The Freedom of Behavioral Flexibility

By: Jim Murphy


The Freedom of Behavioral Flexibility

  • The problem most performers have is that they get in their own way. They underperform because they’re attached to their results. They need things to be a certain way. They lack the freedom to adapt to any situation. This causes them to react instead of create, to self-protect instead of self-express, to walk in fear instead of love.
  • Scottie Scheffler, 2022 Masters winner (and world #1 golfer), won the Masters last week in large part with much more than skill: he had freedom… freedom to hit a poor shot, freedom to fail, freedom to disappoint people. He had behavioral flexibility.
  • Will Smith, one of the most famous and loved actors in the world, on the verge of winning his first ever Oscar for best actor, had an unfortunate incident that was carried live around the world. He was offended and reactive in a way that likely damaged most areas of his life (not to mention his sizable bank account). Although he made the best choice he could in that moment (based on what was in his heart), it was a very painful choice in every aspect.
  • The best performers, and the best lives ever lived, have this in common: they have the behavioral flexibility to handle any situation with peace and confidence.

Most of my life I’ve been a slave to circumstance. If things were going how I wanted, I felt good and my energy was positive. If they weren’t, however, my energy would not be positive. And if things were going off the rails, my emotions and energy would follow.

I’ve been attached to what I want but cannot control, and this has caused my life to be one with many emotional ups and downs. My results followed suit.

The best performers, and the best possible life, is one where we have freedom to be creative, to sing and dance, to work and play, unattached to our results and circumstances.

This life, the one with deep contentment, joy and confidence, independent of circumstances–the one unattached to what we want but cannot control–is a life of behavioral flexibility.

That is, the ability to handle stressful situations with grace and peace. To have behavioral flexibility is to be comfortable being uncomfortable, to adapt and thrive in any situation.

Scottie Scheffler, professional golfer, has had a decent run of late. He got a new caddie this past fall (Teddy Scott), wins his first PGA Tour event, then wins three more times (which crowned him #1 in the world), and again last Sunday (the 2022 Masters).

Here’s part of his discussion with his wife Sunday morning, before winning the Masters:

“So for me, my identity isn’t a golf score. Like Meredith told me this morning, if you win this golf tournament today, if you lose this golf tournament by 10 shots, if you never win another golf tournament again, she goes, ‘I’m still going to love you, you’re still going to be the same person, Jesus loves you and nothing changes.”

“Winning golf tournaments out here is not easy,” Scheffler said. “It’s very challenging. So knowing that bad things are going to happen and being able to react to those things in a positive way is extremely important.”

When your identity is attached to your role or your performance, freedom and flexibility is very difficult. But when your identity is not based on something temporary or transactional, and you’re not attached to the results, you’re far more capable of handling any situation with all your creativity and skill.

Three things you can do to develop behavioral flexibility

  1. Pursue self-mastery. When I think of self-mastery, I think of mastering the ego. When I think of mastering the ego, I think of three things:
    1. Being un-offendable
    2. Being un-embarassable
    3. Being un-irritatable

When we’re offended, we feel some part of us has diminished. This comes from having an ego that needs to look good, that’s always comparing, never satisfied. When we’re powerful beyond measure, we’re un-offendable. We might be disappointed, shocked, or even upset, but not offended.

2. Practice facing uncomfortable feelings. This can be done having WHM cold showers, taking risks that you might not have taken in the past, or perhaps engaging in a conversation with someone in the past who’s pushed your buttons. See if you can keep your poise when they use words that in the past may have offended you.

3. Ask yourself, when someone pushes your buttons, “What needs to heal in me so that I can eliminate these buttons?”

Let me know how it’s going!

Love Jim


My trip to Europe and the Bahamas was an incredible gift. Right now my schedule has me in the Seattle area for a month or so before I leave the country again. Time to get back to work on the audiobook these next few weeks.

Speaking of, if you read the book and haven’t left an Amazon review, please consider taking 5 seconds to click on this direct link to rate the book, or even better, rate it and share how it has impacted you. Thanks so much!

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