A funny thing happened to me at a my most recent mastermind group meeting. Our group meets twice a year for a few days at a time, so for me it’s a special occasion that I look forward to.

On the second day, my friend and fellow mastermind member Des leaned over and asked me, “Is everything okay, May?” He looked so concerned that I started to worry too.

Was I looking unwell? Had I said something that upset others without knowing it? Or maybe it was my jet lag kicking in given the 8-hour time difference from London?

The Inner Game vs Outer Game

All my initial thoughts centered around what Des was seeing about me… in essence, my “Outer Game”, which was all about whether I looked or sounded different.

What hadn’t occurred to me was that it might have to do with my “Inner Game”. That is, the things going on with mindset, beliefs and values, all of which show up in our confidence, state of mind and emotional intelligence.

More about that shortly, but first back to what Des noticed…

What Des Noticed About Me

Since we meet in person just twice a year, any changes in our lives end up being highly visible and even magnified. What did he see that I should know?

For one horrible moment, I even thought that Des might be seeing the first signs of a yet-to-be-diagnosed life-threatening disease. (Yes, I have a wild imagination!)

Then I reminded myself that things have never been better – my daughters, husband and other family members are doing well, I’m in the best physical shape of my life, and I’m excited about the direction in which my business is growing.

So I asked Des what he meant and what caused him to ask me what was wrong.

He explained that, “usually you come bounding into the room and you’re almost hyper, but this time you seem kind of subdued. So I wondered if everything was okay.”

Your Inner Game Shows Up in Your Outer Game

I was so relieved that I started laughing as I thanked Des for the feedback. How wonderful to hear that the work I've been doing on my Inner Game is showing up in my Outer Game!

In the six months since our last Mastermind group meeting, I’d been working on becoming a better listener, and on being calmer and steadier as part of my training as a Conversational Intelligence® coach.

I took Des’ question to mean that I’m showing up as less frenetic than I used to be, which is a huge win for me. This was clear evidence that I’m embodying some of the Conversational Intelligence® techniques and that they’ve already helped me to be much more grounded.

Working on my inner game is helping me become a better listener, a better person, and a better partner for others.

What could investing in your Inner Game do for you?

Your Outer Game Can Change Your Inner Game Too

Not all personal growth starts from the inside. Sometimes it takes an external change to start the ball rolling.

My friend, Ada Deferrari, runs an online course called “Capsule Style Academy” that helps women discover their style and learn to dress in a more powerful and professional way.

A mutual friend of ours, Laura Brandenberg, recently invested in the course. Since Laura was already a highly successful entrepreneur and founder of The Business Analyst Blueprint, we were curious to see if the changes in her Outer Game wardrobe would be noticeable.

Fast forward six months, when Laura showed up at our semi-annual event this year, it wasn’t just her clothes that looked fantastic.

Sure, she had a new wardrobe that helped her look more powerful and professional. But the real transformation was the knock-on effect on her Inner Game. Thanks to Ada’s help with her Outer Game, Laura had become an even more confident, outspoken and self-assured version of herself.

May Busch, Ada Deferrari and Laura Brandenberg at PLF Live 2019

May Busch, Ada Deferrari and Laura Brandenberg at PLF Live 2019

What could investing in your Outer Game do for you?

The Secret to Long-Term Career Success

As you think about your career and how to achieve long-term success, your secret weapon is the extent to which you invest in your own personal development.

In my experience, this is the biggest difference between people who enjoy long-term and continued success and those who don't.

Achievement isn’t static. Success isn’t “once and done”. The world is changing all the time and those who continue to learn, grow and develop are best placed to not only keep up, but to leap ahead.

And when you invest in your personal development, it’s important to invest in both aspects:

  1. Your Inner Game, including your confidence, mindset, and emotional intelligence.
  2. Your Outer Game, including your grooming, your style and how you walk into a room.

The great news is they can have a mutually reinforcing effect. Your Outer Game can help your Inner Game and vice versa. So no investment in yourself (your most portable asset!) is ever wasted.

Where to Start

Fortunately, you don’t have to work on both at the same time to see overall results. The best place to start is to choose one to focus on first, whether that’s your Inner Game or your Outer Game.

To figure out which will have the most impact for you, ask yourself the following litmus test questions:

If you were about to meet with someone today, whom you haven’t seen in 6-12 months,

  • What would you want them to see or sense that’s different about you?
  • What would they actually see or sense that's different about you?

Your answers will give you clues on where to begin investing.

What Do You Need to Work on Next?

So, what will you work on next: your inner game or your outer game?

And what's the first step you can take to help make that change?

Leave me a comment and let me know. I’d love to hear from you.