My startup’s product gives companies automatic visibility –no added work or key entry from anyone— into their business relationships – everyone involved, the ongoing discussions, meetings occurred and upcoming, and more. We’re built on the premise that transparency yields greater sales results. This shouldn’t be too much of a shock when you consider how teams (sales teams, sports teams, etc.) frequently put communication as the cornerstone of team strategies.
Of course, visibility gives leaders and managers capacity to coach team members. Coaches review game film with players for coaching – pre-game or post. For our customers, it’s enlightening when leadership tout the coaching aspect of our product. For many, it’s a key one benefit they hadn’t thought of, but rises as just as powerful as their original buying intent.
I’ve always been a fan of coaching. Coaching is how players (in any role) get better (+ practice). It’s how C players become B players, B players to A players, and so on.
When was the last time you were coached? Why? Did you ask for it? Did you accept it? What was the outcome?
Heck, reviewing history, especially our “last game” (soccer game, sales call, etc.), enables us to coach ourselves. This was a great point I noticed after reading Inner Game of Tennis. Self-reflection –watching and listening to ourselves– is a fantastic way to coach ourselves.
For the most part, we want to be better versions of ourselves. Sometimes, that means trying harder. Sometimes, that means trying more often. Coaching by a peer, a leader, or ourselves gives us the chance to make whatever effort we use moreeffective.
Look for coaches. Ask for coaching. Be a coach.
I just finished the book the Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey. It’s a classic – expressing the key to developing mental fortitude using tennis as the vehicle.
The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey
I was intrigued about the book after Tom Brady cited it as a key reading for him in developing mental strength. This was cited in an interview after Brady orchestrated the largest comeback in Super Bowl history, coming back from 28-3 to defeat my Atlanta Falcons 34-28.
Being a competitive athlete (less so on a team these days and more in “self” settings) and an entrepreneur, developing mental strength is an ongoing practice. The pressure athletes like Tom Brady and great entrepreneurs face on the brink of failure (listen to any number of episodes of NPR’s “How I Built This”) is astonishing. Being able to keep going and overcome obstacles and have ­grit is hugely interesting to me.
Without further ado, here are my main take-aways from Gallwey’s Inner Game of Tennis:
  • Self 1 vs. Self 2. Gallwey points out the inner battle between the mental (Self 1; read: mind) and the “human” side (Self 2). A good illustration of this is when striking a ball with the racket, the human body and brain are smart moving in a way to strike the ball. However, when the ball is not struck well, a player can be frustrated – yelling at himself to strike it better. From here, the player’s mind (Self 1) is now in control with much focus on how to strike the ball which only motivates the player to keep thinking too much about how to strike the ball. This prohibits the natural learning process of the body & mind (Self 2) to make the right adjustments.
  • The “natural self” (Self 2). Gallwey points out how each person is the perfect version of himself or herself. However, the mind gets in the way trying to be “better”. The natural self, however, knows how to improve. Gallwey points out how young children learn how to crawl, walk, talk by themselves. Children’s minds do not interfere and try to teachthe body how to walk. Instead, the body moves, learns, adapts, and tries again.
  • Reviewing the self. As a tennis instructor, Gallwey used to instruct his clients how to swing. Most of the time, however, players would already know what they would need to do. They still did not do it. Then, Gallwey instructed players to watch their reflections in how they strike the ball. The players watched and realized how they should swing their rackets – it was not any different from what instructors had said. However, this gave clients the ability to self-assess and visualize the proper way of swinging. No other coaching was needed. Their movements would improve on their own.

I appreciated Gallwey’s book identifying Self 1 and Self 2. Unsure if there were many more take-aways that others would get out of the book. However, my focus points were about the need to bifurcate the mind from what the player (the true self) knows what to do. Overthinking is all too common which can paralyze the player.

In everyday practice in the business world, this appears when I, especially, can get caught up in how to perform sales calls. I know what I need to do, but developing and sticking to specific scripts makes me overthink. This, then, prohibits a natural conversation with prospects.
Check out the book, and see what you pick up. I’m sure you will also focus on Self 1 and Self 2. However, there may be other lessons from the book that resonate deeper than the concept of the bifurcated Self.