- Thoughts for inspired living

August 14, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:34 am

This is one of the simplest things to do and, yet, it is not easy – Separation.

You can separate the whites from the colors when doing laundry. You can separate two kindergarteners scrapping on the playground. You can even separate a dog from his bone (be careful with this one). We seem to have trouble separating people from their behavior.

The Grasshopper whispered this the other day: “My thoughts about you aren’t you.”

I sat with the phrase for a moment and knew it was about judgement. When I’m having judgmental thoughts about someone, I’m really assessing their behaviors and not them. If I fail to separate the two, I miss an opportunity to make a connection with the person. Reminds me of yesterday . . .

My son was on vacation and we had our yearly father/son golfing outing. The pro shop paired us up with a couple of guys we didn’t know. We made brief introductions and shared some small talk before teeing off. The club had signs posted that no alcoholic beverages could be brought onto the premises. The rule is less about people getting drunk on the golf course and more about them making money selling it to you. There is also a standard rule that you don’t drive your golf cart past a certain point on each hole. There are reminder signs posted on each hole near the area to avoid. These fellows broke out their private stash of beer by the 2nd hole. They also drove their cart past the warning signs and parked it right next to the green. They were immediately admonished by an official at the club. When their clubs dug chunks of dirt and grass (divots) off the fairway, they didn’t replace them – a common practice. Even Tiger Woods does it. Did I mention they smoked cigars? I found myself judging these guys. The gift of awareness didn’t come for a couple more holes when I discovered I was equating their behavior with them. I had set up a wall between us.

I then separated the behavior from the people and something magical happened – camaraderie formed. We learned more about the golf course from the one guy and the other guy provided many laughs that my son and I would not have enjoyed had separation not happened. I had shut them out due to my judgements and was about to miss out on all they had to offer had I continued.

There is always something to be gained by interactions with others. Many times we shun the interaction through judgement. We fail to separate the behavior from the person. It reminds me of what one of my mentors, the late Dr. Dave Dobson would say, “Get closer to someone who makes you uncomfortable and notice their patterns. You will discover not only more about them but about yourself as well.”

The next time you’re separating an egg white from its yolk, bear this in mind, if you don’t use this same practice with people, you may stumble, and as the old joke says, “the yolk’s on you.”

All the best,


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August 13, 2008

Formative Years

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:35 am

Did you ever notice that “formative” and “family” begin with the same letter?

Most of who we become as a person is set in that time frame we spend as part of a family. Family can range anywhere from “The Waltons” to “The Osbornes” or any level of functionality that lies in between. An orphanage may well have been your family structure. Whatever the case, they’ve added to the conditioning of your form.

My neighbor, Kathy gave me a book to read about a dysfunctional family. It’s called, “The Glass Castle.” It’s an autobiographical look at the upbringing of writer and reporter Jeannette Walls. I won’t spoil the book for you by revealing too much of its contents. Suffice it to say, it ain’t pretty, yet eye opening.

There is enough debate about “Nature” and “Nurture” on who we become that I’m sure there is truth attached to each position. The debate revolves around the question, “Are we formed by our innate, hard wired qualities or our experience?” According to Wikipedia, the famous psychologist Donald Hebb is said to have once answered a journalist’s question of “which, nature or nurture, contributes more to personality?” by asking in response, “which contributes more to the area of a rectangle, its length or its width?”

The formative years do contribute and our family is quite responsible for a portion of who we turned out to be. I’m certain there are pluses and minuses we could all cite. I’d like to focus on the plus column.

I can only speak first-hand about my own family. I’ve had two of them – the one I grew up in and the one I helped raise. The interesting thing I notice is attitudes. Please define attitude as “angle of approach.” I witness myself having a response to something and then get the gift of awareness that it was my mother or father responding, not me. I then get to see one of my sons respond to something and notice it’s me responding, not him.

