My son and I had just finished watching a college football team lose a key conference game one hot fall Saturday. I asked him if he knew at what point the team had lost the game. He recounted missed field goals, questionable penalty calls and bad play choices by the offensive coordinator. Our favorite team did not lose that game on that particular Saturday. They lost it three or four years earlier. This team had recruited, several years previously, three young men lacking the character to manage being a football star in the popular conference in which this team played. Early in their college career, each of them began making poor choices off the field that caused them to be suspended and significantly impacted their team in key games. Finally, their lack of regard and respect for the program that provided them an opportunity for a college education, caused them all to be dismissed or transfer from the team only months before the season opener. The coaches had to field an inexperienced defensive secondary to replace them. The team lost the game long before it was played when the wrong players were chosen for the team. Entering the season with great talent at other positions, this team did not have the defensive secondary to keep their opponents from scoring points. In the end, poor choices of talent in the beginning led to the team’s key loss and sent them on a trajectory opposite of the outstanding season they expected.

Character counts. In selecting talent, it is most important. People can be taught to do a lot of things, but if they have poor character, skill and talent will not compensate for the negative impact they can have on an organization. Individuals with strong character can lead and inspire teams to achieve what talent alone will not. Choose wisely and begin with character.