They say that character can be defined as “What you do when no one is looking”… well the fact is it seems that someone is always looking.
Someone is always there to let you know how you are doing or to be critical of that which you did.
You never stop learning, I learned a lot this past weekend while on a twenty mile back packing trek with some Scouts and Scouters from my Order of the Arrow Chapter.
One of the things that I learned was that as a young man, I forged the Character that I have now. That seems a bit obvious but what I mean by that is this; I did not realize how my early formation was going to manifest itself until now.
When I was nineteen years old, I attended the US Army Ranger School at Ft. Benning, GA. Ranger School is a leadership school that tests the individuals leadership skills in adverse conditions and under stress. The school imposes the stress by reducing your food and sleep and putting the students in challenging situations that require critical thinking and decision making.
They break your body and mind down and watch as the student builds it back over the course.
It is like doing push ups. When you do push ups you tear muscle, as that muscle repairs it gets stronger and stronger.
And so it is with character, the more it is challenged and torn at, the stronger it gets.
In Ranger School, I learned that I could push my mind and body to its farthest limit, and when I got the point where I could go no more, I found that I could take at least one more step. And if I could take one more, then I could get the other foot out there… and soon I was pushing past the limits.
I learned this on Sunday as I watched my oldest son climbing out of the Eagle Creek valley on the trek. A five mile stretch of constant climbing, this after seven miles of switch backs and a heavy pack. I watched him as he took the climb head on, never complaining. He kept putting one foot in front of the other. I was in front of him most of the trek, and could hear his foot steps on the trail, he motivated me to push on. It was not Ranger School, but after a hard day of hiking on Saturday and working on trail improvements, my body was tired and I could feel every step I took in my aging knees.
A discussion we had the night before about how easy all of this is compared to Ranger School got me to thinking that it was no harder, nor was it easier, it was all a matter of character at this point. Ranger School forged that Character in me, a drive to never give up, to never let the team down, to complete every task… no matter what the circumstances. As I look back I know that I was tested and I past.
We all are tested, these tests forge our Character. They set the course for how we will conduct ourselves in the future. These tests will determine whether or not we take one more step or quit.
IF you take that one more step, when you think you can’t, when you have had enough, when everything is against you… you will have Character and you will be a better man for it. You will have been shaped into a fine man that can be counted on, that will never fail or let others down.
When that happens you will never have to worry about who is watching or what they see, because they will see a man of Character.
Have a Great Scouting Day!