W MITCHELL is a remarkable man with a remarkable story. As a 28-year-old, he was riding a motorcycle on a highway when disaster struck. His motorcycle crashed into a stationary truck. His hands and his hips were crushed. The petrol in his bike’s tank spilled and caught fire and Mitchell’s body was in flames. His face was burnt beyond recognition. His body was covered with third degree burns, and doctors at the hospital didn’t think he’d survive. After 16 skin grafts and numerous surgeries, Mitchell survived. With a badly scarred face, and no fingers on his hands.
Six months later, Mitchell was back on his feet, making a new life. He founded a company and became a millionaire. He then became the Mayor of his town. And despite having no fingers on his hands, he trained and became a pilot. Life was good once again. And then four years later, a little plane he was piloting crash-landed. Twelve of his vertebrae were crushed, his spinal cord damaged beyond repair.
And he could never walk again. Consigned to a wheel chair, and with no hands, Mitchell remained unfazed and continued to lead a full life – running a large enterprise, skydiving, and motivating people around the world. “Before my accidents, there were 10,000 things I could do,” says Mitchell. “I could have spent the rest of my life focusing on the one thousand that I could not now do, but I chose instead to focus on the nine thousand things I could still do!” Mitchell lost his fingers, lost senses in his spinal cord, and lost the ability to walk. But he never lost hope.
If you look at the stories of successful people, you’ll probably see familiar ingredients: big dreams, adversity, hard work, persistence, passion, discipline, failure, perseverance, more hard work, and finally success. While the proportions may vary, the common thread holding them all together is hope.
Hope is what ensures that people keep going when all seems lost. Hope is the cornerstone of all actions and achievements. A student with no hope of passing an exam won’t study. Why bother, he’ll probably tell himself, when I am going to fail anyway. An overweight person with no hope of becoming slim, won’t go on a diet. ‘Why bother? I am going to be fat anyway’. Hope is the fuel that keeps the engine of life running at all times. When the whole world seems to say “Give up, you can’t do it”, hope is that little voice inside us which says, “Come on, give it one more try, you can do it.” But hope alone is never enough. You need to take responsibility as well. And you need to take action.
There’s a little poem that’s been mounted on my desk for many, many years now. The author is unknown – but it’s a poem that Brian Tracy – the author and motivational Guru - loves to share. It’s been something that’s given me strength and inspiration – and I thought you would enjoy reading it too. Here it is:
“When things go wrong as they sometimes will
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill.
When funds are low and the debts are high.
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit.
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns.
As everyone of us sometimes learns.
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out:
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow -
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out -
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are.
It may be near when it seems so far:
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.”
Next time you feel like giving up...don’t! Think of W Mitchell’s life and you’ll realise how small your problems are. Keep the hope alive. Take charge. Take action. And keep winning.
Prakash Iyer is Executive Coach & MD, Kimberly-Clark Lever and author of ‘The Habit of Winning’.
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