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Three Character Traits of People Who Persist

The smallest of steps complete the grandest of journeys.” - Kyle Carpenter

Imagine if your whole life radically changed in a split second. You lose your eyesight, your ability to walk, and even your ability to eat a bowl of cereal without help. Imagine that the doctors explain that your life moving forward will be full of years of surgeries, rehabilitation, pain, and mental and emotional hardships. Imagine what it would be like to make a decision to persist and to live your best life despite every circumstance you face.

That is Kyle Carpenter, the youngest recipient of the National Medal of Honor in United States history. Without thinking, he threw himself on a grenade to save his friend while serving in Afghanistan. I’ve met Kyle and I have read his moving book - You Are Worth It.

When I heard his story and read his book, one thing jumped out at me - persistence. Where did his ability to persist come from? This is a short blog, his life can not be summed up here in 500 words. But the persistence that Kyle shows every day, comes down to the choices he makes and the lessons he now teaches others.

Here are three quotes from Kyle that summarize how he persists:

  • Courage: "Growth and comfort can not coexist."

  • Humility: "We should never compare our struggles or victories to others - someone's will always be better or worse."

  • Positivity: "What has happened has happened. All we can do is learn from it and move forward."

Persistence comes from a combination of Courage, Humility and Positivity. As Kyle points out, we need Courage to overcome the pain and/or discomfort we face in order to grow. We need Humility in order to move away from focusing on our own situation and see we have it better than others. We need Positivity to see our circumstances as opportunities to learn and get better.

Kyle talks about the slow progress that he made. He talks about his persistent failures and his ultimate victories in the face of those failures. His small failures did not stop him. They drove him to keep going and make it through each day. He pushed himself forward with Courage, Humility, and Positivity. The persistence Kyle demonstrates daily flows from his choices to exercise these three Habits of Character.

But what happens when we face failures? Few people reading this can claim circumstances to rival Kyle’s. But we will face failures of our own making and circumstances out of our control. What can we learn from him?

To stick with it and make it through whatever difficulties or failures we face, Courage, Humility and Positivity will get us through the dark moments so we can emerge and be better than we were.

We need the Courage to keep going. We need Humility to be able to accept short term failures in order to learn and move forward. We need Positivity to not take ourselves too seriously and recommit after an embarrassing mistake. We all have daily opportunities to exercise each of these Habits of Character.

As Kyle says - “The smallest of steps complete the grandest of journeys.”


  • How do the quotes from Kyle inspire you?

  • Who can you encourage with these quotes?


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