What is Your Game Within the Game?
Want to be really good? It takes patience, persistence, and practice!
“Game within the game” is an expression that comes from sports. Athletes are committed to improving as they play. This is different from practicing before a game. This is about choosing to focus on one aspect of their performance as they play their game.
You have probably used the same principle with your kids in soccer. In each game, you or their coach give them something to work on during the game:
-getting back faster on defense
-passing the ball quicker after receiving it
-maintaining the proper distance from team mates
The key to improving performance in any sphere is choosing a critical variable to work on, then working on it for two weeks until it becomes natural, intuitive, and available to you at all times.
Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.
In sports, you can practice between games. But in most areas of life—meetings, parenting, relationships, conversations—we aren’t given time to practice. We are just expected to go out there and be good every day.
Still, getting better at something takes deliberate practice. It requires choosing something to focus on and then working on that behavior until it becomes instinctive. Two weeks is a workable time frame. If you remind yourself as you begin each day, then reflect back on how you did at the end of the day, you’ll quickly create a new awareness.
Here are ten ideas you can practice to improve your meetings. Most of these ideas have broad application in life. Work on each for two weeks and you’ll begin to notice the idea as either present or missing; and with this awareness you’ll have a choice to change your normal response.
- Look for who is not yet participating in the conversation. Who is on the outside?
- Who interrupts whom? What happens to the interrupted person and the conversation that is interrupted?
- Note each time the conversation changes. Do not change a conversation without permission.
- Note every time someone promises to do something and no deadline is expressed.
- Look for the four key elements of effective conversation: clarity, candor, commitment and completion (clarity: clear, shared understanding of what was said; candor: being self-expressed; commitment: do X by Y; completion: we are not going to leave this topic until we are all ready to leave it).
- Set aside technology and be fully present. Notice when others are focused on their screens and their attention would make a difference.
- Practice focused speaking: Be clear, concise, and relevant.
- Each time humor is used in a conversation, ask yourself whether it added value to the conversation. Watch out for teasing and sarcasm.
- Watch your speaking: if you’re usually too fast, slow down; if you’re usually rambling, work on being more concise; if you’re too quiet, work on speaking up.
- Whenever you notice yourself wondering what someone means, ask for clarity. Stop guessing at what people mean.
Paul Axtell, author of Make Meetings Matter
For more on ways to transform meetings, check out Make Meetings Matter>>