” he says. “It doesn’t make sense otherwise.”
To learn more about Tim Hague and his book, PERSEVERANCE, visit www.timsr.ca

To learn more about Crucible Leadership. visit www.crucibleleadership.com

Highlights

 

  • Perseverance is a big part of living with Parkinson’s (4:50)
  • How the faith of his parents helped him as an adopted son (7:39)
  • The “unremarkable” way his Parkinson’s was diagnosed (12:06)
  • His unhappiness upon receiving the diagnosis (13:28)
  • Where he found God in the midst of his diagnosis (15:26)
  • Finding his purpose after Parkinson’s in starting a charity (19:25)
  • How a slight adjustment to your career goals can be your path beyond your crucible (21:07)
  • Giving hope in what can be a hopeless situation (25:21)
  • How he got on The Amazing Race (28:15)
  • How perseverance can be developed (32:16)
  • Key building blocks to perseverance (36:33)
  • Giving hope through trials (41:17)
  • A recipe for perseverance in the midst of the COVID pandemic (47:10)
  • Key takeaways from the episode (49:20)

Transcript

Gary S:
Well, welcome, everyone, to this episode of Beyond the Crucible. I’m Gary Schneeberger, the cohost of the podcast and the communications director for Crucible Leadership, and you have dialed in to, pressed play on, hopefully pressed subscribe to, a podcast that deals with our crucible experiences. Those are things most all of us have been through: painful times, trying times, failures, setbacks, those things that can be so upsetting to the applecart of our lives that it can feel like they changed the trajectory of our lives. And we do indeed talk about them here, and we do indeed go over them here, but not because we want to live there, not because we want to wallow in them. We go over them as a jumping-off point to discuss how to overcome them, how to move beyond them, because it is in moving beyond them that we can chart a course to a life of significance.

Gary S:
Here with me for this episode of the show, as always for every episode of the show, is the architect of Crucible Leadership and the host of the podcast, Warwick Fairfax. Warwick, we’ve got an interesting, and dare I say what will be an inspiring story, I think, for listeners today.

Warwick F:
Absolutely, Gary. Great to be here, and wonderful to have Tim with us.

Tim H:
Thank you, Warwick.

Gary S:
The Tim … That was Tim right there, listener, and Tim is … I’m going to give him the introduction that he deserves. Tim is Tim Hague, who is a retired nurse of more than 20 years, who devotes his time to professional speaking and writing, and is founder of the Parkinson’s wellness center U-Turn Parkinson’s. He’s the author of the best-selling book Perseverance: The Seven Skills You Need to Survive, Thrive, and Accomplish More Than You Ever Imagined. Side note: I’ve read much of the book. It’s worth getting. Get it, listener. We’ll tell you how at the end of this podcast.

Gary S:
He has spoken for TEDx and is sought after across North America for his motivational and inspiring topics, which are living your best and the power of perseverance. After having been diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s disease at the age of 46, Tim and his son went on to win the first season of the reality television series The Amazing Race Canada. He is an outspoken and effective advocate on behalf of people living with Parkinson’s around the world, and I will tell you at the end of the podcast how to find out more about Tim and his work.

Gary S:
So, Tim, welcome. Warwick, take it away.

Tim H:
Thank you.

Warwick F:
Well, Tim, just awesome to have you, and I know we’ll get into this in a bit, but I love the concept in your book: perseverance, surviving, thriving. You don’t often think of those concepts together, perseverance and thrive. So I’d love to hear more about that in a bit. But tell us a bit about Tim Hague and your story and how that kind of led up to your crucible experience. Yeah. Just tell a bit about yourself, and yeah. That’d be a great place to start.

Tim H:
Sure. Well, thank you again for having me on the show. It’s a pleasure to be with you today, and yeah, my life was an interesting story right from the beginning. We all say we started when we were born as a small child. So was I, but it started off in Iowa with a 20-year-old mom who found herself pregnant by a 30-something-year-old married black man. She ended up being sent to Texas to have me, put me up for adoption. I was adopted by a family from Kansas who not only adopted me, but then adopted five more like me in addition to the three kids that they already had. So that’s a total of nine that I grew up in. Eventually I moved to Canada after making my way through life, and there’s lots of story there that I’ve just skipped over, but made my way to Canada. My wife is from Canada. We met in Bible school back in the day.

Tim H:
In Winnipeg, I grew up. I like to say that I was born in Texas, raised in Kansas, but I grew up in Winnipeg, and there’s a whole long story to that as well. But an important part of that is learning to live in the cold. You mentioned before we got started here today, the brutal weather of winters, and like I said then, I like to say it’s only the strong who live here.

Gary S:
I am with you, brother. I’m in Wisconsin, so I feel your pain and your shivers.

Tim H:
But also the strength. You have the fortitude to live in it.

Gary S:
Indeed.

Tim H:
I like to think that living in Winnipeg has taught me a lot in the terms of persevering. I was being prepared for, if you will, dealing with Parkinson’s, because perseverance is a big part of living with Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s disease is not a quick, get it and you die five years later. This is a lifetime kind of disease. This is a marathon of a disease that requires perseverance, and we can go into more of how I define perseverance as we go here.

