The “inner” game…

Tim Gallwey’s seminal book, The Inner Game of Tennis teaches one of the most fundamental aspects of performance — learning to trust yourself.

If you were looking for a formula, here it is:

Performance = Potential – Interference

In the book, Tim also talks about your two selves — Self 1 and Self 2.

Self 1 is the conscious mind. One that possesses all the worldly knowledge and wisdom. It’s the ultimate know-it-all that’s inside of us all. Think of Self 1 as the post-it note. Super-utilitarian and comes handy.

Self 2 is the subconscious mind. Almost always childlike, curious and full of potential. Think of Self 2 as a NASA (Space X?) super-computer! The power’s just waiting to be unleashed.

Despite the galactic differences, we all habitually succumb to Self 1. So much so that we just can’t help it! Blame it on our conditioning, influences, past experiences, beliefs, and values.

Self 1 is destructive! All that self-talk is coming from Self 1… because Self 2 doesn’t need all that talk. It just believes you can do it!

One of the best examples of a typical Self 1 ruining it for himself would be my own!

Picture this, I — a pretty tough (not competitive, but good enough thanks to all that professional coaching I had for a while) invite my best friend for a friendly game of squash. Now, my friend hasn’t held a squash racquet in his hands. Ever.

I simply tell him how to hold the racquet, basics about serves and scoring points. He says, “I’m set… let’s get started.” I’m surprised… deep down I’m thinking “I can’t make him run. He’s overweight… and he has to take it easy. I will try not to crush him. He’s my best friend after all!”

15 minutes later… my friend walked out of the court drenched in sweat. I follow him on the way out… I’m angry. He beat me 15-8! Holy crap! What the hell happened? I had no freaking clue! The worst part — he was playing barefoot! (It’s against the rules, but I just wanted to give him a taste of squash. Who knew?)

He and I kept up with squash for like 6 months… and despite the fact that I had superior technique, speed, agility and a good presence on the court… he won 75% of all the matches we’d played!

He didn’t even believe in warmups! Get this — during winters, while I use to warm up… he warmed the freaking ball up! By smashing it into the wall over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over…. into a hot spongy ball!

Get this… during winters

Switching to powerlifting was both tactical and practical. The latter because our schedules got busier and I joined a new organization. Tactical because I was a sore loser and couldn’t understand (or perhaps my ego couldn’t take it!) why the hell was I losing all those matches! So, I chose the road less traveled… powerlifting… just me and the weights. And nobody would know. 😉

Now that I think about it, my friend was totally relying on Self 2 to play and win against someone who’s far better (physically, statistically and logically) him! While I was thinking about using a backhand or a smash or some other mumbo-jumbo… he eyes were locked into the ball. And nothing else.

In my case, the Self 1 was doing all the talking. Thus, interfering. Whereas my friend, simply leveraged his Self 2 to unleash his potential resulting in a consistent outstanding performance.

Performance = Potential (S2) – Interference (S1)

Hence, proved? Unsure, but if you care enough about your performance you ought to think about it.

Interesting Links:

The Inner Game Of Everything: Why Is A Four-Decade-Old Tennis Book Still A Self-Help Sensation?

Philosophy for Life: Inner Game of Tennis