Where is your focus?
Victor Frankl once said, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
W. Mitchell is a testament to the power of Mr. Frankl’s words. After years of guiding passengers up the famous hills of San Francisco as a strong and entertaining cable-car gripman, Mitchell experienced two life threatening accidents in a matter of four short years. The first was a motorcycle accident which left him burned over 65 percent of his body. If it wasn’t for a quick thinking man who witnessed the accident and used a fire extinguisher to remove the flames from Mitchell’s body, he may have died. After years of rehabilitation, which included several blood transfusions and countless skin-graft operations, Mitchell was once again the victim of a horrific accident. This time he was involved in an airplane crash and was paralyzed from the waist down.
Imagine the thoughts that must have been running through his mind after yet another life threatening injury. Why me? What will I do with my life now? How will I survive? Thankfully, W. Mitchell recognized the power of his thoughts and the subsequent difference they would make in the rest of his life journey.
A short time after his crash, he was approached by a young nineteen-year-old patient who also happened to be paralyzed. It was clear to Mitchell that this boy struggling. During their conversation, the boy often referred to his love of the outdoors and the fact that he could no longer do any of the things that he used to do, such as mountain climbing or skiing. After listening respectfully, Mitchell looked him in the eye and said, “You know something, before all of this happened to me, there were 10,000 things I could do. Now there are only 9,000. I could spend the rest of my life dwelling on the 1,000 that I lost, but I choose to focus on the 9,000 that are left.”
His story begs the question – Where did this incredible mental resilience come from? It’s clear that W. Mitchell had every reason to find plenty of evidence to support the fact that his life was essentially over. He could have easily assumed the role of spectator and filled his mind with what ifs. Instead, he summoned the internal power to exercise the freedom that Mr. Frankl referred to in his quote; the freedom to choose his own way.
Please take three minutes of your time to watch W. Mitchell share his testimony. You will not be disappointed.