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Winning Essay

Melissa Schueler
Cumberland County College
Vineland, NJ
(Instructor: J. Marketto (Dr. Steven M. Stolar))

The Long Winding Path

Success requires an insatiable desire, unyielding discipline and relentless determination to achieve our goals and dreams. We must pursue our dreams with courage because along the way there will be obstacles to face. We may fall, but we must get up and continue to run. I learned these principles of success through various life experiences including many years of martial arts training, and by observing other successful people. What I learned can be applied to anyone's life.

The long winding path to success begins in the mind. If you think you will fail, then you are probably right. Over ten years ago, I signed up for my first college English class. After two weeks of class I dropped out because I was afraid of failing. I had defeated myself with one negative thought. This year I proved that my negative thought was wrong when I signed up to take the class again. To my surprise, I received an 'A' on every single paper that I wrote. The English class that I presumed would be horrible is now the motivational force pushing me down the path to success in college.

Another place I learned about success was in my Tae Kwon-Do do-jang (school). In 1991, after three years of Tae Kwon-Do classes, I was prepared to take my black belt test. Although I had worked very hard to get to that point, the black belt test would be the hardest of all challenges I faced. If I wanted to pass the test, I would have to endure several hours of sparring, board breaking, and other physical tests. Half way through the test I was teary-eyed and started to think I could not make it. That was the point of decision. It was time to make my mind up to quit or to press on. Though extremely difficult challenges were ahead, I decided to continue because I had to have the black belt. It represented many years of hard work and self-discipline. After enduring a few more hours of fights, I passed the test. The greatest challenges of the test was when I had to stand inside a circle, surrounded by the senior black belts and defend myself against them all. One of them knocked me out, but I pick myself up off the floor and continued until the test was over. That day success was mine because I endured to the end with courage and determination, having completed my goal of earning a black belt.

After I earned my black belt, I started teaching classes and I learned another important lesson about success. By observing many students, I found that it was not the highly talented students that were the most successful. They received lots of recognition because they looked good in class, but they did not display the important qualities that I noticed in some of the less talented students. The students with the greatest degree of success were physically challenged, but they showed up for every class, took extra classes, paid their dues on time, and attended tournaments and seminars whenever possible. They basically took every opportunity to learn as much as they could and worked continually at being their personal best. Many of them also became excellent instructors.

The highly motivated and purpose driven students were not only successful as martial artists. They carried these forces with them in their future endeavors and achieved high levels of success. A few examples are Colleen, Michael, and Brett, some of the black belts that I studied with. Colleen, a prize-winning fighter in men's division at tournaments, became the manager of a popular fast food restaurant. Michael, a fourth degree black belt, attended Drexel University and now earns a six-figure income as an architectural engineer. Brett joined the military and said that boot camp was a piece of cake when compared to his martial arts training. None of these three black belts started out as extraordinary students, but they pursued their goals and dreams with discipline, desire, determination and courage and all of them did extraordinary things with their lives.

Success is not always based on the talent a person possesses. Successful people use their discipline, desire, and drive to get them where they want to go in life. They are courageous, and are not defeated by negative thoughts and ideas. Someone said that success is made of 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration. I think that person was right. Keep sweating!