NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS: My Journey of Faith [Preface & Intro]

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From being a non-scholarship "walk-on" track athlete to becoming the tenth fastest 100-meter sprinter in LSU's history, Jerel Hill discovered the meaning of having faith and taking action on a dream …

From being a non-scholarship "walk-on" track athlete to becoming the tenth fastest 100-meter sprinter in LSU's history, Jerel Hill discovered the meaning of having faith and taking action on a dream that he envisioned for himself. But if it wasn't for several key moments - and people - in Jerel's life, none of his aspirations would have manifested. In this auto biography, Jerel shares his journey of faith - proving that if you never give up on your dreams, anything is possible.

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  • 1. PREFACE MY JOURNEY OF FAITH Dear Dreamer, When I first discovered the importance having faith and taking action, I realized that I had inherited a jewel. Doing what I said I was going to do was very fulfilling. Not that I am some arrogant individual who thrives off self-praises, I just noticed that whatever I set my mind to do - it became possible as long as I had faith, worked hard and did not give up. Many times in life, we are seemingly hell-bent on finding excuses as to why we cannot step into our own personal greatness. We tend to feel that greatness is only experienced by a select few who get that “lucky” break that skipped over us. Well, I am here to tell you that anything that you dream possible is possible. All it takes is focus, determination, will-power, faith and action to see your dreams manifest – right before your very eyes. In this book, I am inviting you to accompany me on my journey of faith. I have been planning on writing this book for years but for some reason, I kept starting and stopping. I would begin to write but would stop because I felt that my story was not intriguing enough for me to share with the world. After being encouraged numerous times that I should “just do it” I eventually found the courage to do just that. By sharing my story, I hope it inspires and encourages you to follow your dreams. I wasn’t “gifted” or “blessed” with a special talent or skill that set me apart from others – I simply believed in
  • 2. a vision that I had for myself, had faith and took action. However, now that I think about it, I can’t even say that my vision was mine to begin with. I believe that it was all according to the plan that the Most High Almighty God had for me. I could try to explain why I believe this to you right now but I will just let you read my story and let you be the judge. Basically, I grew up living a normal life. I was a very adventurous child with big dreams, just like most children. My imagination was astonishing. I was a dreamer and a believer from a young age and I truly believed that I could do anything. As I grew older, I began seeing evidence that I could one day be great – at something. I just didn’t know exactly what that something was. By the time that I was a senior in high school, I began thinking about how I was going to pay for college. I was not a genius in the classroom or on any athletic team, which meant that I had no academic or athletic scholarships heading my way. One lifealtering day, I had a chance encounter with a classmate of mine whom I barely even knew at the time. He suggested that I try out for the track team. Prior to his recommendation, I had never been to a track meet before or even have any knowledge of what a track meet was like. I assumed they just ran around a circle halfnaked in front of cheering fans (and I was somewhat correct). I ended up hardly making the team but became determined to improve my athletic abilities. Through hard work and dedication, I became one of the fastest sprinters in the state of Mississippi during my first year competing in the sport of track and field. After defeating a cross-town rival after several failed attempts, I fell in love with the sport. Although I was doing quite well, a scholarship offer never came my way. Eventually, I enrolled in Hinds Community College (with the 2
