Apr 2007 Character Quality -- Cautiousness
the following editorial article was written by Gloria Cooper for publication in The Paris News --
Daniel Boone sat in subdued silence as his friend and fellow traveler cautioned him against
advancing an exploratory mission in Native American owned lands.  Richard Henderson
explained how it would be most advantageous if they met with the area tribes and offered to buy
the unsettled lands.  The year was 1772, and Daniel was already famous in the surrounding
colonies for his fearlessness and enthusiastic, adventurous spirit.  After waiting a year, Daniel
decided he should wait no longer and set out with fifty other men into the unchartered
wilderness of Kentucky.  However, misfortune fell their way within weeks as many necessary
supplies ran out.  Daniel sent his son and several other young men to a nearby settlement and
waited for their return.  Unfortunately, they never did as the local Indians captured and killed all
except one of them.  Daniel Boone and his party quickly returned home, realizing an important
lesson – although too late.  The idea was right; the place was right; but the timing was wrong.  
Another year passed before he ventured out again, able now to successfully establish a
settlement.  This time the right circumstances were set in place for Daniel Boone signed a treaty,
buying the land he wished to settle.  

Cautiousness - knowing how important right timing is in accomplishing right actions.  Many times,
we impulsively label cautiousness as weakness or even cowardice.  “Caution,” says one of
experience, “is not cowardly - carelessness is not courage.”  To take caution is to look at a given
situation from many different angles to ensure the most prosperous outcome.  A chess master
will sit and stare at the same pieces for many moments before taking a single move.  During that
time, he will take into account the player’s past strategies and probable future reactions.  He
also perceives how that move will best promote his plan of attack.  

Just as the chess master, we also should not try to skate through decisions by ‘making up the
story line’ as we go.  This may work for a while, but after awhile, we will see that we have created
great chaos.  We need to think through situations before we act in them.  Mental preparation
always goes before physical completion.  Whenever we see a possible sign of danger – a wet
road, a high step, or even a growing storm, we need to do whatever is necessary to avoid risk
and alert others so they, too, can properly respond.  
Whatever we do, we must use the proper tools to complete the project in an excellent manner,
regardless of who sees.  A table saw works great for cutting plywood for a wall – though not so
good for carving designs for a dining room chair back.  The same applies to any other line of
work.  By following all safety guidelines, we further protect the well – being of others and
ourselves.  Safety standards, signs, and rules are in place for a reason whether we understand
why or not.  In following regulations, we should try to apply the initial principle to every area.  
Finally, timing is everything.  Every one of our actions affects someone else, and even though
our schedule may permit us to carry out plans, we should be sure that we do not inconvenience
anyone else’s schedule and priorities.  

While it is absurd to walk down a city street with a club for fear of snakes, it is not so out of place
to carry it into heavily wooded marsh for that same purpose.  One is timidity; the other is
cautiousness.  In this day of increased alertness due to world-wide events, we should especially
take care to be prepared for emergencies.  Even as we are cautious, we should also take the
initiative to act quickly and effectively when we discern the next step.  

In short, the cautious person will ask himself three questions: “Is it the right thing?  Is it the right
place?  Is it the right time?”  When he can answer ‘yes’ to all of them, then he may proceed.  
Davy Crockett, hero of the Alamo, lived and died by his motto, “Make sure you are right, and
then go ahead.”  
Portions of this article have been adapted from Character First! material.  For more information about the
Character First! program and resources contact:  Character Training Institute, 520 W. Main Street, Oklahoma
City, OK  73102,  (405) 815-0001. Visit the Character Council of Red River Valley at
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