It is often stated that true heroes in life, the people who perform spectacular feats in one perilous moment, are just normal people. That one perilous moment just allows the rest of the world to see their true character. Many times, they downplay their moments in the spotlight and prefer to remain anonymous.
How do you find and define character without a perilous moment? Is it having integrity? Is it found when you see someone totally committed to an impossible dream and they achieve it? Is it found when someone has a selfless act of courage that puts their life on the line for another?
I want to share a simple story of a man who exemplifies having character. Richard Munsen was born in Story City, IA 82 years ago. He is Norwegian by bloodline and went off to war in WWII, became a Captain of a B-17, and was shot down flying a mission over the Balkans in Croatia. With the help of the Partisan resistance, he and his crew evaded the Germans for 45 days and finally made it safely back to allied territory. He transitioned from his military service back to Story City, IA and co-owned and operated a Chevrolet dealership for the rest of his work career. I know of his life’s story because he is the grandfather of my son.
On a trip to visit Dick this month, as soon as I walked in the door he grabbed me by the arm and stated, “Come here, I have to show you something.” On a folding table in his living room was a puzzle that I had given her the previous Christmas. It was a WWII puzzle of the Normandy invasion.
As we sat down together to work on the puzzle that evening, I noticed several things. First, Dick has been having a sore knee lately and after a while, I could see that sitting at the table was beginning to be uncomfortable. Second, he his vision is challenged, in one eye he sees double and in the other he sees things raised about twice as high as the other. Fitting together pieces of a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle was certainly a worthy challenge with his eyesight challenges. Third, after 8 months of working on the puzzle he was proud as he could be with the progress made to date. The puzzle was only about 1/3 completed. He told me that some nights he can’t sleep and comes out to work in “a piece or two.” He consistently works on it just about everyday.
In that moment, I thought, “Wow, this is character. Many people would call his efforts an example of commitment, perseverance, dedication, or pursuit of achievement; but to me, it just signified personal “character.” Despite all of the physical challenges he was enduring, he still sits down everyday and works towards a worthy goal. He was keeping his mind active, alert, and practicing patience on the path to success.
How often do we miss the “character” that others show in their daily actions? How often do we overlook what makes people special? I have a tremendous amount of respect for Dick because he did such “heroic” things like becoming a pilot in WWII, evading the Germans for 45 days in the mountains of Yugoslavia, leading his men to safety, and taking on the entrepreneurial responsibilities of owning a successful Chevrolet dealership. What I respect the most is that at 82, he still shows the same character everyday that he has during his life as he works to fit one more piece of life’s puzzle together.
Find the hero in the people that you come in contact with today. They are exhibiting their character in many ways, if you just look for it. Appreciate their life experiences, how they have grown over the years, and keep a look out for the small things they do that reveal their true “character.” Everything you need in life to be inspired, to love, to experience gratitude, are right in front of you if you look for it. And remember to look at refining your own “character” so that you can continue to inspire others, as well.
If you wish to read more about Dick Munsen and his WWII experiences, please check out his website at: www.munsen.com
If you need some support in living a life with more “Character,” Call Now for a coaching session that will change your life.
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