“Fortunately, most children learn to walk before they can be told how to by their parents.”
It is almost impossible to quantify the effect a book can have on an individual. I read, The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey, and the number of times I recommended this book to friends and family is extraordinary high. This book fascinates me for two reasons. Firstly, my special love for tennis. Secondly, and most importantly, the book tackles a topic of personal development, which bothered me for years.
I get the impression that the society we live in is a highly judgmental one. In an era of advanced social media interaction, where even small details of each one's life can be exposed to the world, the fear of judgment by friends, relatives, and coworkers is highly evident. Nonetheless, it is my personal belief that our greatest judge, often a cruel and unfair one, is our own self.
“When the mind is free of any thought or judgment, it is still and acts like a mirror. Then and only then can we know things as they are.”
If you have ever played tennis or in fact, any sport, when you miss a shot your inner self will most definitely gear up all its strength and create a monologue by which it will find all the evidence in the world to demotivate you and prove why you are not worthy. “ You always do this!”, “You can’t even hold the racket properly!”, “You are s***!” & the nonsense continues!
Then comes, FOCUS! “Come on man! backswing — keep your racket low for god's sake & follow-through, just play deep — is it that hard?”. And from a tennis player, I become some sort of a human-robot trying to imitate a movement.
“Fighting the mind does not work. What works best is learning to focus it.”
“Letting it happen is not making it happen. It is not trying hard.”
According to Gallwey, focussing is about freeing your mind rather than dictating it to follow an action plan. Embrace tennis, embrace the movement and just let the swing happen. Think about something you are really good at. Is it cooking, studying, or maybe partying! Now ask yourself to come up with a manual on how you do this thing really successfully. To save you time, don’t bother. The things we are really good at, we perform them naturally because we are able to fully focus, show interest, and be relaxed.
“Focus is not achieved by staring hard at something. It is not trying to force focus, nor does it mean thinking hard about something. Natural focus occurs when the mind is interested. When this occurs, the mind is drawn irresistibly toward the object (or subject) of interest. It is effortless and relaxed, not tense and overly controlled.”
Oftentimes, and I plead guilty on this, we put too much pressure on ourselves to achieve a goal. We become obsessed, developing methodologies and strategies. Instead, I propose to “let it happen” and just enjoy the ride. In the middle of a game, if I have a bad shot — I'll just let it be, rise up (no judgment, no conclusions derived), and get ready for the next point. Similarly, if I have a great shot — I'll just let it be, rise up (no judgment, no conclusions derived), and get ready for the next point!
“the inner game. This is the game that takes place in the mind of the player, and it is played against such obstacles as lapses in concentration, nervousness, self-doubt and self-condemnation. In short, it is played to overcome all habits of mind which inhibit excellence in performance.”
When Children start to walk, they fail & fail. They never give up though and they don’t follow any strategy, they try and let it be…