A friend has promised me a book called The Inner Game of Golf by Timothy Gallwey. It turns out that the same author has also written The Inner Game of Work. Although I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, it did get me thinking: what is the inner game and how does it work?
When we look at professional sportsmen, actors and musicians, we see very accomplished people doing extraordinary work and making it look quite simple. The same is true for acrobats who perform dangerous feats. How do they do it?
In my opinion, their inner game consists of two things: their ability to see clearly the outcomes they wish to endanger and their commitment to making it happen.
Remember how we were always told “I’ll believe it when I see it?” Well, these individuals have actually inverted the process to “I’ll see it when I believe it.” This fundamental switch works like this: if they don’t believe they can do it, they do not create the process by which to accomplish it. Take for example a juggler: he cannot begin to practice new acts until and unless he sees very clearly what the outcome should be. And that starts with believing he can do it. The commitment is manifest in the hours of practice necessary to execute his ideas flawlessly.
So, what are the lessons for us mere mortals? First of all, we see obstacles instead of goals. When we focus on the goal, we figure out ways to get there. When we focus on the obstacle, we get stuck. We can start by writing down the goal or objective. Then we need to figure out our strengths, weaknesses and the resources required to get things down. Of course, we cannot ignore potential obstacles but let us not become fixated and paralysed by them.
If the pros rehearse and practice relentlessly, should not we be doing the same? This translates into meticulous planning, flawless execution and constant monitoring; feedback always helps and should be an integral part of the design.
When the pro does his stuff, we do not see his inner game his thought process, his envisioning of the outcome, and we certainly do not see his believe that he can achieve the impossible. There are so many stories to inspire us – just notice how they “saw it once they believed it.”
– Leon Menezes
The writer is a senior HR practitioner, professor-of-practice and executive coach