Tim H:
But at this point, I’ve been married to my wonderful wife Cheryl for 34 years, have four fantastic children all grown up. My youngest two are twins, and they just turned 22. My oldest son … he’s married, have wonderful daughter-in-law. They have two children, 4 and 17 months, having a great time with them, of course. Then I do travel and speak a fair bit, wrote the book and am executive director of U-Turn Parkinson’s here in Winnipeg.

Tim H:
So that’s the Coles Notes of Tim Hague right now.

Warwick F:
Wow. So I’d love to hear a bit more about just the experience with Parkinson’s. Before we get there, before that happened, I think you were 46. Were you-

Tim H:
Yes.

Warwick F:
… at the time when you got Parkinson’s? Tell us about how was your life? I mean, obviously I have a younger brother and sister who are adopted, and sometimes that works out great. Sometimes it just varies in the family. So how was your life just growing up a bit differently? I mean, many people have been adopted, and then moving from Texas to Kansas. Pre-Parkinson’s, how would you describe your life?

Tim H:
Life was fantastic. My parents came off the farm in Missouri, grade-eight educations, but fundamentally strong Christians, sound foundation of faith that we were raised with, and they made it very clear early on that Christ was the center of life and that that’s what everybody was based on, that we were made in His image, that there was fundamental worth to all of us regardless of what our origins were. And so there was never any question in our minds whatsoever that we were loved. We simply were, and they did everything they could to provide for those nine kids. They put a roof over our head. They put clothes on our back, food in our bellies, got us an education, and while they certainly didn’t maybe have the appreciation for higher education that others might, they did everything they knew to do to prepare us for life and to get us the education and set us out on our own the best that they possibly could.

Warwick F:
It sounds like you had a loving home that they … It’s one thing to kind of preach Christ. It’s another thing to live it and to show kids who you’ve brought into your family that unconditional love and acceptance. But it sounds like they actually did live what they preached, if you will.

Tim H:
I have been in church all my life, and I can give you every reason why you should ever leave the religion, the faith, the church. I’ve seen it all. One of the things that keeps me so grounded to my faith is that my parents lived out what it meant to be adopted as sons of God, that to be brought in from somewhere where you didn’t belong, where you weren’t born, and to be made a son and an heir and to have full rights as if you were born there … They’ve lived that out, and yeah, it has greatly impacted my faith journey to the good.

Warwick F:
Wow. That’s wonderful. I mean, a lot of folks, obviously as you would know, don’t grow up in a loving home with that unconditional love, and that obviously tends to bring lifelong challenges of self-worth and what have you, and that’s a blessing to have that. So it sounds like you made your way to Canada. You became a registered nurse, met your wife in Bible school. It feels like life was pretty good.

Tim H:
Life was…

Warwick F:
Did you feel like, “God, you’ve blessed me. I don’t know where I would have grown up elsewhere, but you’ve put me in a loving home. I have a loving wife, loving kids.” Did you say thank-you-Jesus things? That’s pretty awesome.

Tim H:
Yes.

Warwick F:
I mean, was that kind of your life? I don’t mean to sugarcoat it, but does it feel like that was your life, in a sense?

Tim H:
In large part, yes, because I always had what I needed. We were never rich. We didn’t have vacations every year. We didn’t travel. We didn’t do things. But we had what we needed, and I was always cognizant of that. I was aware of the fact that my experience as an adopted child was so very different from lots. Now, did we face discrimination? Yes. Mom and Dad were white. We were all mixed race and brown of some nature or another. So we had hard times.

Tim H:
I always like to joke that the one father, I was dating his Latino daughter, and I was never the right color brown for him. I was always too black for the white man’s daughter, too white for the black man’s daughter, or vice versa there, and the wrong shade of brown for the Latino man’s daughter. I never quite fit except at home.

Warwick F:
Right. Certainly, I mean, there’s discrimination now. Certainly years ago it probably wasn’t better. So yeah. Growing up in that environment, that’s just, sadly, probably fairly normal is discrimination by the narrow-minded and the unenlightened, if you will.

Tim H:
Absolutely. Our first pastor showed up at home to tell Mom and Dad the mistake they had made in adopting this black baby. So we told him we disagreed with his theology and moved on.

Gary S:
It’s amazing you said just a few minutes ago that the foundation of your faith was strong because of your parents, and to have a person who’s in leadership, quote unquote, in the faith to come and say something like that … That shows how strong the faith that you lived and were taught is, that you were able to dismiss that, I’ll say it, ignorant comment from someone in leadership. That shows the strength of that, and that strength undoubtedly serves you well as you continue to bump into crucibles throughout your life.

Tim H:
Absolutely.

Warwick F:
Yeah. Just on that note, there’s a real sad dichotomy between the unconditional love of your parents and the narrow-mindedness of that pastor who, I guess, not to be judgmental here, but obviously wasn’t attuned to biblical teachings and the teaching of Jesus that we’re all children of God, and so I don’t know. Maybe he missed a couple chapters or something, or a lot of chapters, but sad but true. There’s many people that … That’d be a whole other discussion, how many pastors over the centuries and Civil War have proclaimed Jesus while yet denying Jesus in so many ways, which is, I find, impossible to understand, but that will be another discussion.

