The Inner Game of Performance
So much is changing in every area of our lives that the capacity to shift our thinking is increasingly critical to success. The challenge is how to transform ourselves and our institutions that have been hardwired for consistency, control, and predictability into cultures where not only performance is valued but where real human growth, learning and evolving is equally as important.
Becoming a high performing individual and organization is demanding. It requires more than most of us realize and asks us all to have deep enough commitment not only to short-term performance but how we are truly learning and growing in the process. To do that, requires a great deal of unlearning of bad habits and a new way of being that involves us being much more open and trusting to what is actually happening within and around us.
The good news is that whether personally or professional, individually or collectively, the biggest obstacles we face are placed by ourselves from within not from without. Fear, doubt, uncertainty, lack of confidence and focus are all internal dialogues that not only influence our outer actions and results but everything that we hope to achieve with our own lives and manifest with our lives.
The fundamental question is, What is truly possible for you both as an individual or as an organization? Are you and your people currently fulfilling your and their potential? As an organization, we have spent decades serving leaders, managers and whole organizations globally to learn the insights that both Sir John Whitmore and Tim Gallwey have had around what it takes to manifest exceptional performance and what it takes to create an environment where accelerated performance and human growth are one and the same. This work includes our in-person Coaching for Performance workshops for coaches, managers and senior leaders and our Online GROW Training for Leaders & Managers.
Bill Gates on The Inner Game
The Inner Game of Tennis is surprisingly profound said Bill Gates. Timothy Gallwey’s insights apply to tennis but also many other parts of life. Learn more on the best guide to getting out of your own way, in Gates’ latest blog.
What is The Inner Game?
All human activity can be divided into two major parts: the outer game and the internal. Without some mastery of the often-neglected skills and goals of The Inner Game, success in any outer game is not only restricted and difficult but is also relatively limited in terms of one’s true potential being realized.
The Inner Game reveals an approach to accelerated learning and achievement. It challenges you to re-examine everything that you do including your own fundamental motivations for doing things and your definitions of what success really is. It helps you define the landscape of what we term as a high performing interdependent organization.
Access to a billion-dollar mainframe
The first major learning step of The Inner Game theory is that within every human being, there are two selves rather than one. Self 1 is the conscious ego mind that we as human have invented on top of the real self that we were born with. Self 2 is the human being itself. It embodies all the inherent potential we are born with, including all capacities actualized and not yet actualized. It also embodies our innate ability to learn and to grow any of those inherent capacities. It is the self we all enjoyed as children and the self we most enjoy as adults when we allow ourselves to access it.
All the evidence points to the fact that our best performance happens when the Self 1’s voice is silent or otherwise occupied and Self 2 is allowed to do whatever it already knows how to do naturally or by watching others. When this is reversed, which is usually the case, with Self 1 in control, Self 1 provides a running commentary on everything that Self 2 does – and it is often a critical one. Self 1 not only reminds Self 2 of anything that may or may not have happened in the past that was incorrect or wrong but creates the tension and fear that tend to beset us when we are confronted by challenge. In fact, Self 1 is creating the worst of the challenges, yet manages to throw all the blame onto Self 2, with negative internal dialogue. It is like a damaged floppy disk giving orders to a billion-dollar mainframe, then wanting the credit for the best outcomes while blaming the mainframe for the worst. It is truly humbling to realize that the voice giving the controlling demands and criticism is not really as intelligent as the one receiving them!
This understanding can be put into a simple equation that defines The Inner Game theory.
Performance (P) in any activity, from hitting a ball to doing anything in life, is equal to one’s potential (p) after the interference factor (i) has been subtracted from the equation. In most people, performance regrettably rarely equals potential. A little self-doubt, an erroneous assumption, the fear of failure, will be all it takes to greatly diminish one’s performance.
