Half Man Half Noodle

The secret to winning any game lies in not trying too hard

Today is about simplifying. Looking at a concept taken from “The Inner Game of Tennis.” Similar to “Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” and “The Art of War” this book isn’t solely about Tennis but about the mind.

The player of the inner game comes to value the art of relaxed concentration above all other skills; he discovers a true basis for self-confidence; and he learns that the secret to winning any game lies in not trying too hard. – W. Timothy Gallwey

This means letting go of judgment, attachment, the desire to control situations outside of yourself whilst enjoying what you’re doing.

Quiet the mind. Relax. The greatest lapses in concentration come when we allow our minds to project what is about to happen or to dwell on what has already happened. It’s perplexing to wonder why we ever leave the here and now. Here and now are the only place and time when one ever enjoys himself or accomplishes anything. Most of our suffering takes place when we allow our minds to imagine the future or mull over the past.

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. When I’m concerned only about winning, I’m caring about something that I can’t wholly control. Whether I win or lose the external game is a result of my opponent’s skill and effort as well as my own. When one is emotionally attached to results that he can’t control, he tends to become anxious and then try too hard. But one can control the effort he puts into winning.

Inner stability is achieved not by burying one’s head in the sand at the sight of danger, but by acquiring the ability to see the true nature of what is happening and to respond appropriately. Instability, in contrast, is a condition of being in which we are more easily thrown off balance when Self 1 gets upset by an event or circumstance. Maybe wisdom is not so much to come up with new answers as to recognise at a deeper level the profundity of the age-old answers.

*Buying the book is the best course of action as it supports the author. In the mean time there’s a great collection of notes from the book here.