Warwick F:
So it sounds like life wasn’t perfect, in this sense. It’s not like you were rolling in money and could go to Disney World every year or anything, but you had a wonderful upbringing, loving wife, found a wonderful home in Winnipeg. So tell us about when Parkinson’s happened. At 46, and you would know much better than I, you don’t expect that at that age. So tell us how that whole episode happened.

Tim H:
Well, the diagnosis came about somewhat unremarkably. I had been a nurse at that point for 18 years, and Dad had Parkinson’s. Now, it wasn’t a big deal for us that he had Parkinson’s at the time, because he died ultimately of complications to heart disease. He had diabetes, and then Parkinson’s came along later and kind of layered into that, and we were always more concerned about the other.

Warwick F:
This is obviously your adoptive father.

Tim H:
Yes. This is my adoptive father.

Warwick F:
Obviously this wasn’t a hereditary deal, obviously, but that’s a coincidence.

Tim H:
Well, interestingly enough, I know my birth mother. I’ve known her for many years, and my maternal grandfather by blood also had Parkinson’s when he died. So it was coming at me on all fronts. But yeah. I had been nursing for 18 years when I noticed a tremor in my left big toe, and I knew at that point that it was either probably MS or Parkinson’s. I had seen lots of both, and I’d self diagnosed in about five minutes, and then went on a number of months to see my doc and see a specialist and be formally diagnosed in February of 2011 at 46 with young onset.

Tim H:
Now, how did I feel about that? I was ticked is how I felt about it. I was not excited by this diagnosis. I knew very well what it would likely mean for me long term, and I simply was not happy. Me and God had to do some business over this one just because it’s a rough diagnosis. So yeah. That’s how it came to be.

Gary S:
You told me, Tim, when we talked earlier that a very, very small percentage … I mean, tell the listeners the percentage of people who are diagnosed with Parkinson’s at that age. It is not common at all.

Tim H:
It’s under 10 percent that are diagnosed with Parkinson’s under the age of 60. Typically, Parkinson’s is an older-person’s disease, and you’re typically diagnosed over 60. When I was diagnosed, I knew no one under 60 who had Parkinson’s, and I spent … It was a fair while before I met anyone my age with Parkinson’s. I call it one of my two lotteries that I’ve won.

Warwick F:
What was the other one?

Tim H:
The other one was The Amazing Race.

Warwick F:
That’s interesting, and we’ll get into this in a moment, but it’s interesting, two lotteries that you have won. Yeah. I know the listeners are going to be thinking, “Okay. Winning Amazing Race … I get how that’s winning a lottery. How is getting Parkinson’s winning a lottery?”

Tim H:
Well, not all lotteries are good, but the second lottery that was good only happened because I won the first lottery. I am convinced that had I not come down with Parkinson’s disease, I never would have made it onto The Amazing Race.

Warwick F:
So before we get there, again, maybe this is obvious. I mean, you were obviously feeling angry, frustrated. Was there like, “Well, God, you’ve blessed me in so many ways. I have a wonderful wife,” … I’m sure you had kids by then. It’s like, “Well, what’s up with this? I know you talk about this grand plan you have. I’m not getting how … How’s this help anybody? What’s the deal?” I mean, I’m assuming you went through that conversation with yourself, God, just friends.

Tim H:
Absolutely. It was extraordinarily frustrating, because here you are, a young man in the prime of life, not even middle-aged yet, and now you’re faced with this chronic, debilitating disease that has no hope to it. There is no hope in Parkinson’s, and to date, there are precious few things that control our symptoms, and there is no cure for it, and we’ve been working on a cure for a long time. Michael J. Fox Foundation has now spent alone over a billion dollars on research for a cure, and we’re really no closer to a cure than when he started.

Tim H:
So yeah. I was frustrated when I was diagnosed, but I had to spend that time with God and walk through what I think most people walk through, that question of, “Is God good? Why has he done this to me? Why has he allowed this to be done to me? What is my relationship going to be with him in light of this?” And I had to come all the way around that and determine, is God a good God? Well, at the end of the day, yes, I believe that God is a good God. I believe that he is God and that I’m not, and so if he is a good God, if he is, and I believe that fundamentally, then I have to believe that there is something good in this for me. It doesn’t make sense otherwise.

Tim H:
The logic doesn’t work, at least for me, to say that if you’re going to believe that he’s a good God and then to turn around and say, “Well, this isn’t. There’s nothing good in this,” and that he means no good in this and it’s just death and destruction and curse, those things don’t fit together. But I do believe he is good. I do believe he has my best interest at heart, and I do believe he will make this life worth something in the end, whether I understand it entirely or not.

Warwick F:
I’d imagine there was some keys to try to … How would I say it? Maybe the word is “accept,” because unlike most people, being a registered nurse, you knew far more than your average person. You knew the life expectancy, the progression of the disease, the statistics. You probably knew much of this before the diagnosis, didn’t have to go on the Internet or read a bunch of books. You probably knew most of what you were being told, and so it’s not like, “Oh, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” or “I’m going to have some false hope or some miracle.” Miracles can happen, but there’s a reason they call them miracles, because it’s kind of rare.