The goal and purpose of playing The Inner Game is to reduce whatever interferes with the discovery and expression of one’s own potential. In this century, if we do not learn some of the basic skills of The Inner Game theory, our technical progress in the outer game will be of little benefit to ourselves individually or to mankind as a whole in relation to our own sense of oneness with nature and in the universe. We have a profound deeper need to better understand, and learn to make changes in, the domain we call ourselves. And that can happen only if we change in ways that in harmony with out true nature and not at war with it.
“Tim Gallwey is one of the great teachers of our time.”
Performance, Learning & Enjoyment
If you ask executives the meaning of the word work, they focus on work as doing something – as accomplishing a goal, such as providing a product or service. In other words, to many people, work only means performance. But definitions that equate work with performance can be not only limiting but soul destroying, especially in the current business environment.
How are these fundamental results of work – performance, learning and enjoyment – related? They are unquestionably interdependent. If individuals aren’t learning, their performance will decline over time; if their predominant experience of work is boredom or stress, both learning and performance will suffer. These three results can be represented in a mutually supportive “Work Triangle,” with performance at the apex, and experience and learning at the base angles.
When you ask most executives “Which of the three work results gains the greatest support and encouragement in your work environment?” their response is overwhelmingly “Performance.” And then when you ask them “How much more priority is performance given over learning and enjoyment?” the response generally has the level way beyond the triangle so that it is only about outer performance and nothing else.
In the competitive world of business, it is easy to see why performance may be given priority over learning and experience. But what are the consequences of pursuing performance at the expense of learning and experience? In any but the shortest timeframe, the consequences are dire: performance itself will fall. And what will be management’s typical response? More pressure on performance, resulting in even less time and fewer resources directed toward learning or quality of experience.
Our definition of performance needs to include the employee’s experience and learning, as well as his or her performance. The real value of this redefinition of work is that it involves and sees everyone as an individual, and the organization as a whole as place for growth, learning and enjoyment.
The Inner Game of Performance Program
The Inner Game of Performance is a program specifically designed re-define the landscape of what has become known as a “learning organization” or a “high performance culture” into a lived reality where what is called “work”: is an increasingly human-centred environment, where enjoyment, learning and excellence in performance are the three parts of one whole. Tools, understanding, and insights are offered to facilitate such a transition that becomes the fulfilment of personal and professional achievement. In this program, any individual who has the courage and commitment to learn about what it takes to become an extraordinary source of high performance will also recognize some of what it takes to fill their own deepest needs as human beings.
Tim Gallwey’s ideas about learning have, from the beginning, been uniquely insightful and radically practical. In 1974, Tim Gallwey’s book The Inner Game of Tennis profoundly changed the way many people thought about performance improvement, and certainly not just in tennis. Fifty years later, its influence is still growing. It showed us, for the first time, that our conditioned efforts to improve ourselves and our performance can significantly interfere with what we hope to achieve. Tim challenged much of what we believe about improving as the function of obeying instructions. Even if the instructions are “by the book” they can become mental orders in the mind of the player, that replace the students’ access to their own natural inner intelligence. The Inner Game of Performance now brings these insights directly into your company and importantly under your own choice and your own control.
The Inner Game of Performance will change the way many people relate to their work, and perhaps even more important, it offers institutions a way to simultaneously facilitate accelerated performance, learning and satisfaction in the workplace. Becoming a high performing individual and organization is far less demanding than we imagine. But it does ask each of us to honour our own inner intelligence to learn to learn and to allow our own excellence to result spontaneously.
“Enjoy this program. Take it seriously. Put what you learn into every area of your own life both personally and professionally, and don’t be surprised when your life and company begin to transform as our own did globally. I call it our ‘rocket fuel’.”
Founder & CEO, Performance Consultants
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Why choose Performance Consultants?
Performance Consultants is the leading global provider for transformational coaching and leadership development.
The Coaching for Performance training program holds triple accreditation in recognition of its world-class design and delivery. It is accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and has been recognized by the Association of Coaching (AC), and the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC).