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Castles by Ants – Episode 10: Modifications from the Athlete’s Personal Life

An ongoing series about psychology in the world of sport.

We athletes still have lives, pasts, problems, families, and we are members of a society. This means that we undergo personality modifications throughout our lives. As our parents begin to push a sport on us — even if they do it subtly, and even if we may learn to love it later on — we still adopt behaviours to meet their expectations. Then there is school; suffice it to say we want to fit into various communities. What’s more, for athletes that progress to elite levels, it becomes a bigger and bigger challenge because they do not have enough time to show their true personalities as they run from practice to practice. Teachers also either adore junior athletes because they acknowledge their obstacles — this is the ideal case — or they subtly pick on them because they think that sport is just an excuse and distraction. Either way, the athletes are sure to assume some kind of behaviour. And, as we already know, the assumed behaviour causes long-term personality changes. So, even if the coach does their best to make their athletes self-sufficient, that alone will not achieve the desired result! All true coaches know that managing an athlete’s career also involves educating them about “everyday” life, which must be done together with their parents. Thus, it is critically important to recognise an athlete’s personality as early as possible so that the people around them can stop and reverse any harmful personality modification processes. This is why we have put significant effort into creating a junior analysis for children as young as 10. With such analyses, we can paint a complex picture of the young athlete’s current path, as well as how much they have deviated from the path determined by their personality (in other words, the size of their personality modification). This is perhaps the most emotional area of my work. When our assessment shows a 48% personality modification for an 11-year-old child, we have a duty to figure out its source. Many parents can transcend their egos when they discover that their “faults” are what are unconsciously forcing modifications and hindering their child’s performance; it’s a really a wonderful feeling to see them change their ways for their child’s sake.

Not long ago, I worked with an exceptionally talented 12-year-old boy whose athletic performance and schoolwork began to deteriorate, which worried his Mom and Dad. In addition, Dad worked in a prominent position where it was risky for him to have any family issues. Obviously, this information could never get into the wrong hands, but the fear was still there. But since the boy’s modification was 62% — from the Supporter to the Ruler path, which are essentially opposites — it became clear that the modifications were the result of Dad’s expectations. After having received several professional opinions and “digesting” them for a long time, Mom and Dad still resisted analysing themselves to see who was “guilty” for the child’s severe stress and to what extent. Of course, love overruled everything, and Mom and Dad had themselves analysed, where surprisingly — even though we thought Dad’s expectations were the real problem — it turned out that the Mom’s strong Ruler character were what were causing the personality modifications. Dad’s expectations were based on Mom’s expectations, but Dad was the one who was passing them on to the boy. Because the expectations always came from Dad, the child wanted to meet them, so he forced himself to change. The problem was that the talented boy was active in team sports, so taking the Ruler path was not successful. Mom and Dad accepted the situation with great humility, and we helped them develop a unique motivation system for the child. All this happened a year and a half ago, and in June of last year, the boy received a bronze medal and was the best in his age group at an important competition. Do you understand now why we work in this field, even though the price of an entire junior team’s complex assessment is roughly equal to our hourly rates for business mentoring?


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Castles by Ants – Episode 9: Modifications from the Athlete’s Environment

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Castles by Ants – Episode 11: General Description of Ruler Type