Character & Mental Toughness- “It” aka Our Character Story


Follow Coach Moore on twitter (@coachbillmoore) on Facebook (William James Moore). Read Coach Moore’s book “On Character and Mental Toughness” Paperback available at Barnes & Noble or Amazon. You can get the e-book version for just $2.99 on Kindle or itunes. You can also get the e-book for your smartphone using the free Kindle App!

“A man’s character is his fate.”-Heraclitus

Starting in the winter of 2007, we spent a great deal of time discussing character. We did this for a few reasons. The first was that our program had a long run of mediocrity and failure during most of the 90’s and early 2000’s. The program hit a low point in 2000 and 2001 winning only one game in two years. At that time the program was ranked 2nd to last in the state.  The other high school in town was ranked last.  The state of football in our community was literally as bad as it gets.

I started coaching at WHS the following year and was charged with restoring respectability and competitiveness in the program.  I will never forget the superintendent closing his door during my interview and telling me “Although I am hiring you to teach, and I would deny this publicly, your foremost mission is to coach football and turn around the program.”

After slowly building the program back to a winner in 2005, we were disappointed to see our program unable to maintain that success in 2006. More importantly, we were still nowhere near making the post-season. Our offense had been very successful, but we still lacked commitment in the weight room. We also lacked mental toughness in finishing games and working through the discomfort of fatigue and pain. Every practice was a chore to coach because our effort and focus were lacking. Our players rarely strayed far from the easiest path. They utilized their natural abilities but too few enhanced them with off season training and intensity in practices. Our kids seemingly topped out as freshmen and were passed by kids at other schools who worked hard to develop their skills, physicality, and athleticism. Too many of our players relied solely on natural ability and a casual effort. In short we had good kids…they just didn’t know how to be winners.

“A fall into a ditch makes us wiser.”-Chinese Proverb

As a staff we tried everything. I yelled a lot. I broke things. I did a lot of cursing. It may have kept us from going back to being winless, but it couldn’t get us over the hump. Our coaching staff came back from practices and games always repeated the same phrase…”they just don’t get IT.”

In the back of my mind I started to think about “It”.

What was “It?”

How could I teach “It?”

For the first time since I took over the program we had even lost our annual Thanksgiving Day rivalry game.

It was really difficult to figure out how we had such a disappointing season because we had some great kids, but we just never got “It” together.

At the end of that 2006 season I was really desperate. To be honest I struggled as more than just a coach. I was having a rough time in just about every area of my life.  When I say rough, I mean failing in just about every area imaginable, and suffering the inevitable rock bottom type of consequences.

But for some reason, I am a really bad quitter. I always feel like I lose because I’m not smart enough to figure out how to win before the clock says 0:00. I believe there is always a way to win, and if you give me enough time for my work ethic to wear the opponent or problem down, I will find a way to prevail. I know that’s not necessarily true, that sometimes we are truly unable to win a situation, but that mentality of finding a way to win has served me pretty well through the years.  After that season, that was all I had left.

Up to my desperation point, or maybe a couple of years before as failing is rarely a sudden deadly fall but rather a gradual decline, I had lived a successful life.  As football legend Paul Hornug once said, I had lived my life “on scholarship.” I felt like I had done just that; an athletic scholarship, a graduate fellowship, an attractive young wife, beautiful healthy children, a house in an affluent suburb, noted success in my profession.

One can acquire everything in solitude – except character.”-Marie Henri Beyle

As I began to pick myself up, I reached out for help. I had always read books, but I knew I had to go further.  I got humble and asked for help. I asked guys I knew who coached, and not just football. I asked people I knew in other fields outside of coaching. I reviewed the many History books I had accumulated as a Social Studies teacher. I scoured every magazine and website I could find for a hint at what differentiated the consistently successful. I would even strike up conversations with strangers, with the sole intent of understanding what made one person fail and another person succeed. I began to look all around me, all the time. I was alert to anything and everything that could be used to help me rebuild myself and the program.

I discovered that what I had been asking of the players was correct. What was wrong was my method; my means of articulating what I expected from them. At the same time, I began to find that I had not been living up to my own potential as much as I thought. I could do better in a lot of areas of my life. Ultimately, both the kids and I needed to work on our character.

The problem was how to convey these lessons I had learned and wanted the players to learn as well.