Warwick F:
But it sounds like you did some wrestling with God, and there are, I’m sure, others listening maybe that don’t have Parkinson’s, but they’ve been through tragedy, whether it’s loss of a loved one or abuse. There’s all sorts of things, and they’re probably asking themselves, to the degree they have any faith, “How could a good God allow suffering and pain?” It’s a question I don’t think any of us will fully be able to answer, at least not on this Earth. But you had to do a lot of wrestling to make sense that, well, maybe God can use it somehow.

Warwick F:
So obviously there’s not a whole lot you can do about the physical side, it sounds like, based on your knowledge, which is far more than mine. If that’s not something devoting a whole lot of energy to the physical if you felt like, “Okay. I’m not going to be able to invent a cure here. So I don’t know that investing my energy in that is going to be the best use of my time” … I’m guessing you probably thought that, but yet, how did you go through a sense of, “How can I accept this and somehow use it for good in some fashion?” How did you get to the point where you got beyond not the physical side, but the emotional and spiritual devastation that that diagnosis would have caused?

Tim H:
Well, I haven’t been very successful at it yet, but I’ve always considered myself a bit of an entrepreneur, and so I just came to the conclusion that if this is what God’s given me, if this is what life has dealt me, if this is the road I’m supposed to travel, then there must be something I’m supposed to do with it. So I do what I do and just start a business, and I’m shocked that my wife let me get away with it, but that’s what we did. We started a charity. So as a nurse, my desire is of course to work with people, help people, and so that’s what we did. We channel that energy and any negative and the things that I need to work out through the charity.

Tim H:
Fortunately, Warwick, there is a bit of physical that you can do. One of the best things that you can do beyond the medications that we take is exercise, and so I’ve always exercised a lot. I’ve run one sprint-distance triathlon in my time, only one full marathon. I never liked the long, long distances, but I’ve run lots of half marathons, and so we continue to run and continue to work out, and a lot of our work through the charity is around…

Warwick F:
What is that charity again? What does it do, the charity?

Tim H:
U-Turn Parkinson’s. It is a wellness center for people living with Parkinson’s. Our goal there is to help them physically, help them figure out their day-to-day, what you do with your life now that you have this disease, the intellectual side of wellness, the spiritual, the social, the emotional, and look at that entire sphere of what it means to live well with Parkinson’s.

Gary S:
Now, we’re going to get on, I assume, very quickly to The Amazing Race. Before we do that though, I want listeners to hear what Tim just said. In his previous career, in his career before Parkinson’s, he was a nurse. He was dedicated in his career to helping people. His crucible experience came. He was angry. He was frustrated. He worked through that, and his vision and his path out of beyond the crucible, as this podcast is called, is doing the same sort of thing in a different way, helping people.

Gary S:
To all listeners out there who are on the front end of the crucible and you’re still in the anger and frustration stage, know that, as you work through it, it may very well be what you were doing before the crucible that brought you satisfaction, that brought you significance, you can do perhaps in a different way. And I would guess, Tim, you would say, in no less a rewarding way, by moving on, learning the lessons of your crucible, and finding perseverance and vision to continue to help.

Tim H:
Absolutely. It gives me no end of joy and meaning in life to see that I can take everything that I spent my years on in nursing, my education and all those years at the bedside and in management, and now turn them to a charity that’s still helping people. My life hasn’t … It’s drastically changed, but in a lot of ways it hasn’t. Fundamentally, I’m still doing much of what I ever did, just in a very different capacity, and I’m very grateful for that.

Warwick F:
As you’re helping people, I often find there’s sort of a healing balm, if you will, that as you’re focused on helping others it gives meaning to life, and maybe it doesn’t make the pain less, the physical pain, but maybe the emotional and the spiritual. Maybe it lessens it a bit or … Do you know what I mean? There’s a spiritual, emotional healing component when you’re using your pain to help others. Does that make sense?

Tim H:
Absolutely, because it goes back to that question of, “Is God a good God?” In the midst of this diagnosis, you could say, “Well, this is miserable.” Well, it is. There has never been a day gone by that I have not wished that I didn’t have Parkinson’s, but in the midst of this, you can see the purpose, the reasoning, the continuation of the life, the continuation of the journey, that everything that I’ve been taught and learned and experienced through life was building me to this moment, and it allows me to now walk this part of my journey with as much confidence as I did prior to Parkinson’s, and in some ways more.

Warwick F:
That’s one of the fascinating things, I think, about a crucible is … You, I’m sure, as … Well, nurses around the globe right now with coronavirus, are in the front lines in a very dangerous environment, as you would know better than I would, but they do such wonderful work. But it’s another thing to come alongside somebody, saying, “I know what it is to have suffering. I know what it is every day to physically have challenges. I’m not sitting here above you as some clinician. I’m with you in this.”

