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The Best Blog Post You Never Read

2012 December 31

You are as powerful as you allow yourself to be … you can choose your own thoughts, reactions and emotions to every event in your life.

IGG blog postAs we prepare to welcome a new year, I’ve been considering what might be an appropriate post to close out 2012. I thought about the tried-and-true “Best of” approach, but I wanted this to be something more than a list of archived articles that you would (with only the best of intentions) bookmark, but never quite get around to reading.

So, I’ve decided to share with you what is, to me, the most meaningful post since birthing this blog a little over two years ago. Of course in those early days traffic was pretty slim here, so that means very few people have had the opportunity to meet the man who taught me the power of taking responsibility for my own life.

With that in mind, I decided to revisit the story of W. Mitchell and aptly named this post …

The Best (IGG) Blog Post You Never Read

W. Mitchell (Mitchell as he prefers to be called) slowly wheels himself on the stage to speak. Predictably, the sight of his badly scarred face and fingerless hands cause a hush among the audience.

With his signature irreverent sense of humor, warm smile and soothing voice, Mitchell soon manages to create a sense of intimacy, as though you’re sitting with an old friend. Then something magical happens, and the scars seemingly fade away as he begins to tell his story.

On July 19th 1971 Mitchell started the day on top of the world. He was a strong, good looking young man of 28 who enjoyed an active life and had a passion for sports; he’d just made his first solo flight, had a dream job as a gripman on the San Francisco cable cars, and would be the first to say, he did just fine with the ladies, thank you very much.

That afternoon he jumped on his brand new motorcycle, and headed out to see his girlfriend. It was then that fate changed his life forever.

Mitchell didn’t see the laundry truck until it was too late, and hit it squarely in the side. Even with the impact, at that point his injuries were minor; but a faulty gas cap on his new motorcycle popped off and drenched him in gallons of gasoline. The hot engine ignited, and Mitchell was turned into a fireball about ten feet high and four feet wide.

A nearby car salesman grabbed a fire extinguisher and put out the flames. The ambulance arrived minutes later and rushed him to the hospital; but with horrific burns over 65% of his body and most of his face and hands literally burned off, chances of his survival were considered extremely low.

But through incredible care, multiple skin grafts, fierce determination, and many, many small steps to reclaim control of his life, Mitchell did recover.

If only I had”(fill in the blanks) is what many people say to me . . . and to that I simply reply “Look at me. My face looks like a badly made leather quilt. It has literally made children chant, “monster, monster,” as I passed by. I have no fingers. I cannot walk.

Few would fault anyone faced with his pain and enormous obstacles for considering, even for a time, simply giving up. And yet, despite what most would consider overwhelming disabilities, Mitchell continued learning how to adjust to his new reality, and moved to a small town in Colorado. He even managed to once again fly a plane.

But fate wasn’t quite finished with Mitchell yet.

On a clear, chilly Colorado morning in 1975 he was about to take a group of passengers on a routine flight. As the plane took off he noticed they weren’t rising as quickly as they should have. What Mitchell didn’t realize was the wings had been covered in a thin sheet of ice which slowed the normal climb. They reached about 100 feet and the plane stalled and fell back to earth, slamming into the runway belly up, bursting open the fuel tanks. Mitchell yelled for his passengers to get out of the plane and he tried to follow . . . but he couldn’t move.

Later in the hospital, the doctors told him he’d crushed his spine and was paralyzed from the waist down. Mitchell would spend the rest of his life in a wheel chair.

For a man who’d just spent the last four years of his life recovering from incredibly devastating injuries, this must have seemed too much to bear.

As Mitchell tells it, every day the orderlies would come into his room, put him in a wheel chair and take him to the gym. He absolutely hated it. Things were too high to reach, it was too difficult to get around – and once again – the world seemed filled with impossibilities.

Yet, every day a few more obstacles would disappear, and a few more things became possible. Once again, with amazing courage and determination Mitchell managed to prove to himself and those around him, that it really is not what happens to you, it’s what you choose to do about what happens to you.

Each choice we make causes a ripple effect in our lives. When things happen to us, it is the reaction we choose that can create the difference between the sorrows of our past and the joy in our future.

Please take a moment to listen to W. Mitchell himself, talking about the power of choice.

 

 

These days W. Mitchell splits his time between Santa Barbara and Hawaii, and despite his many disabilities, lives a full life as a successful businessman, sometime politician, environmental activist, motivational speaker, and author.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found Mitchell’s message as inspirational as I have, and I’d especially like to take this opportunity to thank you for including IGG – Tips, Tools & Tantalizing Ideas in your day.

My wish for you for 2013 is that you will make it a habit to reach a little beyond what’s comfortable to achieve goals that really matter to you … refuse to accept simply “getting along” in life out of fear or limiting beliefs … cultivate the skills to become stronger and more resilient … learn to master the self-motivation skills that will keep you energized and moving forward … and intentionally choose happiness, each and every day.

 

Happy New Year

Mahalo nui loa!

29 Responses
  1. January 26, 2013

    Hi Marquita,

    Thanks for sharing Mitchell’s story, very inspiring and motivating!

