- Thoughts for inspired living

July 31, 2008

Hard or Soft?

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:37 am

I had a boss who would always ask his sales manager after she interviewed a sales candidate – hard or soft?

The implication was if they weren’t hard, they, oftentimes, wouldn’t be considered for the job.

He was acting out of experience and preference and is quite successful with that strategy. His success does not negate the value of soft in sales or any other endeavor. Soft is what the ancient Chinese call “yin” – the complementary force to “yang.”

Soft is the way of water. It may not have the speed of a bulldozer but its power, when harnessed or applied over time, makes hard look soft.

Hard, in most cases, is artificial and adopted. If we are adopting hard as a temporary strategy to get us through a situation, that is being versatile. Adopting it permanently does us a disservice.

Many women in corporate America do themselves a disservice by adopting the hard traits of their male counterparts. They become like men and devalue their femininity and all the attributes that go along with being female. Reminds me of a story I’ve told before . . .

I was interviewing for a radio job. The program director listened to my audition tape and asked me if I was attempting to emulate the style of a well known radio personality. I admitted that I was. He then offered me a most valuable piece of advice. He said, “As hard as you try, you’ll never be him. But you know what; he’ll never be able to be you.”

Women have a natural softness about them that beats hard every time.

Please don’t confuse softness with cowardice or timidity. Men have a tendency to hit a wall and if it doesn’t move, they hit it harder. Women after hitting a wall, usually find another way. They are more flexible – soft. If I were hiring someone for a sales position, and had two equally qualified candidates – one male and one female, I’d hire the woman just about every time. Soft is undervalued.

Use your natural traits to your advantage. It’s easier to use what you have than to adopt something that is awkward and doesn’t fit.

The basic suggestion of today’s blog is this: Hone your skills around your base attributes and you’ll not only enjoy more success, but like yourself even more.

All the best,


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July 30, 2008

The Last Word

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:02 am

Got a visit from The Grasshopper the other day. He said,

“If you need to be heard and need the last word, your communication skills will suffer.”

How many times have we attempted to get in the last word? For what purpose? It rarely aids the communication. My experience is that when we do this, whatever we’re discussing becomes exclusively about us and dismisses the other person in the conversation. It’s all about ego and not about communication.

You can speak last without having the last word.

Unless you’re speaking to a counselor, a conversation is not about you; it’s about us. When you are solely intent on saying what you have to say, it’s usually forced at the wrong moment in the exchange. Our compulsory timetable deafens the other person because we are regurgitating in their ears. One telltale sign of doing this will be a soliloquy filled with pap and platitudes with no real substance other than a one-way defensive agenda. In the law they call it a “justification defense.” That means you did what you were accused of but claim you were justified in doing it. Ask any attorney you know. It rarely works.

When we justify having the last word, we make the conversation chasm wider and can’t get to the other side.

We’ve all done it. I’m not sure that we’ve ever evaluated that it almost never works.

Take stock today and see how often you need to have the last word. Then notice that it gets in the way of communication because when you have the last word, you say nothing.

All the best,


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July 29, 2008

Sacred Idleness

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:00 am

I came across my new favorite phrase when seeing a quote from Scottish novelist and poet, George McDonald. It read,

Work is not always required. There is such a thing as sacred idleness.”

You could certainly use the expression as a cover for being lazy, or you could explore the phenomenon it represents and see how productive you become.

My experience is that all inspiration and learning comes to us when we have spaces show up between our thoughts. It’s from this space of sacred idleness that the font of creativity flows. The only work that’s required is to find the best way for you to get idle and have more spaces show up. This idleness of thought is a sacred, silent sanctuary that provides the missing ingredients in our lives.

I can remember being in the work-a-day world and thinking how much more productive I would be if I closed my office door and took 20 minutes and closed my eyes and allowed my mind to calm down. It certainly would have been frowned on then because of corporate conditioning alone. It would have never been considered an investment in increased productivity.

It seems that companies only invest in the treatment of poor performance after the fact. Some offer a hiatus to troubled employees and pay for alcohol and drug rehabilitation which is noble. Others invest in team building training which is also quite helpful. My contention is they would pay out less and get more ROI (Return on Investment) if they offered a daily 20 minute mental health break. No coffee or donuts, just 20 minutes of silence during the day.

I would love to see the research on such an experiment.

I’m not looking to put corporate training out of business. They provide excellent services and job training, but companies are missing a giant opportunity by exclusively working from the outside in. My message is simply for them and us to get curious about working from the inside out. Creativity and productivity are born from the nothingness of silence, not from the sound of a cracking whip.