There is a certain pride when you see the plus side of inherited attitude. It means you received or passed on something worthwhile. Whatever part of Jeannette Walls’ unenvied upbringing we recoil at, there is little question that part of it helped form the successful attitudes she formed to achieve the success she enjoys. We all enjoy some sort of success because of the attitudes we absorbed.

I know there are case history books filled with the damage that’s been done by adopted attitudes that immerse us neck deep in mud. There are strategies to help with that. I’m just curious if we give enough credit for our plus side to the people who we also blame for our limiting attitudes.

So no matter what your upbringing, can you find something about yourself that you like, that you can attribute to someone from your formative years?

Take a moment today and celebrate that attitude and express gratitude that you received it, no matter from whom.

All the best,


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August 12, 2008

Start Here

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:12 am

It’s pretty hard to get where you’re going if you don’t know where you are.

Most of us are experts on where we have been but that’s little help in getting to where you are going.

It’s all a matter of focus. The comical phrase “You can’t get there from here” is always inaccurate. “Here” is always the starting point. You can’t start from “there” because you aren’t there now, you’re here. Before this becomes an Abbott & Costello routine, let’s just say that it would be productive to find out where you are before you step in any direction.

This is less about caution and more about prudence.

You won’t figure out every contingency in your planned journey to go somewhere. If you attempt to do that, you will never take the first step. It’s like the old dodge to avoid marriage – “We’ll get married when we have enough money.” That’s like saying, “I’ll diet when I lose some weight.” But enough about caution.

The foundational piece to travel someplace new is to know where you are now. Reminds me of a story . . .

Charles Barkley and Larry Bird are both Hall of Fame, basketball players. Larry won championships; Charles didn’t. Charles played to his strength; Larry went to work on his weaknesses. If someone scored on Larry while he was playing defense, he would take the ball out of bounds and immediately flip it up court to an open man who had an advantage on his defender. Charles, when scored on, would take the ball out of bounds, put his head down, pound the ball and berate himself. He missed his open teammate by this repeated action. Charles didn’t know where he was – Larry did.

When you get lost in your head, you are not here and it would be unwise to step off in any direction.

“Here” is getting out of your head, and it is always the most advantageous starting point.

You are always at a location that doesn’t exist when you are stuck inside your head. It’s the land of make believe. Reality is “Here” with a different spelling.

When you get out of your head, you make choices based on what’s here, right now. It’s called noticing reality. Every time we go in our head, we dodge reality and wind up stepping off in a direction that leads us in circles.

Finding the off ramp involves truly discovering where you are right now – here. That way it’s easier to plot a course for your next step.

All the best,


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August 11, 2008

Crystal Ball Gazing

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:19 am

Ten years ago today I began a new job. It lasted a little over 3 years. I got to thinking how different my life is today than it was ten years ago. I’m not alone in that assessment. Many people can easily look back on their lives and see many differences between then and now.

In retrospect, it’s easy to see how certain doors opened up when others closed. Whoever said, “Hindsight is 20/20” was a very perceptive person.

A real challenge is to look forward with the same perspicuity. The standard interview question of “Where do you see yourself five years from now?” is a great test for eliciting an applicant’s planning strategy but a poor precursor to what will actually transpire.

Is there a way to bring the next 10 years into clearer focus? There are the goal setting strategies and planning protocols that can be useful. There is also a technique from the NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming) community called “Future Pacing” that is also quite helpful. This strategy has you play out your current plan in your mind and see how it feels somewhere down the line. Reminds me of a story . . .

Many years ago my wife from another life was recruited to interview for a managerial assistant’s position at a factory. She came home and told me all about the opportunity – nice people, better pay, a regular schedule. As an aside, she said the area around her potential desk was a bit dusty. Apparently it came in from the factory floor. I asked her to imagine driving to that job every day for 6 months, getting out of her car, walking into the building and sitting down at her desk and seeing the dusty floor. “How does that feel?” I asked. Her face screwed up and she said, “I’m not sure that would be something I would ever get used to.” She chose to pass on the opportunity.