Warwick F:
So when you say to somebody, whether they have Parkinson’s or maybe other diseases or other challenges, they can’t say to you, “Well, Tim, you don’t know what it’s like.” You can say, “Well, I do. Trust me. I do,” especially for Parkinson’s, but even with MS or other diseases or challenges. You don’t have the same symptoms as other diseases or abuse survivors or whatever, but you know what it is to suffer and every day to have to get up in challenging circumstances, and that gives you a platform that you didn’t want, didn’t ask for, but a platform you didn’t have before. Does that make sense?

Tim H:
Yeah. Absolutely it makes sense. So the question then becomes for me is, how will I then respond? I meet lots of people who struggle with that point. They get everything I’ve said up to this point, but now they have to decide, “Will I choose to walk forward in this? Or will I continue to fight it?” and I choose to walk forward in it, because I see a lot of added misery in trying to fight it. There are lots of people who pour their heart and soul into a cure. They just want to be cured. They just want it to be fixed. They want it to go away, and there’s very little hope in that, whereas there’s lots of hope that can be given, can be gained by accepting, learning contentment, learning perseverance, and being able to walk forward, trusting in a good God who says he’s got our back. I know some people will balk at that statement right there and say, “Well, that’s just a crutch,” and I’ll say, “Amen, brother. What’s yours?”

Tim H:
We’ve all chosen to believe in something. We have all chosen to believe in something.

Warwick F:
Exactly, and I do want to get to The Amazing Race, but what you’re saying is so profound. I want listeners to really understand that accepting things, whether it’s a diagnosis of Parkinson’s, MS … It could be a business failure. It could be losing a loved one, losing a child. We had somebody on the podcast a while ago that lost his 19-year-old son to a stroke out of nowhere. It’s like, how does that happen? Perfectly healthy one day, but it can happen.

Warwick F:
So there are some things you can’t change. Death is not something that we can change. You may not like it, but what’s the alternative to acceptance? To me, it’s almost madness or despondency. So I think, for many people who have gone through crucibles, the first step to moving on is acceptance, and the alternative to acceptance is so much worse.

Tim H:
It is.

Warwick F:
Don’t you think?

Tim H:
I agree, and of recent, it’s comes to light more and more in the Parkinson’s community that it’s very likely that a lot of our Parkinson’s is being caused by environmental pesticides, chemicals, stuff that we have done to ourselves. So again, I have to come back to this idea of blaming God, this idea that it’s somehow God’s fault. Is it God’s fault that we’ve poured all this crap into our environment? If that’s what’s given me Parkinson’s, that’s probably not God’s fault.

Warwick F:
So just talk about The Amazing Race and kind of what you’re doing, because it sounds like The Amazing Race Canada was a pivotal moment that launched you into what you’re doing now in your work on perseverance and thriving, not just surviving. So talk about how that was really a pivotal moment in your journey back.

Tim H:
Well, it’s what provided us the … It launched us into the charity and into the speaking and gave us this platform. It was my wife’s idea. She was always a bit of a fanatic of the American show, always said we were going to apply if it came to Canada, and true to her word, when it did, we did. Only, we didn’t, because we discovered that we had to be gone for several weeks, an extended period of time, away from family, completely cut off. So she decided that it would be best for Tim Jr. and I to apply, for multiple reasons, but one being that she said they would love my Parkinson’s. She said they’ve done all kinds of other things, but they’ve never had anyone on the show with Parkinson’s, and the short story is she was right. They did love the story, and that’s what got us on the race.

Tim H:
The race was that classic underdog story. I like to call it that Cinderella story, that come-from-behind win that nobody expected, because, Warwick, we sucked. Day in and day out, we struggled. Whether it was just getting lost over and over again or my Parkinson’s, we were not the bright, shining stars that you would anticipate winning The Amazing Race. We came in last twice, hit both of what they call a non-elimination leg where you should be sent home but they save you, managed to survive those, managed to survive the entire thing, made it to the end, and only because of the advice of my wife did we actually win.

Tim H:
She had told us right before we ever left … She said, “Tim, pay attention. There’s going to be something you need along the course of the race that you’re going to have to repeat or need for something at the end,” and right at the beginning, we noticed these flags and flowers that kept showing up. We memorized them, and the very last task of the race was needing to put the provincial or territorial flag and flower on a giant map, and I was the only guy that finished it of the three teams. The other two teams never finished it. I did it in two tries in about 10 minutes.

Warwick F:
That’s challenging. Now, how many provinces are there in Canada?

Tim H:
There are seven provinces, three territories.

Warwick F:
You had to know all of the provinces and territories and flags and flowers? That’s tough. I know Americans might say, “Well, hey. There’s 50 states.” Actually, there’s more provinces than there are states in Australia. I think we have five, from memory. Still, who memorizes state flowers and stuff like … Well, provincial flowers in your case.

Tim H:
Nobody.

Warwick F:
So that’s amazing. So you were the only team that did it?

Tim H:
Mm-hmm.

Warwick F:
What was it like having you and your son kind of around The Amazing Race? I mean, that must have been an incredible experience. I mean, he was probably doing his best to help his dad, and you’ve got probably more years and hopefully some more wisdom, and so between the two of you, you probably made a great team.

Tim H:
I like to think we did more or less. Again, we struggled a lot, but it was fantastic running the race with him. I mean, there were a couple of times that he simply saved our hide. I needed the strength of a young man. That got us through it, and that was huge, and so we had a great, great time running the race together. It was unbelievable.

