On The Inner Game of Tennis

I recently finished reading The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey.

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found insightful:

It is the thesis of this book that neither mastery nor satisfaction can be found in the playing of any game nor without giving some attrition to the relatively new relatively neglected skills of 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.

Getting it together mentally in tennis involves the learning of several internal skills: 1) learning to program your computer Self 2 with images rather than instructing yourself with words; 2) learning to trust thyself  (Self 2) to do what you (Self 1) ask of it This means letting Self 2 hit the ball and 3) learning to see ”nonjudgmentally”—that is, to see what is happening rather than merely noticing how well or how badly it is happening. This overcomes “trying too hard.” All these skills are subsidiary to the master skill, without which nothing of value is ever achieved: the art of concentration.

The first inner skill to be developed in the Inner Game is that of nonjudgmental awareness. When we “Unlearn” judgment we discover, usually with some surprise, that we don’t need the motivation rf a reformer to change our “bad” habits.There is a more natural process of learning and performing waiting to be discovered. It is waiting to show what it can do when allowed to operate without interference from the conscious strivings of the  judgmental ego-mind. The discovery of and reliance upon this process is the subject of the next chapter.

The main job of Self 1, the conscious ego-mind, is to set goals, that is, to communicate to Self 2 what he wants from it and then to let Self 2 do it.

The time for change comes when we realize that the same function could be served in a better way.

Step 1 – Observe, Nonjudgmentally, Existing Behavior…Step 2 Ask Yourself to Change, Programming with Image and Feel…Step3 Let It Happen! Step 4: Nonjudgmental, Calm Observation of the Results Leading to Continuing Observation of Process until Behavior Is in Automatic…Step 4 Observation.

By increasing the effective power of awareness, concentration allows us to throw more light on whatever we value knowing, and to that extent enables us to know and enjoy it more.

Children who have been taught to measure themselves in this way often be come adults driven by a compulsion to succeed which overshadows all else. The tragedy of this belief is not that they will fail to find the success they seek, but that they will not discover the love or even tithe self-respect they were led to believe will come with it. Furthermore, in their single-minded pursuit of measurable success, the development of many other human potentialities is sadly neglected.

On a closing note:

Winning is overcoming obstacles to reach a goal, but the value in winning is only as great as the value of the goal reached. Reaching the goal itself may not be as valuable as the experience that can come in making a supreme effort to overcome the obstacles involved. The process can be more rewarding than the victory itself.

A highly recommended read in the area of personal development.


On The Great Game Of Business

I recently finished reading The Great Game of Business – Unlocking the Power and Profitability of Open-Book Management – by Jack Stack with Bo Burlingham.

Through this book Jack outlines his open-book management framework – which he calls “The Game” – while at SRC. As he states: “What lies at the heart of the Game is a very simple proposition: The best, most efficient, most profitable way to operate a business is to give everybody in the company a voice in saying how the company is run and a stake in the financial outcome, good or bad.” The ensuing chapters discuss the various aspects of this framework, covering a breadth of topics such as vision, goals, compensation etc. Below is an outline of these topics:

“1- Why teach people how to make money: On profit in general, On your company’s profits, On making money and generating cash, On jobs and job security, On wealth and wealth creation.

2- Myths of management: On the danger of telling the truth, On the danger of being a “nice guy”, On the role of the manager, On motivation.

3- The feeling of a winner: On the credibility of management, On the attitude of employees, On pride and ownership, On starting games, On celebrating wins.

4- The big picture: On defining the big picture, On Sharing the big picture, On moving people around the company, On sending mixed messages, On Connecting with communities outside the company.

5- Open-book management: On taking the emotions out of the business, On being the least-cost producer, On the fear of competitors, On the fear of employees, On sharing compensation figures.

6- Setting Standards: On critical numbers, On the purpose of standard costs, On setting up a standard cost system, On absorbing overhead.

7- Skip the praise – give us the raise: On designing the bonus program, On the effectiveness of the bonus program, On the size of the potential bonuses, On the issue of equal payouts, On educating with bonuses.

8- Coming up with the game plan: On budgets and game plans, On the sales forecast, On getting people to buy in, On changing the plan as the year goes along.

9- The great huddle: On staff meetings, On putting names on the numbers, On the timing of meetings, On the role of the Leader, On writing the numbers down.

10- A company of owners: On equity in general, On long-term thinking, On playing the game in employee-owned companies, On playing the game without the equity tool, On participation versus democracy in business.

11- The highest level of thinking: On the cost of health care and other benefits, On creating new opportunities for people, On cash-flow generators and overhead absorbers, On the hunger for ownership.

12- The ultimate higher law: a message to middle managers: On getting your boss to play the game, On playing the game without the boss, On having fun.”

A great educative book on management, that promotes openness, transparency and effectiveness!