    This one wraps it all “it really is not what happens to you, it’s what you choose to do about what happens to you.”

    Whatever we focus on , we get more of! In my own experience, the minute when I decided that I will do it, I also believe that I can do it and eventually I tell myself “success, I did it!”.
    Patricia Anderson recently posted..Live Your Life Purpose: Angie’s StoryMy Profile

  2. January 14, 2013

    Hi, this is a very touching story and inspiring too, and I like the way you describe it… its really nice one..

    Thanks and best regards
    Asiru Nasir recently posted..Vacuum Cleaner that Works like Automated Robot- 4 Cleaning Routes, 3 Sensors, Charging DockMy Profile

  3. January 9, 2013

    Us humans have the habit of blaming incidents, occurrings and consequences to other people and events. We should learn to own up our acts and be accountable for our own decisions and deeds. Greatly motivational share.

  4. January 9, 2013

    I salute Mitchell for the exeplemary works he’s done over the years. It takes men like him to make people realize that life is too short to take for granted.

  5. January 8, 2013

    “You are as powerful as you allow yourself to be.” Definitely right. This is pretty inspirational stuff. Thank you for sharing this with all of us.

  6. January 7, 2013

    Ownership. That’s one thing I have always practiced thanks to my dad. I own up to my mistakes, don’t point fingers but own the mistake and find a resolution. It’s the way everyone should be if you’d ask me.

  7. January 7, 2013

    This is just so inspiring. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more posts from you. Keep it up!

  8. January 5, 2013

    Taking responsibility… ownership of my own life… the power of choice. What a powerful message this man has! The theme is not unfamiliar to me, but my goodness, the strength that shows through his challenges! Thank you for sharing his story, Marty. We can learn so much from him. ~ Willena
    Willena Flewelling recently posted..The 12th of the 12th of the 12thMy Profile

  9. January 4, 2013

    It always amazes me that people like Mitchell teach us the most through their own life changing events. He is so right, we are responsible for our own lives and what we choose to do with it. Thank you … great post. And Happy New Year!
    Lesly Federici recently posted..New Year’s Day And Thinking Of YouMy Profile

    • January 5, 2013

      Hi Lesly, welcome back! I’m really glad you found the post and Mitchell’s tory inspiring, and appreciate you taking time to share your thoughts. Happy New Year!

  10. January 4, 2013

    Hi Marquita,

    talk about life changing challenges!

    “The windshield is so much bigger than the rear view mirror” is a good way of looking at life.

    What a great sense of humor Mitchell has.

    Maybe they could have this video in hospital to inspire people.

    Thank you so much for sharing this inspiring post and video!
    Love and Light
    Yorinda
    Yorinda recently posted..The Importance of BeesMy Profile

    • January 5, 2013

      Welcome back Yorinda, and thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. Always appreciated! Happy New Year!

  11. January 4, 2013

    Oh My, what an incredibly inspiring story! He has remarkable courage and strength. It’s amazing how he overcame his circumstances and went on to be successful. If the first accident did do him in, one would think that the 2nd one would. No, not W. Mitchell!
    I can see why it was your favorite blog post.
    Bless you!
    Lynn
    Lynn Jones recently posted..One Last Hurrah for 2012!My Profile

    • January 5, 2013

      Welcome Lynn, and thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I’m glad you were as inspired by Mitchell as I am. Happy New Year!

  12. January 3, 2013

    Hi Marty, that is very touching and I especially love the way you tell Mitchell’s story. The first part of his story reminded me of the day when I rode a motorcycle into a car, and came out with 2 broken legs, and some other injuries. I was VERY lucky there was no fire for me, but the feelings you have after an accident like that are special, not because of the injuries, but because you came out alive. I remember once the nurses started taking me out of bed and putting me in a wheelchair, I would ride around all the wards ( I was 19 years old), and loved going into the men’s ward because they were all younger than the people in my ward (the youngest women was 70). Some of the non biky guys called me Smiley, and they’d say “how come you’re so happy all the time, you’re wheeling that thing round with 2 huge plasters right up your legs, and you’re always smiling”. And I’d say “I’m smiling because I’m alive, I’m so surprised and happy I’m alive”. It’s an amazing feeling!

    I know that Mitchell’s experience was soooo much worse than mine, but I’m sure he would’ve felt like that even more than I did. There’s a reason why he lived on both of those days, and that’s because he’s helping so many more people!

    I love your Blog Marquita and always look forward to coming here!
    Julieanne vanZyl recently posted..For your MLM Business why use this simple business model?My Profile

    • January 5, 2013

      Wow Julieanne, you never cease to amaze me! You really have done it all my friend. Got to tell you, while your accident may not have been as serious as Mitchell’s it was much worse than mine. I was riding on the back of a Big Boy with my boyfriend of the moment and when we went down, the gravel scrapped all the skin off my legs and backside. Very last time I rode a motorcycle! Thanks for your support and kind words – always appreciated Julieanne. Happy New Year!

  13. January 3, 2013

    Hi Marquita,

    I’m always amazed about the courage and strength of people who have gone through such devastating events. This is a very inspirational video and Mitchell has a lot to share.

