The Inner Game of Winning – Head or Heart?

Are you one of life’s winners? Zig Ziglar, renowned salesman, author and motivational speaker, has a great quote about winning…. “You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win and expect to win”.  I love that quote!

It’s fairly common knowledge that when I’m not with clients, you’ll probably find me somewhere watching or playing tennis. I’m also a regular writer for By The Minute Tennis – a Twitter feed which provides minute-by-minute coverage of tennis – it’s even more challenging than a 30 day blog challenge! If I had an obsession in life, tennis would be it. It never fails to amaze me how two/four people focussing on a little yellow pressurised ball of rubber can create so much entertainment and emotion – from elation to despair and back again! If, like me, you’re an Andy Murray fan I know you know that particular emotional rollercoaster well. No offence, Andy – but you do like to keep us on the edge of our seats!

You may recognise the title of this post as a play on words on the work of the famous Timothy Gallwey. He has written several books on ‘The Inner Game’; I haven’t read them all but I have read the books that relate to tennis, golf and music. I like his observation that people ‘play’ sport and they ‘play’ music… yet, in truth, both involve hard work and discipline. Physical and Mental.  Gallwey speaks of the mental obstacles that inhibit excellence in performance: lapses in concentration, nervousness, self-doubt and self-condemnation. Any performer or competitor will have experienced these in some shape or form, but Gallwey explains that it is in overcoming these that “the player of the inner game uncovers a will to win which unlocks all his energy and which is never discouraged by losing”.

During Wimbledon, I was listening to Martina Navratilova talking about Andy Murray’s decision to work with a psychiatrist. She observed “we don’t often talk about the head”. My immediate response was to fire off a tweet saying ‘but surely matches are won and lost in the head’.  And matches are definitely lost there. But is that where a match is won? Immediately after posting that tweet I had a still small voice in my head suggesting that games are lost in the head, but they are actually won in the heart.  How many times have you heard the commentators talk about a winning player ‘playing out of their skin’?

But what if winning wasn’t about being out of your skin? What if winning was simply about playing out of your heart. Completely aligned and in connection with the very core of your being, whatever your true purpose that puts you in your personal Centre Court in the first place.  It occurs to me that this may be what Timothy Gallwey means when he talks about a “spontaneous performance which occurs only when the mind is calm and seems at one with the body, which finds its’ own surprising ways to surpass its’ own limits again and again.”

I think it is with head AND heart fully in play, truly aligned, playing full out, that matches are won. That’s how I serve my clients best too. You can find out more about the importance of alignment and authenticity here.

Head AND Heart.

Game, Set and Match.

Be unstoppable today!

Sue

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8 thoughts on “The Inner Game of Winning – Head or Heart?

  1. Enjoyed your post! I just started reading “Outliers The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell, and I was astonished at the information regarding the amount of practice–10,000 hours–that one has to put into something to become good at it. That takes lots of head and heart!

    1. Yes, the 10,000 hours is real investment in excellence, isn’t it. I first heard of that through Matthew Syed’s book, Bounce. Funny you should mention Malcolm Gladwell too – I’ve just started reading David & Goliath!

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