The Power of Choosing Your Attitude

Mike Thompson kona Ironman world championship finish 2012No matter what obstacles appear, you still have the power to choose your attitude. Just ask Mike Thompson, a four-time cancer survivor in Austin, Texas who now competes in grueling Ironman triathlons and speaks frequently to inspire others. He offers a great perspective for how anything is possible as long as you are alive.

In 1995 at age 10, Mike was diagnosed with myeloid leukemia, an adult form of the disease rarely found in kids. Over the next five and a half years, he dealt with relapses, 75 surgeries, two bone marrow transplants, numerous complications and a 12-hour complete jaw reconstruction.  When an infection from the jaw surgery left him in constant pain, Mike fell under the spell of prescription pain meds for four years until a 2007 stint in detox broke that addiction.

“You are in charge of your destiny,” notes Mike. “I still battle with jaw pain, depression and fear, but I’ve chosen to adopt an outlook that I’m better off now than I’ve ever been. Life is worth fighting for and every day should be celebrated.”

Active living with an eye towards helping others became his driving passion. After helping to raise over $6 million for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with his Team in Training Group, Mike started competing in triathlons. He completed a half Ironman in 2010 and a full Ironman race the following year with a cancer-fighting platform. Then Mike entered this 90 second video into an Ironman contest seeking inspired athletes who have used triathlons to overcome obstacles.

Mike Thompson’s Inspirational Video for 2012 Ironman World Championships

He won, and got to compete in the prestigious 2012 Ironman World Championships in Kona. Today Mike inspires countless numbers of people to choose a positive attitude through his speaking engagements, writing and personal conversations.

Finally, I’d like to give a shout-out to the amazing women at the website, where Mike is a guest blogger. Check out their great info for people like me who love a triathlete and Mike’s posts for additional inspiration.

How has choosing your attitude helped you overcome an obstacle or difficult situation?  What person in your life has inspired you to achieve what once seemed impossible?


  1. Amazing! This is the kind of story I want to share with my clients when they tell me they can’t or don’t have time/energy.
    Pamela Hernandez recently posted…Monthly Workout Playlist January 2014My Profile

    • Shira Miller says:

      Thanks Pamela! Mike’s honesty and gratitude about his journey, as well as his persistence, inspired me tremendously. I interviewed him for my book project and had to use this excerpt for the blog too. :)

  2. Sherry Wernicke says:

    What astounds me is the wisdom he has for such a young age. Most people much older could never go through what he has which such courage and grace and come out of it all still positive. Simply love his spirit.

    • Shira Miller says:

      I can’t believe Mike has been through so much as a teen and has such wisdom and perspective before he’s even 30 years old. He really has exercised the power of choosing a positive attitude each day.

  3. My attitude helped me recover from numerous knee surgeries, then a fused toe surgery. I’m convinced that my healing was shortened by my determination to seek out the good, the possible, and the joy, rather than seeing the limitations. Thanks for sharing this story Shira.
    AlexandraFunFit recently posted…What Can You Do to Be Happy This Year? Besides Eating TunaMy Profile

    • Shira Miller says:

      I remember a video series you posted on staying fit and finding the movement that was possible after your last surgery, and that was inspirational!

  4. What an inspiration!! His journey should be an inspiration to everyone!!!
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  5. Mikey is amazing; he is a good friend of ours here in Austin, and he is awesome. His story definitely inspires; but what is even better is, he lives by the words he says. We can all learn from him!

  6. Faye Miller says:

    My daughter Shira Miller has been my inspiration in making my life go forward after the passing of my husband and her Dad.

  7. Wow. Mike’s story just floors me. Attitude IS everything. I’ve seen it in my own life and others’. I’m getting wiser as I get older and that’s one thing I’ve learned!
    Suzanne @WorkoutNirvana recently posted…How to Use the Power Rack for Budding BadassesMy Profile

    • Shira Miller says:

      I learned a lot in interviewing him for my book and this blog, and now have a copy of the photo used for this story on my 2014 vision board to remind me about the power of a positive attitude!

  8. What an inspiration! Thank you for sharing this. BTW, have you ever read the blog Family Sport Life? It’s a newish blog written by a tri-wife (I didn’t realize that was a thing until just now) and I’ve really been enjoying it.
    Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout recently posted…2014: WelcomeMy Profile

    • Shira Miller says:

      Sarah, I haven’t read that blog but will definitely check it out! As a dedicated Tron “mate,” I’m always looking for info and tips as the sherpa during my honey’s Ironman triathlons!

  9. Justin Mason says:

    What an inspiration to anybody who is ‘scared’ to approach their fears and demons….. As my inspiration for the sport of Triathlon says on a regular basis, ‘use your mind’, as your body is stronger than you ever think……………. Mike Thompson more than embraces that mantra and is an inspiration to anybody in any walk of life.

    • Shira Miller says:

      Mike’s honesty and acknowledgement that he still struggles daily, but chooses to look for the good, is what impressed me most!

  10. Thank you for sharing!!! I am in such awe of people that rise above but with honesty!!!!!
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  11. I have used attitude many times in life to make it through the lows that chronic depression brings. I am constantly inspired by the patients that I have worked with over the years and by those I am close with. Attitude makes a major difference in how we choose to live our lives. Well done Mike!
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