Helping People Win Their Inner Games

Inspired by ‘The Inner Game of Tennis’ by Tim Gallwey

Many have read the work of Steve Peters and Chimp Management and the principles it has derived from other models that can be summarised as ‘the opponent in one’s own head is more daunting than the opponent on the other side of the net’.  We all have an outer game at work which is the way we present our professional knowledge to colleagues, patients and relatives, along with the techniques we have developed to build rapport in a very short space of time to smooth the path of sharing information.  However, the inner game for many doctors is all about how we keep our positive thinking, resilience and persistence in very trying times.

There are seven core mental attributes that we can build in others as leaders and educators which can support them to overcome their own inner mental battles and build their confidence and resilience:

  1.  Responsibility; We cannot be responsible for what happens in every aspect of our life but we can develop a level of awareness through feedback and good role models that enables us to accept responsibility when we are in control.  For example, we cannot affect how many members of the team who are absent from the rota, but we can take responsibility for gathering the remainder of the team around and having a quick problem solution sharing session to minimise the impact of this loss.
  2. Awareness; Conscious awareness leads to unconscious improvement.  Supporting others to become more aware of the complexities of their experiences through reflection enables us to make small adjustments to our approach that impacts on our performance.
  3. Focus; Focus is often confused with ‘trying harder’ which can lead to stress and burnout, but it is more about directing our awareness on the right things.  Being able to support colleagues to explore where their current focus on completing activities are and making adjustments can enable tasks to be completed more efficiently.  Small tweaks to accuracy and the time taken to undertake procedures can make a huge difference to not only the individual but also their team.
  4. Relaxation; Self-talk (the inner game) is unhelpful white noise that interferes with our conscious thinking.  What small techniques to calm the mind might work for this individual?  For Usain Bolt he won three Olympic records whilst chewing gum!  One doctor shared that every hour he forced himself to walk around the outside of the building once and that short input of fresh air and greenery made him feel more
  5. Trust; It is tough being a leader and an educator when we a dealing with challenging colleagues, and through this we have to be confident within ourselves that when we are supporting these colleagues that our best intentions will be accepted on face value.  Taking a reflective questions approach is very powerful and enabling to allow people to explore problems and solutions from their inner reserves and to walk away with progress.
  6. Detachment; Encouraging others to detach themselves from situations and take a helicopter view, enables them to notice things that they may not have been able to see within the moment or its immediate aftermath.  A leader’s role is to enable this to happen and go give the space and security to do so.
  7. Response; In a work situation, not many people have a choice about whether they are involved, but they do have a choice as to how they act in that situation.  Everyone has the ability to make a choice, and they also have a choice as to whether they seek support or advice if they are not sure.  Role model effectively and people’s awareness about how to react becomes subconscious and painless

Dedici Workshop recommendations:

  • Applying Sport Psychology to Improve Clinical Performance 0.5 day
  • Introduction to Emotional Intelligence 0.5 day
  • Coaching Tips & Tools 0.5 day
  • Introduction to Coaching Skills
  • Coaching & Mentoring for Healthcare Professionals
  • Managing challenging colleagues

Please contact us on to attend or arrange an event!

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