One of the best stats in sports is the plus/ minus. Basically it determines how many goals or runs a team scores and gives up with a player in the game as opposed to how many are scored and given up with that player out of the game.
What about using plus/minus over a season? What difference does a player make to his team when he is there as opposed to when he is not?
In a broader light, what difference does a person make when they are in someones life as opposed to when they are not? I will leave that discussion for another day.
Let’s stick to the season perspective. Particularly, a couple of recent instances from the two sports I coach when a supremely talented player continuously displayed poor character and was ultimately removed from a team.
Going into this past fall Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli was a leading Heisman Trophy candidate. Many spoke of how he was revolutionizing the QB position.
On June 9, 2010, Oregon football coach Chip Kelly dismissed Masoli from the team for his lack of character.
On January 10,2011, Oregon played for the first time in the college football National Championship.
This past spring Virginia midfielder Shamel Bratton was a two-time All American and a leading candidate for the Tewaaraton Trophy, the highest award in NCAA lacrosse. Many spoke of how Bratton was revolutionizing the midfield position.
On April 29 of 2011, Virginia lacrosse coach Dom Starsia dismissed Bratton from the Virginia lacrosse team for his lack of character.
On May 30, 2011, Virginia played for the first time in five years in the college lacrosse National Championship.
There are some valuable lessons to be learned from these two recent situations.
First, you win with winners.
Winners have the character and mental toughness to consistently do the work. They have character and mental toughness on and off the field, because that is who they are. Character and mental toughness are not something the winner turns off and on, it is something the winner becomes.
No single star talent is better than the team. A person who refuses the opportunity to improve who they are is not worth our looking past the principles that are the foundation of winning teams.
When the star talent gets in the way of the winning principles, it is the star talent that must go, not the winning principles.
Leaders make mistakes at this juncture all the time. Delayed gratification is more important than instant gratification. All of us, particularly leaders, must never lose sight of that. Simply put, don’t think about what is going to be needed to win the game. Think about what is needed to win the championship.
There will always be talented people who will never make the sacrifices needed to improve enough as people in order to win or even enough just to participate. This is a sad but true component of any endeavor.
Having high standards works if you stick with them, and people have the character and mental toughness to rise to meet them.
Character amplifies talent. A lack of character diminishes talent.
Character beats talent, when talent lacks character.
Don’t lift weights, you will remain weak. Don’t work on your character and mental toughness, you will remain mentally weak. Forget about your character and mental toughness and you will be weak as well.
I want to see you win.
On and off the field.
Now and in the long run.
You need to square these things away well before the big game, well before the big college or job application. Because by the time those things come along, it will be too late.