I had the pleasure of teaching a new workshop — well, new to me, at least — and considering that I love teaching workshops, it was definitely a highlight of my day. The people attending were lovely, attentive, and not afraid to ask questions, which I always appreciate and encourage. However, it was the end of the workshop that the real highlight decided to let himself be known.
This gentleman introduced himself to me with a clever play on his name, and then cautioned me about his medical condition, should something seem off or strange with him during the workshop. I thanked him for informing me and went on about the workshop as normal. He didn’t say much during the presentation, had maybe one question, but mostly sat quietly for the hour. The other attendees engaged with questions and clarifications, but this man just sat attentively and at times was so quiet, I almost forgot to continue to present in his direction as well.
Once the workshop was finished and everyone said their last questions and their last thanks and goodbyes, this gentleman asks me, “do you mind if we switch places and I teach the teacher?” I was intrigued by his question, and always with a spirit of openness when it comes to my workshops, I agreed to his proposal. He showed me a photo of a certificate. It was a certified world record with his name and another person’s name on it proving that him and his partner beat the world record for longest continuous game of frisbee. For over 100 hours, they threw a frisbee back and forth once at least every 30 seconds, with only 5 minutes break an hour. He then proceeded to tell me how the prize was from the factory that he worked at, and it was for two weeks vacation. But he joked that that was really only 80 hours as opposed to the 100 hours he spent throwing a frisbee.
He then shows me a photograph of his world-record walk badge. In Toronto, in 2007 (I believe), a world record was achieved by having the most people simultaneously walk one block. They synchronized their watches and proceeded to walk and stop at the same time, thus creating their world-record walk. After that, he tells me about winning tickets to the Radio City Rockettes show at the (then) O’Keefe Centre by calling into a radio show. At the show, during intermission, he stepped outside and was grabbed a large group of other audience members and was told that they were about to the world’s longest kick line à la the Rockettes. That’s a third world record, if you’re keeping count. He then reminds me about the one year the CNE had the world’s tallest freestanding LEGO tower, and how he, like many other CNE-goers, was a part of that record by helping to build it, and received a certificate for that as well.
I thought they were all amazing achievements. He’s the only person I’ve ever met that has four world-records under his belt. But wait, there’s more. He tells me about his time up in the part of the Northwest Territories that eventually became Nunavut. He was a volunteer firefighter up at Frobisher Bay. He also convinced the soon-to-be capital of Nunavut’s local government to make him Economic Planner because of his time in the town. He knew all the businesses, he knew everybody by name, and he knew that this new capital would need an economic plan for their big change. He asked if they had one, they said they didn’t, so he received federal money to come up with an economic plan for Iqaluit.
And here this superhero is, showing me the all of the achievements he’s racked up, after a small workshop in Toronto. If you search up all of these achievements, you could probably find his name, but really, just call him a hero.
Everyone’s a superhero in disguise. Everyone has done amazing things and accomplishments outstanding goals, you just don’t know it yet. I have the privilege of working with literally hundreds of talented individuals all the time, and they continue to surprise me. And those are the people know. Imagine all the superheroes you don’t know.
So the next time you see a humble person walking around, keeping to themselves, don’t think they’re just another person. There’s something more to them just like there’s something more to you.