Reprinted from www.sailingscuttlebutt.com
In the realm of sports, elite athletes are different, with the biggest difference often lying between the ears. Their "wiring" allows them to handle situations at a superior level. This difference can be most evident at the youth level. While some kids are easily distracted, others are highly focused. Meet Duncan Williford. Sailing Optimists for Lauderdale Yacht club in Fort Lauderdale, FL, Duncan qualified for the Optimist Worlds last year in Turkey at age 12 and this year missed the Worlds team by one point. His sixth place finish at the U.S. Team Trials (April 30-May 3) qualified him to attend either the Europeans in Slovenia or the North Americans in Dominican Republic. Now 13 years old, here is a paper he wrote for school as a persuasive essay:
Never Give Up On Your Goals
Have you ever REALLY wanted to accomplish something? Not like "Oh, that sounds nice, I would kind of like to do that," but something where it is your dream. What you can never stop thinking about, never stop dreaming about, never push out of your mind for later. It's different and the same for everybody. It can be academics, sports, a job, or something else. But what they all share is that they are inner goals. If you feel this way about a goal, and never give up, the goal is never impossible.
Sometimes, though, one decides to stop following their dreams. Usually, it is not one of those dreams that you can't stop thinking about, but one of those "Oh, that would be nice," kind of dreams. Those are more hollow dreams. If each time you have a dream, make a goal, and then give up; your goals start to get shallower and shallower. Eventually they are going to just become thoughts. Imagine walking through the middle of an ocean, with a path for you to walk forward, but every step you take, the ocean water fills in behind you. It seems as if there is fair weather ahead of you, but there is a hidden storm. If you go back, you must swim hard against the current and work that much harder to get back to where you came from. That is what it is like if you start giving up on your goals.
Working hard to achieve your goals is almost exactly the opposite. As if you are on a trek through the desert. You don't know exactly how long it will take, but you have a clear path, and a steel determination that will give you all you need to best the twists and turns and rocks and thorns and beasts, anything that will get in your way of that crystal clear vision of what wonders lie ahead at the end of your path. That determination will stay the burning heat, turn away the beasts, crush the rocks, and straighten the twists. But if you decide to stray from your path, "just for a minute," it will turn into that salty ocean way in which it is so very hard to come back from.
If you can grind your teeth, set your jaw, and kindle a blazing fire in your eyes, and never stop to even think about straying from your path, you arrive at your oasis; your lush, green, flowering, wonderful oasis. Here you can do whatever you want and have all the time in the world. Here is where you reach your inner happiness.
Now sometimes there are those few, extraordinary, wise people, who wish to depart again from that wonderful oasis and brave again the desert. These few people realize that it is not the oasis that really brought the peace, but the journey. They wish to feel that feeling of accomplishment again, and again, and again. When they see those who have given up and who are wandering aimlessly through life, they do not laugh or consider themselves better, but pity them. They will help guide them back to the path, so that the others may too enjoy the wonderful oasis. Sometimes this brings an even greater happiness, and inspires them more. That is how it feels to accomplish ones goals and follow ones dreams. That is how it feels to never give up, and to always strive for greatness.