Here is something to wonder about: Is there a way for you to become sacredly idle on a daily basis? You could start slowly with just a few minutes a day and work your way up. You can be your own research project. Find out how much more energy, creativity and productivity you bring to your life by engaging in the spiritual practice of “Sacred Idleness.”

All the best,



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July 28, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:47 am

Here’s a short primer on relating. The teaching comes out of personal discovery and professional observation.

There is a major difference between one who relates well and one who doesn’t. It mainly comes down to judgement.

Judgement has all sorts of connotations – both negative and positive. For example, prejudice is deemed negative; discernment is considered positive. Either way, it can get in the way of relating.

This is in no way a call to action to banish judgement from your tote bag of tricks. Many times it will save your ass. This is more of a pointer to notice the limitation it presents in relating to another human being. Perhaps a story would be helpful . . .

My mother was a waitress from the time she was 14 until her mid 70’s. She was an exceptional judge of people. Part of her mind had catalogued all the different types of people she encountered over the years and she developed some very quick and extremely accurate judging patterns. She was almost psychic in her ability. It’s one of the skills I inherited, and it’s a two edged sword.

I developed the ability to size up people in a hurry, long before I became a people helper. It was both a help and a hindrance. It was helpful in avoiding people who did not have my best interest at heart, and harmful in getting closer to those who did. What I noticed for me and others is this: By having judgement as our main skill, we aren’t relating to the person we were interacting with, but with our judgement of them. That always keeps us from going deeper with someone. We remain on the surface and therefore cannot relate.

There is nothing humanly relatable about judgement, although it’s a human trait. But when using it as a relational tool, we relate to an abstraction instead of relating to a real person. This once removed attempt at relating may not be consciously noticed by another, but it certainly can be felt. There is an uneasy feeling within us when communicating with someone who is judging.

If you are wondering why you can’t get closer to people, you may want to investigate the level of judgement you use. Judgement seems to be involuntary, it arises out of nowhere. The key to better relating is to notice the judgement when it shows up. Just by noticing that it’s there gives you an opportunity to set it aside so that you can relate more fully with the person you’re interacting with.

Here’s a suggestion: Give up your gavel for a day and notice how much better you relate.

All the best,


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July 25, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:59 am

I was meditating on the word GRATITUDE this morning and here’s what came up:

G. Give thanks daily. There is always something to be thankful for.

R. Respond with kindness.

A. Ask for what you want. Beating around the bush can get you poison ivy.

T. Treat others to your attention. It’s the biggest commodity you have to offer.

I. Immerse yourself in solitude daily.

T. “Thank you” will always get you more than “know you in the biblical sense.”

U. Uncover your hidden treasures. You may have to dig a little.

D. Discover others; it’s a great way to find out about yourself.

E. Empathize and you’ll never feel empty.

All the best,


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July 24, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:43 am

Where is the most cluttered place in your home? If you just moved, the answer won’t be that revealing.

Is it your living room, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, dining room, den, attic or garage? Or someplace else?

Even if you’re an inveterate slob, there’s one place that’s more cluttered than another. My guess is that most people would select attic, garage, or crawl space because we seem to treat those places like the miscellaneous file. If we can’t figure out what to do with it, we usually stuff it there. So, let’s take them out of consideration and concentrate on the main rooms in your living space.

Which area is perpetually covered over? Or maybe it’s just a piece of furniture or section of that room that’s hidden – a counter top, a desk, a sofa, a bed, etc.

Imagine that place in your mind. Sense all the clutter that’s in this room or strewn across a piece of furniture or piled up in a specific corner.

Now, mentally clean up that space. Use your imagination and see and sense yourself cleaning that area. Do it from top to bottom and take as little or as much time as your imagination needs to unclutter this space. More on this in a moment . . .

My sense is that space corresponds to an area that is cluttered in your life. Perhaps an example would be helpful . . .

Suppose it’s your desk. My guess is that your work is clogged up – not going that well or you have bills you can’t pay. Suppose it’s your bed. My guess is your sex life or sleeping patterns may be challenged. Could a consistently cluttered living room indicate cluttered health? What about the kitchen? Is your food consumption all out of whack? What could a cluttered bathroom indicate?

I invite you to get curious about this idea because I believe there is a correlation. I have no way to validate this claim other than through my own experience but I think the application is universal.

Yes, there are sloppy housekeepers, but this goes deeper than that. There is someplace, even in the neatest of homes that is not getting attention. Is there something to this or is it just a whacky idea? Don’t judge it in your head; do the mental exercise a few times and notice the results.