My time with the players is limited by the governing body of state athletics. I couldn’t call and participate in more than one off-season team meeting, but it was January and we had a lot of work to do if we were going to have any hope in September. I couldn’t cram everything they needed to learn into the two weeks of pre-season before our first game. No, these guys had to start working on the mental aspect of their game immediately. Until that got straightened out, it would just be more of the same.

I struck upon a plan and began to implement it that January. The state rule said I couldn’t meet with them, but it didn’t say I couldn’t write to them. It also didn’t say that they couldn’t meet on their own.

I put together a binder and gave it to one of the seniors-to-be. I explained how important the contents of that binder were. I told him that later on that week, before our weight room hours, he would have to have a team meeting in an area near the gym that had a little bit of privacy to it. At that meeting he would remind everybody of our core beliefs and then share some quotes or a short piece of reading that he found inspiring. He then would say a couple of words and hand the binder to someone else, who would lead the group the following week. These meetings were only about 20 minutes long, but the kids, to their credit, really took them to heart.

Most of the kids went, sometimes even asking their winter sport coach if they could be a little late for practice for a “football meeting.” I tried to call these things 1st and Ten meetings as they were in the 1st part of their training and we were trying to get our minds right first before we did anything else. Well we all came to call it our mental training, and the guys carried it out through the winter months until they all headed for their spring sports.

At the same time, I began to set aside things that I came across that I thought might benefit the team. It could be a quote, or short story, or newspaper article, or a list, or a letter that I would write. But each week I would pull all of that stuff together, simplify it a bit to make it easier for high school kids to understand and then give it to the player’s homeroom teachers to give to the players in the morning.

So began our football team’s character education program.

In one of those first letters in January of 2007 I started very simply by saying this…..

Character is the foundation on which success is built. Not just football success, but success in school, at work and at home. Putting some effort into having good character pays off in a huge way. It leads to better relationships, higher grades, promotions, and of course athletic success.

None of us is perfect. We all have strengths and weaknesses in our character. But an introduction or a little refresher on character helps us to become better people.

In many ways a football game is a contest to see which team has the greater number of good people; people who worked hard in the off-season and in practice, learned their plays and techniques, practiced hard every day, overcame challenges etc.

None of us is perfect, nor will we ever be perfect. But I hope you take the time to read what I will be sending you the next few weeks and see areas where you can improve as a person during your day at school, at home, at work, or in another sport.

These are lessons I have started to share with my sons because I want them to be successful and feel good about themselves and what they achieve in life. I care enough about you to share them with you. I hope you take the time to learn a little, and always accept when someone is helping you to become a better person.

Like everyone else I need to work on some things too!

What is Character?

Your character is the sum of all the qualities that make you who you are. It’s your values, your thoughts, your words, and your actions.

When admissions counselors review your college application, employers interview you for a job, teachers evaluate you in class, or your coaches decide who is the next guy to get on the field, your character in different situations gives them a glimpse of who you are and who you might become.

There are many attributes that contribute to your individual character. Building these attributes can help give you a stronger character and make you a more successful person. 

“Intelligence plus character.  That is the true goal of education.”- Martin Luther King

So how do you build character?  Well we used to learn it through experience; mostly by overcoming adversity. It was also reinforced by people throughout the community.

Fewer kids each year face much adversity.  There is usually plenty for them to eat, a roof over their heads, decent clothes on their bodies and enough electronics to keep them occupied.  My kids are no different.  But for all they have gained in comfort, they have lost something for not having to overcome discomfort, pain, and inconvenience.  They are missing out on some valuable character lessons.  It is as if they are eating plenty, but missing some important nutrients.  Character lessons are the vitamins that supplement what we are missing in our daily diet of activities.

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

Also, people were increasingly discouraged from teaching character in the community.  Now if a kid does something that shows a lack of character, a member of the community is frowned upon from stepping up and teaching that kid a lesson.  Don’t believe me?  Next time a kid shows a lack of character at Walmart, speak up.  See how his parent reacts.  Parents these days tend to be protective first, sometimes to the detriment of a kid who could use a valuable character lesson.

