When I was in the sixth grade, my club soccer team lost a state qualifying match which ended our season. As the referee’s whistle blew, the opposing team and their fans stormed the field and celebrated their victory together. Standing there with my head down and my hands on my hips, in a fit of anger, I kicked the soccer ball in front of me, sending it onto another field. I went on standing there feeling bad for myself and probably would have for some time, had my father not come from across the field to confront me. He grabbed me by the shoulder and looked at me dead in the eye, as if what he had to say was the difference between life and death. “Life’s not about winners and losers Eamonn, it’s about character.” That piece of advice has stuck with me for the past 10 years. Rarely a month goes by that I don’t think back on that day. I value that statement so much because I know it to be true. A man’s character is found not in the sum of his experiences, but rather in what he takes from them. I have always believed that there is something to be gained from every experience in life. I am constantly learning from myself and the experiences of others, in an attempt to better myself. My journey through, so far, has been extremely interesting. It has been full with successes and failures, victories and defeats. But when all the excess of life is cut away, the core that remains is character. The statement my father made that day laid the foundation of my character. I will spend my life building on that strong foundation, by learning from myself and by taking advantage of the plethora of available wisdom and knowledge offered by other more experienced individuals. I truly believe that a man’s character is found not in the sum of his experiences, but rather in what he takes from them, and I plan to take the most.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.