Winter is a time of hibernation, starkness and, after the busy holidays, can be a time of reflection. As the New Year sets in, we start to think about the year past and the year ahead.
For me this is the perfect time to think of your “inner game”, the one that is played internally, in your mind. It is the deep core of your character which helps overcome “inner” obstacles such as anxiety, self-doubt or fear. Most leaders focus their time addressing external hurdles and obstacles, but the more I do this work, the more I believe, that mastering the inner game of leadership is as important as mastering the outer (or external )competencies.
This concept of “inner game” was made popular 15 to 20 years ago through the books of sports coach and consultant Tim Gallwey, whose idea has proved to be timeless.
It’s all about finding ways to constantly grow in the character strengths that are key to any great leader. Think about it – in truly inspirational leaders — from Gandhi to Bill Gates — character is an integral part of their achievements and who they are in the world.
It’s not always easy for leaders, particularly at the top of organizations, to recognize a need to learn and grow – as a person – and then to actually follow through. It takes deep self-awareness, humility and commitment to putting yourself in play in such a fundamental way.
So here’s my holiday wish for you: That you find time this season to do some deep reflecting on your inner game and on the key ways you can grow your internal “core”. What will help you ground yourself better? Do you need to update or clarify vision? Do you need to refocus your values? Do you need to work on listening to your intuition more? Here are some questions to help you in your thinking:
- What do I need to learn to enhance my leadership presence?
- Where and with whom can I ask questions and practice these skills?
- Who can help me? Which resources are available to me?
- How do I like to learn and grow?
So give yourself the gift that keeps on giving – invest in strengthening your internal core! And as all those who work-out know, core strength drives everything you do, including driving the way you deal with external challenges.
What do you think?