The Seattle Seahawks are headed to the Super Bowl, and one of their stars, Richard Sherman—not only one of the best cornerbacks in football, but arguably one of the best athletes playing the game today—is embroiled in a controversy onto which EQ casts a telling light.
Sherman’s decisive defensive play at the end of the Seahawks’ tight NFC Championship game against the 49ers quickly ended the game, brought about the victory and the team’s first trip to the Super Bowl in eight years—and the 25-year-old Sherman’s first trip ever to this pinnacle of all games. It was while steeped in this pressure-cooker moment that he stepped into an unfortunate post-game interview.
Sherman was fined this week for $7875 for this general incident, and while the back-story puts much of Sherman’s content and its aggressive tone into a more understandable context, for millions of people this outburst and the resulting fine were their introductions to this man. And that is a shame, for football—and professional athletics in general, could not find a better ambassador or role model than Richard Sherman. This Stanford University honor graduate’s life story is inspirational. His charitable works and drive to revive his struggling hometown of Compton are efforts to be emulated and praised.
This week, however, as Richard Sherman prepares to play the biggest football game of his life, what everyone seems to be talking about is his vitriol, his outburst—and their resulting fine. Low Impulse Control can be very expensive.
One of the elements of the EQ-i2.0 model of Emotional Intelligence is Impulse Control—the ability or tendency to hold back or filter the initial temptation to say or do something. Within the model, Impulse Control is the perfect counter-weight to Assertiveness and Emotional Expression—two elements concerned with putting yourself, your needs and your opinions out into the world. When balance between Impulse Control and personal expression fails and Impulse Control slips, you do something rash or say too much or say it too loudly.
This is precisely what happened to Richard Sherman. This man—an exemplary athlete, team mate, and citizen—had a lapse of Impulse Control and for this he is paying the price. We all have EQ lapses from time to time, but most of us are lucky enough not to do so on such a public, media-driven stage.