The Five Obstacles to Mental Toughness

By: Jim Murphy


The five main obstacles to mental toughness and peak performance:

     1. Fear/anxiety
     2. Over-analysis
     3. Self-consciousness
     4. Negativity/judgment
     5. Caring too much about results

All five are a result of a disordered heart, one that has relationships and loves out of order. When what you love most is unstable, your life will be unstable. 

“You gotta keep it simple. It can get complicated, especially in final rounds. The more simple you can make it the better…I’ve always tried to have fun. Now, win, lose or draw, I get off the course and I’ve had a good time. I don’t allow the game of golf to affect me mentally anymore.” 
– Lee Westwood, PGA Tour golfer (world #1 for 22 weeks)

Max Homa had a 3 foot putt to win the 2021 Genesis Invitational (PGA Tour). It was the 18th hole on Sunday, make the putt and he would secure $1.674 million and his second win on tour. He missed. Now he’s in a playoff. After tying the first playoff hole, he hits his next tee shot against a tree. What followed was an incredible shot that set up another putt for the win, which he sank. And Won.

Lee Westwood, 47 years old and former world #1, has had an incredible resurgence the last few weeks, finishing 2nd twice in a row. At the Player’s Championship last week he was at the top of the leaderboard going into the last day. He was asked about his mindset and about his opponent and playing partner (Bryson DeChambeau) who recently won (Bay Hill). “He’s a great player and I get along well with him and his caddy. He’s got a great swing and he’s playing great. Fun to watch. What’s not to love?”

Mental toughness and poise under pressure comes from having a certain energy, a powerful one that stays connected to the vision of your goals and dreams, not attached to the temporary ups and downs. Max and Lee point us to the power behind mental toughness: joy.

The key to mental toughness is to develop an inner world where you can play with freedom and focus, and believe that you are the type of person who lives their dreams. Belief. Freedom. Focus. (BFF). The strength underlying all three is joy.

The power is to find joy in the journey–to have your highest aspiration be to live each moment fully and to love greatly. It’s a journey of training your heart, starting with the choice to become the type of person who walks in love not fear, who is willing to fail greatly in order to learn and grow… to aspire to self-mastery over and above any result or outcome. 

What about you? How can you find passion and joy beyond your results and outcomes?

Love Jim

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