The inner game is a concept described by Tim Gallwey in his Inner Game series of books. It originated in Gallwey’s practice of Zen meditation and subsequently became a way to overcome self-imposed obstacles that inhibit individuals and teams from accessing their full potential. It is widely used in a variety of coaching models from sports coaching to personal coaching.

Gallwey sums it up with this formula:

Performance =potentialinterferenceP=pi. According to this formula, performance can be enhanced either by growing “p” potential or by decreasing “i,”interference.”

Its beauty is in its simplicity; its power in its remarkable effectiveness. 

In every human endeavor there are two arenas of engagement: the outer and the inner. The outer game is played on an external arena to overcome external obstacles to reach an external goal. The inner game takes place 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 played to overcome the self-imposed obstacles that prevent an individual or team from accessing their full potential.

The Inner Game brings structure and clarity to the Zen portion of the Ken of Zen coaching model. It is played to overcome all habits of mind which inhibit excellence in your performance. I am grateful to Tim Gallwey and his Inner Game books. They have provided me with a crucial understanding of the importance of removing the inner obstacles to maximizing potential and making sustainable performance improvements. As such these principles are embedded in the very heart of how I coach.

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