03 April 2008

A Test of Character

Today, on the flight from Indianapolis to Dallas / Ft. Worth, I sat by Gene Keady, who coached Purdue's basketball team for 25 years and was assistant coach to the 2000 Olympic team. As we chatted, I asked him what he looked for in prospects besides raw talent.

"Character," he said.

"Okay," I said, "but how do you measure that? How do you know if a high school kid has character?"

He chuckled. "I talked to the janitors."

I joined with him in the laugh. The invisible witness, the one who can tell you who the kid is when he doesn't think that he's having to impress an authority figure. Next time I go into a new company, doing my up front analysis, I know who I'm going to talk to.


cce said...

That's totally brilliant. I mean, does a person cheat when they know they won't be caught, do they litter on dark highway stretches, do they take their parents liquor bottles and fill them with water and go get drunk in the town green with four buddies after their mother has dropped them off at the cinema with the idea that they're going to see Karate Kid?
Okay, sorry, high school was not my time to really shine with good character. (Though I've never, ever littered.) I admire the thought that this coach puts into his selections. I'm sad that if I'd been a male born 15 years ago with mad hoop skills, I wouldn't have made the team.

exskindiver said...

i do not believe the janitor would not have liked you.

LSD said...

That is a great story! The janitor sees all! Maybe God will talk to the janitors about us all.

When we are presented with a person, we make judgements based on their looks, their style, their language, their attitude and who knows how many other bits of 'marketing' even as we try to hear their message. Sometimes it is interesting to neutralize some of these factors in order to hear the message. Blogs like yours strip away some of these distractions, but at the same time the disconnection of the internet experience seems to permit a more crass and less considerate exchange. Maybe the internet reveals something about our character in the same way that the janitor does.

Great story.

Anonymous said...

I've heard that one way girls judge their dates is by how well they treat the waitress. This sounds like a variation on that principle.

Ron Davison said...

I'm sorry, but I'm distracted by the thought of your parents hitting the bottle harder than ever and not feeling a thing, wondering what kind of numb had settled into their lives that could make liquor taste like water.

I find it easy to imagine that the janitor, at least, enjoyed talking about cce. And really, how could you not like a kid who could be the source of such good stories?

I can see it now as a morality play: God's Janitor.

I still abuse waitresses. It is one of my many character flaws to exploit their willingness to please for a tip by telling them things that strike me - and perhaps no one else - as funny. I have a weakness for laughter.

HRH said...


jennifer h said...

Yep, that's the test.