Warwick F:
When you look at it, you can’t help but think there was the hand of providence there, because having watched The Amazing Race a bit before, the odds of you coming last twice and two non-elimination rounds is probably really, really remote.

Tim H:
Yes.

Warwick F:
So the odds were stacked against you, but somehow there was a hand at work perhaps that said, “You know what? Tim Sr. and Jr. … They’re going to win this thing,” even though it didn’t look likely. That’s an amazing story in itself, right?

Tim H:
Well, it is, and this is what I try to wrap perseverance around is that perseverance is something that can be learned. It’s practical and tangible, and that this story of The Amazing Race is such a classic example of perseverance. I’ve said so many times, we could have given up. We could have stopped. We could have chucked in the towel. Nobody would have ever said, “But, guys, you were so close. You were doing so well,” because we weren’t. We simply were not, and yet we chose to persevere. We chose to stay in the race. We chose to stay in our lane that we had been called to, and in doing so, we won.

Tim H:
Now, people say, “Well, yeah, but I’m not going to go win a reality television show and win a bunch of prizes and money and whatnot.” Well, maybe not. Maybe you’re going to win something far more important. Maybe you’re going to win your kid or your spouse or the job or the … Who knows what? But it’s about not just rolling over with the diagnosis, not just rolling over with the event, no matter how bad it is, but having faith that this has entered your life for a purpose and that you’ve been given and will be given all that you need to walk this journey if you will just stay on the journey.

Warwick F:
I think what Tim is saying here is so profound. I really want listeners to hear that, because we talk about this in Beyond the Crucible quite a lot. Sometimes you’ve gone through a tragedy. In my case, it was totally different. It was, you might have heard, losing a 150-year-old family media business in Australia founded by a person of very strong faith, and as a believer myself, that alone felt like, “Yep. God had a plan, and I blew God’s plan,” which is poor theology, but in my early 30s that’s what I thought.

Warwick F:
So not at all physical. I’m not at all comparing. No tragedy is comparable to another. Whether it’s that or physical or financial or losing a loved one, you can say, “Okay. This is awful. I’m going to be angry. I’m going to hide under the covers, and for the rest of my life, whether it’s five years or 50, I’m going to be bitter, angry and never leave the home.” That is a choice, but to me, that’s not really a particularly productive choice. You could have made that choice, but you chose not to and said, “Okay. This is awful. I never would want that on anybody, but how can I use it? It sounds a bit trite, but, “My pain for a purpose” and you have to inspire others.

Warwick F:
So talk a bit more about this message of forgiveness. I know there’s a number of messages, excuse me. Perseverance. That will be a whole other book. Maybe that’s a second or third book, forgiving what the world puts at you, but talk about some of the steps in perseverance and how you try to help others with Parkinson’s, but even beyond that, just people who’ve gone through tragedy. What are some of those steps to perseverance and wholeness and wellness?

Tim H:
Well, one of the first things for me is to be honest and say that very few days are easy. Most days are hard. When you wake up with this disease and it impacts you right from the get-go, most every day is hard, but therein lies the part of the emotional side and the intellectual side. Who ever promised that life was going to be easy? Nobody promised me that. I mean, the fact remains that I have been given so many things all my life, as we talked about. I have been blessed.

Tim H:
I was not born in the slums of India or Nepal or Nicaragua and many of the other places I’ve had the opportunity to visit around the world. I was born in North America, which set me ahead of 90 percent of the world from the get-go. A nursing career, a family, everything that I’ve been given, and now to think that because I’ve been given Parkinson’s that this somehow changes everything? It doesn’t. Parkinson’s gave me The Amazing Race. It added blessing to my life. Where I’ve been given so much, it’s added more.

Tim H:
So one of the skills I talk about in the book is let go of the happiness myth, letting go of this idea that I’m supposed to be happy all the time, that nothing’s ever supposed to impact my world in a negative way, because that’s just not accurate. It’s not the truth. Understanding the nature of luck. I had a boss who always said to me, “Tim, 80 percent of success is just showing up every day. The rest is probably going to take care of itself,” and I find it amazing, like on the Race, every day that I just show up, how lucky I get, and I’m using that tongue-in-cheek very much, but the more I just show up and do what I feel I’m supposed to do, the luckier I get.

Tim H:
I accept limits. I accept the fact now, I didn’t always, that my doctors were right, but I had to choose. I was always that guy who could do everything. I could be juggling 12 balls and look at the other four coming at me and integrate them in and keep going. I could just always handle lots. I can’t handle lots anymore. Parkinson’s has taken my nursing career away from me. I have to be very careful of how many things I take on in a given day, because I do nap every single day probably at least an hour, because I have to. My body won’t work otherwise. So I’ve had to come to terms with and accept the limitations that this disease has placed on me.

Tim H:
Then the other skills I’ll leave for the book, but there are seven things that I’ve listed there that I’ve learned and am learning that perseverance can be learned. It’s practical, positives steps that we can take to genuinely influence our lives to the good.

