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Misunderstood: Life After the NFL Creates Conflict

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

Three years ago I coached a gentleman who had just retired from the National Football League (NFL) earlier that year.

When someone has dedicated their entire life to one pursuit it can be difficult to know what's next when that pursuit has been their entire identity up to that point in life. Our identity is not our job and I knew I could help Mark (name changed for privacy) discover viable options outside of playing football.

Mark was married with children and his wife Chandra worked in the home which enabled Mark to have a professional football career. She had the flexibility to move and educate their children in the event of a trade to another team, which happened a few times.

The first thing I had Mark do is complete a YouMap® assessment to quickly understand his natural strengths, what he valued, skills he found motivating versus what burned him out, and how his interests were influenced by his personality type.

Immediately, a number of things jumped out about Mark:

  1. He is a visionary thinker

  2. He doesn't enjoy conflict

  3. He loves to find problems and solve them

  4. He has unwavering values and a strong faith

  5. He is highly action-oriented

  6. He is success-oriented and concerned about his family's stability

  7. He wants to lead and make decisions, but doesn't enjoy ambiguity

  8. He's highly interpersonal and connection-driven

  9. He wants to work with others as equals to solve meaningful problems

During the coaching, Mark and I discussed his primary priority to think of the future. He mentioned he had asked his wife to discuss the vision for their family and her response was, "Whatever you want to do, I will support you."

Mark interpreted his wife's reaction as either placing this vision on his shoulder's, or a disinterest in thinking of the family's future. He asked if we could do YouMap® with Chandra to help her understand herself better, as well as better understand eachother.

Here is what we found out about Chandra:

  1. She is a flexible and spontaneous person

  2. She is high in empathy

  3. She likes solving problems, too

  4. She makes decisions carefully

  5. She does what she says she will

  6. She is an authentic, faith-centered person

  7. She is a creative and a connector with people

  8. She enjoys, and is great at, dealing with change

  9. She's helps by doing. Her personality type is called The Attendant.

  10. She's happiest when helping others

In a nutshell, Mark is a visionary who loves to think about the future and connect with people to make things happen to solve societal problems.

Chandra also loves to connect with people, but she is a "live in the moment" person who prefers to work quietly in the background in a support role, shifting to where her help is needed.

Three things happened immediately:

  1. Mark realized his wife didn't co-plan the family vision because her brain doesn't work that way. It's not that she was shirking responsibility, or disinterested in the future. She didn't know how to do what he wanted because she lives in the present.

  2. Chandra was wired perfectly to support his career in the NFL. She never resented when he was traded. She didn't resist moving or leaving places where she had her own plans. She saw her role as attending to their family as her priority.

  3. The resentment Mark was starting to feel toward Chandra instantly evaporated.

Mark now understood Chandra. He discovered she was what he needed in a partner, rather than what he expected her to be - which was like him.

How often do we expect people to be a certain way, then make assumptions about why they do and say what they do?

Understanding is an antidote for resentment in relationships.


Need help discovering yourself and another person in your life? You can get a personalized YouMap® profile (ages 15 - 120!) or work with a YouMap® Coach to help you understand your strengths, values, motivating skills, and personality-based interests.

Cover photo credit: Henry Pham

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