In addition, for some odd reason we teach character as a hidden part of curriculum.  We teach it as part of something else.  For example, character is an important part of high school and collegiate athletics, but we rarely say that outright.  We never tell a kid he is signing up for the character team.  We tell him he is signing up for soccer and, yeah by the way there will be some “life lessons” along the way.  We teach character through clubs, and music and in assemblies.  We convey character lessons in our classrooms.  But we never outright frame our character curriculum.  We take it for granted that it just gets done.  We just assume it is a foregone conclusion.  We stumble for words when it comes to character pedagogy.  We cloud our character lessons by mixing them within our activities and using an endless array of character related terms.

“It” used to just be something you learned along the way, but that doesn’t happen much anymore.  Previously, many people learned character by going to religious services.  But people are increasingly less less likely to attend such services.  In addition, Parents are busy working long hours and understandably exhausted when they are home.  They spend less time with their kids than they would like.  Likewise, we had an ever growing belief in not interfering in the lives of others, even when that interference might do some good.  The result is that character lessons don’t get taught as much in a secular, hard working society.   Like, our long lost abilities to survive in the wild, many of these character lessons are being forgotten.

But character must be taught. Actively.  Blatantly. Our current method of teaching by osmosis is terribly inefficient.

Why not put character at the forefront?   That’s what I began to do when I took this very important thing that we hope people learn along the way (and obviously were not), and made it the most important thing that we do.

How do you teach character in our times? The same way you teach most things: reading stories, reviewing vocabulary, discussing the topic with peers, watching videos etc.

I began to distribute these little lessons on what I believed were the most important character traits to the kids through their homerooms.  It was important to have a step by step progression.  It was also important to boil down the plethora of redundant traits to a few core traits.

In the morning players would receive one or two pages from me that contained an important character lesson.  Some kids disregarded them, but most of our kids took something good from them. Either way, I felt as though I were planting many seeds that I would continue to help grow.

Just like in the classroom, I gave an overview, defined the key terms, incorporated excerpts from books or articles that I had read, and spoke from the heart. I started teaching what I believed was a step by step process in teaching character.

Some teachers approached me, and began to confess that they had read these lessons and thought they were a good thing.  Within a few years, a group of teachers and administrators started a school-wide character education program. It continues today. We currently have a character “word of the month,” which is placed on banners that are posted in every classroom in the school.  Large character word banners hang from the walls of our gym.  There is also a character quote of the day read during morning announcements.

Our campus community is slowly adopting a common character vocabulary that we can use during academic lessons and during our social interactions.  Those words come alive as we apply them to our subject areas and conversations.  My hope is that we continue to grow in this area.  I hope teachers become less upset by “kids these days,” and move away from frustration to what we do best…educate.  Then obviously, I hope the kids begin to see the benefits of having strong character, and that parents recognize their kids’ character growth.

I hope the teachers get beyond the poor parenting argument, and that the parents get beyond the bad schools argument and that all of us recognize that if we focus on building the character of the kids, they will do better in every area of their lives (academic, athletic, citizenship, relationships etc.).

Ultimately, I hope we begin to recognize each instance of poor behavior we see on the news and in our personal lives, on whatever scale, as simply another instance of the character void.  Complaining about these instances accomplishes nothing.  Education can do darn near anything. Character education is the empowerment we need to solve many of these problems before they appear.

The first season after we started our character education program, our football team made it to the post-season for the first time in 20 years. We made it all the way to the state final.

The next year we had the best regular season record in over 20 years and once again made it to the state final.

Outside of football, I was doing great too!

I encourage you to proactively teach character first and foremost. It will provide the firm foundation you need for sustained success for both you and your organization.

If you doubt whether or not my approach makes a difference take another look at the picture on the top of this post.  My players are the ones who took a knee when I asked everyone to take a knee.  The rest of the kids stretched out on the ground come from other schools. Sitting or laying on the ground during a talk is easier than taking a knee.  My guys have the character to do what is asked and the mental toughness to keep doing it even when things are uncomfortable.  Give some thought as to how that plays out in practice, games, the classroom and in all they will do the rest of their lives.

