Speaker W. Mitchell wants audiences to ask ‘What’s next?’
Motivational speaker W. Mitchell believes the two most important words in the English language aren’t, ‘why me,’ but, ‘what’s next.’
“They go along with our ability to catch ourselves in that moment when we have a flat tire or when we broke our ankle while skiing,” Mitchell said. “Why not say, ‘What’s next?’ I mean we’re in the best time of the world to have a broken ankle. In weeks or in a month or two, we have the resources, luxury and knowledge to get you back skiing on the slopes where you broke your ankle.”
Mitchell is scheduled to be the featured speaker at the Leadership Park City community lecture at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 19, at Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium, 1255 Park Ave. The talk is free and open to the public.
One of the topics will be about perspective, Mitchell said. And he has a unique perspective on life, because of some of his experiences, especially the most challenging events of his life that involved a car accident that burned more than 65 percent of his body and resulted in the loss of most of his fingers.
He will also discuss the plane crash that left him paralized and in a wheelchair.
These were big changes in his life that he had to face, Mitchell said.
“The story I share all over the world is a message about taking responsibility for change,” he said. “Sometimes you seek the responsibility of change. Sometimes change is inflicted upon you and you cry, ‘Why me?’”
The talk will also address other events in Mitchell’s life.
He served as a Marine in Hawaii. He was mayor of Crested Butte, Colorado. He was a pilot, and he was a cable-car grip man in San Francisco.
“That was the coolest job in the whole world,” Mitchell said of being a grip man. “I lived in San Francisco in the early 1970s.
While he was mayor of Crested Butte, he stopped Freeport-McMoRan, a large mining company which was known as AMAX at the time, from building a mine that would have turned the city into a boomtown.
“The West had lots of boomtowns over the years, and not always did the outfit who created the boom stick around when the bust happened,” he said.
What Mitchell tries to instill in people is that the present day is the best time to experience change.
“People always talk about the ‘Good Old Days,’ but I don’t think they were really that good back in the 1300s,” he said. “Even if you were incredibly rich and lived in a castle, your life expectancy was 30 years. And I also don’t think you had central air conditioning and heating. You certainly didn’t have disease control.”
Still, Mitchell said, even with modern-day conveniences, people will still complain.
“We talk about it and sometimes complain about change,” he said. “But I like my iPhone. I get warnings if there are floods and fires, and I also get lovely messages from people halfway around the world instantaneously.
“Sure there were things that have happened to me that hurt and I wouldn’t want to do them again, but I don’t sit around worrying about what’s in the past,” Mitchell said. “A friend of mine told me that ‘It’s OK to look back, just don’t stare.’ So you have to choose how long you will spend in the pity party and how much time you want to spend focusing on doing something productive.”
Although Mitchell has created a new life talking about positive outlooks, he is still human, he said.
“Of course I still ask ‘Why me?’ But I think we can learn to rethink certain behaviors and attitudes and gain and understanding of things,” he said. “My goal is to have anybody walk out of my talk with a little understanding that they have some control to do something about what’s happened to them. They don’t have to focus on the rear-view mirror of life.”
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A Utah Symphony woodwind trio will perform an intimate Deer Valley Music Festival chamber concert Monday at Susan Swartz Studios.