Difference that makes the difference

He was traveling along the highway at sixty-five miles an hour when suddenly it happened. Something along the side of the road caught his eye, and when he looked back in the direction in which he was traveling, he had only a second to respond. It was almost too late. The Mack truck in front of him had suddenly come to an unexpected stop. Instantly, in an effort to save his life, he laid his motorcycle down into a sickening skid that seemed to last forever. In agonizingly slow motion, he slid beneath the truck. The gas cap popped off his motorcycle, and the worst occurred: fuel spilled out and ignited. His next moment of consciousness is the experience of waking up in a hospital bed in searing pain, unable to move, fearing to breathe. Three quarters of his body is covered by terrible degree burns. Still, he refuses to give up. He struggles back to life and resumes a business career, only to suffer another staggering blow: an airplane crash that leaves him paralyzed, from the waist down, for life.

In every man and woman’s life there comes a time of ultimate challenge a time when very resource we have is tested/a time when life seems unfair. A time when our faith, our values, our patience, our compassion, our ability to persist, are all pushed to limits and beyond. Some people use such tests as opportunities to become better people others allow these experiences of life to destroy them. Have you ever wondered what creates the difference in the way human beings respond to life’s challenges? One is fascinated by what triggers human being to behave the way they do. For as long as one can remember they have been obsessed with discovering what sets certain men and women apart from their peers. What creates a leader, and an achiever? How is it that there are so many people in this world who live such joyous lives in spite of almost every adversity, while others who would seem to have in all live of despair, anger, and depression?

Let me share another man’s story with you, and let’s note the differences between the two men. This man’s life seems much brighter. He is a fabulously healthy, enormously talented entertainer with a huge following. At twenty two he was the youngest member of Chicago’s famed Second City comedy troupe. Almost immediately he became the show’s acknowledged star. Soon there is major theatrical hit in New York. He becomes one of the great television successes of the seventies. Then he becomes one of the nation’s hottest film stars. He branches into music and enjoys the same instant success there. He has dozens of admiring friends, a good marriage, wonderful homes in New York City and Martha’s Vineyard. He seems to have everything a person could possibly ask for.

Which of these people would you rather be? It’s hard to imagine anyone choosing the first life over the second.

But let me tell you more about the two people. The first is one of the most vital, strong and successful people. His name is W Mitchell, and he’s alive and well and living in Colorado. Since his terrible motorcycle accident, he is known more success and joy than most people know in a lifetime. He’s developed phenomenal personal relationships with some of the most influential people in America. He’s become a millionaire in business. He even ran for Congress, despite the fact that his face was grotesquely marked. His campaign slogan? ‘Send me to congress, and I won’t be just another pretty face’. Today he has a fabulous relationship with very special woman, and he is happily campaigning for lieutenant governor of Colorado in 1986.

The second person is someone you knew well, someone who probably brought you a great deal of pleasure and joy. His name was John Belushi. He was one of the most celebrated comedians. and one of the great entertainment success stories of the seventies. Belushi was able to enrich countless lives, but not his own. When he died at the age of thirty three of what the coroner ruled ‘acute toxicity from cocaine and heroin, few who knew him were surprised. The man who had everything had become a bloated, out-of-control drug abuser, old beyond his years. Externally he had everything. Internally, he had been running on empty for years.