How to Talk About Your Performance in an Empowering Way

By: Jim Murphy

How to Talk About Your Performance in an Empowering Way


  1. As an athlete or performer you’re going to get asked questions about your performance.
  2. This self-reflection can create self-consciousness that restricts your ability to perform well in the future.
  3. The best answers about any performance are ones that keep you focused on the plan and develop your faith and belief about what’s possible in your career and in your life.

Q: “When you’re flipping channels and you come across a Seinfeld re-run, do you flip right past it or do you linger?”

A: “Right past it. I think there’s a level of focus you need to get something to a certain point creatively, and you pay a price for that, which is you can’t ever look at it again.” – Jerry Seinfeld, Is This Anything?

If you look at Sports Illustrated covers over the years, you’ll see a lot of predictions, or praise of why some athlete or team is so good. And if you look at how they did after the cover came out, you’ll see a lot of shockingly poor performances.

There are many reasons for this, but one of the big ones is that it’s very hard to perform with high expectations, since performing at a high level requires a large measure of present moment focus, and expectations, by definition, are focused on the future.

This is why I tell my clients, “Expect abundance, prepare to suffer.” We visualize success every day, but we never talk about outcomes (except to learn and grow or to plan and set goals). We know that to get the most out of our ability we need to be fully engaged in the moment, heart, mind and body.

Just like to live an extraordinary life, we need to focus intently on the process of improvement, so we can become our true selves, the wholehearted people we were created to be.

That process is outlined for you in the book Inner Excellence but it’s a process that focuses on developing the three pillars of extraordinary performance: Belief, Freedom, and Focus (BFF). Essentially it’s learning self-mastery, which is mastery of your ego, that part of your mind that’s constantly comparing, always threatened and never content.

To master your ego, you need to train your heart. That is, to live the best possible life and be the best performer you can be, you need to nurture and develop the control center of your life: your heart (spirit). It’s where all your greatest fears and biggest dreams lie.

If you don’t have a greater vision and pursuit than the shiny trophies and temporary rewards of tangible success, then you’ll always feel the pressure of so much being out of your control, and you’ll always have an emptiness in your life, because no matter how much success you get, you’ll constantly be comparing and always need more.

Here’s an example of how you might respond to questions about a big upcoming performance:

Q: This week is such an important week, perhaps the biggest week of the year. Do you think you can win?

A: Thank you for the question. It’s really good for me to talk through this. You see, your job as a reporter, as well as all the people watching, is to speculate and talk about what if this and that happens, and look at all the possible outcomes. That’s great, but for me, I can’t afford to be like that. I have to stand over every shot and give it my absolute best.

To give my best means I need to be fully present. Thinking about winning or the score is not present. By definition, every result, every score, is a past or future event.

So one of my goals every performance (and every day for that matter), is to be fully present to what’s going on in my life. That means I can’t judge the moment (lay down a negative verdict) if I want to be present to it.

It also means I treat every day the same.

My ultimate goal is to learn and grow each day. I try to learn and grow in self-mastery, which is to master my ego. Learn and grow into a transformed heart, from one that was obsessed about temporary transactions and winning and beating others, to one that is focused on how to walk in love, not fear, and how to grow in love, wisdom and courage. That will help me in very way, on and off the course, for the rest of my life.

With my biggest goal being personal growth, why would I treat any day different than the other? Just because the world says one day is more important than the other, how do I know that yesterday or today is any more important than any other day?

For me, God gave me the ability to play golf. Hitting a golf ball as few times as possible for 18 holes, however, is not meaningful. Not any more than playing any other game, whether it’s baseball or beach volleyball, dominoes or legos. I’m very grateful for the game of golf, but I try to make sure I know where it’s proper place is in my heart.

What’s meaningful is sharing with you what I really work on. Yes, I work on the physical aspects of my swing and fitness level and all the sport-related stuff, but the most important thing I train is my heart, and I use my mind to train it.

The most powerful heart is one who’s greatest desire is something that’s most stable and empowering. I believe love is that thing. For me, I focus on getting to know the source of that power (God), but for anyone, just focusing on living and performing in love can create a fearlessness that’s super powerful because there’s no fear in love.

Here’s a few things I focus on and remind myself of in order to learn and grow and pursue a transformed heart:

There’s two things I can control and focus on every day:

  1. My heart
  2. My effort

Those are my responsibilities; the results and outcomes are up to God.

I have four daily goals:

  1. Give 100% of what I have each day.
  2. Be fully present.
  3. Be grateful (since this is closely linked to inner peace and strength).
  4. Focus on my routines and only what I can control.

I review the 3 Principles of Inner Excellence:

  1. All things are here to teach me and help me, it’s all working for my good.
  2. Everyone does the best they can with what they have in their heart.
  3. Selfless is fearless. Self-mastery is mastery of the ego.

I remind myself that I don’t know what’s best for me.

Of course I want to win and I train as hard or harder than anyone else to be the best I can be. It seems like for me in golf, the best thing would be to get lots of birdies and not a lot of bogeys. But that might not be true. If my top goal is a transformed heart, to create inner strength and become a true champion (someone that supports and defends others), then I must realize that I need to experience hardship in order to truly grow. I’ve begun to realize that sometimes what I think is best for me is not actually what’s best for me.

It’s important to remember that all things are working for my good, to help me learn and grow, and that what I want more than success in the worlds eyes is to become someone that lives a meaningful, fulfilling life with amazing experiences and deep, enriching relationships. A life that inspires others and makes the world a better place.

I don’t try to beat my opponents; I love them.

I consider my opponents my partners in the dance. They’re here to help me learn and grow, and I’m trying to do the same. I need them to be my best, and so I want to bring my “A” game so I can help them be their best.

Finally, I regularly review my Inner Excellence mindset

I compete to learn and grow and raise the level of excellence in my life in order to raise it in others.

Thanks for asking all your wonderful questions and best of luck with writing your article.


Let me know what you think! How has talking about your performance impacted your future performances? Have you used your interviews to remind yourself what you’re focused on and use that time with the person asking questions to share some empowering insights?

Love Jim


Dubai, UAE and Muscat, Oman were an amazing gift. It’s always a blessing to get to share Inner Excellence with inspiring people. You can see some pics on Instagram if you like. Next week I’m off to Florida to lead an Inner Excellence retreat and watch a little baseball.


Sorry, no audio version again today. I got the flu once I got home and have been in bed the last few days. I don’t think you’d want to hear this scratchy throat anyway. 🙂

PREVIOUS POST Michael Phelps and the 98:2 Principle
NEXT POST The Frosting, the Cake, and Why You're Not Happy

Be first in line – the VIP list

When you sign up for the VIP list, you’ll be the first to receive new articles, interviews, techniques and tools—straight to your inbox.

    Join the VIP list to get tips on how to train your mind and heart.