The Smallest Possible Gift

By: Jim Murphy

The Smallest Possible Gift


  1. Extraordinary performance, and the foundation for inner strength and mental toughness, comes down to one basic idea, one question: Can you be fully present, in this moment, to all that’s possible, without judging the moment and losing sight of the endless possibilities?
  2. Western culture is obsessed with achievement and outcomes, status and comparison, indifferent to the process of learning and growing and everything else. The Western Obsession is all about the past and future (what you’ve done and what you’ve acquired, or what you possibly can do or have), which ironically misses the crucial process (and incredible experiences) in the moment.
  3. If you’re not careful, immersed in the viral chatter, you’ll catch the obsession as well and miss the moment.
  4. The problem is, great performances require a presence that’s far removed from outcomes, a mind that doesn’t jump to the past and future, and a heart that’s unburdened, free to dream and play.
  5. The solution is to build your life around smaller and smaller moments, the unseen building blocks of inner strength; gifts that most people would never notice.

“Humility forms the basis of honor, just like the low ground forms the foundation of a high elevation.” – Bruce Lee

Extraordinary performance, whether it’s a piano concerto, cooking an amazing meal, or hitting the ball on the sweet spot, is the result of rhythm and resonance, flowing from the combination of belief, freedom and focus (BFF).

It’s so hard, however to not be distracted, caught up in what we want but cannot control, rarely connecting with the flow of resonance. Our culture of busyness (a blur of swipes and clicks, beeps and banners) continually pulls us to the past and future.

So how can we be more present and build a foundation for elevation, pursuing peak performance undeterred by the diversions that abound?

One of the most powerful ways to be fully present is get more involved in smaller pieces of time; break the day, hour or performance into smaller bits, then teach yourself how to be grateful for the smallest bit.

Let me explain, but first, let’s discuss what it means to be fully present.

To be fully present at the highest level is to be connected to beauty, with an elevated awareness of infinite possibilities.

At this level of presence, there’s no thoughts of self; what Tim Keller calls self-forgetfulness. There’s no fear either, since fear is concern for self. It’s a sense of confidence (since there’s no fear) and connection (to every good thing).

So to be more present, we need to slow things down, to be as closely aligned as we can to time itself, which has no beginning and no end, infinite possibilities eternally unfolding moment to moment. (Ironically clocks and watches align us with the past and future, continually showing us what lies before us and what lies behind us).

To get closer aligned to the present moment, what helps a lot of people is to focus on their breath. What’s also very helpful, is to focus on the smallest possible gift you can find in each moment… a moment of silence, a leaf falling from a tree, a squirrel running across the grass, indoor plumbing, or anything else. The smaller the gift you observe the better, like hitting the bullseye vs hitting an outer ring… and remember, it’s all a gift.

How to build inner strength and mental toughness:

  1. Let go of temporary transactions (like your current circumstances) and the pursuit of happiness (good feelings from good results and circumstances) and pursue becoming a certain type of person, the kind that lives a wholehearted, fully engaged life.
  2. When you perform, don’t try to be perfect or mistake free; instead share your passion for your sport or whatever it is you do. Since you don’t know what’s best for you results-wise, you can relax and share your love of the violin or golf or playing Splendor (the board game). Focus on being present, not on being perfect.
  3. Pursue wisdom above all else. Wisdom is keen insight on how to live with absolute fullness of life; an expanded vision that sees unobstructed views of beauty, opportunities and connection with others. This means reading books, listening to podcasts, and spending time with those (dead or alive) who can share wise insights with you. This is IX discipline #8 (Fuel Your Soul).
  4. At the start and end of each day, go through the last 24-48 hours and look for the smallest possible gifts you’ve been given so your heart and subconscious mind can learn to recognize the abundance all around you and in you… so you can build a solid foundation for peak performance.

Love Jim


The audiobook for Inner Excellence has been submitted. Woohoo! I’m super grateful. Since this is my first audiobook (one for which I narrated), I didn’t realize that it takes 2-4 weeks from submission to publication. So we must be patient and present. I think you’ll find it was worth the wait. There’s a fair amount of new material including case study interviews, a new section explaining the mindset of Inner Excellence, as well as a summary after the introduction.

The audiobook will be available on Audible, Amazon, Spotify, and pretty much every other place you might look (potentially in libraries as well).

The next project is a short picture book explaining Inner Excellence in simple terms, targeting 21 year old pro athletes that don’t read (and 13 year olds that do). Look for announcements to come about Pedro’s Pickleball Problem.


We will eventually return to providing audio versions of each newsletter when I get back into my studio. 🙂

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