Common sense would tell us that people’s personal maturity will influence their careers, their lives and their relationships, regardless of how talented they are.
Alas, common sense isn’t as common these days as perhaps it once was. For decades now—stretching back at least as far as political scandals in the ’80s and ’90s, and maybe further back than that—many cultural observers have been quick to try to separate someone’s personal life from his or her public persona and performance. Yes, someone might make not-so-great (or blatantly immoral) choices behind close doors. But he’s such a great actor! She’s such a great musician! He’s such a great athlete!
The underlying message: If you’re talented enough, character doesn’t really matter. You can do whatever you want, and you don’t have to play by the established rules. Or, in some cases, the established laws.
But I wonder if we’re finally beginning to reevaluate the foolishness of that cultural stance. From the Lance Armstrong doping scandal several years ago to the current #MeToo movement, the idea that the rich, famous and successful can do illegal and immoral things with impunity seems to be eroding. It turns out personal maturity and decency do matter.
That message seems to be trickling down into some places that might be a bit surprising, one of which I stumbled across this week.
I’m a fairly big NFL fan, and I watched the draft coverage this year like a proverbial hawk. It’s a fascinating thing to see which athletes get chosen by which teams. And in at least one case, a team’s choices were guided by something more than just raw talent and potential.
Living in Colorado, I follow the Denver Broncos pretty closely. Yesterday I came across this article by ESPN’s main Bronco reporter, Jeff Legwold: “Broncos believe a rise in maturity will raise their game.” Interestingly, the Broncos went after guys who not only had talent, but who were leaders and influencers on their college teams, too. Legwold writes, “The Broncos’ 2018 draft class is filled with former team captains and multiyear starters who have game after game and season after season of proven production.”
Legwold also quoted Broncos head honcho John Elway at length:
“There are lots of seniors in the group, so we’re excited about that maturity level—all of them are that way,” Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway said. “One thing we wanted to do going into this draft was get quality football players but also quality people, and that was an emphasis—to have that maturity level. One thing that we learned last year when we’re 5-11, when you’re in a losing streak, you need that maturity and that leadership to get things turned around. These players have that ability and they have that maturity level.”
Maturity. Maturity. Maturity.
In a world where it often seems as if talent matters and character is rarely considered important, this feels like a heartening trend, one that I hope continues to flourish. Because even though some folks might be tempted to think otherwise, who we are when no one is looking really does matter.