What is your level of performance flexibility?

When it comes to performance, our mindset plays a critical role in determining our success. Imagine two professionals standing side by side, ready to showcase their skills. One of them possesses a trait that sets them apart from the other—their mind is like a spring, adaptable and resilient. This trait is known as “psychological flexibility,” and it becomes the key that unlocks the door to emotional intelligence in performance.


A psychologically flexible performer is a highly aware person who, instead of judging their uncomfortable sensations to try to get rid of them, accepts them with compassion, knowing that even in the presence of discomfort, they are willing to commit to actions guided by their values, goals, and the task at hand. 


The person who experiences psychological rigidity, on the other hand, usually gets stuck in uncomfortable sensations and fuels the effort to no longer experience them. They “fuse” or attach their identity to their painful experience, blurring the line between who they are and the challenges they face. As a result, they engage in behaviors that help them avoid experiencing difficult emotions and sensations, falsely coping with their suffering.

Picture a leader on the defensive with their team members, a musician procrastinating on practice, or an athlete consumed by rage during a match. In more extreme cases, the inflexible performer may even abandon their job or other areas of their lives, seeking escape from their perceived limitations.

To visualize this concept more clearly, let’s explore the four levels of performance flexibility– a tool I have created to help heightened awareness around where you stand in terms of flexibility vs. rigidity as a professional. The following graphic goes from level 1, the level of highest rigidity and lowest flexibility, to level 4, the level of highest flexibility and acceptance. 


Before we start…


I’d like to clarify that none of the levels are good or bad, positive or negative; these are just levels of mental space that we can all experience in different situations. 


Individuals at this level are inside the box of their inner negative narratives. This ‘narrative box’ becomes tied to their self-worth, experiencing insecurity, doubt, fear, and anxiety.

At Level 1, we are highly rigid and unaware of the fusion (attachment) to unbeneficial narratives. We harbor thoughts and beliefs about our identity, capabilities, the people around us, and how the world should work. Since uncomfortable thoughts and sensations are directly linked to the sense of self, we are especially sensitive and resistant to mistakes or performance slip-ups, which only serve to confirm unbeneficial theories about ourselves. At this level, we are on the defensive and tend to blame others for adversities. 

There is little to no acceptance of uncomfortable emotions and sensations in level 1. Here, we tend to actively avoid experiencing discomfort, resorting to controlling it or attempting to eliminate it through unbeneficial habits, behaviors, procrastination, and a reluctance to taking risks— all of which provide short term relief. In Level 1, we focus on avoiding difficult emotions, which distance us from things that are truly important to us, to our values. In the long term, overall well-being is most likely compromised.



At this level, individuals are still outside of the ‘narrative box’, yet still attached to it. At this level, narratives feel real, but now they are aware of and able to observe them. At this level, people are open to the idea of questioning the ‘narrative box’.

Level 2 is a moderately rigid level. At this level, we are consciously fused (or attached) to ‘the box’. Here, we are self-aware and intentionally choose to observe the narratives that no longer serve us. We are open to observing and accepting these narratives with less judgment. 

We also make a genuine effort to stop using old ways of avoiding discomfort and start learning skills to stay present and focus on what really matters. We start exploring ways to accept mistakes, vulnerability, and self-compassion. However, old narratives are still present, and you are hesitant to let go of them. 

We now recognize the costs of hooking into old narratives, but we seek comfort and protection in the familiar rather than embracing change. Therefore, we ‘try’ to adopt new ways of living, but we easily go back to old, unbeneficial habits, behaviors, and ways of treating ourselves, despite knowing they are no longer beneficial to us.



At this level, individuals are defused or detached from the ‘narrative box’. Here, they accept the box’s presence without connecting it to your self-worth, behaviors, or performance. They recognize and focus on actions based on your values.

Level 3, the level of intentional defusion (detachment), and moderate to high flexibility. Here, you have the power to distance yourself from unsettling narratives and sensations that arise, not by avoiding them, but by navigating them with poise. It’s like donning a pair of objective glasses that allow you to observe and accept the discomfort without engaging with it, even in high-stakes situations.

At this level, you effortfully focus on actions aligned with our values, propelling you towards our ultimate goal. At this level, your performance reaches remarkable heights as you tap into excellent levels of focus. You experience greater well-being and are more self-compassionate in your process. Yet, there’s still a yearning within you, a desire to completely “let go” and unlock the gates to states of flow and boundless creativity. It’s an ongoing quest to push the boundaries and discover the untapped potential that lies within.



Individuals at level 4 are defused from the ‘narrative box’ and easily engage with the ‘values box’; they accept the presence and discomfort of self-doubt and mistakes, and now they have created a habit of engaging with what really matters to them.

Level 4 is the highest level of flexibility. Here, you have a remarkable ability to accept inner discomfort. What distinguishes you is your willingness to commit to your values; you have the ability to translate those values into actionable steps.

At this level, you experience flow with ease, as you have mastered the skill of staying in the present moment while discerning relevant from irrelevant thoughts as you perform. At level 4, you get in touch with your creative genius—you perform, innovate, and lead with authentic power. 

At level 4, you prioritize what really matters to you in each situation. You understand that being loyal to your values rather than your inner negative thoughts is a crucial aspect of achieving success. Here, you have a global sense of identity and no longer overidentify with your profession, allowing you to experience freedom.



How can The Levels of Performance Flexibility help you?

The Levels of Performance Flexibility is a tool meant to provide an awareness roadmap for personal growth and development. By identifying where you stand on the spectrum of psychological flexibility, you gain insight into your mindset and behaviors both in the day-to-day and high-pressure situations.

This awareness can empower you to break free from rigid thought patterns and unproductive habits that hinder performance. Through intentional acceptance of negative narratives and alignment with personal values, you can cultivate resilience, adaptability, and emotional intelligence. Embracing higher levels of flexibility enables you to navigate challenges with grace, maintain focus on meaningful goals, and foster a sense of well-being amidst adversity.




Designed by Marketing Colombia ¡Get your own website now! www.marketingcolombia.com.co 

Scroll to Top