    He talked about the power of choice and we are responsible no matter what the circumstances. He talked about woulda, coulda, and shoulda…how many times have we heard that?

    Another profound point he made is how we spend too much time worrying about things we cannot control and it takes away from the time we could use for the things we can control. That is a very profound concept to think about.

    “Each choice we make causes a ripple effect in our lives. When things happen to us, it is the reaction we choose that can create the difference between the sorrows of our past and the joy in our future.” Mitchell’s reaction is certainly choosing joy. Instead of pitying himself and doubting himself, he has used his misfortune as an example to share his inspirational story to people. Very Powerful!

    Marquita, I wish you a wonderful 2013 and thank you for being my source of inspiration. Your posts give me the perspective to handle any of life’s challenges!

    Raena Lynn
    Raena Lynn recently posted..Anthony Robbins New Year New Life 2013My Profile

    • January 5, 2013

      Hey Raena, so glad you enjoyed Mitchell’s story. Ever since the first time I had the opportunity to see him speak, I’ve considered his mantra “It’s not what happens to you, It’s what you do about it” my own. We so often take for granted the choices we make each and every day, yet over the course of a few months or a year, those choice begin to define our future. Happy New Year my friend!

  14. Wenie Langacre permalink
    January 3, 2013

    His story really triggers me and I am so touched of his story. The disability was not the hinder from making him successful right now and I am inspired everything that he says. I am happy to know and I am learning his ability of perseverance.
    Wenie Langacre recently posted..Timber Joinery: The Perennial FavouriteMy Profile

    • January 5, 2013

      Welcome Winie, and thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts – always appreciated!

  15. January 3, 2013

    Hi,

    What an inspiring story! It only proves that nothing is impossible if we have faith in ourselves. We can surpass whatever problem that may come our way if we believe in our heart that we can always make it.
    Sarah Park recently posted..How to Claim Unemployment BenefitMy Profile

    • January 5, 2013

      Welcome Sarah, and thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts. I’m happy you found Mitchell’s story as inspirational as I did. Happy New Year!

  16. January 3, 2013

    A very touching post, Marty. I was very inspired by this story. We can allow such little things to stand in our way, but it’s people like W. Mitchell in the world who show us what the human mind is truly capable of.

    Thanks for sharing this story. I’d never seen it before.
    Anne recently posted..Confidence To Have PeaceMy Profile

    • January 5, 2013

      Welcome back Anne – hope you’re feeling better! So glad you found Mitchell’s story inspirational. I’m not surprised you haven’t heard of him, he works mostly with very large groups. I’ve seen him several times at national association conventions in places like Washingting DC and Chicago, and I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet him personally here in Hawaii where he lives part-time. Happy New Year!

  17. January 2, 2013

    I am so touched by Mitchell’s story and his incredible courage that I feel so guilty with myself. Sometimes, I feel like giving up when there are trying times and life seems so hard. Mitchell proved how he had surmounted every difficulty and obstacle that barred his recovery and lives a normal life to this day. I will bear in mind his story and use it as inspiration for all those difficult days to come. Thank you for sharing.
    CreditDonkey recently posted..Do Freelancers Make Enough Money?My Profile

  18. Michael Buccilli
    Twitter:
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    January 1, 2013

    Hello Marty and thank you for sharing this post with us; how inspirational.

    We all go through trials and tribulations in our lives but it is always good to learn of people who have gone through more obstacles and choose not to allow the obstacles to stand in their way of living a full life. I have experienced this in my own life and many others around me – never allow any of life’s trials bring us to the point of giving up; never lose faith and belief in our abilities to be a “whole” person.

    There are legitimate times when our bodies won’t respond, but, I have seen true miracles of those that have fought back. “W. Mitch… you are truly an inspiration to me.”

    • January 5, 2013

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post Michael, and thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. Mitchell’s story is very special, so I consider it a privilege to share it with other. Happy New Year!

  19. December 31, 2012

    That was definitely worth reading Marty, thank you so much for sharing it with us again.

    Wow, I often times think what I would do if something tragically happened to me. We like to think of ourselves as strong but until something happens to you like what happened to Mitchell we never really know where our strength lies. He is a prime example of never giving up and never wondering about the “what if’s”. We have to keep moving forward if we ever want to get anywhere in life.

    What an inspirational story of Mitchell and one I’ll definitely be sharing as we all move into the new year. Never take life for granted and stop looking back because the only place we’re going is forward.

    Happy New Year!

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted..20 Loyal Bloggers You Will Want To KnowMy Profile

  20. December 31, 2012

    Marty,

    What a great story to remind us that our mind is stronger than we know. The part that stood out to me the most was “it really is not what happens to you, it’s what you choose to do about what happens to you.” Mitch says it all there.

    Despite things that seem to be blocking our way, we cannot give up…ever! We cannot make mountains out of mole hills. Nor should be do the blame game. When I read about fantastic people like Mitch, I find new hope within myself.

    This is a powerful inspirational message! Two times beaten, and still he survives! Mitch shows us that anything is possible when you put your mind to it.

    Have a blessed New Year,
    Donna
    Donna Merrill recently posted..Blog Review Of 2012My Profile

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