COURAGE: What this word really means... a true story

Posted Aug 26th, 2019

I met Pere a few years ago. I can't remember how we connected, but I am forever grateful that we did. You see, he taught me the true meaning of courage. Let me explain.

He is a young planner, an aspiring architect and the closest thing to a true gentleman I have met in years! Picture a mid-20 something black gentleman,  native of Nigeria, who realized his passion for architecture and planning meant leaving his native land (and family) for a graduate degree in England. Once complete, he left for Canada (Toronto) with no work, no family and no home waiting for him. He met his wife, had a child and found a good job at a northern GTA architectural firm. By most standards, he was living the Canadian dream: advanced degree, married to his sweetheart, building a family, all with an indomitably positive spirit. Life was good! Or was it...

Pere longed to give he and his family better balance in life. Working in Richmond Hill, he wanted to buy a home for his family. Not accepting a 1+ hr commute for that home, he again made a choice that baffled and astonished me. He quit his job, to focus on seeking new work and a new life... in Edmonton. He sought my advice on how to make the transition. I have mentored many candidate planners over the years, but none with the level of courage he has shown. 

After accessing my professional network for information on how to get "in" with the planning community in Alberta, he applied for and LANDED a very well paid position with the City of Edmonton. This was, AFTER quitting his job and AFTER buying his plane ticket. His wife, understandably was quite nervous about everything. Pere, however reassured her. We met for our final time in late August. I discovered he would be flying out on Sept 1, and starting his new job on Sept 4. His wife had also secured a good job, in Edmonton. Phew, I was in awe of this man's courage and focus!!!!

We celebrated his success over a spectacular meal! Then he gave me a parting gift. It was the first time as a mentor that I had truly witnessed one of my protege's take such courageous steps towards achieving his goals. It was truly rewarding to see the confidence this man had built, being translated into such a bold move.

For those of you who know me, I have made perhaps more than my share of job changes over the years. Most were planned. Some were not. I wear the war wounds to this day. It's called wisdom. I truly enjoy working with willing protege's, who want to understand and find their professional goals. Pere taught me the true meaning of courage, by pursuing his true passion, with his family's interests at the core. He taught me that it's ok to take chances. I've certainly taken chances before, many successfully. He also taught me to stay focused on your goals.

Pere, thank you for showing me the true meaning of courage. It is a lesson I am grateful for. You have left a long-lasting impression on me. I will enjoy watching your career soar!!

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