The Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction prompt for January 30, 2020: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a postal carrier in an extreme situation. Even if you base your story on a true one, focus on the core trait of this postal carrier. Go where the prompt leads!
Respond by February 4, 2020.
“Mr. Prichard, are you home?”
Jeanine nudged the door further ajar. Why was Mr. Prichard’s door open, she wondered? Her instincts kicked in. The hairs on her arm stood on end.
Regulations required postal workers to be alert for older patrons. If they didn’t pick up their mail regularly, a call to the police was mandatory.
But Mr. Prichard was her friend, and she couldn’t leave without making sure he was safe. She stepped inside the kitchen. The old man lay on the floor in a pool of blood. Without thinking, she dialed her phone.
“911 what’s your emergency?”
©2020 Colleen M. Chesebro
In my story above, Jeanine exhibited caring, effort, initiative, and courage when she recognized that something was wrong at Mr. Prichard’s house. Those core traits will make her a hero in any story.
I’ve shared Coach Bill Moore’s Character & Mental Toughness- 11 Core Character Traits below. Most of these traits are geared toward building our own character as decent human beings. However, these are perfect for character development when writing novels or short stories.
The core traits are listed below in the chronological order in which I suggest they should be acquired.
1. Humility – One must be humble enough to realize that there is room for improvement. Often times one must be humbled before they will embark on a quest to improve their character. Humility eliminates ignorance. Humility may be learned through experience or study. Learn all you can of humility. Learn how to be humble and the benefits of humility. Learn to maintain your humility.
2. Caring – One must learn to care about something or someone. This could be another person, a team, a cause, a goal. Caring about but something or someone provides a catalyst for improvement. Caring eliminates apathy. Caring is best focused on someone other than you. Caring may be learned through experience or study. Learn all you can of Caring. Learn how to care, and the benefits of caring. Learn how to continuously care.
3. Teamwork – One must learn how to work with others towards a shared goal. This interaction allows one to practice selflessness and sacrifice. In return one gains from the insights and abilities of others. A team could be any group at home, at work, in activities, or in sports. Teamwork eliminates justification. Teamwork may be learned through experience or study. Learn how to be a part of a team and the benefits of teamwork. The best teams are the ones where members give one another their best character. Learn how to become a valuable team member.
4. Effort – One must learn how to work hard. Learn how to produce a product of excellence. Learn the types of effort that are possible. Learn all you can about effort and its benefits. Learn how to consistently put forth an excellent effort.
5. Courage – One must learn how to get beyond their fears. Learn how to summon and maintain bravery. Courage may be learned through experience and study. Learn all you can of courage and its benefits.
6. Initiative – One must learn to do things they recognize need to be done without being asked. Initiative may be personal as in setting a goal and taking action to achieve it. Initiative may also be for the greater good of a group. Initiative may be learned through experience and study. Learn all you can about initiative and its benefits. Learn how to recognize opportunities for initiative moving forward.
7. Discipline – One must learn how to maintain focus in order to develop consistency. Discipline allows one to learn how to start, continue, and stop their thoughts and actions. Discipline may be learned through experience or study. Learn all you can of discipline and it’s benefits. Learn how to maintain your discipline.
8. Perseverance – One must learn how to overcome the inevitability of obstacles and adversity. Perseverance may be learned through experience or study. Learn all you can of Perseverance. Learn how to persevere when faced with challenges moving forward.
9. Commitment – One must learn the depths of devoting themselves to the completion of a goal or cause through the commitment process. Commitment may be learned through experience or study. Learn all you can of Commitment. Learn how to commit in the areas you participate in and recognize the commitment level of others.
10. Leadership – One must be willing and able to inspire and guide others. The ability of the leader grows through the leadership process. Leadership may be learned through experience or study. Learn all you can about leadership.
11. Awareness – The highest level of character. Awareness requires a certain mastery of the other ten traits. When one becomes aware, they recognize variables and connections that most others cannot see; near and far, large and small, past and present. Awareness allows one to see events and behaviors from a variety of perspectives, thus coming to a truer conclusion. Awareness allows one to make better informed decisions. At times awareness even allows one a glimpse of future outcomes. Learn all you can of the previous 10 traits and this eleventh trait will naturally develop.
I will add that mental toughness, while sharing some qualities with these core character traits, is actually something separate. I have too often seen students and athletes who had excellent character cower under the pressure of stress caused by pain, inconvenience, and expectation. To me, mental toughness is simply the ability to maintain and apply these core character traits under pressure. In order to be truly successful, one must have both character and mental toughness.
Great ability will allow you to excel in one area. Great character & mental toughness will allow you to excel in many areas to the best of your ability. If you and/or your organization master these core traits, then you will be better prepared to successfully pursue your specific endeavors. Until you do, your weakness in these areas will impede your performance or the performance of your organization. (If you doubt me then keep this in mind the next time you or your organization hit an impasse). These core traits are at the foundation of sustained success.
Visit Coach Bill’s blog HERE.
“A good poem is a contribution to reality. The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it. A good poem helps to change the shape of the universe, helps to extend everyone’s knowledge of himself and the world around him.”
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Colleen M. Chesebro is an American Poet who loves crafting paranormal fantasy and magical realism, cross-genre flash fiction, syllabic poetry, and creative nonfiction. Colleen sponsors a weekly syllabic poetry challenge, called Tanka Tuesday, on wordcraftpoetry.com where participants learn how to write traditional and current forms of haiku, senryu, haiga, tanka, gogyohka, tanka prose, renga, solo-renga, haibun, cinquain, Etheree, nonet, and shadorma poetry. Colleen's syllabic poetry has appeared in the Auroras & Blossoms Poetry Journal, and in “Hedgerow, a journal of small poems.” She’s won numerous awards from participating in the Carrot Ranch Rodeo, a yearly flash fiction contest sponsored by carrotranch.com. In 2020, she won first place in the Carrot Ranch Folk Tale or Fable category, with her story called “Why Wolf Howls at the Moon.” Colleen is a Sister of the Fey, where she pursues a pagan path through her writing. When she is not writing, she is reading. She also loves gardening and crocheting old-fashioned doilies into works of art.