I believe in Will. Will is something that can overcome all talent. And without, talent is useless. It is what drives individuals to succeed and in its absence, to fail. And in my life one man embodies it.
My grandfather was born into the central Texas town of Nacogdoches in 1936. Little opportunity presented itself in this small lumberjack town nicknamed Naca-Nowhere. He figured his only way out was a college diploma. The family could not afford the price of a quality education. He found ways around as he usually did, this time through sports. He had always been blessed with athletic ability. He was named All-State tight end his senior year. His luck improved even greater when he received a scholarship to play at SMU. Perhaps now he could make a grab at a decent life. However, he suffered a crippling knee injury while practicing his freshmen year. His scholarship was cut along with his chance at prosperity. He returned to his hometown shortly after with little hope. However, my grandfather was blessed with something few had and which no one could match. His will. Enrolling at the local college SFA, he took his major in the only convenient and employing career for the area. Forestry. He graduated and managed to find a job at a small company named Temple-Inland. He started at the lowest of lows going out in the woods marking trees, coming home every night cut and bleeding to his new wife Nancy. Little promise seemed ahead for him. Any other man would have been content to scratch out a living and die just as poor as he was born. But again his determination to make himself into something took over. He worked endlessly trying to provide his new family with the best life possible. He ended his career as the Vice President while turning Temple-Inland into the largest forestry company in Texas.
It is this immeasurable will that I draw my inspiration from. I have not and will not ever believe that I am the smartest or strongest but rather that I just try harder. He was not the smartest and neither am I. I nearly failed the first grade. I was forced to take summer school and hire a private tutor to learn to read. But my unusual determination was shown even at that young age. Within six months of tutoring I was reading at fourth grade level. Neither was I a talented athlete. But nowhere on the field could the coaches find a more determined 135 pound defensive tackle.
I was never given talent but I did inherit an even greater gift. So many people in life are blessed with athleticism or intelligence, but few have the type of determination that brought success to my grandfather and to me. Perhaps Vince Lombardi said it best:
“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.”