In crediting Paul Stoltz and Stephen Joseph in my last post, I failed to mention another whose work has greatly influenced my thinking, Viktor Frankl. The Vienna psychiatrist was sent to the Nazi concentration camp of Theresienstadt in 1942. There he witnessed horrific suffering first hand. As a result of his trauma, he is best known for his wonderful book, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” Although there might be nothing inherently good in misfortune, Frankl knew it might be possible to extract something good out of misfortune.
When Todd Nicely suggested to me that I write a book about wounded warriors, I replied that might be a depressing read. Todd smiled and told me, “not if you capture the optimism of the wounded warriors.” Following Todd’s advice, I next chronicled (through their own stories) six more warriors who exhibited growth after traumatic injuries. The wounded warriors I profiled in Courage in America and others on The Character Building Project also exhibited growth after their traumatic injuries. These young heroes taught me to focus on what they could do after their injuries and not on what they could not do.
Since my initial meeting with Todd, I have been profiling the optimism of others warriors who suffered traumatic injuries. By the way, Todd a quadriplegic who now drives his customized truck as well as his own boat and lives a full and active life with his wife Crystal. Todd’s optimism set me on a life long course of evangelizing wounded warriors like Todd, who live their lives to their fullest potential. They have taught me trauma can be transformational.