Geoff Miller

Case Study: Perfectionist

In Case Studies using TAIS on December 7, 2009 at 11:34 pm

From time to time, I will be posting case studies that include sample data from our TAIS inventory.  TAIS stands for The Attentional and Interpersonal Style inventory and we use it with all of our coaching clients in corporate, sport, and military settings.  In my work with professional baseball players and teams, I use TAIS to help players in the majors and minors identify their mental game strengths and weaknesses, then use TAIS data to help them shape performance improvement plans.  On the scouting side, I use TAIS to evaluate potential draft picks, which are not used in a “thumbs up, thumbs down” fashion, but more to help provide another level of detail on who the player is on and off the field, how he will handle failure and pressure, and the best ways to help each player develop skills and learn the game.  This case study is on an infielder who is too mechanical with his actions, is overly perfectionistic in his self-evaluation, and carries too much stress with him while playing the game.  I’m including only a sampling of TAIS scales (there are twenty factors that are measured when someone takes TAIS and a brief description on each so you can understand the context of the case.  Learning a bit about this player may help you if you have players like the one I’m profiling here.

For more information on TAIS, please visit www.taistest.com

Case Study:  A

Position:  Infield

Biggest Derailer:  Perfectionism

Comparison Group: World Champions

Favorite Channel

The first factors I look at when reviewing a TAIS profile are the attentional factors.  I want to know what the player’s “favorite channel” is so I can know how he will pay attention under pressure.  Player A’s favorite channel between Awareness, Analysis, and Narrow Focus (which we call Action) is Narrow Focus, dominating the other two factors in comparison.  This tells me that Player A is detail-oriented and works on the little things when he feels pressure. The 31% on Awareness in contrast tells me that he doesn’t use his instincts enough when he’s playing and relies more on repetition and refining his skills than trusting his ability.

Learning Style

Next, I’m going to look at a combination of scores to get an understanding of the best way for this player to learn.  He doesn’t like to multitask and wants information in small bits, rather than trying to take on a lot at once.  I can tell this from his lower information processing score.  This doesn’t tell me whether a person is smart or not, it tells me how that person approaches a new problem. I’m also going to consider his analysis score and his decision-making style to see how quickly he makes up his mind and how much he enjoys thinking in big picture terms. Both scores confirm the “one thing at a time” approach, so I know that Player A prefers to master skills in a slow, methodical fashion.

Competitiveness

Our measure of physical competitiveness tells us how much a player is willing to sacrifice his body to win.  In simple terms, this is our measure of “no pain, no gain.”  Player A is willing to do whatever it takes to be a winner.

Decision Making Style

This is the signature sign of a perfectionist.  Decision Making Style tells me how quickly a person commits to a decision.  You can think of the score as the amount of time it takes to make up your mind.  So a low score means you are a fast decision-maker and a high score means you are a slow one.  The higher the score, the more a person will second-guess him or herself and/or continue thinking about whether they made the right decision.  The extremes on this factor point out well that there are no “good” scores on TAIS, only preferences that carry strengths and consequences to them depending on when they are used.  Low scorers on decision-making style are more interested in speed than accuracy.  High scorers want to know that they made the right decision, even if it takes a little longer…which is why strong perfectionists typically have high scores on this factor.  Player A scores 85% on Decision Making Style, which is still in the normal range for a world class athlete, but most world class athletes are too perfectionistic.

Summary

Player A has a classic grinding, hard-nosed style that includes a bit too much perfectionism.  He is extremely focused and detail-oriented, needing to develop more feel for the game and trust his gut more instead of playing by numbers.  He would benefit from setting goals that are based on process rather than outcome and he will need help letting go of mistakes and staying positive.  His best performances will come when he gets comfortable in his environment and starts giving himself a break.

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Geoff Miller’s book, Intangibles: Big-League Stories and Strategies for Winning the Mental Game — in Baseball and in Life, was released in August, 2012. For more information and free sample chapters, please visit:

For more information, please contact Geoff Miller at miller@thewinningmind.com.

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  1. Very interesting how this carries over to other occupations. We use something similar to this in evaluating sales executives. All styles of behavior work in sales however, it’s very important for managers and coaches to understand each of their players, what makes them tick, and the best approach to take in delivering information and selecting specific coaching drills that will have the greatest impact for each of their players on an individual level.

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