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“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” ~Helen Keller

Not too long ago, a friend of mine had “a moment.”

You know those moments. Moments of truth. Character building moments.

We all have had them. Moments when you feel as though some important piece of you might slough off and die if you don’t act, if you don’t take a stand, if you don’t speak up.

My friend reported to me that she felt that way in response to an event she witnessed, that if she didn’t speak up she might melt into nothingness like the Wicked Witch of the West.

It was that feeling, she told me, more than the event itself, that prompted her to take a risk and speak up.

She recognized it as a clarion call to her character and sense of integrity.

She didn’t even particularly care that much about the person involved—but she cared deeply about the principle at stake.

She thought speaking up might cost her her job.

She thought it might cost her reputation.

It didn’t.

What it did was notch her up in the eyes of her colleagues and earn admiration from her boss.

Her stock, as they say, rose dramatically in a moment.

This moment of truth—for her—demanded she speak up. In my experience, they usually do, those moments…

Afterward, she reflected that while she had acted because she was afraid of the consequences if she didn’t speak up—loss of self-respect, esteem, confidence—it wasn’t until days later that she identified the feeling that had threatened her principles and prompted her boldness.

She called it a “binary feeling”: either this or that, but not both.

She knew she had come to a fork in the road, she said, and she had to go either left or right.

And she knew that the choice could not then be revisited; she’d have set off on a new path, in a different direction, and a piece of her would either have been chipped away—or enhanced.

She’s glad it was the latter.

When we answer those clarion calls—those binary moments—truthfully, in a timely manner, we are usually left feeling better about ourselves regardless of the outcome.

And most of the time? It’s generally a positive outcome, too.

“There are times when you must speak, not because you are going to change the other person — but because if you don’t speak, they have changed you.” ~Melissa McEwan

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