Mental models

Join me as we explore my latest coaching insights.

Mental models determine your thought processes about how things work. They shape your behaviours: how you work, solve problems, relate to people and think about yourself. Mental models are ingrained, fixed structures founded in your beliefs, habits, scripts and biases. They tell you what’s worked for you in the past – and therefore what you should do in a particular situation now. However, these mental models pose a challenge.

When I first heard people talking about ‘the inner game of tennis’, I didn’t pay much attention. Much less did I grasp the fundamental importance of Tim Gallwey’s 1974 now classic book about achieving peak performance in all walks of life, not just tennis. Inner game of tennisIn The Inner Game of Tennis, we learn that every game is composed of two parts, an outer game and an inner game. In the outer game, you play by a set of rules against an external opponent with the goal of winning. The outer game consists of the visible things you do and say; what others can see and hear.

Your effectiveness and satisfaction will be enhanced if you recognise there are two sides to everything. Two sides to everything creates paradoxes in our personal and professional lives and if you learn to manage the tensions posed by these paradoxes they become game changers for yourself, your team and your organisation.

Most of us will readily identify with this statement: What you say about yourself reflects your innermost beliefs about yourself. These beliefs include the importance of your role in your organisation, how much you have achieved in your work life, who your friends are, and how successful you have been in your close personal relationships. The statement is true whether you are talking to yourself (self-talk) or talking and interacting with others.