The Inner Game of Work - Summary and Key Ideas

The Inner Game of Work explores a new way of thinking about work, focusing on the concept of 'the inner game' - the battle against internal obstacles. It provides practical advice on how to achieve a state of 'work free', where work becomes a medium for personal growth and development, and where learning and doing are seen as one and the same.

The target group of "The Inner Game of Work" includes professionals across various fields, managers, and individuals interested in personal development and improving their performance at work.

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The Inner Game of Work

Key ideas


Focus of attention, a skill requiring practice and conscious effort, is the cornerstone of superior performance and understanding of the world around us.


Focusing on observable, interesting, and relevant variables enhances performance and goal achievement.

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Enjoyment in work, often misconceived as a sign of less effort, actually enhances engagement, creativity, and productivity, thus improving overall workforce performance.

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The key to optimal performance lies in balancing the critical thinking of Self 1 with the intuitive action of Self 2.

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The STOP tool, standing for Step back, Think, Organize your thoughts, and Proceed, enhances productivity by promoting conscious, deliberate action in the workplace.

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Coaching fosters self-reliance and empowerment by guiding individuals to find their own solutions, rather than providing direct answers.

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Understanding transcends mere information gathering, requiring comprehension of components and their relationships for effective decision-making and performance.

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The continuous refinement and development of both technical and non-technical skills, tailored to individual needs, is the pathway to expertise and success.

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Reflective thinking, akin to sitting in a spaceship's captain chair, is a transformative tool that enhances understanding, decision-making, and performance by offering different perspectives, creating a conducive 'think space', and challenging assumptions with probing questions.

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Learning goals, driven by individual interests and needs, are internal changes in capability that transform work experiences into valuable learning opportunities, contributing to personal and professional growth.

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Questions serve as catalysts for critical thinking, collaboration, and personal growth, enhancing our understanding and enriching our lives.

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Summary & Review

The Inner Game of Work by W. Timothy Gallwey explores the concept of the 'Inner Game', a term coined by Gallwey to describe the internal mental struggle that often inhibits performance and satisfaction at work. The book provides insights into how individuals can enhance their learning, performance, and satisfaction at work by overcoming self-imposed obstacles. Gallwey argues that traditional methods of teaching and coaching often hinder performance and suggests alternative approaches that foster a more satisfying workplace.

W. Timothy Gallwey

W. Timothy Gallwey is an American author and educator, widely recognized as a leading figure in the development of the field of sports psychology. He is best known for his innovative methods in coaching and performance enhancement, particularly in tennis.

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