But there are some things that show up unexpectedly no matter how adeptly we plan or prepare for the future. So how do we best prep for the future?

The answer is: Learn to respond.

The art of responding will insure that whatever the future presents, you’ll have the ability to respond versus react. You can’t prepare for every eventuality but you can install the framework to deal with any of them, and the work begins now.

Now is the time to respond. What’s right in front of you now? That’s what you respond to. If you train yourself to respond, it really won’t matter what the future holds, because you will have built enough trust in your response capability to weather any storm or to accept any gift.

Reacting is a hit and miss strategy conditioned by the past. Responding is noticing the reality that is before you right now and taking the time to choose a response. The short time it takes to throw in the clutch and choose a response will make all the difference in the world as to how your future turns out. Your future depends on how this moment turns out. Teach yourself to respond to this moment.

You can easily tell what your future will be if you remain at the mercy of your reactions. It will be just what you have now. The only difference is you’ll be older.

Reacting is being a slave to the past; responding is using the gift of free will.

Which future do you want?

All the best,


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August 8, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:22 am

Do you have a motto? According to Wikipedia, a motto is a phrase meant to formally describe the general motivation or intention of a social group or organization. The modern day usage has come to mean “words to live by.”

Do you have a personal motto? There are so many to choose from.

“Life is too short to drink cheap wine.”

“Don’t let the bastards get you down.”

“Stop whining.”

The list is endless.

I think it’s wonderful to have values and encapsulate them in a motto for quick reference. The difficulty I encounter with many people is they want their motto to be your motto. That practice has the success rate of converting someone to your religion. The telltale sign that you’re dealing with a motto is the precursor phrase, “It’s like I always say.”

The larger difficulty is the person preaching their motto lacks the sensory acuity to notice they aren’t getting through. That doesn’t make the prattling cease. It intensifies. They are so blinded that their way is the only way that they go on automatic pilot with their missionary mantra and it takes on a life of its own.

These people become caricatures and lose their humanness and approachability. They are so caught up in right and wrong that they box themselves into a corner of the world that no one else wants to inhabit.

The way out of “Mottoville” is simple and takes practice.

First, notice that people aren’t paying attention to you. That will take some outer attention. You have to get out of your head.

Next, begin to morph your motto by eliminating “right” and “wrong” from it and replacing those words with the word “preference.”

Preference communicates your position without making the other person wrong. “I prefer to eat with my elbows off the table” is much more communicative than “As I always say, people shouldn’t put their elbows on the table.” If you can’t see the difference, you’re manacled to your motto.

It’s like The Grasshopper said the other day,

“If you live in a world of right and wrong, you will always have enemies.”

Here’s my motto: Stop beating people over the head with yours.

All the best,


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August 7, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:18 am

I’m not very photogenic. It’s not a complaint; just a fact. Most pictures of me are not very flattering. This reminds me of a famous quote of golfing great, Lee Trevino when assessing golf clubs. He said,

“It’s not the arrow; it’s the Indian.”

This Indian (I am 1/128th Cherokee) is not very photogenic. The best pictures of me are when my attention is on something other than the camera. When I see candid shots of me doing something, the pictures are easier on my eyes. Reminds me of a story . . .

I remember having a picture taken for my website I went to this photographer who had a high end digital camera and she took several shots of me. We looked at them right away in her camera’s preview window and I didn’t like any of them. I had what my friend Howard calls the “coat hanger” smile. I came up with a solution. I told Diane that I was going to pretend I was at one of my seminars and just deliver my message the way I would if I was actually in the seminar setting. I asked her to photograph me in action. The strategy produced what I deemed a representative photo.

I got to wondering about what the difference was. The answer came quickly. It was the false face of the ego.

My definition of this mask we wear is: “The person you made up and got comfortable with.” The photographs I didn’t like exhibited this façade. There was a lot of trying on my part when being photographed – trying to put my best mask forward. Every time I did this, I failed.

