Rick Hansen is a Canadian hero who has continuously fought for creating an accessible world for everyone. The “Man in Motion” gained the worlds respect when he went on a monumental two-year expedition around the world – in his wheelchair. Rick is also an accomplished athlete and heads the Rick Hansen Foundation – an organization he created that is dedicated to making the world a better place for people with disabilities. —rickhansen.com.
I met Rick Hansen when I attended Up for Debate this past weekend February 9th-11th at Bishops University. Rick gave a lecture titled “Rick Hansen: Removing Barriers and Unleashing Potential”. This talk was absolutely phenomenal and discussed of bringing change, improving accessibility, optimism, and chasing your goals. Rick is a testament to what success in these areas looks like. His speech was informative, inspiring, and tear inducing. Rick told us his story and his battle in which he fought for a cause he believed in. This being said, what I want to share with you is three reminders he gave to me simply by talking to me.
- Take time for others: Rick stopped and talked for five minutes (or more) per person – after giving his talk, travelling, and surely countless meetings and reunions during his return to Quebec. Rick spent meaningful amounts of time with people of all ages. Approximately thirty people waited patiently in line for their chance to speak to them, and their time was truly worth it as Ricks presence was priceless. Rick showed that no matter who you are and how busy you are you can always take time for other people. The fact that Rick spent time with each person was a humbling reminder that time is a valuable resource, and sharing ones company and being there with them allows them to feel valued.
- Listen… actively: Not only did Rick take time with every person who desired to meet him, he listened and genuinely cared about what everyone had to say. Rick expressed interest in the stories of his fans young and old whether their stories be about a love for sport, how he inspired them, barriers or challenges they face, or questions they had about life and its journeys. Rick let his visitors do the talking, only commenting as necessary. He made eye contact, listened intently, and provided insight as necessary. This wasn’t only because Rick in an excellent listener, but also because he genuinely cared about what others had to say.
- Show empathy: Empathetic individuals are increasingly hard to come by, and it is always refreshing when you find someone who not only takes the time to listen to you, but genuinely cares and absorbs what you have to say. Rick showed compassion for every individual who spoke to him, and made me feel like he truly cared about my story. I shared one of my friend’s battle with disability, and Rick offered to help her in anyway he could. To think that a man who is as busy as Rick would take the time to help someone he doesn’t know is truly phenomenal. We all should be like Rick and show compassion for others in times of need. If we all did this the world would be a much better place.