  • 3. assistance of financial aid) and attempted to “walk-on” the track team. I soon found out that Hinds was home to many state champions, national champions, and even a soon-to-be professional athlete, who would go on to win a silver medal in the 2012 London Olympics. At the try outs, I came totally unprepared. All I had were a run-down pair of K-Swiss tennis shoes. I ran embarrassingly slow and did not make the team. After failing to make the team, I began slipping down the wrong path and had a life-changing experience that proved to be a turning point in my life. I started back training and dreaming big. I dreamed of one day competing for the LSU Tigers. I wasn’t even on the Hinds track team yet but I had faith that I would live that dream. Ultimately, with high hopes for my future, I focused and worked extremely hard. With favor from the Almighty God, I was later presented with the opportunity to compete on the Hinds track team as a walk-on athlete. While at Hinds, I went through much adversity but became a National Champion and a 3-time All-American at the NJCAA level. I received numerous scholarship offers to Division I schools but none from my dream school LSU. Keeping faith in my dream, I turned down all scholarship offers and went to LSU as a walk-on. My friends and family thought I was crazy. I faced even more challenges at LSU but I was determined to overcome any obstacle that was thrown in my path. Shockingly, I went from being just a walk-on athlete to being ranked the tenth fastest 100-meter sprinter in LSU’s history. I learned that it is very important to keep faith in God and to never give up on your dreams. Anything is possible for him who believes. Jerel Hill October 13, 2013 3
  • 4. 4
  • 5. INTRODUCTION AVOID DREAM KILLERS “If you tell yourself something enough times, you will begin to believe it.” - Unknown I t was self-fulfilling prophecy. As I lived out my dreams it became so clear to me. That whatever you believe is possible for you is indeed possible through faith, hard work and determination. Greatness is a trait that everyone on Earth has deeply embedded within them. There is no secret to success. If you believe in the bible it says, “Faith without works is dead.” This means that you may possess all the faith in the world but unless you work (take action that supports your belief) nothing will happen. So, as my wisdom and understanding grew, I began taking action while “prophesying” my own success. Many people go through life wishing and hoping that they will become successful. What is success? I began to ask myself this very question. Finally, I figured out personally what success is for me. My definition of success is: Following the path that the Most High Almighty God has for me, while totally trusting in Him to give me the desires of my heart. I consider anyone who passionately pursues what they want in life (that does not give up) as a successful person. “You need to be more realistic.” Most likely, you have heard this phrase uttered from the lips of friends, family, or even close acquaintances. As you finally gather the confidence to share your dreams, ideas, and/or aspirations with others it seems as if the 5
  • 6. only feedback you can get is either discouraging or flat out negative. Many people may support your ambitions but most will shoot your dreams down with no hesitation. They feel that dreams are not reality and that it is their job to bring you back down to earth with their pessimism. Others believe they are just warning you from the possibility of failure and disappointment. When you share your goals with these types of people they quickly speak on how things could go wrong and how unlikely success really is. Beware of dream killers! In their hearts, they think they are providing you with sound advice. But really, they are only attempting to plant a seed of doubt in your mind, whether they are conscious of it or not. While being interviewed, famous actor Will Smith insisted, “Why be realistic?” He mentioned how it was ‘unrealistic’ that we “bend up a piece of metal” and fly hundreds of people around the world daily. That would be deemed unrealistic and it was but the Wright Brothers (Wilbur and Orville Wright) did not hold that belief. I am almost absolutely certain that most people thought they were crazy. These two brothers had passion, enthusiasm, and were committed to their goal despite the doubt of non-believers. If it was not for their vision and dream, we might not have airplanes to transport us around the world today. What if the Wright Brothers had listened and gave heed to their critics? What if they allowed dream killers to kill their vision? Thankfully, we are flying today because they did not give up on what they believed. We must understand that not everyone will see our vision. People who lack vision are frequently resentful of those who do and they will desperately await an opportunity to slay another's dream. Many times it is not until our peers start seeing our actions to support our dreams that they will stick around to see what becomes of them. When you are taking the necessary steps to accomplish your goals your critics will 6