Below are excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “The only way to be secure is to make money and generate cash. Everything else is a means to that end. Those simple rules apply to every business. And yet, at most companies, people are never told that the survival of the company depends on doing those two things…most important, no one tells people how to make money and generate cash.

2- “People only get beyond work when their motivation is coming from the inside…Management is all about instilling that desire to win. It’s about instilling self-esteem and pride, that special glow you get when you know you’re a winner. Nobody has to tell you. You just feel it. You know it.”

3- “Along the way, we learned some lessons about the kind of games and goals that work best: 1) Business is a team sport – choose games that build a team. 2) Be positive, build confidence. 3) Celebrate every win. 4) It’s got to be a game. 5) Give everyone the same set of goals. 6) Don’t use goals to tell people everything you want them to do.”

4- “I found out that people who had worked in two or more jobs had a whole different attitude about business. Cooperation was great. They were much better at seeing the other guy’s perspective. They understood how different functions fit together, how the depended on each other.”

5- “The best argument for open-book management is this: the more educated your work force is about the company, the more capable it is of doing the little things required to get better.”

6- “When you use financial statements as management tools, you have to adapt to your purposes…How you do that depends entirely on your business, but here are some general rules to follow: 1) Start with the income statement. 2) Highlight the categories where you spend most money. 3) Break down categories into controllable elements. 4) Use the income statement to educate people about the balance sheet.”

7- “The real power of the bonus program lies in its ability to educate people about business. Once they understand the math, they see how everything fits together, and how business can be a tool for getting them what they want. And it all does fit together. The system really works. You can’t criticize it because it is simply a reflection of reality. You can criticize individuals. You can take people to task for the way they do business. You can go after the ones who are greedy, who only want to help themselves, who exploit other people for personal gain. But the fault lies in those individuals, not in the nature of capitalism.”

8- “That’s because a company of owners will outperform a company of employees any day of the week..When you think like an owner, you do all the little things necessary to win…But people will only thing like owners if they have a larger purpose, if they are not just working for a paycheck…People have to see the Big Picture. They have to know what they are doing, why it’s important, where they are going, and how business is helping them get there. Only then will they have the desire to go out and use the tools you provide and play the Great Game of Business to win.”

9- “…”Everyone who comes fishin’ here gits the same number of bites. The only difference between thems that catch the fish and thems that don’t is preparation and concentration. You gotta make sure your hook is sharp and your line don’t have no nicks. Then you gotta watch that line. You pay attention to them little things, and you’ll catch all the fish you kin handle.” I think of that story whenever I run into people who don’t know what to do with their lives because there just aren’t enough opportunities around. I also think of it when I hear about companies laying people off because their services aren’t needed, because there isn’t enough work for them, because the opportunities have all dried up. What a waste. There are opportunities everywhere – opportunities to grow, opportunities to start new businesses, opportunities to create jobs and absorb overhead. Everybody gets the same number of bites. You catch the fish when you’re prepared and ready to respond.”


Omar Halabieh

The Great Game of Business

The Great Game of Business

On The Essential Wooden

I just finished reading The Essential Wooden – A Lifetime of Lessons on Leaders and Leadership by John Wooden and Steve Jamison. As the title indicates this book condenses coach Wooden’s philosophies on leadership. What is truly surprising is the applicability of these principles to the corporate world just as much as that on the court.

The fundamental basis of Wooden’s coaching philosophy is best described in the preface: “…success. as measured by each one of us individually, is the peace of mind derived from making the absolute and complete effort to do the best of which you are capable. The quality of our effort to realize your potential counts first and foremost. For John Wooden that is success. And it is different from winning – beating an opponent in basketball, business, or life.” Built on that is Wooden’s infamous pyramid of success which captures the beliefs, behaviors and character attributes required to reach success – “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best you are capable of becoming.”

I personally have not watched Wooden coach a game, or follow his championship winning teams – but I can tell through reading this book that he was and through his work continues to be a great leader and inspiration. A highly recommended read, in which everyone can find numerous lessons to be learned and applied.

Below are some excerpts that I found particularly insightful:

1- “Here is Dad’s simple guide for knowing what is right: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.””

2- “Adversity makes you tougher, more capable of dealing with trouble the next time it comes looking for you. Over and over I’ve seen the great benefit that comes to those who face adversity. Tough times make you tougher. A free ride isn’t free.”

