The Inner Game for Work (Can’t-Miss Tips for Success!)

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  • Our work culture prizes performance and hitting goals.
  • W. Timothy Gallwey, the author of The Inner Game of Work, suggests we’ve neglected learning and enjoyment which has crippled our long term success.
  • “The three sides of the work triangle are part of an interdependent system,” says Gallwey. Neglect of one will hurt the others.

Many people only focus on performance when working:

  • Did I hit my sales goals?
  • Have I grown my client base?
  • Have I set my business up for success online?

We have a saying on our team, “What gets measured gets done.” All that to say we’re not against measuring performance and pushing for improvement and success.

However, in our culture, the pendulum definitely swings towards a focus on performance without focusing on two other areas that W. Timothy Gallwey recommends — learning and enjoyment.

Gallwey has developed this triangle as he’s worked on a paradigm for coaching and success called The Inner Game. This method has been championed by winners like Steve Kerr (NBA Champion as player and coach), Pete Carroll (NCAA and NFL Champion), and Tom Brady (NFL MVP and Super Bowl Champion).

The Inner Game

Gallwey describes the inner game we face as “within the mind of the player and is played against such obstacles as fear, self-doubt, lapses in focus, and limiting concepts or assumptions.The Inner Game is a proven method to overcome the self-imposed obstacles that prevent an individual or team from accessing their full potential.”

Part of this series is The Inner Game of Work: Focus, Learning, Pleasure, and Mobility in the Workplace where he makes an application for success in the workplace.

Paramount to succeeding in the inner game of work is his triangle of performance, learning, and enjoyment.

Note Gallwey is not recommending work plus making time for extra learning and extra enjoyment, but working in such a way that performance is not the only objective — although it is still an objective — but learning and enjoyment while working is the goal.

What do you focus on?

Take a moment:

  • What parts of your work have you only focused on performance but neglected the learning and enjoyment aspects?
  • Has this neglect adversely affect your overall performance?

If you neglect one of the three then it affects the others.

“It is obvious to most people that emphasizing performance doesn’t make it happen. Quite the contrary is true. The three sides of the work triangle are part of an interdependent system,” says Gallwey. “When either the learning or enjoyment side is ignored, performance will suffer in the long run.”

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Now let’s take another moment:

  • How could you increase your ongoing learning in your work?
  • How could you increase your enjoyment of your work?

Depending on your job (or even different aspects of the same job) you may find it more difficult to connect with one aspect of the triangle.

Which aspect is more challenging for you — performance, learning, or enjoyment? How will you take action to remedy this lack of balance?

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