The Internal And External Game Of Self-Discipline And Focus

Mastery of any discipline often requires the mastery of both its internal and external game. In basic terms the ‘internal game’ can be thought of as your mindset, and the ‘external game’ the physical elements.

When we learn a new skill we often train the external/physical skill first and then look to develop the internal game as we improve our physical skill.

We can see this process in action in sport. When learning a new sport, emphasis is placed on the physical skill first. In golf, for example, the golfer learns to swing the club first and then strives to perfect their swing over the following years. Then as physical skill improves, more focus is shifted to the mental side of the game. At the highest level, the game is said to be won or lost on the strength of the internal game – without the internal game, the external game can fall to pieces under pressure. There are many sports that follow this pattern and self-discipline and focus are no different.

Self-discipline is the external/physical game – our actions and habit forming practices. Focus is the internal/mental game.

Practicing self-discipline by making physical actions is a great way to start forming a new habit, but without the internal game of focus our external efforts can soon fall by the wayside.

Self-discipline is ‘what‘ we’re doing – what new habits we are practicing.

Focus is the ‘how‘ and ‘why‘ we’re doing it.

When we combine self-discipline and focus together they support each other, helping us keep momentum in the things we are doing.