Glen Hicks

What would you do differently if you survived a massive heart attack in the prime of your life, with your career taking off and a growing young family?

Glen Hicks, our Lead Dad of the Week from St. John, New Brunswick, in Canada, answers from personal experience. He was promoted early and rose quickly as a software engineer. He worked long hours, managed growing teams and felt if he wasn’t working, he was falling behind – even and especially on weekends.

Then at 34, with two young sons and 12 years into his marriage, he had a massive heart attack. “I was resuscitated, but they didn’t think I would make it through the night,” he said. “If I hadn’t been in Toronto for work, I wouldn’t have made it. That moment when I was alone in the darkness with my thoughts and I couldn’t see anything or hear anything, the first thing that came to me was I’m not leaving two boys and a wife without a husband and dad. It was a very clarifying moment.”

No, Glen didn’t chuck in his career for an easier life. He was offered that choice but realized the person driving him to work so hard was him. He’d work just as hard at anything he did. He had to change how he delegated and managed. He learned to lead by a better example than the “always on, always available” version of himself.

“I took bigger responsibilities, but I never worked another weekend,” he said. “It was a very different way of managing the team. It was more servant leadership. It gave them permission to have more balance. At the same time, I was challenging them more at work and not trying to do everything myself”

A year later his daughter was born. By 48, he retired, while his wife kept working as a school teacher. “My main focus was to be there any time for my kids,” he said. “I ended up being the parent who went to all the volleyball practices and the school field trips with my daughter. I got to spend middle school with her.”

At 56 he keeps busy consulting selectively. Focusing is his children – even if people don’t always understand why he retired so young. “The reward, if you can get over yourself, is so sweet,” he said.

Welcome, Glen, to The Company of Dads!