As weeks turned to months and Chatterton continued to distinguish himself, he studied himself and others in action, watched soldiers live and die and show courage and break down, paid careful attention to the behavior of men around him, all to divine further insight into the right way to live. Gradually, he distilled certain principles that seemed to him indisputable truths, and he collected these principles like so many medicines in the aid pack of his mind. As he neared the end of his six-month field obligation, he had come to believe these things:
–If an undertaking was easy, someone else already would have done it.
–If you follow in another's footsteps, you miss the problems really worth solving.
–Excellence is born of preparation, dedication, focus, and tenacity: compromise on any of these and you become average.
–Every so often, life presents a great moment of decision, an intersection at which a man must decide to stop or go: a person lives with these decisions forever.
–Examine everything: not all is as it seems or as people tell you.
–It is easiest to live with a decision if it is based on an earnest sense of right and wrong.