Perception v. Reality, and Predicting Character
This article was originally written before the 2012 NFL Draft. It has been reproduced on this blog to share the point today.
The other night, a tweet from Sports Illustrated’s Peter King irritated me more than any tweets generally do. I mean, it’s twitter, why get irritated over something so inconsequential?
My irritation at King’s tweet is likely just a peaking of my frustrations of dealing with a certain kind of person. To an extent, that person is the know-it-all.
Know-it-alls are rife right now in my world as the annual NFL draft begins this week and the experts announce themselves from under every single crack of every single stone in every single section of the football world.
In fact, King’s tweet which irritated me so much was about the NFL draft. In a reply to a question about Andrew Luck, the presumed top player in this year’s draft, King said this:
“Who’s to say that Luck won’t be the next Ryan Leaf? … Leaf imploded as a person. Luck will never do that.Too good a person.”
Firstly, I will provide some context.
I’m a massive fan of Peter King. I really respect his work and aspire to be on his level some day. This is not an attack on him as a journalist or his ability to evaluate draft prospects. As I said earlier, it was just a tweet. The point of this is not to castrate King at all.
Some context in relation to the tweet for those of you who don’t follow football. Ryan Leaf was a college star who everyone expected to be a star in the NFL, like everyone expects Andrew Luck to, but never made that move and has been arrested multiple times since his career ended.
The following words made my jaw clench and teeth grind: “Luck will never do that. Too good a person.” I’m not going to debate whether Andrew Luck is a good person or not, I believe he is but I have no real way of knowing.
The problem is, King has no clue what Luck is going to do over the next 10 years of his career. King is presuming that because Luck is a graduate of Stanford University and coming from a wealthy family with a strong role model as a father that he will never struggle the way Leaf did.
Perception versus Reality is a term I use an awful lot. From one of the first articles I ever wrote to some of my more recent work, my perception of reality is what makes me valuable to employers. As is King’s.
However, what I, and everyone else, must understand is that absolutely nobody but the individual themselves truly understands what type of a person they are. In fact, often even the individual themselves doesn’t know.
No matter how much film King or any other scout watches, they will never know what goes on in Andrew Luck’s head.
Oliver Luck, Andrew’s father and a man who went through the same process that his son is now going through, will likely know his son better than any other person in the whole world. I guarantee he doesn’t know exactly what his son will do in every situation.
This isn’t a sports thing. It’s a world thing.
Often people see sports and abandon something because it is rarely insightful, I use sports on this blog but this is my non-sports blog because nothing I write here is sports. The articles written here often use sports as examples.
Sports is simply what I use to convey what I am trying to say because it is easier for me to portray things that way.
A great sporting example of the failures of people mis-perceiving(yes that word is completely made up) reality is the tragic death of Gary Speed.
Speed was a legendary soccer player in the FA Premier League. He was an incredibly nice guy repeatedly referred to as a gentleman. He was a leader at whatever club he went to and once his career finished he became manager of his home nation Wales.
Within two years of his career finishing Gary Speed took his own life.
All those that knew Speed well believed him to be a happy man. He had a family he loved and was beloved by his teammates. The perception was that he was okay.
The perception was wrong. Speed suffered from depression. For how long, nobody will truly know.
That is an extreme example of people missing the mark, but if you cannot see someone who is crippled inside from a horrible disease, how can you see anything within a person?
Plenty of facts and certainties exist in this world. Very few of them can be attributed to human beings.
Everything to do with a person is viewed through a window. That window can be cracked, dirty, blocked or broken. A person’s reputation is generally what affects the window with which people are viewed.
Even when certain things are viewed clearly, the point of them can still be completely missed. This blog in itself is a great example of that.
I have many many avenues where I can have writing published, but I chose to create this blog as an escape from my working world. As such, sometimes the posts become quite dark or less objective.
Essentially, I use this place to vent. Away from all the purveying eyes so nobody has to witness my ramblings save for those who actually want to.
The reality of this post is quite dark. I completely understand every single meaning and aspect of that story because I wrote it. However my perception of it today is completely different to what it really is.
In that instance, is my perception real? or is the reality of what it was at the time real?
You see, that post to me is a happy thing. While I put something that dark on this blog, and anyone who reads it understands it as dark, I see it as a happy thing because for me, I’m using that to throw away whatever darkness is there.
I know how I’m perceived by most people who know me. I’m quiet, boring, gentle, unemotive, stubborn and will do just about anything to slip by unnoticed. A lot of that is real, however, a major part of it is also not.
Whether you follow me on twitter, know me in real life or have heard about me through others, none of you really know what’s going on inside my head.
If my closest friends can’t read my mind or predict my future, I somehow doubt that all these football scouts making guarantees can really understand anything about people they only started trying to understand and interpret over the past few months.
Perceptions and realities are rarely, rarely, the same.
Stop thinking you know it all because you know very little. None of us really know.
You can follow Cian Fahey on twitter @Cianaf