Word of the Week – “Character”
By David Fell

“Character, not circumstance, makes the person.”
— Booker T. Washington, American educator and civil rights activist (1856-1915)
Translation for Adults:
People, whether they realize it or not, are the result of their decisions in life. Those decisions come from
their quality of character. Masters and top achievers are rarely “born into it”, i.e. circumstance, rather
they make the right decisions daily to do their best in everything they put their mind to and consistently
make that decision daily until they are considered a master. Therefore, circumstance has less effect on
a person than does their character and the decisions they make in life.
Translation for Kids:
When your friends are picking on someone, do you join in? Do you stop them? The “circumstance” is
children are all picking on someone that doesn’t deserve it. Your character is developed before this
situation ever comes up. You can either follow the crowd and participate in the taunting, be silent and
let it happen, or be vocal and encourage everyone to stop. All the choices you’ve made in your life will
lead you to how you approach this situation. That action is a direct link to your character…no matter the
Discussion Questions:
1. What does this quote mean to you?
2. How do you define the word character?

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, philosopher and poet (1803-1882)
Translation for Adults:
The past is behind us, there’s nothing we can do to change it, the future is before us, but what lies
within us is currently in the moment now. This is what matters most. What lies within us is a collection
of experiences and thoughts that have culminated in our character. The afore mentioned quote alludes
to the fact that we need to spend more time and energy on what lies within us and less time regretting
the past, and fearing the future.
Translation for Kids:
Be aware that yesterday is the past, today is the present, and tomorrow is the future. The only one of
these three you can do anything about directly is the present, what you are doing this very moment. It
is important to learn from your past and keep an eye on the direction you’re moving (i.e. your future),

however, what matters most is what you are doing right now. Are you paying attention to the present
moment or daydreaming? Are you giving your best effort now or looking forward to the next class?
Discussion Questions:
1. How often do you daydream in class instead of paying attention to the teacher?
2. What is something you can do to keep yourself “in the moment”?
“What a man’s mind can create, man’s character can control.”
— Attributed to Thomas Edison, American inventor (1847-1931)
Translation for Adults:
The mind is creative…you can have anything in life if you put your mind to it. Now the person who puts
his or her mind to earning $1 million or more a year now has $1 million or more to do with as he or she
pleases. It’s his character that comes into play and decides how that money is used. Some people will
use that money positively, and some people will use it negatively…it’s the character of the person that
determines how to use resources their minds have attracted.
Translation for Kids:
When you get a birthday present it is yours to do with what you want to. Usually many kids will want to
play with your present. It’s up to your character whether or not you share your gift with your friends or
keep it to yourself. It’s your character that is controlling how you treat your possessions and the
possessions of others, so a great indicator of your character can be the quality and condition of the
things you own.
Discussion Questions:
1. What are some things you have control of? How do you decide how they are shared?
2. How would you define the word control?
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can
the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
— Helen Keller, American social activist, public speaker and author (1880-1968)
Translation for Adults:
No matter how detailed you get in envisioning a particular event, nothing is a substitute for the actual
event taking place. In our minds we may think we make the perfect decision every time, but when we
see how others are affected by these decisions we may want to rethink our decision based on this new
information. We would never have received the new information if we had not put our thoughts into
action and received feedback. The only way to develop character is through experience and self-

Translation for Kids:

When you decide to take the time to study extra hard in school on a subject that is difficult for you, you
are developing character. You could settle for a passing grade only, yet you’ve decided to put in the
extra work to get more out of the subject. If you continue to work hard you will see results not only in
school, but in all areas of your life.
Discussion Questions:
1. How has this applied in your life?
2. Have you ever worked hard on something and achieved amazing results?

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