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Outer Game vs Inner Game

Updated: Feb 5

In sports psychology, the concept of inner game and outer game is well regarded. They have a phrase "the inner game runs the outer game". They understand that to perform at your best best, you need to develop your mindset and attitude, as well as your technique and skills.

In relation to the world of work, the outer game would be all the skills, techniques, approaches, and knowledge we learn and develop to perform in our roles.

Organisations understand well the value of developing their staff's outer game and so throughout my career I attended many conference, workshops and training events on things like volunteer management, donor recruitment, event organising etc.

But the inner game is about the attitudes, beliefs and perceptions that influence the way we think, feel and behave, which ultimately impact our success. There is less consensus on the value of investing

in our inner game at work.

Let's take an example from the world of charity fundraising. Recent data shows that the economic downturn is having negligible impact on charitable giving. Rather, the challenges facing fundraising teams today is the cumulative exhaustion and despair felt from retention and recruitment issues, increased demands upon staff and the blurring of the lines between work and home.

Many of my clients in the past year have come to me on a journey towards a burnout. Their passion for their organisations and a sense of having to go above and beyond when things are busy has them neglecting their own needs.

We need to start a conversion about what a happy, healthy and effective inner game looks like for workplaces and staff because ultimately, if we continue on the path we are on, the current recruitment and retention crisis will be here for the long term and we will continue to lose more talented and passionate professionals.

What have you done to improve your inner game or that of your team? Comment below!

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