Untangle and grow

A blog by Alison Maxwell

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Playing the 'Inner Game'

I was recently reminded of Tim Gallwey's  ** performance equation : Performance equals Potential minus Interference. 

Although a tad pseudo-scientific, Gallwey's equation succinctly expresses the notion that most of our battles are not 'out there' but in our own heads - how we play our 'Inner Game'. The issue is not what we can do, so much as what we talk ourselves out of doing. Just listen to your own self-talk next time you face a difficult or challenging task and you will probably hear self-doubt, negative forecasting and other forms of self-limiting beliefs - all examples of  'mental interference' in Gallwey's terms.

This simple equation has spawned a whole approach to coaching. Rather than building skills or knowledge (ie maximising the potential component of the equation), the 'Inner Game' coach works on 'interference' element by finding causes of low self-confidence, challenges self-limiting beliefs and assumptions and recasting self-defeating or destructive patterns of behaviour. This means the coach is more likely to ask questions and listen, rather than tell, instruct or teach.

"It's not what they can do, it's what they tell themselves they can't do, that brings them to coaching" said an old colleague of mine. Too true!

Here's a short clip of Tim Gallwey talking about how he stumbled on the 'Inner Game' approach. 

**Gallwey, T. (2000) The Inner Game of Work: overcoming mental obstacles for maximum performance. London: Orion Books, pp17

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