THE INNER GAME OF ANYTHING
Where is that tee shot supposed to land? Does the next pitch come in high and tight or does it paint the outside of the plate? Is the next play run off the post or a lob to the big guy under the basket? The execution of a plan may not work out as planned (As it’s said, “Man plans and God laughs.”) but to start without the imagery of a desired outcome is to insure failure. So, this article is a take off on one of the first books of its kind, The Inner Game of Tennis, by Timothy Gallway, 1974. Sports are a metaphor for life.
Is it any different in business? When you start prospecting, don’t you have an anticipation (usually in the form of pictures in your head)? When you’re about to give a presentation, aren’t the pictures of your encounter rehearsed numerous times before? Don’t speakers imagine the next audience in terms of numbers, space, room configuration, probable dress code, etc.? But what other messages do you give yourself?
If you are apprehensive, stressed, feeling overwhelmed or afraid, you’re sending the wrong message to your brain and will sabotage your efforts. Your mental rehearsal, of visualizing the contact, the presentation, the closing, asking for the referral, the tee shot, the conversation with the combative relative or friend etc., is part of the process. But are you including the sense of confidence, good posture, appropriate voice tonal quality, smiling, that gives you a greater edge? The simplest functions you do are colored with layers of feelings and shaded with many past experiences. So practicing is a good thing, but perfect practicing is best.
Here is an idea that will make a difference in any area of your life if done with consistency. When done regularly, not only will individual performance be elevated, but the underlying mindset that determines character, confidence and a positive self-image will as well. You may call this guided imagery, affirmations, self-hypnosis, mindfulness with a purpose (or is that an oxymoron?). Call it anything you choose but, Do It! This kind of forward planning/thinking is what separates us from other life forms. Doing this with consistency separates the superstars from the rest. Little positive routines matter.
Take 5-10 minutes twice every day to relax and mentally work on new things you’re learning, needing to change/improve/master.
Use half that time just to relax. Your mind listens better when there’s less mental noise. You become less critical and less negative.
Then select an activity you want to do better and visualize yourself engaged, enjoying, and bringing you’re A Game. Breathe, slow down. Brain cells that fire together, wire together. New connections are forming every time you practice perfectly.
For each goal/suggestion/affirmation you work with, attach the positive feeling of accomplishment. This rush of the neurotransmitters dopamine and oxytocin associates positive feelings with the activity and or people involved in your affirmation. You’ll follow through with your positive change(s), not because you have to or need to, but because it feels good. This is neuroscience’s way of emphasizing the “carrot” over the “stick,” doing things effortlessly compared to the angst that goes into forcing change through conscious will power.
This is not rocket science. You’ve heard these simple and basic ideas before. But things that are easy to do are also easy not to do. So, pick out a few things you’d like to change or improve upon in your business or personal life, a few things you can be responsible for, and do this simple exercise for a month. Less than 20 well invested minutes a day. Pay attention how small shifts can make huge bottom line differences!