by Sara J

“I am confident of certain victory,” or “Pil Sung,” is a phrase that was ingrained into me growing up. I took Karate (Tai Kwon Do, really), and before every class we said a pledge which centered around this tenant, but not in a sense of simply beating your opponent. This is a principal of personal dedication—a challenge issued to yourself to give your maximum effort to the point that it is expended to the limits of your ability in personal growth, spiritual growth, physical growth, or any goal you set for yourself. It embodied courtesy, integrity perseverance, and self-control. Our instructors didn’t simply apply this to us while we were inside the walls of the gym. If someone got in trouble outside the gym, more than likely you were going to get in trouble once you got to the gym.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “wow…why would your parents make you do that?” but it was fun. People who know me now would say, “Well… you just like that kind of thing–you’re competitive and self-disciplined.” Well, I was a seven year old…with asthma and a pretty solid case of ADD, so it’s much more likely that having these principals instilled in me helped mold me into a person who is competitive and self-disciplined.

Young people in America today don’t appear to be familiar with the principal of diligence. Who can blame them when we have parents quitting their marriages left and right, our political leaders saying one thing while blatantly doing another, and failure continues to be removed from just about every aspect of life? One of the major parties platforms in our country says that women don’t have to follow through with a pregnancy.

Now, before you run to enroll your young kids in Karate, stop and look in the mirror. Parents play a much larger role in teaching these principals to their children than any coach ever will. I wasn’t allowed to quit anything I started growing up, unless it was a bad habit. Basketball seems a lot less fun after all of your friends quit the team, but it didn’t matter–friends didn’t determine what decisions I did or didn’t make. This didn’t go down in our house. I wasn’t allowed to quit the basketball any faster than I was allowed to quit my chores. Parents play a HUGE role–I know mine did. Why do you think that “The George Washington Challenge” is between parents and their kids? Because Mom and Dad have to set the bar.

Diligence is defined as “a constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind. This isn’t just the first principal of the George Washington Challenge, in many ways it is also the last principal of The Challenge. In order to be successful at any of the principals in The Challenge following this one you will have to be diligent—not only in your actions, but in your heart and mind. Good luck!