Character Lessons from Sports

There were three interesting sports stories brewing last week involving Michael Vick, Tiger Woods, and LeBron James. Each may provide some lessons for all of us in deciding, doing, and leading.

“Recipe for failure” – Michael Vick should read those three words carefully and stay away from this type of recipe. When you have done what Michael Vick has done in his past, it is critical to ensure that you do not position yourself to be in the wrong place where wrong things may happen. There is little sympathy for people who continuously make bad choices, especially when they say they have changed.

Although Michael Vick was cleared by the police in Virginia of criminal wrongdoing in a June 25 shooting at his birthday party, there is little barrier in place to absorb a bad choice like this. What support is currently present may evaporate completely. As Tony Dungy said, “Just really not very good judgment…”

“Try, try again” – Tiger Woods may need to try a little harder to re-develop his inner spirit and continue to work on improving his character. When asked in Ireland if it was “worth it,” his response was: “I think you’re looking too deep into this.” He then proceeded to give one or two-word answers; he was visibly annoyed.

Hindsight may always be near perfect, but it seems that the rehabilitated person may have said, “No, it was not worth it. I hurt and disappointed many, many people, and I need to do better.”

I know it can get tiring answering those types of questions. However, when bad decisions are made and highlighted as brightly as they were for Tiger Woods, it seems he needs to spend some more time renewing his character and doing a better job of exhibiting the changes. People need to believe that progress is being made, and that the effort is not just a front to sell more shirts, shoes, etc.

“Winning is everything” – LeBron James does not fit into the same category as Michael Vick or Tiger Woods. His only transgression may be placing winning over loyalty (plus, a slightly bizarre TV special with too much self-centeredness).  As LeBron James said:

“I think the major factor and the major reason in my decision was the best opportunity for me to win and to win now and to win into the future also.”

There is nothing wrong with winning, just ask Michael Vick and Tiger Woods. The warning may be – don’t think and act like you can do anything you want because of who you are.  There are too many lessons to be learned from sports figures who have selected this path.

Instead, learn from the ones who made the mistakes, and avoid the making the same ones. Learn from the ones who have competed well while exhibiting strong character and deep inner strength, and take it further in your own life.

This week’s lesson in sports may be:

  • Make sure you are working from the right recipe in your life as well as using the right ingredients
  • Remember humility, and ensure you are really trying your best to be your best
  • Winning is good but remain well-grounded in character and spirit