Physical metrics are critical to understand what an athlete can do … “the 40”, “the mile”, “the benchpress”, “the vertical jump” – all important in assessing an athlete. But is it possible to look inside and learn about how the athlete might perform under the pressure of competition? Is it possible to learn how a leader might perform under the heat of pressure in business competition?
We know that recent science is highlighting the critical importance of the emotional brain in performance. Coaches, parents, recruiters all know the frustration of watching a physically gifted athlete who may look great in training or practice – but the “talent meter” goes south when competition is bolstered and pressure intensifies. There have been few answers for this.
Personality Profiling Can Help
Personality profiling is often done with athletes to learn about the athlete’s behaviors and how they interact with other “personalities”. This is a useful, but limited exercise. It is important for an athlete to understand their own personality and how they might successfully interact with others who have different tendencies from themselves. It is a nice piece of self-awareness that can be used in sport. But, the benefits of personality profiling stop there. Understanding personality is useful – but the difficulty is that personality is fixed and cannot be changed. While awareness is important, development is not possible.
The other limitation of personality profiling is that the profiles themselves tend to be dated and complicated.
Emotional Competency Development
The “new” science is pointing to the emotional brain, and its role in performance, as a key to mental and emotional development. And, in this context, mental/emotional education in sport can be transferred to a variety of other areas of life – more effective leaders, parents, sons, daughters, friends etc.
The beauty of developing areas like Emotional Intelligence is that, unlike personality, emotional competencies can be developed. Self-awareness, Self-confidence, Self-reliance, Resilience are a few of the critical competencies that can separate average and elite athletes (and community leaders) – and can be systematically developed and strengthened over time. Until now, emotional competencies have been a complex X factor in sports – and immeasurable.
A New Frontier
Surely we have approached the higher, faster, stronger limits with the quality and research in physical training in recent years.
The Emotional brain is the new frontier in sports – an opportunity to understand how to keep the “talent meter” full, channel energy into high personal performance and, as added value, develop the next generation of community leaders.