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From the beginning of life we are meant to be happy and joyous. It is all too easy to be bogged down by negative experiences or life challenges, but every day, we can choose our responses to our circumstances. On the journey of life, I’ve learned to choose happy, joyful and positive thoughts during challenging times or in situations that are trying to bring me down.

Good old-fashioned work ethics can bring you far in life.

I heard a great quote the other day from my neighbor, “Some people are lucky– but the harder I work the luckier I get!” Sometimes people come up to me and tell me how lucky I am to be so talented. I remind them that it doesn’t come from luck—it comes from years and years of hard work and practice.

What they’re seeing is an end result that looks effortless and easy, but it came from more than 20 years of ups and downs– and endless practice sessions on the water. Good work ethics bring great things: knowledge, satisfaction, confidence, and good Karma!

My grandfather taught my father to always look ahead. He used to say, “Have the next tool ready for me when I need it–that way we can finish this project sooner.” I apply that approach in all areas of my life, whether I am working in the garage, training for a tournament, or helping a friend. I envision how I must prepare for the next task at hand– and I gather the tools and knowledge that I need before moving ahead.

I find that when I work hard, there is always a positive return, even when the outcome is a negative experience to learn from. By gathering the tools I need and applying a tough work ethic, I have been able to achieve my goals and dreams.

When I was a young athlete, I ate a lot of junk food and survived on soda. I never knew how to eat properly and in my early twenties, I put on a lot of weight as a professional athlete. I began getting injured and I was sore all the time. A back injury almost sidelined my career, but I sought help from a person who changed my eating habits. A healthy lifestyle gave me new energy and took my career to the next level: I went on to win two World Championships.

I find that the more I serve and help others, the more enriched my own life becomes. I try to live my life by this personal quote of mine: “If you do good, good will come upon you.”

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Keith St. Onge grew up in a small town of Berlin, New Hampshire. Mike Seipel, the World barefoot water ski champion, taught Keith to water ski on his bare feet at the age of nine. From the moment he placed his feet on the water, he was hooked on the sport. Keith began competing in barefoot water ski tournaments the following year and his skills on the water quickly progressed.

At the age of thirteen, a newspaper reporter asked Keith what he wanted to do when he grew up. Keith responded, “I would like to be good enough so that I can become a professional and make a living doing it.” That’s exactly what he did.

Keith followed his passion and turned pro at the age of eighteen. A year later, he moved to Florida and opened a ski school, which is now the World Barefoot Center. Keith owns KSO Wetsuits, a company that manufactures wetsuits. Keith has instructed beginners to professionals, including hockey legend, Garry “Mr. Blue” Unger, Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame skier, Glen Plake and Dave Ramsey, host of the Dave Ramsey Show.

Keith holds eleven National titles, two World titles and has set nine world records. He is a recipient of the Banana George Blair “Barefooter of the Year” award and two International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation “Male Athlete of the Year” awards.

Keith provides instructional barefoot water ski clinics all over the world. Follow him on Twitter, @keithstonge to track him on his summer tour, “Barefooting Across America.”

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