“Let us not say, every man is the architect of his own fortune; but let us say, every man is the architect of his own character.”-George Boardman

 “Character – the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life – is the source from which self respect springs.”-Joan Didion

 “Nature magically suits a man to his fortunes, by making them the fruit of his character.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson

 “Everyone has the obligation to ponder well his own specific traits of character”-Cicero

 “Forming characters! Whose? Our own or others? Both. And in that momentous fact lies the peril and responsibility of our existence.”-Elihu Burritt

 “Our character…is an omen of our destiny, and the more integrity we have and keep, the simpler and nobler that destiny is likely to be.” -George Santayana

 “Character isn’t inherited.  One builds it daily by the way one thinks and acts, thought by thought, action by action.  If one lets fear or anger take possession of the mind, they become self-forged chains.”-Unknown

 “So often time it happens, we all live our life in chains, and we never even know we have the key”.  –The Eagles, “Already Gone”

 “Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one”. – Marcus Aurelius

Follow Coach Moore on twitter (@coachbillmoore) on Facebook (William James Moore). Read Coach Moore’s book “On Character and Mental Toughness” Paperback available at Barnes & Noble or Amazon. You can get the e-book version for just $2.99 on Kindle or itunes. You can also get the e-book for your smartphone using the free Kindle App!


About coachbillmoore

Educator/Author/Speaker/HS & NCAA Coach Character Coach Read Coach Moore’s book “On Character and Mental Toughness” Paperback available at Barnes & Noble or Amazon. "The measure of your character and mental toughness is the space between what you are doing and what you could be doing." -Coach Bill Moore
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One Response to Character & Mental Toughness- “It” aka Our Character Story

  1. Anonymous says:

    “Carve your name on hearts, not marble”- Charles Haddon Spurgeon

    I would like to begin by congratulating Coach Moore and his Westfield football and lacrosse teams on their remarkable achievements this year. The Bomber football team finished with a 9-2 overall record. Both losses came at the hands of AA conference champion Central HS. The Westfield lacrosse team finished off their season by upsetting top seeded Longmeadow in the wmass sectional playoffs, and then went on to lose a double overtime thriller to Shrewsbury HS in the cmass/wmass final. Both teams were characteristic of a Coach B. Moore team. They played with confidence, and an internal drive to excel. For those who were paying attention, the player interviews and numerous quotes published by the local media were littered with examples of the positive influence Coach Moore has on his players, their attitudes and athletic performance. Coach Moore’s junior running back (Cody N), who had just finished playing a tremendous game, was interviewed afterward by a member of the media. The player’s response to a question by the reporter made me ponder. It was an expression of appreciation and gratitude for his coaches and teammates. He commented about his team’s great work ethic, commitment level and responsibility to each other. I knew at that moment that the Bombers were going to be a team to be reckoned with. Westfield beat us a few weeks later 34-32. Both the football and lacrosse teams showed character and mental toughness, and both enjoyed successful seasons. In addition to this, I am 100% positive that the players will forever cherish the memories and lessons they learned from Coach Moore & each other along the way.

    “Your plans, however brilliant, will ultimately succeed or fail based on the character and mental toughness of those who must carry them out.” – Bill Moore

    In follow up to my post reply regarding my 2013 season, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you a few comments about my school year. There were moments of sadness and joy, situations where my students, players and I had to overcome adversity, and times when everything seemed to make sense.

    I’ll begin here by telling you how thankful I am for having had the opportunity to comfort my mother in her final hours. She was a remarkable woman, and the nicest person I have ever known. My mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer several years ago. Her strength and courage these past years left me with a newfound sense of appreciation for her selflessness and all that she did for me in my lifetime. She passed away last fall during my football season. Without going into too much detail here, the love and support my family and I received from the Longmeadow football & Chicopee lacrosse players, parents and coaches, and the students at Putnam, is something that I will never forget. Although it was a very difficult time for me, my football family and duties helped me to cope and carry on. Shane Michaelman, one of our senior football players, had also recently lost his mother. His hug and condolences moved me to tears & mean much more to me than any championship victory I have ever been a part of. I am still, today, in awe of his strength and courage and the compassion he showed me- despite the circumstances and sadness that I’m sure he was experiencing during this time. Our team ended up losing in the first round of the playoffs; however, and I am sure that I speak for all the coaches and players, we enjoyed every moment together.

    At Putnam High School, the students that I work with embraced my character education seminars, workshops and a student-lead initiative to participate in a Substance Abuse Awareness campaign that attracted publicity from television stations and newspapers throughout the state. Over 900 students pledged to abstain from drug & alcohol. Our student leaders offered numerous activities, over a three month period, centered on supporting former NBA player, Chris Herren’s, Project Purple. Drug and alcohol abuse is a serious problem that affects almost every community and family in some way. I am tremendously proud of our students for having the courage to stand up and make a difference by raising awareness to the negative consequences of drug and alcohol.

