Do you seek thrills, thrive under pressure, and perform well under a deadline? Or is your mind sharpest in low-pressure, quiet environments?
Genetics determines the speed in which we metabolize dopamine and dictates which circumstances and environments we are better equipped to handle. This gene is known as the COMPT gene. Your genotype will fall into one of three possible categories: “Warrior”, “Worrier”, or “Mix.”
The “Warrior” variant codes for a quicker breakdown of dopamine. This results in lower dopamine levels that are useful in threatening circumstances. “Warriors” tend to do better when under pressure. “Warriors” are able to let go of stressful events faster. A “Warrior” also tends to response to aggressive coaching more effectively.
If you are “Warrior”, having deadlines and incentives to add a steady dose of pressure will most likely result in performing at a higher level. Long, mundane, and low-pressure tasks could be detrimental for a “Warrior” who is trying to perform at their best.
The “Worrier” variant codes for a slower breakdown of dopamine. “Worriers” tend to perform well, but worry about completing the task. Retaining high levels of dopamine under low stress environments allows for better focus, memory, and “Worriers” often score higher on IQ tests.
However, when thrown into the fire, “Worriers” can become overwhelmed easily, and long-term chronic stress tends to have a greater health impact on these individuals compared to the “Warriors.”
This doesn’t mean that “Worriers” should never be put under pressure, but it does mean that they may need gradual exposure. “Worriers” should spend more time working their way up in order to acclimate to the pressure demands through experience.
Some may fall somewhere in the middle. This can be termed the “Mix”, or “Neutral.” Those in this category may find themselves on each side of the spectrum, depending on the situation and a number of other factors that can be triggered by life events.
So Where Do I Fall?
For those of you that know my background, you may label me as a “Warrior.” As a professional baseball player, I had to overcome multiple career threatening surgeries. I started out as a late-round draft pick, not on anyone’s radar, to accelerate through the minor leagues in only two years time. I pitched late in the game, when the game is on the line. I served as a closer, frequently being put in high pressure situations.
In my Major League debut, I was put in a new environment. It was a new kind of stress that I wasn’t used to. It was the same game that I had always played, but it sure seemed different this time. Do you know how I performed in my debut? If you did, it might give you an indication of my COMPT genotype.
I walked the only two batters I faced. I am a “Worrier.” Those new stressors proved to be too much for me. It’s not an excuse, but it is an explanation of why I continued to get better and better the more exposure I had to big league baseball.
When off the field, I thrive in quiet, low-pressure situations. I enjoy thinking about complex issues and using an outside-the-box approach to solving problems. As a baseball player, I learned how to adapt to handle large quantities of dopamine in my system. Now that I am a few years removed from pitching in a Major League baseball game, I wonder just how well I would handle that kind of stress today.
Wouldn’t this be helpful information for a team to know on a player? I sure think so. Feel free to send me a message if you want some help determining your “Warrior” vs. “Worrier” status.