  • 7. remain silent but as soon as something goes wrong they will be there to say, “I told you so!” Never let another person's critical attitude determine your worth or your future. Do not allow that person's lack of faith, no matter how well-intentioned, stop you from dreaming big and achieving your personal dream or goal. It is too easy for those around you, who are hopelessly entangled in their own mediocrity, to condemn you for attempting to follow your dream, or acting to carry out your great idea. Many people will try to talk you out of your greatness! Do you realize that you have greatness within you? Did you know that you have the power to become legendary and achieve the goals you have set for yourself? In this book, I will share my personal story with you to inspire you to chase your dreams by any means necessary. Never let anyone deceive you into thinking it is not possible. I am a firm believer that if you never give up, you will never fail. I am truly a witness. Les Brown, a great motivational speaker once said, “Other people's opinion of you does not have to become your reality.” I could not agree more. You may have dreams to be a famous entertainer, a lawyer, or even a professional sports star and a dream killer will give you reasons why you cannot achieve these goals. They will try to “bring you back to reality” with statements such as, “Do you know how difficult it is to be what you are aspiring to be? Also, statistics show that you have a one-in-amillion chance to become that.” That is just a made up example but I think you understand my point. Take a moment to reflect on your life. How many times have the people whom you are closest to end up talking you out of doing something that you believe you can do? Sometimes, the best way to avoid dream killers is by keeping your dreams to yourself. In a song by hip hop artist J. Cole he said, “If they don't know your dreams then they can't 7
  • 8. shoot 'em down.” Let your work and subsequent success speak for you. We do not have to chitchat to everyone about every good idea that comes into our minds. What exactly is reality? There is much to say about this topic. I personally do not believe in this so-called “reality” how society views it. In my own personal life, I view reality as one accomplishing their dreams no matter how ‘unrealistic’ it seems. Many famous people you read about set out on their seemingly unrealistic journeys and achieved their dreams. They made their dreams ‘reality’, which were once deemed ‘not realistic’. For example, let us examine an event in history that disrupted societies’ perspective of reality. According to the so-called experts, breaking the four-minute mile barrier was not only dangerous, it was impossible. They insisted that the human body was simply not capable of the fourminute mile. In the 1940's, the mile record was pushed to 4:01, where it stood for nine years. As many runners struggled to come close, they thought that maybe the ‘experts’ were right. However, a runner named Roger Bannister did not accept the opinions of the experts. His way of thinking was not operating in the world of ‘reality’. As a part of his training, Bannister relentlessly visualized the achievement in order to create a sense of certainty in his mind and body. On May 6, 1954, he broke the four-minute mile barrier by clocking a time of 3:59.4. Prior to this monumental event, the four-minute mile barrier had developed such an aura of mystery that some considered it a physical impossibility. But the next month the barrier was again shattered by John Landry. Additionally, in the following few years it was broken by almost a dozen more believers (runners). Now, there are almost 900 men who have run a sub-4 minute mile, including a former high school student and a 40+ year old man. Roger Bannister believed 8
  • 9. he could do it so he aimed for this goal with intense focus and ignored the dream-killing ‘experts’. His faith in himself shifted an entire belief system causing a mental barrier to be vanquished. As a result, running a sub-4 minute mile is now common. My point is: Don’t listen to anyone who tries to shoot down your dreams. What you believe is possible for YOU is only for YOU to believe. Everyone will not see your vision. Believe in yourself and take action! There is no shortage of dream killers. It doesn’t matter what other people think. Do what you have to do and let them witness the fruits of your hard labor! And most importantly, “Never Give Up On Your Dreams…” This is my journey of faith. I hope it inspires you. Respectfully, Jerel Hill 9
  • 10. he could do it so he aimed for this goal with intense focus and ignored the dream-killing ‘experts’. His faith in himself shifted an entire belief system causing a mental barrier to be vanquished. As a result, running a sub-4 minute mile is now common. My point is: Don’t listen to anyone who tries to shoot down your dreams. What you believe is possible for YOU is only for YOU to believe. Everyone will not see your vision. Believe in yourself and take action! There is no shortage of dream killers. It doesn’t matter what other people think. Do what you have to do and let them witness the fruits of your hard labor! And most importantly, “Never Give Up On Your Dreams…” This is my journey of faith. I hope it inspires you. Respectfully, Jerel Hill 9