Warwick F:
There’s so many profound things you’ve said. One of the things that I’m thinking about a lot as you’re speaking is accept limits. Now, your limitations are clear with Parkinson’s. I mean, those who understand it, and you understand it very well, would know there are specific limitations. Those who are paraplegic, quadriplegics … They have very defined limits. But even those who might feel like they don’t have physical limitations … We have limits, whether it’s geographical, where you were born, maybe background, race. There’s all sorts of things. Maybe that’s not a good example of limit, but that will have-

Tim H:
But they impact our-

Warwick F:
… certain consequences that they will impact you even if it’s because of other people’s bigotry or narrow-mindedness. But even things like talents. Some people are very athletic, and others are not. They might be more artists and painters, and maybe their buddies in high school were standout basketball players. You know what? I have two left feet. I could train my heart out, but if we’re both training equally as hard, my buddy will always win because he’s naturally gifted. That’s a limitation. It doesn’t mean you can’t try to play basketball, but your odds of being in the NBA is zero, pretty much.

Tim H:
As good as naught.

Warwick F:
Yeah. I think it’s a myth. We all have limitations, and often we want what we don’t have. I’m somebody that did well in school, I’m not terrible athletically, but I’m not particularly tremendous, so I’m never going to be as good as my buddy or whatever. Limits is not a bad thing. Just use the areas that you … This is a bit different than what you have, but what you have gifting in. Accept that you can’t do everything, and try to channel your energies into areas that are more in light of how you’re limited. I don’t know if that makes sense at all, but my point is it’s not just for people who have Parkinson’s, this concept of accept your limits. Is that a fair statement?

Tim H:
Absolutely, and it’s reminiscent of a book I’m reading right now called The Hope Quotient by Ray Johnston, where he talks about finding what you’re gifted in, finding what you’re good at, and that’s the flip of accepting limitations. Limitations are the things that I’m not good at or can’t do, but find what you do love, what you are good at, and focus on those things, and take that and run. And that’s what I’ve tried to do with my nursing is find ways of taking what I know, what I do, and integrating it into this life that I now lead.

Warwick F:
So as we kind of begin to wind up here, just talk a bit about how you’ve used the concepts of perseverance in the nonprofit you run, and talk about how you’ve integrated that to really try to help people. How do you do that?

Tim H:
It’s something that we in large part try to live for the people that we’re around every day. A lot of the folks I interact with on a day-to-day basis are seniors. They’re older, 65 plus for sure, a lot of 70 plus. So not only is life in its, if you dare call it, golden years, but their young years are gone. And they’re into the latter part of life, but to nonetheless live out that things don’t have to be as bad as they seem, that we can still find hope, that we still can find joy. We can still be excited to get up every day and to exist as we are. I look like this. I didn’t anticipate looking like this or feeling like this or being like this, but that I can find hope and joy and a way forward regardless. And then we talk a lot about all of these skills and things as we go.

Warwick F:
These are primarily people with Parkinson’s?

Tim H:
Yes.

Warwick F:
Obviously most of them would be older, and do you find as you’re talking to people in, as you say, their golden years about some of the principles of perseverance in your own life experience … Do you find that you can see glimmers of hope …

Tim H:
Oh, yeah.

Warwick F:
… in their eyes, and maybe they feel like, “OK. Maybe I can be productive. Maybe I have some wisdom to offer friends, kids, grandkids”?

Tim H:
We’ll call this guy Charlie. Charlie sat around at home for probably years after his diagnosis. The first day he showed up at the center, scraggly beard, hair all over the place, exceptionally overweight, could barely understand him. His voice was very affected by Parkinson’s, had a hard time walking, moving. He talks better. He walks better. He has lost weight. He has a smile on his face again. His wife has thanked us profusely for everything that this has done for their marriage, their relationship, for him, and just the fact that we’ve been able to get him off the couch exercising a little bit and giving him a community, and that, Warwick, is what ramps me up every day.

Warwick F:
So it sounds like that’s a good test case, because it sounds like there were things you did physically and in terms of wellness that also emotionally and spiritually … When you combine all those factors, the health, wellness, emotional, spiritual, there’s not just changes in demeanor. There’s even somewhat increased … I don’t know. Not mobility, but-

Tim H:
Yeah increased mobility.

Warwick F:
… increased functionality, in some sense, that doesn’t cure things, but it makes a little bit of difference physically in well being, but certainly probably a lot of difference emotionally and spiritually, and that person probably had very little hope and how has hope and actually has life, in some sense. So that must be so rewarding.

Tim H:
It is so rewarding. It is thrilling, and we have literally watched him come back. It’s just been absolutely amazing. So therein is my hope.

Warwick F:
To me, that’s a message that I think we can all learn from, in the midst of our crucible: there is hope. Sometimes you can change your circumstances. Very often you can’t. There are lifelong, typically unalterable changes to your life. It doesn’t mean you have to like it, but OK. As you said, you choose to accept the limitations that there are, and so now what? You choose to let go of anger and either forgive other people. Sometimes that crucible is because of what things are done to us, or not be angry at the universe or God, because what good would that do? It doesn’t really help you.

