April 20, 2015
Last week Aaron Hernandez was convicted of first degree murder for killing, back in June 2013, Odin Lloyd. The jury found that he had shown “extreme atrocity and cruelty” in the shooting. He has been sentenced to life in prison without parole. He still faces another trial for a double murder that happened in 2012.
The chilling account of the trial in the New York Daily News was quite revealing in its disclosure of an important fact.
Mr. Hernandez was hired by the New England Patriot’s coach Bill Belichick in spite of failing the “character questions” during the interview. The interview assessment stated that he was “on the edge of acceptable behavior.”
Including character questions in a job interview is very important, but only if it truly determines the hiring decision. In this case, failing the character questions did not prevent the New England Patriots management from offering Mr. Hernandez a 5 year- $40 million contract. It seems that athletic performance and the potential of millions of dollars in revenue trumped any consideration of character.
Yet character does count.
Michael Josephson of The Josephson Institute in his book “Making Better Ethical Decisions” lists the 6 pillars of character as:
1. Trustworthiness based on honesty, integrity, reliability and loyalty
2. Respect manifested by civility, courtesy, decency, dignity, autonomy, tolerance & acceptance.
3. Responsibility leading to accountability, pursuit of excellence and self-restraint.
4. Fairness evidenced by process, impartiality and equity
David Brooks in his amazing New York Times Op-ed A Moral Bucket List, adapted from his recently published, The Road to Character, makes an interesting distinction between “resume virtues” and “eulogy virtues.” He says that “resume virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at …your funeral, whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful.” He believes that “wonderful people are made, not born.” We develop character by taking actions that benefit others, not just ourselves. He writes that “people I admired had achieved an un-fakeable inner virtue built slowly from specific moral and spiritual accomplishment.”
Jack Easterly, the team chaplain of the New England Patriots was seen handing players a photo of an iceberg as they were getting ready to leave for the Super Bowl. Below the picture were the words:
“Character . . .because it’s what’s beneath the surface that matters most.”