Storytelling at Work
March 16, 2019
It's Never Too Late to Choose Life

Barney&Syl Wedding cropped 2 jpeg.jpg

My mother died at 83, on her way from her favorite chair in the living room to the bathroom. Her falling, explained my father, didn't make a lot of sound, other than the clanking of the oxygen machine which had been her steady companion for the past three years. The doctor said it was a heart attack that killed her, but the heart attack was a result of her emphysema, which was a result of her smoking unfiltered Chesterfields since the age of 15.

Magazine ads in the 1950's actually declared that smoking was good for you. They did not mention the fact that nicotine was just as addictive as heroin. Nor did they mention the fact that tobacco is the leading risk factor in 22% of all cancer deaths. In 2018 that would be equivalent to 2,100,000 people wheezing their way to the grave.

My mother, who loved to play canasta, do cross word puzzles, and hug me, had a heart of gold, but that heart of gold gave out one Tuesday evening in West Palm Beach. It beat for the last time and I would no longer have a mother. Nor would my sister have a mother. Nor would my three nieces have a grandmother. And my father would live alone for the rest of his life.

Ten years after my mother's death, it was my sister's time. She was 70 and had been smoking Salems since she was a teenager. The first time my father discovered she had taken up smoking he took the entire pack of cigarettes and jammed them into her mouth. His "quit smoking" technique didn't work. My sister continued smoking, even after she was diagnosed with lung cancer at 66 -- a cancer that later migrated to her brain and killed her.

Two years after her death, I got a call from Phillip Morris, the makers of Marlboro, Benson & Hedges, and yes, Chesterfields. They had heard about my work an innovation consultant and were wondering if I was available to design and facilitate a big offsite for them.

It was not a difficult decision for me to decline their invitation.

Looking back, I wish I had made more of an effort help my mother and sister kick the habit. That is one regret I have in life -- one I am still in the process of forgiving myself for. But in their memory, it is not too late to reach out to you and all the people you know who are addicted to cigarettes. There is help out there. There is.

Just a few weeks ago, I learned that my good friend, Joseph Bennett (a former smoker for 32 years) has created an online course to help people kick the habit once and for all. Joseph is one of the most committed and soulful people I know. He is a man of great passion and integrity, a man who has understood that one of his purposes in life is to serve.

And so, In honor of my mother, Sylvia, and my sister, Phyllis, I invite you, from the bottom of my heart, to see if Joseph's online course -- which he calls Quit in 21 resonates with you. And if you, yourself, are not a smoker, but have a mother, father, sister, brother, friend, uncle, aunt, neighbor, grandparent, teammate, co-worker, or child who is, consider forwarding the link to them.

It's never to late to choose life.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at March 16, 2019 10:21 AM


Thank you so much for sharing your story and your heart, Mitch. It's so painful to watch the people that we love hurt themselves, yes? I also super appreciate you sharing the link to the program. It's a lifesaver! May it reach all the people who need to see it! Blessings, Joseph

Posted by: Joseph Bennett [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 15, 2019 02:39 PM

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Storytelling at Work is a blog about the power of personal storytelling – why it matters and what you can do to more effectively communicate your stories – on or off the job. Inspired by the book of the same name, the blog features "moment of truth" stories by the author, Mitch Ditkoff, plus inspired rants, quotes, and guest submissions by readers.

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Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling for the Revolution is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling to elevate the conversation on planet Earth. Provocative. Evocative. And fun. YOU have stories to tell. This book will help you tell them.
Storytelling at Work
"The world is not made of atoms," wrote the poet, Muriel Rukeyser. "It's made of stories." Learn how to discover, honor, and unpack the stories of yours that show up "on the job" in Mitch Ditkoff's award-winning 2015 book, Storytelling at Work.
Do you want to know more about the book before buying it? Click here for Mitch's response to frequently asked questions about Storytelling at Work – the perfect book for people who think they have no time to read.
The Workshop
Storytelling is an "unconscious competency" – an ability we all have that all too often remains inaccessible to us. Enter the Storytelling at Work workshop – a simple way to activate this powerful, innate skill.
Wisdom Circles
Want to establish a culture of storytelling in your organization or community? Looking for a simple way to help people to share their meaningful, memorable stories with each other? Here's how.
Podcasts & Videos
Click here to view and listen to a series of interviews with the author of this blog. Go beyond the written word. Listen. Feel. Elevate the conversation. Understand what the big deal is about personal storytelling.
Blogs 'R Us
If you like this blog, you might also like Mitch's other two blogs: The Heart of Innovation and The Heart of the Matter. Mitch is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.
Idea Champions
When Mitch isn't writing, he's captaining the good ship Idea Champions, a leading edge innovation consulting and training company based in Woodstock, NY. What their clients say.