Chuck Nathan calls it a mini-disaster avoided. A warehouse manager at Amtext Inc., the Miami college-textbook wholesaler Nathan founded in 1985, had overlooked a key variable in a decision that was going to cost the 55-person company big money. At the last minute, a member of a departmental team Nathan set up noticed the error...and the day was saved. "Just that one decision is going to make a significant difference in the company's profitability [over] the next couple of years," says the 48-year-old entrepreneur.
Chalk another one up to "the inner game," a concept developed and popularized by writer and trainer Timothy Gallwey. Nathan credits the successful save to the department's ability to work effectively and team-building training his managers received a year earlier from Gallwey. The idea behind the inner game is pretty simple: By removing inner obstacles such as self-monitoring, you can dramatically improve your ability to focus, learn and perform. Gallwey has written a series of books and conducted many speeches and seminars on applying the idea to sports, business and other areas.
Since publishing the first in the series, The Inner Game of Tennis (Random House), 25 years ago and embarking on a fruitful career as a business consultant, Gallwey's client list has grown to include companies small and large, including Apple, AT&T, Coca-Cola and IBM.
Applying the inner game can help entrepreneurs improve employee retention, boost productivity and effectiveness, and encourage faster and better learning of important skills, says Gallwey. Nathan agrees with all that, but also includes the benefits of better financial performance and heightened personal enjoyment of work. "As the CEO of the company, I've got to be focused on the bottom line and productivity," says Nathan, "but I also want to enjoy what I'm doing."