Why You’re Not Courageous – And How You Can Be

By: Jim Murphy


  1. There’s special moments–in performance and in life–that have a major impact on the rest of your life.
  2. In those moments there’s a unique tension, the push and pull of fear and hope. It’s a tension where obstacles and adversity face off against opportunity and achievement, which, when all mixed together, creates an ocean of uncertainty.
  3. The key to maximizing those moments, amidst the doubt and discomfort, concerns and maybe even chaos, lies in your ability to stand untethered in the void, that empty space before great achievement or great failure, courageous and valiant in the presence of the unknown.

NOTE: We’ve reopened registration for the first ever Inner Excellence YWAM Homes of Hope Retreat. (August 18-22, 2023). ​Click here for more details.​ Registration closes this coming Friday, August 11.


“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” – Ambrose Redmoon

As a professional athlete, especially an Inner Excellence one, one of the primary pursuits is to become someone you’ve never been before.

In other words, the essence of athletic performance (and artistic creativity) is to engage in and immerse yourself in challenges so you can learn and grow and get better, as an athlete and as a human.

We want to see farther than we’ve seen before, to embrace more beauty than we’ve embraced before, to connect with more amazing moments and incredible people than we’ve ever connected with before.

Great achievements are rare not because the ability is lacking, but because of the lack of willingness to be vulnerable, to stand alone in the desert, or perhaps to tread water in an atoll filled with sharks.

We’ve gotten way too caught up in results and what happens AFTER the performance, and not nearly excited enough about the process of performing, competing for the sake of competition itself, to better your opponent (make him better), rather than trying to beat him.

He’s here to beat you, you’re here to be you.

In sports as in life, there are endless confrontations of concern vs desire, ability vs challenge, pitcher vs hitter, golfer vs golf course. All those scenarios have special moments of leverage that hold most people back.

In public speaking, there’s tension in the air after the introduction and before the speaker’s first words. Many speakers lose that tension, letting it lazily seep out of the room with a hasty hello or a meek meow.

In golf, there’s a couple seconds just before the golfer draws back the putter or starts her backswing, when the mind is vulnerable to negative thoughts, limiting beliefs, images of failure and worse.

When the batter is in the batter’s box, just before the pitcher starts his windup, there’s those seconds when the mind can wander, when fears rise up, and concerns cover up the creativity that naturally arises.

The solution is first, to look for those moments, the scariest ones where you feel the most vulnerable. Get acquainted with them, perhaps like mixed martial artist Conor McGregor:

“When I was a kid I used to get these nerves. I would sit back and analyze these emotions; ultimately that’s what draws me to combat sports, to be able to manage those emotions… So every time I would go to a boxing gym and I would feel those butterflies, I’d think yes, now I’m getting more comfortable with them. Now I’m feeling those feelings more. So the more I feel them the more I’m going to be comfortable in them. So I always search for that feeling. Now I’m fighting in the MGM Grand and I don’t give a s——, you know what I mean?”

“He’s not preparing to beat up his opponent, he’s preparing to give an exhibition of mixed martial arts… as opposed to revenge and anger and aggression and wanting to hurt someone. It’s a very, very different mindset.” – McGregor’s trainer, from ​McGregor Forever (Netflix documentary)​

Secondly, realize that what you want more than success in this upcoming transaction (eg. putt, drive or speech) is to get better at these pre-performance moments, and to improve yourself as a human and an athlete, so you can feel fully alive in the moments just before the moment of action.

Once you hit the ball, roll the putt, or make your move, now the moment’s over. What happens with it is for the crowd to boo or cheer, the press to praise or criticize. You’re responsible for your heart and your effort. Results are up to God. What people think and say about your performance is none of your business. Your job is to learn and grow and look for more moments to do the same, moments that you can soak in.

Let me know how it’s going for you!

Love Jim

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