It would be easy to say, just clean up the space and see what happens. That would be working from the outside in, which has short-term results. Mentally clean that space in your mind. Make that space fully functional in your mind and notice the corresponding dysfunction in your life begin to clean up.

The side benefit is that after doing this exercise a few times, you quite naturally create the desire to voluntarily clean up that actual space.

I wonder if they give awards for mental good housekeeping.

All the best,


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July 23, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:13 am

I could never warm up to the phrase, “I know how you feel” simply because it’s impossible to know how another feels even if you experienced the same set of circumstances. I’ve always considered the phrase a self serving, bald face lie. But now, I’m beginning to see a glimmer of truth, not so much in the expression, but in the experiencing of it.

Let me explain. In the past, when someone told me about their pain (emotional or physical), I would express sympathy but could offer no empathy. I was like the stereotypical model of the treating physician. Remain uninvolved in the emotion and you’ll provide a quicker, clearer diagnosis and treatment. Experience has taught me that that’s an unbalanced, outdated model.

I’ve seen people offer empathy and less sound advice than I would offer and get better results. It got me curious. What is it about this thing called empathy that can have less skilled people garner more effective results? Why do some highly trained, experienced doctors fail where a rookie nurse practitioner succeeds giving the same advice? One touched them and the other didn’t.

This isn’t a rant on physicians, only the model that most of them use.

When you lack empathy, this is what you communicate: I refuse to know what it’s like to be you, but I demand that you know what it’s like to be me. That’s a prescription for failure.

I also found out why I haven’t gone to critically acclaimed, yet depressing movies. My logical explanation was hard to argue with – “Who wants to spend money to get depressed?” Underneath the cover of that logic is a fear of feeling the emotions the actors so capably display on the screen. The truth is if you cannot feel the full spectrum of emotions, you will be diminished in your helping of another, and you’ll wear the cloak of stoic isolation for yourself.

This is not to say that you put your systematic approach aside. It’s simply more prudent to balance out that model by attempting to sense what another is experiencing. Empathy has 2 immediate benefits:

  1. It allows you to more ably assist another.
  2. It allows you to be more of a human being and become more approachable.

Why could we tell our mother but not our father (or vice-versa) about a painful situation in our life? One provided empathy and the other provided just a strategy alone.

Feeling empathy has been a difficult transition for me and it remains a work in progress. It’s probably why I would have never been a great actor. I didn’t take the time to personally explore emotions that I had a fear of feeling. Great actors dig within themselves to find that feeling. That’s why they give such relatable, superb performances and touch hidden places within us.

If empathy is not in your kit, get curious about it. Try on the role and see what great results you can get for yourself and others.

All the best,


P.S. I invite you to explore my websites.

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July 22, 2008

Want to

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 9:15 am

Robert Schuller said,

“You will suddenly realize that the reason you never changed before was because you didn’t want to.”

What a profound statement.

Change is generally defined as putting into motion a set of actions that leads to a measurable result. The downside of that definition is that those actions don’t usually produce lasting results. That’s because the change most people seek is exterior change. You only have to look at the dieting industry to validate that fact.

Internal change is the one that garners lasting results, but we resist it. Seems we are looking for a separate set of rules that allows us to keep our current mindset and still get the lasting changes we desire. It will never happen that way. That’s why people lose and gain substantial amounts of weight over and over again.

The thinking goes like this: Once I reach my goal, I can go back to my old way of doing things. That’s also why some big lottery winners blow through all their money. Their counter-productive spending habits were already formed and they never outgrew them because they didn’t want to.

Who doesn’t know a smoker who quit or an admitted alcohol abuser who says, “I can just have one”? It’s just more evidence that they didn’t want to.

There is no pocket full of fairy dust for change. Change happens from the inside out. Doing it the other way around is just putting a coat of paint on termite infested siding.

Find someone who has genuinely changed something in their life. You will find a different person on the inside than existed before. They really wanted to change and they were willing to do what was necessary.

Yes, you can look at and emulate their determination and true grit, but if you stay focused on that for too long, you will miss the secret of their lasting success – they cleaned house from the inside out. They took a deep look in the mirror and got honesty reflected back.

I think mirrors are highly misused. They can certainly let us know that we look “hot” for our age or not, but their biggest gift is this: They have no agenda and reflect back only that which is there.

Our “cake and eat it too” thinking is the vanity use of the mirror. It keeps us stuck with yo-yo results. A deeper gaze into the looking glass reveals what’s really there and what needs to be changed.

