My fireground is a literal one. But yours probably isn’t. That doesn’t mean this doesn’t apply.

We are tested in our everyday lives–whether we are parents, teachers, cooks, CEOs, fitness instructors, dog washers, firefighters, and everything in between–and we often believe these moments are building our character. That’s not true. Yes, our personal fireground can lead to building character, but it doesn’t even do that necessarily. You must intentionally look back and learn from it for it to build character.

You see, character isn’t built during the fire, it’s built before and after. The fire shows us, shows others, what we have within us. Watch a person when they are angry, when they are hungry, when they have had a sleepless night, when they have been at a structure fire for five hours, and you will see their character. It’s in the moments that we are depleted and exhausted that we show our “true colors.” Does he continue to put one foot in front of the other or does he give up? Does she adapt to an ever changing environment or try and force the same path?

Going through hardships reveals our character in that moment. It’s what we do after that time that either builds us or destroys us. We can use the firegrounds as a means of learning, growing, and building ourselves.