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Castles by Ants – Episode 3: CRISIS IN SPORT

An ongoing series about psychology in the world of sport.

It can be paraphrased in many ways, but when it comes to the relationship between sport and psychology — and deciding whether to bring psychological systems into the picture — the deciding factor is always the same: we need to focus on understanding and managing a crisis! We can analyse anyone, and use a variety of methods to do so, but the focus is always on producing outstanding results under heavy psychological strain.

This is why it is crucial during a psychological system’s development to focus on analysing and understanding personality. But that alone is still not enough. We can describe and understand the personality even if we don’t know what to do with it. That is why when I talk about research and psychology, whether in business or sport, my focal point, unlike that of psychologists, is the decision-making mechanisms of the analysed person, which enable us to manage that person. In other words, I want to know what kind of decisions I can expect from a person and how those can be translated into results at the end of the process. In psychology, this is called many things, such as the “real self” and the “real personality”. In our system, it is called the “original personality”. Why is it original? Decades ago, research began to help scientists prove that human personality is determined at birth. At least it is very much defined. Even then, the research was interesting to me because we saw in practice that every mask, every altered personality, could collapse in a crisis (even a planned crisis!); no matter one thought of one’s self, or tried to convey to the outside world, they always stood “naked”, armed with only their true personality traits to handle the situation. If this real personality was distant from what the person displayed to the outside world, and from what they practised in front of the mirror, then the crisis management inevitably failed. If these two factors were close to each other, there was always a solution. At the request of managers 14 years ago, we started working on the application of the personality analysis system to young children, and the “experiment” began. The first “RISE baby” is now 13 years old, and thanks to our ongoing relationship with their parents, many years of experience are available to determine how much a personality analysis measured at a very young age with unique methods still “fits” all these years later. Since then, we have compiled information and data about the development of nearly 1,000 infants and toddlers of various ages, which helped to make our analyses far more reliable. It was apparent from the early stages of our research that toddlers do have defined personalities — though this fact is surprising to many, and psychologists have also argued for years about this statement, some saying it will change drastically with age — and we noted that their personalities are consistent during crises. Considering this, it was not surprising that recent developments in neurological research have clearly demonstrated that the part of the brain that is responsible for personality is largely defined at birth and changes little during one’s life. The rate of this change was also determined: about 5% of our personality qualities are flexible. Because of our own experience and this research, it has become clear that knowing one’s personality is more important than anything, because why should we build a business on the unstable basis of how people behave right now and give them a chance to destroy a well-functioning business during the first crisis? In sport, this question is even clearer: our personality defines the path to success. An athlete should not be forced onto another path; but rather, the athlete’s personality should forge its own path to success.

Personality states play a key role in RISE research. The system focuses on the perfect definition of the “original personality”. As a second step, we must identify the “present personality”, which is also called the “modified personality” in professional circles, as it shows the changes that the individual’s personality has undergone up to the day of analysis. By comparing these two states, we can clearly see the degree of personality change. We also see how self-critical a person is, how much they accept themselves, and what they think they need to show to the outside world to succeed. These personality states in sport are even more telling when placed side by side. After all, the original personality, as we will see in later chapters of the book, guides the athlete’s career path, as it identifies their areas of potential and path to success. The present personality shows how far the person is from their ideal path, i.e. the extent to which the athlete changed because of the methods used by their management or coach, and as a result of this modification, the level of unpleasant surprises that can be expected. That is, by properly interpreting such an analysis, both sports professionals and the athlete will receive a “guidebook” for their future, which they can use throughout their lives to achieve success. By creating the right personality map and motivation system for the athlete, their attitude towards training will improve, and their expected performance in the competition will become clear. But why does an athlete have a significant difference between their original and present personalities? There are many reasons for personality modification, but it is common in sport — once again, the direction and extent depend on the location — for athletes to have to play a role to survive. A typical modification is caused by playing on a club team in a smaller market. Smaller cities have their own unique, united, and passionate fan bases. A player can play as best they can and deliver any result, but the most important thing will be to gain the acceptance of the fans! We could say that results alone are enough for this, but in most cases, the player also must be nice and agreeable to be “trusted” in the long run. Well, this is already a factor that, for example, clearly pushes a “Ruler” player towards the “Supporter” personality type. But the opposite also exists. This situation arises when a player blessed with team spirit and empathy must take on a leadership role that requires them to be strict with their teammates. Likewise, if a club doesn’t support or pay attention to “quiet players”, then these introverts have to pose as animated stars to secure a real future on the team! Thus, athlete modification comes in many forms, but what’s wrong with modification, exactly?

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Castles by Ants – Episode 2: PSYCHOLOGICAL SYSTEMS

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