Being born with raw athletic talent is quite literally a gift from the heavens. It can propel an athlete to the highest levels of competitive sport and afford them the opportunities of a lifetime. It is unimaginable that anyone who possesses such skill would not be successful, but unfortunately, it happens all the time. Talent is only one piece to the puzzle of athletic success, albeit a rather large one. Still, one’s character is arguably just as important. The adage, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” exemplifies this exact point in that no matter how talented one may be, a lack of character will always hold them back.
What Is Good Character?
Although the term ‘good character’ is not universally defined, most would agree that somebody who possesses said quality would likely display the following:
- Do the right thing
- Make the necessary corrections when the right thing is not done
- Lift others
- Give 100% effort 100% of the time
- Overcome adversity
- Show up on time
- Treat others with respect
- Communicate effectively
While there are undoubtedly other qualities that an athlete with high character can display, these are most definitely the pillars. Nobody is perfect but understanding what constitutes ‘good character’ can help provide a road map with which an athlete can follow.
Why Is It More Important Than Talent?
We’ve all seen it, the athlete who has seemingly limitless potential and could be the next Michael Jordan of their respective sport, but their destructive behaviors get in the way. Sometimes it’s an off-the-field/court issue, and sometimes it’s on, but that is beside the point. What matters is that in every situation an athlete should conduct themselves with the highest quality behavior possible. When adversity strikes, an athlete’s character is revealed. Can they overcome what is thrown their way time and time again over their career? That is longevity.
What about when nobody is watching? Do they do the right thing and get in all their reps, touch the line in a conditioning drill, show up on time to practice? All of these things matter because the way you do one thing is how you do everything.
Some athletes will say, “I’m better than that guy/girl and I don’t have to work as hard to beat them”. Sure, maybe this time around they did, but eventually that won’t work. There is always somebody out there with more talent than you, working harder than you, and can beat you. Just imagine that empty feeling of knowing you could have done more to achieve your goals but regretfully looking back knowing you didn’t? Don’t let that happen to you!
Talent Is Temporary, Character Is Forever
You will never reach your full potential if a lack of character is present and talent is all that is relied on. Even more important, one day the lights will shut off, the shot will be taken, and the clock will hit zero. At that point, your talent no longer matters, but your character still does because those are the skills you will use for the rest of your life. Build characteristics you can be proud of and that only enhance your talent, not detract from it. Stay humble and keep working hard. Thanks for reading!