If you haven’t seen the The Accountant yet, you’ve missed something really special. Step aside, James Bond, Jason Bourne and Ethan Hunt: Christian Wolff, CPA is here!
I gotta say, this movie is a chance for the average Joe to pull back the curtain and peek into the everyday life of a typical accountant. Debits on the left, credits on the right, kick some butt, and then go kill some bad guys — I get that done every day by noon.
This post isn’t really about the Ben Affleck movie, The Accountant, but it is about an accountant who inspired me. His name was Bo Harris, and I’d like to share his story.
A Better Role Model
See, I didn’t grow up an athlete, and I played sports because almost everyone did at my small school. I rarely saw action, I never made the cut in any sport where there was a tryout, and in Junior High when I ran track, I never finished above last place. I was even the lone 8th grader on the 7th-grade team in Junior High.
I was chubby, awkward, and lacked a lot of confidence. While I did well in my studies at college, I also had too much fun, replacing what I lacked in athletic prowess with sheer consumption. Whether it was around a fraternity kegger or bowls of Captain Crunch at the campus dining hall, I could consume.
By the time I graduated, I had ballooned up from 185 pounds to 260 pounds.
Why do I say all that now? Well, I’ve always been fascinated by endurance sports, but the idea that I could participate (let alone compete) was foreign to me. It created a mental barrier. I couldn’t relate to my childhood heroes like Tony Dorsett and Randy White. And the Lance Armstrongs of the world weren’t exactly accessible either. Too far out of my league.
For those of us in a high-stress, demanding career, the “weekend warrior” challenge is a little out of reach. Lots of us end up on medication due to our poor health, I know I certainly did.
I needed a role model who was more of a normal every-day guy.
The (Real) Last Action Hero
The real hero I want to talk about is another local CPA, Bo Harris, the accountant of my story. He put his debits on the left, credits on the right, and kicked his obesity problem square in the butt.
Bo was an engaging person, and he practically enveloped any room he walked into. He also laughed a good bit louder than me, a feat I did not think was possible. But as a CPA, Bo had a heavy workload and, like me, also had a heavy consumption. He consumed a lot of work, both at home and at the office, not to mention unhealthy food. One particular vice he had was Coca-Cola Slurpees. I think he had one every day.
Our daughters were the best of friends as young children, so Bo and I spent a lot of time together, sharing stories about parenting and accounting. A lot of lawyers, CPAs, and other business professionals spend many years hunched over a keyboard with little time for healthy food or exercise, and Bo and I shared that common bond.
After a while, our paths separated, and we lost our routine contact with each other. But we were kindred spirits, I thought of us as round pegs in square holes.
A New Man
Years later, I saw a picture of Bo outside a gym at his church with his family. He was a fraction of the man he was before — even with thinning grey hair, he was looking thin, young, and energetic. Bo wasn’t that same 300-lb CPA, sweating through another deadline, something had clearly caught his attention.
I didn’t get it. What happened, what did I miss? Bo took up running and actually finished the Dallas Turkey Trot. Once, his car was in the shop and instead of getting a ride, he just ran across town to the dealership. When he and his wife travelled, Bo took his running shoes and got up each morning to run. Even she wondered what happened to the guy who became her high school sweetheart when she was 17.
For me, it was a little different. I looked at that picture of Bo and wondered, "What happened to my other round peg?" I was so envious and simultaneously disappointed; not in him, but in my own situation.
A New Picture
I later came across another snapshot of Bo: he was running a race, pushing toward a finish line. This image stuck with me for a different reason. I was at home after Christmas when Linda told me some devastating news, Bo Harris had died from a heart attack. Though he had done incredible work on his health and his body (his weight was down as was his cholesterol and many other key indicators) there were apparently lingering issues just under the surface and on Christmas Eve of 2007, his heart just shut down.
That evening, as I searched for information online about what had happened, I came across that picture of Bo running. Sadly, I don’t have the image anymore. But it wasn’t just a picture of an old friend doing something that I couldn’t, it was a message for me that said “it can be done.”
After all, Bo Harris wasn’t some perfectly sculpted trainer at the gym, telling me how to lose weight (while wondering how long it would take for me to quit). This was a regular guy in the same boat as me. We both had jobs & lifestyles that were too busy and demanding for exercise, at least that is what I thought was true.
But that wasn’t true for Bo, he did something about it. He beat the obesity thing and brought back energy to his life. Candidly, I was scared that night. I was heavier than Bo, I was in far worse shape and wondered if I was facing the exact same fate. Something else happened, though, that image of Bo running was seared in my mind. It was an image that also carried a message that I would ultimately not forget.
A New Chance
Over the years, I’ve always had support and encouragement from my family. I’ve had friends offer to help me exercise or diet as long as I can remember. I’ve even been inspired by other guys who cycle, like Craig Miller, Jim Calhoun, and Lance Armstrong. The names and methods may have changed, but their part in my life has always been constant. The difference this time was that message from Bo. There was something unique in the way Bo’s story affected me, it changed my perspective. He showed me that it could be done, that I wasn’t too busy, and that my life wasn’t too sedentary to change. And it’s true.
When Bo was photographed on his run that day, he had no idea the impact it would have, he may not have even realized his picture was being taken — and I am sure he wasn’t thinking about how it would affect others. But it did, and it was a go-to image for me while I was on this journey.
I can’t tell you why, but my mind pulled that image of Bo running and didn’t focus on what had happened on Christmas Eve 2007, but what he had accomplished. The Christmas Eve part of the story just served as the glue for that image to stick with me.
So here’s where I am now: I’m hoping to continue sharing the message that Bo left for me, not merely as a memorial to the legacy he left, but as a tribute to the life and example he led. I want to be The Accountant in another’s personal journey, to convince them that they can do it because I did, or I am currently doing it.
I’ve still got goals and milestones to hit. I’m trying out different kinds of strength workouts, and it’s still hard going to the gym. But I remember that message from Bo Harris, and the impact it continues to have on my life. I may still have miles to go, but I think I’ll just start with today. And if it works out, I’ll try it again tomorrow.