    Our wrestling team, and boys and girls basketball teams participated in many of our Putnam Project Purple events. As a demonstration of support, the student-athletes purchased and wore purple shirts and socks for their games. Coach Shepard and his players exemplify outstanding character. They encouraged other students to support the cause. A grand celebration event was planned with music and a team pep rally. Most of the school then went over to cheer the team on to victory at a game versus crosstown rival Commerce at AIC. MassLive reporters Terrance Payne and Tom King could not believe the support and “sea of purple” shirts with the message to be substance free that the students proudly wore. Our boys’ basketball team then went on to win its second straight Division 1 State Championship. No surprise here. These young men are learning the right things on, and off the court.

    “Build Me a Pacer”

    The 2014 Chicopee boys’ Pacers lacrosse team finished with a 14-3 overall record. The team won the Suburban League Championship with a 12-0 divisional record. Like with most teams, there were many lessons and adverse conditions that had to be overcome along the way. Coach Moore’s lessons on Character & Mental Toughness helped inspire us to find a way through many challenging moments, work harder and come together as a team. Once again, we started the season with only a few guys returning that had experience playing lacrosse. To make matters worse, two of the four starters we had coming back had an altercation with EACH OTHER in the school cafeteria just prior to the start of the season. One of these players was our senior captain. The other one was a senior attackman that we were counting on to be a big contributor. In addition to this, players on the team, or who were coming out for the team, grouped together and were taking sides. Their focus was on anything but lacrosse, and being men of character.

    Despite this, the boys were able to put their differences aside (after team meetings & suspensions carried out) for the greater good of the team. In the end, their relationship with each other improved. The two boys involved in the preseason incident both commented after the season on how much they regretted behaving the way that they did, and about how much they appreciated the opportunity to prove to the team that they truly did care about our program and what we had worked hard to build. Other difficulties encountered early on were – two new seniors not conforming to team rules & expectations (these players, after a couple meetings, decided to leave the team); two younger players not living up to and honoring their “commitment”, and a couple players who had their own agenda i.e. they were only focused on their individual stats.

    Thus, our 2014 mission became a quest to embrace one of the most important character traits of any good player, or team- selflessness. The transformation that took place was incredible. With our focus now on being a great teammate, performing community service and putting the needs of the team ahead of individuals, the team started to appreciate each other a little more and feel good about their efforts to make a difference. We also started to play better! I once read that the process of being a good teammate is a player’s decision based on his attitude and respect for others. I believe this to be true.

    I am very proud of how hard our players worked, and more importantly, how they came together to make our season a very memorable one. We had many exciting and enjoyable moments on, and off the field. Things I will remember: Bryan giving our bus driver a hug and thanking her for being so nice to him in his younger years when he took her school bus; our team water station at the Holyoke Griffin Friend’s Cancer Marathon run; Lax team beach & Wesleyan College trip; numerous games when our starters asked to come out so that our younger guys could play and gain experience; our great sportsmanship in every game. After our first loss, I turned around after congratulating the opposing coach to find that our entire team had, without being told to do so, gone over to shake the referees hands. These guys were starting to “get it”.

    In addition to the things I mentioned above, our season this year began with one of our younger team members, Brady Wilson, losing his mother. Brady is a terrific young man. He’s a hard worker and a very thoughtful and considerate teammate. A few weeks after this, another player, Bryan Laurenco, lost his uncle. It was not an ideal start. Our guys did the best they could to come each day and put their best foot forward. I made sure that I was readily available for players who wanted to share and talk about concerns, or life, in general. The hardest part, sometimes, is to just listen. I became a good listener. I learned many things about my players. They shared their thoughts, their fears, and their ambitions. My co-coach, captains and several other players also deserve praise as they were very helpful in “steadying the ship”. Without their support and efforts, we would not have been able to enjoy our season as much as we did under such conditions.

