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The Inner Game of Work

Timothy Gallwey

The Inner Game of Work, published in 2000, is the best introduction to the Inner Game for business applications.

The first half of the book applies the Inner Game to business with some enlightening examples from corporate America. Tim Gallwey talks about change, the importance of focus and redefines work in terms of his triangle with the words performace, learning and enjoyment at the points. He stresses that these three are important and that, therefore, if enjoyment is decreased, performance is also decreased. This has obvious implications for many traditional work cultures.

If there is an over emphasis on performance at the expense of the other two peformance will fall!!!!

As he says, "When either the learning or the enjoyment side is ignored, performance will suffer in the long run. When it does, management feels threatened and pushes even harder for performance. Learning and enjoyment diminish even further. A cycle ensues that prevents performance from ever reaching its potential."

How many organisations do you know where this should be emblazoned on every wall?

However, the interest of this latest book is that it moves beyond the Inner Game. He introduces the ideas of his executive friend "EF". These involve the concept of "mobility", the "STOP tool" and "thinking like the CEO of yourself".

From conformity to mobility

Tim Gallwey defines mobility as: "the ability to move or adapt, change or be changed. It also means the ability to reach one's objectives in a fulfilling manner to reach goals at the right time and in a way we feel good about. Therefore, mobility is not only change but fulfilment and harmony with one's progress."

There are five elements of mobility:

  1. Grant yourself mobility, because you have it.
  2. Have the clearest possible picture of where you want to go.
  3. Be willing to make changes within your change (course correction).
  4. Keep your purpose clear. Keep your movement clear and direction synchronised.

Movement doesn't focus on what it can't control but moves by making changes in what it can control. Mobility is about conscious wisdom. It's not just about being in the flow, but about being very clear about where you are, where you are going, and why. In essence, it is about working consciously.

The STOP tool

Not all movement is mobility. The hard part is to remain conscious while working. The STOP tool is used to:

  • Stop,
  • Think,
  • Organise your thoughts, and
  • Proceed.

STOPs can be of any duration, maybe only for a few seconds. For example:

  • STOP before you speak
  • STOP at the begining of each work day
  • STOP at the end of each work day
  • STOP at the beginning and end of any work project
  • STOP to make a conscious change
  • STOP to address mistakes
  • STOP to correct miscommunication
  • STOP to learn or coach
  • STOP to rest

The inherent goal of mobility is to retain balance. Gallwey believes that a much better strategy than managing stress is building mobility. The greater the stability, the more pressure one can withstand without losing balance.

And a good signal that it is time for s STOP is when working just isn't fun anymore.

Think like a CEO

This concept is about taking back ownership for your life and your actions.

What is the value of your company what are your inner resources, skills, emotions, humour etc? Now ask these questions: how much access do you have to each of these resources; how much access do you want; which of your resources have you developed and which have you ignored and, finally, who is deciding how they will be used?

If you were CEO of yourself, how many shares would you still control? How many have been stolen? How many have been given away? And how many have you traded for shares in another? Have your trades increased your balance sheet? If not, then it is time to repossess some of those shares. And certainly worth investing in some development of your capital base.

Inner Game coaching

Gallwey claims that it is particularly difficult for consultants to become coaches. People who are paid to have answers do not always find it easy to learn the skills that allow the client to come up with his own answers. Learning to coach involves learning to learn and understanding the benefits of being coached.

A major part of coaching is to get into the shoes of the client and to ensure that (s)he keeps ownership of the problem. "Put yourself in the person's shoes and ask yourself the following questions: What am I thinking? What am I feeling? What do I want?" A well known second position strategy for NLP practitioners.

The coach's questions are geared to finding out information not for the purpose of recommending solutions; to help the clients think for themselves and find their own solutions.

Inner Game coaching can be divided into three conversations: a conversation for awareness, a conversation for choice and conversation for trust to show more trust in the client's ability than the clients trust themselves.

The (Inner Game) coach:

  • Encourages acceptance of mobility.
  • Fosters a non-judgemental environment.
  • Provides learning/coaching tools as appropriate.
  • Provides another perspective and source of insight as needed.

Gallwey views coaching not so much as a process of adding as a process of subtracting or unlearning whatever is getting in the way of movement towards the client's desired goal; neither advice giving nor problem solving, but a process of facilitating their thinking while enhancing their own abilities to observe and learn.

If you want to know more, you will have to buy the book.

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