Nov 2007 Character Quality -- Determination
the following editorial article was written by Gloria Cooper for publication in The Paris News --
Cheers filled the crisp, afternoon air.  A group of young men were participating in an impromptu
log-lifting contest and the strongest one among them had just lifted a log many times his own
weight.  As the cheers died down, his friend bent to pick up the same log.  Straining every
muscle, he pushed as hard as he could.  Unable to lift it completely over his head, he paused for
a moment, frustrated.  His friends cheered him on again, but his strength spent, he dropped it.  
“I can’t do it!”  He panted, “It’s too heavy!”  “Yes you can, Ben!” the first competitor urged him.  
“No, it’s easier for you…” Ben argued.  “Ben, you can do it.”  Silence reigned for several
moments.  Ben repositioned himself, took a deep breath, and began to lift.  Giving a shout of
triumph, he lifted that log all the way up and over his head.  With a final yell, he it let fall; shaking
the ground under its weight.

Determination…what constitutes true determination?  The Hebrew language has the first
recorded use of the word determine.  It means to purpose or promise.  It also means to believe
strongly in the heart.   An easy definition for determination is purposing to accomplish the right
goals at the right time regardless of the opposition.  When we say we are determined to do
something, is this the level of our determination?   When we have our eyes fixed on a goal, we
cannot allow anyone or anything to stand in the way.  Determination is what builds families,
businesses and countries. The word ‘impossible’ is never in the mouth of the determined.

To achieve determination, we must understand what will build it.  When we have an idea for a
project, we first evaluate what it is that we want to accomplish.  We take the time to find out all
the facts and weigh in the costs – then we begin.  Through proper planning, we prioritize every
project and focus in on one thing at a time.  A major part in planning is allowing time for
distractions, setbacks, and other interruptions.  By working well within a generous time bracket,
we give ourselves ample time to complete our goals.  

     The hardest part to completing any goal is unforeseen obstacles.  As we have learned
before, the only way out of a problem is through it.  Determination counts the most when
problems   occur.  “You are only as strong as the obstacles you overcome.”  In order to
overcome obstacles, we need to identify what will cause us to falter.  If we break them down into
conquerable sections, they rarely ever seem as insurmountable as we first believed.  Also, there
is strength in numbers.  Ask another’s opinion, a friend’s suggestion, or a family members’
advice. Problems never look so big when two or three are tackling it.  

Flexibility plays a major role here.  Many times, our plans work until life throws us a curve ball.
We need to be able to adjust quickly to changes in our plans.  “Plan A” may work great, but we
need to have a “Plan B” prepared to adapt to any unforeseen problems.

Determination is Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, refusing to give up his dream of sailing to the
South Pole – and succeeding after many abandoned adventures.  It is Sir Ernest giving his word
to twenty-two of his men that he would bring back a ship to them on deserted ice island – and
making good on that promise.  Determination is General Douglas MacArthur promising the
Philippines, “I shall return!” and living to keep his word.  Determination is a fathers’ resolve to
see his wife and children have a secure, warm home before the chill of winter.  

Retreat is never an option for one of a courageous, determined spirit.  John Wanamaker said,
“To have failed once is not so much a pity as is to not try again.”  May we have a spirit of
determination to overcome all obstacles.
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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