    At the end of this reply, you will find a speech given by one of our sophomores to the entire school at an assembly. His name is Joe Gardner. Joe is a man of character. No one worked harder in the off season than Joe. His hard work paid off. Joe started every game and ended up being one of the best defensemen in our league. He’s a quiet leader. Joe is also one of the most humble and respectful players that I have ever coached. There were personal family issues that he never discussed, and a loss of a grandparent that I know hurt; however, Joe’s commitment to his teammates and love for the game kept him strong. His mother and father commented many times what a great experience he’s had playing lacrosse these past two years, and that it has done wonders for his confidence. Joe believes not only in himself and his teammates, he believes in everything we stand for. The pleasure has been all ours! Joe will go on to do great things. I am thankful to have the opportunity to coach and get to know him. I shared many quotes & passages from Coach Moore’s book and blogs throughout the year. I am certain that Joe was listening, learning and, more importantly, finding the character way.

    The lacrosse season is over.

    My next assignment may be my biggest one yet- as far as coaching challenges is concerned. I have been named the new head football coach at Putnam Vo-Tech Academy. It is an inner city school in Springfield, Ma. I work here. Most people only hear about the negative things that have plagued the community; the drugs, gangs and violence continue to be a huge concern. However, the fact is that many of the students at Putnam are great kids. Most of our students have to overcome many obstacles in their lives. Many will go on to lead productive lives. The majority of parents are very supportive. Our teachers work hard trying to prepare our students for college and the workforce, while encouraging them to make good decisions.

    In summary, I will continue to try and improve myself as a person and coach. I am committed to providing my new team – with the A.C.T. guide to play the game the right way. Our focus will be on character & mental toughness. We may not be perfect at the end of our first season together, however, we will strive to treat others with respect and improve ourselves each day. The most important goal will be encouraging players to make good decisions and to have the courage to do positive things despite negative influences and circumstances that present themselves. Many young men have been killed in the past few years in the surrounding neighborhoods near our school. Gangs, drugs, guns…this is the world (city) our students live in. Many teenagers find excuses to take the easy way. The focus needs to be on the character way and sustaining mental toughness in order to build a foundation for future success.

    Thanks Coach!

    Joseph Gardner
    2014 Sophomore Oratorical
    April 9 2014

    “Making a Difference”
    On January 20th 1961 JFK recited his inaugural address to a post war America: [Pause, then speak slow and clear] “We observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning signifying renewal as well as change.” [Pause again and look up]

    On August 28th 1963: Martin Luther King Jr. addressed the world in his renowned “ I Have a Dream Speech:” [Pause, then speak slow and clear] “I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.” [Pause again and look up]

    On May 13th, 1940 – As England faced a possible German Invasion – Winston Churchill gave his Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat address: “At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.”
    And finally, from one of Gandhi’s numerous inspirational quotes, [long pause – looking up to make eye contact] “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

    These words from countless world-renowned speeches and phrases have all jumped out at me for the message they carry with them.

    You may be wondering, [brief pause] what do these people and their words have in common? On the surface – maybe not much. However all these people did share one thing that they also share with you and me [pause] – the will and the passion to make a difference.

    These people, and countless others like them, took the opportunities available to them, [pause] opportunities that let them make the changes [pause] – and be the change they want to see in the world.

    You and I have the same opportunities as them. The only difference between them and us is that they jumped on those opportunities when they arose, and sadly most of us will never take advantage of the freedom that is the ability to – [pause] by yourself – make a difference.

    It is something many of us overlook and undervalue, but in reality, [pause] if we put our minds to it, I am sure we can all eventually be as successful as the brilliant men and women that cover our history books. We, as citizens of the free world have a responsibility to ourselves and to those without our same privilege to make a change when we see something not right, because many other do not share the same liberty.

    You should have the courage to stand up for something you truly believe in, and be willing to use your resources available to orally or linguistically express your opinions. For, [pause] can you imagine a world where those prominent people chose to hide in the shadows? [pause again]

    Your changes do not have to be dramatic; they can be as subtle as you want them to be. The only thing that matters is the principle [pause] – the principle of being comfortable with making a change and making a difference.

    Be open with your appropriate opinions – for you do not know whose lives they can impact, and whose lives they just might change forever.

    Speech is a gift, [pause] – one we should always be grateful for and never take for granted. When you see the opportunity to express yourself, grab it, [pause] When your gut tells you to make a difference jump on it. [pause] It is not only our role as free citizens; it is our duty as good people. [pause]

    Thank you for your time.

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