The mirror will not lie, only our thinking will.

The real courage necessary for change is the willingness to go deeper than our façade and to be as honest with ourselves as the mirror is. This approach will home in on what really needs to be worked on for us to get the lasting change we desire.

You can hold on to that which isn’t working, and you can tell yourself that you tried, but the truth is you lied. You never changed because you didn’t want to.

“Wanting to” requires the courage to let go of something forever. If you can’t get yourself to that point, save your breath and your efforts because you will ultimately fail, quite simply, because you don’t want to.

Letting go of something that isn’t working is one of the tallest tasks any human being can take on. It begins with the recognition of what is keeping you from your goal. Once you recognize your road block, dedicate your quiet time to providing you with a strategy or solution to get past it. The answer you eventually receive will be unmistakable in clarity.

But don’t follow those instructions unless you want to.

All the best,


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July 21, 2008

Homonyms 2

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 5:25 am

I had a dream Friday night questioning the difference between two similar sounding words – Incite and Insight.

Incite means “stimulate or prompt to action” and Insight is defined as “appreciating the true nature of something.”

I got to wondering.

For the most part, I’ve always had “incite” as a negative word in my head, like inciting a riot. Yet there is ample evidence that it has positive connotations such as inciting one’s passion, say to read.

I found my true passion from the insight in that dream – inciting myself and others to appreciate the true nature of things.

It seems we function like lost puppies for much of our lives. Yes, we have careers, relationships, families and dreams, and the joys and sorrows that go along with them. But there comes a point where we aimlessly wander. We may appear to function well, yet we suffer. That could easily be dismissed as being human but that wouldn’t provide all the insight that’s necessary.

What are we wandering to or from?

Seems we incite ourselves to wander towards all the earthly rewards and away from the source of all gifts – insight.

We attempt to figure life out as though it’s a puzzle. That strategy will only get you so far. The difficulty is that some of the puzzle pieces are not on the board, so we consume our life with thinking and activities geared towards looking for something that’s not there. That’s wandering.

When we look outside ourselves for the answer, we always remain hungry for carrots. We keep inciting ourselves to do better, be better, attain more, and spend little time “insighting” ourselves.

The interesting part is that once you take some regular mind quieting time, you begin to discover lost puzzle pieces that fit nicely into the mosaic of your earthly desires without making them the focal point of life.

It would be like heading out to a store with a very specific thing in mind that you needed. Once you arrived at the store, they offered a free demonstration of this mind quieting recording that you could listen to with headphones in a comfortable, reclining chair. After listening, you were refreshed and recharged and all of a sudden discovered that what you really needed was something other than what you came for. This new thing fit more precisely in your life than anything you could have consciously conjured up. That’s the benefit of insight.

Here is a secret I will share with you. When you quiet your mind, you discover this: Insight incites you.

Fuel yourself with insight and you’ll wonder where the wander went.

All the best,


P.S. I request that you check out my websites.

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July 18, 2008

Saying Nothing

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:16 am

Sometimes when a point of view is expressed by another, the best strategy is to say nothing. Quoting the Dalai Lama,

“Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something, and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent.”

There must be a reason the proverb, “Silence is Golden” has remained alive for so long. In the communication Olympics, the silver tongue always takes second place.

Sometimes saying nothing is stuffing back your opinion because it will add nothing to the situation other than deaf ears and hardened feelings. Other times some use this as a strategy to politely nod their heads and tune out. But the most effective benefit of saying nothing is the silence it provides. It seems counter-intuitive but many conversations could benefit by the space of silence. It’s out of this space that inspiring thoughts can spring.

The bevy of pat answers we carry around in our head seem to jump out and break the silence. It has the same effect as breaking wind in church. Sometimes a pat answer may be the only answer, and that’s when it’s most effective. Does the sun rise in the East or West? Give a pat answer. On the witness stand, stick with the facts and give a pat answer.

How bored are you when you have a conversation filled with pre-fabricated answers? They have no communicative energy attached. They are dead words and you are stiff as a corpse when you deliver them.

Give this a go today. When conversing with someone, notice your pat answer coming up and then enter your place of silence. Don’t speak until something fresh presents itself. Sometimes when it’s your turn to talk, the communication can benefit greatly by you remaining silent.

Don’t confuse saying nothing with not having anything to say and saying it anyway. One will keep you in the superficial strata and the other will plunge you into inspiring silence.

All the best,


P.S. Check out my websites.

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