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What Chris Wilson Taught Me

Posted on 07/08/2016 @ 03:35 PM

About two weeks ago, me and 50 other Jewish teens were taken from the peace and serenity of Perlman camp into a bleak world of gunshots and fear. We cringed, cried, and clapped along to Chris Wilson’s story of poverty to prosperity. Convicted of murder when he was only a teenager, Chris was sentenced to life in prison. Inspired by a mentor, he got his high school and college degrees, studying every day. After 16 years, he was given a second chance, and went on to own two successful businesses. As enchanted as I was with the story, a cynical question still lingered in my mind-Is suffering the only path to success?

Psychologically, this proposition makes sense. Having been fed, clothed, entertained, and accepted my whole life, I have a difficult time rationalizing the fact that the world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I know about all of the suffering, the starvation and terror attacks and refugee crises, but I just can’t live these issues. As a result, I don’t have any consequences to motivate me. People like Chris Wilson and Derreck Kayongo, on the other hand, had to work to stay alive. Because of this work ethic, they turned their lives around.

All of these ideas tie into what I believe is the key to success: pure, concentrated effort. It is the same with BBYO. How do you get more members? Work. How do you plan better events? Work. How do you have a successful term? Work. We try to convince ourselves that there are convenient shortcuts to success, but there just aren’t. So no, one doesn’t have to experience extreme hardship to fight their way to prosperity. As diverse as successful people are, they all take the same path: the path of effort. 

Noam Benavi

BBYO International Office
800 Eighth Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
P: 202.857.6633 / F: 202.857.6568

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