A Better Way to Change
The essence of all that I’ve learned through my exploration of the Inner Game can be boiled down to one sentence: I have found a better way to change. Though I discovered it while teaching tennis players how to make changes in their forehands, backhands, and serves, the principles and methods that worked for developing skills on the tennis court apply to making improvements in any activity. This book is about how to make changes in the way we work. It is about how to make work work for us.
We are constantly told that we live in an age of change, and nowhere are we told more frequently that we have to change than in the workplace. The change may be a massive corporate reorganization of which you are a small part, or a midsize change “in the way we do things in this department,” or perhaps just an individual change required by your manager after your latest performance review. Even when the impetus for change does not come from outside, most of us want to make changes in how we work and in the results we are getting. When you go to a bookstore you find that the largest category is self-improvement, books that tell you how to make a change in yourself. We talk about everything that needs to change, but how well do we understand how to go about making a change?
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Experience with the three principles—awareness, choice, and trust—showed that they were inextricably connected. They were three parts of a whole. Awareness was about knowing the present situation with clarity. Choice was about moving in a desired direction in the future. And Trust in one’s own inner resources was the essential link that enabled that movement. Each side of this triangle complemented and supported the other. The more I trusted, the easier it was to be aware. The more aware I was, the easier it was to see my choices. As my understanding of each principle deepened, I saw that they were all I needed to form the basis of a new approach to learning and making changes. Change could be enjoyable. No one needed to feel manipulated or judged. Experience itself could be the final authority. Change and improvement, without Self 1’s interferences, could happen at an accelerated rate and be both reliable and continuous.
I began to believe that learning to learn in this way could fundamentally alter the way we go about making changes in ourselves and others..
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From Sports to Work
As the focus of my own career shifted from sports to the field of corporate work, I realized companies had much to gain by learning to access the great reservoir of Self 2 talent in their work forces. Success in this effort would depend on their ability to recognize and reduce the many ways in which their culturally accepted practices contributed to Self 1’s interference with that talent.
From the individual worker’s point of view, there isn’t time to wait for cultural change to take place. Only by starting the process of reducing Self 1 interference within themselves and perhaps in their work groups, could they hope to access and develop more of their Self 2’s latent capabilities.
This understanding could be put into a simple formula that defined the Inner Game.
Performance (P) in any activity, from hitting a ball to solving a complex business problem, was equal to one’s potential (p) after the interference factor (i) had been subtracted from the equation. Performance rarely equals potential. A little self-doubt, an erroneous assumption, the fear of failure, was all it took to greatly diminish one’s actual performance.