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Three tips for your inner game

A person with well-developed inner game can readily access quiet confidence, steady focus, the flow state, and a non-judgmental attitude.

And yet, 99% of all leadership trainings focus on your outer game. They help you understand that in situation X you should take action Y. They illustrate this through human knots, role playing, Venn diagrams, and other things that walk the line of being too corny to be worth it.

The inner game is everything that takes place in your head and it is the most important attribute of your leadership.

The reason trainers don’t spend time on inner game is because it’s harder to discuss, harder to grasp, and completely intangible.

It’s also more important for modern leaders than your outer game.

Once you master your inner game, the only thing left to develop is the habit of taking action when action is required.

Here are three strategies to help sharpen your inner game.

1) Use internal questions to stop judging and start learning. When something goes awry your natural reaction is to say to yourself, “You’re an idiot, you messed this up. You always do that.” Instead of berating yourself with insults and criticism, the next time you find yourself judging, replace the criticism with questions. For example, “What can I do to learn from this situation?”, “How can I fix this problem?”, “Is this really a problem?”, “What is my desired outcome right now? How can I achieve it?” By replacing judgments with questions you’ll unlock the potential to learn from your mistakes and you’ll realize that it was never a big deal to begin with. (Hat tip to my friend Marilee Adams)

2) Spend time meditating. Your life is filled with demands, distractions, and stressors. For a bit of time each day – even just 90 seconds – release yourself by sitting, closing your eyes, and focusing on your breath. This will release you from stress and unlock new levels of calm, confidence, and creativity.

3) Practice self-compassion. Self-compassion is about being kind to yourself. It’s about taking a spontaneous day off to sleep in and watch TV, about being cool with dropping a few balls, with ducking out of a meeting that’s boring you to death. And most of all, it’s about practicing warm forgiveness of your present and past mistakes. None of us will get it right all of the time. Honestly, some days I don’t even get it right most of the time. Self-compassion is about realizing that you’re human, you’re fallible, that it won’t always work out, and that it’s still totally, 100% ok, that you’re still an awesome, deserving human being.

The most valuable thing you can do for yourself is work on your inner game. Pick one strategy from the list above and work on it for a few minutes each day. As you improve your inner game you’ll notice shocking gains with your outer game. Use this power for good.

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