Warwick F:
Anger never helps you. It’s not productive no matter how understandable it is, and then channel it in a way that helps other people, which you’ve really … I mean, you’re sort of a role model, if you will, of how you deal with crucibles in a productive manner and live life and have hope. And you’ve given a lot of other people life and hope, many you know, many you probably don’t know. They’ve heard your story, read your book, listened to your talks, and that’s leaving a legacy that your kids and grandkids and beyond can be proud of, right?

Tim H:
Yeah. I certainly hope so, and thank you for that. I certainly hope so.

Gary S:
That is an excellent place to begin the process of what I like to call landing the plane. So we’re not going to touch down yet, but I can see the guys on the runway waving those flashlights. Before we do that, I would be remiss, Tim, if I did not give you the chance to let listeners know how they can learn more about you, get your book. Where can they go to find out more information about you?

Tim H:
Timsr.ca. That’s timsr.ca, and you can see all the work that I’m doing there as well as the book, and I hope you have the opportunity to pick it up, and hope you enjoy it and that it’s encouraging.

Gary S:
Speaking of the book, I wanted to kind of end on something on page … I think it’s on page 222, from what I printed out from the Kindle that I was looking at. You’re talking about this in the context of your Parkinson’s, these two paragraphs I’m going to read. But as I read it, I thought, “This is a recipe for perseverance in the time of COVID-19.” Here’s what you wrote, and listener, pay close attention to this scenario that Tim describes and the emotions and the actions that grow from it. This is what Tim wrote in Perseverance.

Gary S:
“In Malcolm Gladwell’s book David and Goliath, he talks about the people of London during the Luftwaffe bombing in the Second World War. Gladwell describes the incredible transformation that occurred in some who survived the bombings day after day. They came to expect to survive. I love that,” Tim writes. “They took precautions to protect themselves, but they’d go about their daily lives as best they could all the while growing less terrified of the daily bombardment. This is the lesson I try to apply to my life with Parkinson’s,” Tim writes. “Some days it may be terrible, and I can anticipate that it will get worse. It will likely one day be debilitating and may even impact my death. However, today I’m very much alive and well. I’m learning to expect or survive each day and, more than that, to live the best of my ability.”

Gary S:
Obviously that’s about your experience with Parkinson’s, but is that fair to apply that to what we’re … To me, it seems a fair analysis of what we’re going through with COVID right now.

Tim H:
Absolutely. I think it’s fair to apply to all of our struggles. Every struggle, every person will be different, but we have to learn to survive, and in surviving, we suddenly realize, “Oh. I can do this. I survived last week. I survived the week before. I survived yesterday. I think I’ll survive today, and if I’m going to survive today, well, can I do a little better than just survive? What can I actually do to thrive? How can I live my best today? What does my best look like today?”

Gary S:
I have been in the communications business long enough to know that a statement like that is when you drop the plane on the runway. Let me summarize for you, listener, the, I think, three takeaways from our discussion today with Tim Hague. First, it is normal and it is okay to get angry in the aftermath of your crucible, just don’t stay there. Find the strength, the vision, and yes, the perseverance to move beyond the crucible, as this podcast is called. Process your emotions with friends and family. If you’re a person of faith, press into that. Dig deeper and see what the bigger picture might be, even what the blessing in your crucible might be.

Gary S:
Second point I think is a good takeaway from our discussion, in bouncing back, expect to stumble. Sailing will not always be smooth. Your boat will take on water. You’ll hit choppy water. You’ll veer off course, but do not let that encourage you to quit. As Tim’s life proves, even if you think you suck, you can still win the amazing race that is life.

Gary S:
Finally, the third point, which is the title of Tim’s book. The third point is to persevere. Tim talks about it. Warwick talks about it in Crucible Leadership, and perseverance is not a pill you take. It’s a skill you learn. So seek joy knowing that it is eternal, unlike happiness, which is circumstantial. Accept the limits that your crucible has brought, but do not give up. Think differently and find a community. At the beginning of the day to the end of the day, perseverance is not a solo sport. It’s a team sport. It’s a team pursuit, and it’s best done in group.

Gary S:
So listener, thank you for spending time with us today in this very inspiring conversation with the very inspiring Tim Hague. Warwick and I have a little favor to ask you. If you feel like you were blessed, if you learned some things here, if you were inspired, if you found hope, if you found a little healing from anything that we talked about either on this podcast or on previous ones, please click subscribe on the app on which you’re listening to this right now. That does a couple of things. One, it makes sure you will not miss any episodes down the road where we talk to other guests who offer their perspective on what it means to pursue a life of significance, and it will also allow us to continue to attract guests like Tim who have true inspirational stories to tell.

Gary S:
So until next time when we’re all together, thank you again, listener, for spending your time with us, and please do remember, as this conversation has brought out, that crucible experiences are indeed painful. Crucible experiences can indeed, as we talked about here today, make you feel sometimes like you want to just stay in bed with your head under the covers. Tim described a man he helped at his non-profit who lived like that for a while, but that needn’t be your story, and your crucible experience needn’t be the end of your story. In fact, it can be the beginning of a new chapter, a new book in your story, and it can be the most rewarding chapter and book of your story that there is, because at the end of the day, it can lead you to a life of significance.

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