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Michael J. Fox: Eyes on the future

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in Profiles in Leadership

Actor Michael J. Fox, 30 years old when he began dealing with Parkinson’s disease, has now written three best-selling books and raised $285 million for Parkinson’s research as well as continuing his acting career.

His life offers three ways to continue leading despite adversity:

1. Quit worrying. “I’m the big worrier,” says his wife, Tracy Pollan. “Michael says there’s no point in worrying because if something [bad] does happen, then you’ve lived it twice.”

2. Keep facing forward. Fox was dodging the landlord after his early acting gigs dried up. If not for the TV sitcom “Family Ties,” he figures he would have been working on a moving van or in a fish factory somewhere.

“I always believed in that next thing,” he says, “and that turned out to be the audition for ‘Family Ties.’”

3. Find a way. “I’m powerless over this, but I have options, I have things I can do,” he says. “I don’t look at life as a battle or as a fight. I don’t think I’m scrappy. I’m accepting. I say ‘living with’ or ‘working through’ Parkinson’s.

“Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s going to be a way through it. I’m a fluid that’s finding the fissures and cracks and flowing through,” says Fox.

— Adapted from “The Fantastic Mr. Fox,” Dotson Rader, Parade.

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