3- “The Pyramid of Success: Industriousness, friendship, loyalty, cooperation, enthusiasm, self-control, alertness, initiative, intentness, condition, skill, team spirit, poise, confidence, faith, patience, competitive greatness -> Success ”

4- “How to teach: 1- Explanation, 2- Demonstration, 3- Imitation (correction when necessary) 4- Repetition”

5- “10 Team Tips: 1) Be thinking at all times. 2- If you do your best, never lose your temper, and never be out-fought or out-hustled, you’ll have nothing to worry about. 3- Without faith and courage, you are lost. 4- Have respect for, without fear of, every opponent, and confidence without cockiness in regard to yourself. 5- Never be a spectator. Be in the fight at all times. 6- Unselfish team play and team spirit are two of the foremost essentials for our success. 7- We have tough battles ahead. Enjoy the thrill of being in a hard fight. 8- Never stoop to playing dirty – play hard and don’t complain. 9- Be sure you acknowledge and give credit to a teammate who hits you with a scoring pass or for any fine play he may make. 10- Be a competitor. When the going gets tough, really get going.”

6- “My normal expectations of team members: 1- Always be a gentleman. 2- Always be a team player. 3- Always be on time whenever time is involved. 4- Always be learning. 5- Always be enthusiastic, dependable, and cooperative. 6- Always be earning the right to be proud and confident.7- Always keep emotions under control without loosing fight or aggressiveness. 8- Be spirited, not temperamental. 9- Always work to improve, knowing you can never improve enough.”

7- “Everybody’s got buttons, including you. The smart leader knows where the buttons are on those under his or her supervision. The wise leader also knows where his or her own buttons are.”

8- “Admonitions and Truisms: 1- Do nothing that will bring discredit to the team. 2- Develop great personal pride in all aspects of your job. 3- The player who has done his best has done everything, while the player who has done less than his best is a failure. 4- Competition is perhaps 50 percent fight and 50 percent knowledge. 5- Truly believe that you are better than your opponent in fighting spirit and you will be mighty difficult to defeat.”

9- “Suggestions for all team members: 1- Never nag, razz, or criticize a teammate. 2- Never expect favors. 3- Never make excuses. 4- Never be selfish, jealous, envious, or egotistical. 5- Never lose faith or patience. 6- Never waste time. 7- Never load, sulk, or boast. 8- Never require repeated criticism for the same mistake. 9- Never have reason to be sorry afterward.”

10- “Good leadership requires all the resources of the head and heart you can muster. Too much from the head and you forget all leadership is about people; too much from the heart and you can’t make those tough decisions that may hurt some of those people.”

11- “Seven ways to make your criticism count: 1- Get all of the facts. 2- Don’t lash out. 3- Be specific. 4- Don’t make it personal. 5- Do it privately to avoid embarrassment. 6- Only the leader gives criticism. 7- Once done, it’s done.”

12- “The leader’s to-do list: 1- Promote sincerity, optimism, and enthusiasm. 2- Stamp out pessimism and negative sarcasm. 3- Recognize the value of a valid commendation. 4- When disagreeing, do not become disagreeable. 5- Make sure each person understands his or her specific role in making the team a success.”

13- “Promise yourself: 1- Promise to be so strong that nothing can disturb your piece of mind. 2- Promise to be as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are of your own. 3- Promise to be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the press of trouble.”


Omar Halabieh

The Essential Wooden

The Essential Wooden

On Winning

I have just finished reading Winning by Jack Welch. This book summarizes the key learnings of one of the greatest CEOs of all time in Jack Welch. As the book title indicates, it is about winning in the corporate world and getting ahead. It is divided into four main parts: the first called “Underneath it All” in which the foundational elements of a successful company are laid out – mission and values, candor, differentiation, and voice and dignity. The second, “Your Company” discusses the mechanics of an organization – leadership, hiring, people management, parting ways, change and crisis management. The third part of this book is “Your Competition”, with topics discussed such as strategy, budgeting, organic growth, mergers and acquisitions, and Six Sigma. Finally the last section of the book “your career” focused on one professional life with topics such as – the right job, getting promoted, hard spots, work-life balance.

What makes this book unique is the breadth of topics discussed. It really serves as a primer for anyone looking to navigate his way through the corporate world. While it is hard to summarize the many learnings contained within this book, below are some excerpts which I found particularly profound:

-“When you are an individual contributor, you try to have all the answers. That’s your job…When you are a leader, your job is to have all the questions.”

-On Change ” 1- Attach very change initiative to a clear purpose or goal. Change for change’s sake is stupid and enervating. 2- Hire and promote only true believers and get-on-with-it types. 3- Ferret out and get rid of resisters, even if their performance is satisfactory. 4- Look at car wrecks.”

-” The 4-E (And 1-P) Framework – The first E is positive energy. -The second E is the ability to energize others. – The third E is edge, the courage to make tough yes-or-no decisions. – Which leads us to the fourth E – execute – the ability to get the job done. – If a candidate has the four Es, then you look for that final P – passion.

Given the scope of the book, one can’t expect that it covers each of the topics in depth. What it does though, is server as an eye openers on areas/aspects of one’s career that were perhaps missed/over-looked.

If you had to read one book this year, I would recommend Winning!


Omar Halabieh