“Jim is one of those rare coaches who’s knowledge of strength and conditioning is equal to his knowledge and skill in coaching the mental part of the game.”
How to Think and Train Like a World-Class Performer
What is the missing ingredient that prevents most people from reaching the next level in their career and life?
It's the ability to be focused and confident in the face of ever-increasing pressure and unexpected change.
Those who excel under adversity are those who:
- Lead with their heart.
- Have an expansive vision.
- Have learned how to be fully present.
- Are unattached to their biggest goals, yet still passionately pursue them 100%.
- Have a powerful purpose, one that’s meaningful and fulfilling.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re an athlete or executive, or what your sport or vocation. The question is, can you focus in the moment and bring all your energy to that moment, when you need it?
Hi, my name is Jim Murphy and I spent the past five years researching high performance (full time ~10,000 hours!) interviewing dozens of sport psychologists, numerous world champions, and many other extraordinary people.
I wanted to know:
- What are the specific skills and training methods used by world-class performers that allow them to be focused and confident in the most pressure-filled situations?
- What does it take to be truly extraordinary and live a balanced, meaningful life?
Here’s what I found:
- Most world-class performers have a different perspective on life and competing than the rest of us.
- Poise under pressure is mostly a learned skill.
- Much of the struggles we have in our pursuit of success stem from focusing on the wrong things.
- Elite performers in all walks of life face the same major obstacle: their own minds.
- The law of attraction is very real, but there are two crucial aspects that are often overlooked.
- The power of the mind is virtually unlimited.
Perhaps the most important thing I learned is that we ALL have the ability to be filled with incredible confidence, poise, and inner peace, as well as the potential to be overwhelmed by fear.
The difference between being world-class and outclassed can be very small. In fact the difference between extraordinary and ordinary may be less than 2%. But that 2% makes all the difference in the world. Many of the world-class performers I studied were not overly exceptional in high school. In fact the average Navy Seal has no special pedigree as an athlete or student.
The one thing that stood out with extraordinarily successful people—that separated them from everyone else—is that they had a different mindset than the rest of us.
They saw opportunity where we saw obstacles. They saw beauty where we saw ugly. They persevered when everyone else gave up. They learned to be different, when we learned to become like everyone else.
Professional baseball started for me as the Chicago Cubs 14th pick out of Portland State University. My dream of playing Major League Baseball took me to the east coast, the west coast, and in-between, even in Canada. Baseball was my life, my identity.
I ran into problems, however. My self-esteem followed my batting average, and since I had vision problems (though didn’t know it), my batting average and self-esteem dropped dramatically.
While playing in the Cubs organization I transferred to the University of Washington and graduated with a degree in psychology. After five years playing professionally, injuries cut my career short. So I started coaching at an inner-city boy’s school in Seattle, Washington (O’Dea high school). The team had a losing record the previous season, but our team went undefeated, and had a great time doing it. I decided to study coaching full-time.
I enrolled at the University of British Columbia (UBC) to study Coaching Science (and play football). For my master’s paper I interviewed (in-person) 39 Major League Baseball managers, GM’s, player personnel directors, and college coaches. It was an amazing experience hanging out with all these people I grew up watching on TV.
The title of the paper was On Becoming a Champion, which became the book Dugout Wisdom: Ten Principles of Championship Teams. Collegiate Baseball has called it “One of the most important books to ever hit the shelves on baseball.” (You can read more about graduate school if you scroll down.)
After graduate school I began working with Major League Baseball International and was invited to be the hitting coach for the South African national baseball team. The day I arrived in South Africa, they told me hitting was their biggest problem. Playing against favored Guam in the Olympic trials, we won three straight games, averaging 12 runs a game, to sweep the series.
At the Olympic Games, our team of teachers, plumbers, and accountants who all worked full time and played baseball on the weekends (with brown baseballs and no pitcher’s mounds), pulled off possibly the biggest upset in Olympic baseball history.
Holland, led by Arizona State coach Pat Murphy, had beaten Cuba (handing them their first loss ever in Olympic history. (To put in perspective how big a victory that was, Cuba had beaten the Baltimore Orioles earlier that year.) Holland had also beaten powerhouse Australia. Needing a victory in their last game to get to the medal round, they lost to South Africa.
While I loved coaching baseball, I wanted to coach a variety of people in different sports, and not just athletes. So I began coaching people in all walks of life, in mind, body, and spirit. In 2003, I left everything behind and moved to the Sonoran Desert outside Tucson, Arizona. I got rid of my television. I pursued a life of relative solitude for two years. Inspired by Henry David Thoreau, I wanted to examine my life and make sure, when it came time for my life to end, that I had fully lived. It was there in the desert that I began researching world champions and extraordinary performers for the book Inner Excellence. I teamed up with former pro baseball player Ricky Scruggs and helped him run Centerfield Baseball Academy. Together Ricky and I became a powerful team.
As a turnaround expert, I help athletes and executives, teams and organizations, take their results from ordinary to extraordinary. In one year I helped three teams in three different sports to their best seasons in 22 years, 41 years, and 62 years respectively. I’ve helped teams go from last place to first place in the span of one year or less.
What I’ve found is that the skills needed for extraordinary success as an Olympic athlete, a Navy Seal, and a business executive are essentially the same skills.
In training athletes, I don’t focus on sport specific skills—how to hit a baseball, swing a golf club, or shoot a basketball. Likewise, in business, I don’t address business-specific skills such as accounting or analyzing a spreadsheet.
Instead I give athletes and executives tools and teach them how to enhance their focus, creativity, problem-solving, passion, and poise. They learn a system of controlling their energy (mind/body/spirit) that creates an environment of high performance where they can get into that zone where they’re unstoppable.
- To empower people to shift their mindset, live courageously, and change the world they live in.
- To give my best to God.
My first trip to Africa changed my life. My vision is to create community centers around the world featuring:
- An orphanage
- A learning center
- A medical center
- A fitness/sports complex
- Dorms for people around the world to volunteer and have their life changed as mine has.
A portion of my income (at least ten percent) goes towards helping the under-priviledged, with my goal being 95% of my income.
For those of you who are extremely detail-oriented like myself, here’s more information on my background:
More graduate school activities:
- Scouted with the Kansas City Royals professional baseball team
- Became a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with Distinction (CSCS*D)
- Appointed National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Director for British Columbia
- Became the NSCA baseball chairman
- Produced three strength and conditioning videos in conjunction with the NSCA
- Started a baseball team at UBC, which hadn’t had a team in 30 years (the team has been a tremendous success, sparking an entire country to follow suite—now universities across the country have baseball. UBC produced Major League Baseball star Jeff Francis).
- Wrote much of the book, Dugout Wisdom (interviewing legends such as Sparky Anderson, Rod Dedeaux, Jim Leyland, Davey Johnson…)
Jim has authored articles in journals and magazines, including the peer-reviewed Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research; written for newspapers across North America, including the NY Daily News and The Province (Vancouver); and had columns in www.mlb.com, the Surrey Leader (Surrey, BC), and the Tri-Cities Herald (Tri-Cities, Wa).
As an expert on winning and turning around teams, Jim has appeared on TV numerous times. He was the Mental Skills Coach for Baseball Player University on Fox Sports Net for three years.
Jim lives in the Pacific Northwest and loves the outdoors, especially while biking, hiking, golfing, skiing or fishing. He loves animals (especially dogs), photography, traveling abroad, and most of all, he loves to connect with people around the world and help them live more powerfully and courageously.
If you’re ready to get started, start here.