This recognition goes deeper than photographs. How many times do we put on a face that has nothing to do with who we are? We always taint an interaction when we do this. The base fear is that we are not enough, so we have to add something. That’s like adding two teaspoons of sugar to a can of Coca-Cola. It’s always too much, not original and leaves a bad taste.

What would happen if you brought the real you to the picnic? I think you will be pleasantly surprised. It’s a matter of allowing yourself the freedom to be vulnerable and show the underside of your belly. The benefit is you become more human and more approachable when you take off the mask, and your interactions become authentic. Not only that, you’ll look great in the pictures.

All the best,


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August 6, 2008

Where’s Your Attention?

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:07 am

It seems there are so many places to put your attention. On closer inspection though, it comes down to persons, places or things.

Let’s look at them in reverse order.

Things. When we place our attention on things, we are either working with them or giving thought to them. Too much attention placed on things has us destined to be a left brained, analytical type that needs to get out more and play with others.

Places. When places capture our attention we are either daydreaming about the future or reminiscing about the past or we just got transferred to Albuquerque. Too much attention on places may get you an “A” in geography or a position on the editorial board of Condé Nast, but it will keep you landlocked.

Persons. This is the attention mother lode. There are two choices for attention within the “Persons” category – yourself or others. Most of us pay too much attention to ourselves and very little to others. When we give too much attention to ourselves, others disappear. Yes, we may be having interactions with them, but please trust me, they are not there. We don’t see them and they don’t feel us.

We get just about everything that comes to us in life from other people. Doesn’t it make sense to give this delivery person more of our attention? They are quite deserving of it. And the side benefit of giving attention is that we are amply rewarded by this treasure trove of humanity.

Other people provide our lives with the richness that is lost when we are holed up playing video games or watching a Law & Order marathon. This isn’t a rant on taking time for personal pleasures; it’s more of a suggestion to gain more perspective on what or, more specifically, who gets your attention.

Here is an exercise that will immediately enrich your life and it takes very little practice to master it. In your next conversation, give your full attention to the other person. The minute that you find yourself going into your head to formulate a response while they are talking, bring your full attention back to them. Pay full attention to what they are showing you and telling you. The first thing you will notice is less tension in your body. Contemplating responses is a tension filled activity. A natural response creates no tension. Trust yourself to have a natural, appropriate response show up when it’s your time to respond.

These type communications will prosper all participants. It’s all a matter of attention.

This is such a basic idea that proves itself time after time. I’m surprised we haven’t taken fuller advantage of this practice.

So let me ask, “Where is your attention?”

All the best,


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August 5, 2008

High Gear

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:28 am

What is the triggering mechanism that gets you into high gear? Perhaps a story will provide an answer . . .

I used to work with the world’s laziest engineer. He had what my mother called a “fainting ass.” That meant he never walked by a chair that he didn’t fall into. Once he sat down you knew you were about to be regaled with excuses and stories about why he didn’t do what you had asked him to do. Getting him up out of a chair and working on a project was a full time job in itself. However, you got to see a whole different side of him when an emergency presented itself. His best work was done during emergencies. They launched him into high gear.

Do you need an emergency to get you into high gear? If so, you’re in trouble. I cannot tell you the number of people who have come to my weight loss seminars with the express purpose of losing enough weight so they would be healthy enough to live through a necessary surgical procedure. That’s what it took for them to get into high gear. Side note: Regarding your health, remember the words of British Author, Rose Tremain who said, “Life is not a dress rehearsal.”

What does it take to get you into high gear? It’s something worth investigating if you don’t already know the answer. We all need high gear. Many of us, through conditioning, attempt to maintain an even keel. That means we avoid highs and lows. Our life remains in the middle which has no high gear, or low gear for that matter. That is a major denial of reality where you exhibit the indifference of the safe zone.

Some people never engage their high gear because it’s deemed too risky. The antidote for that mindset is the quote from hockey great, Wayne Gretzky who said, “I miss 100% of the shots I never take.” That’s not a suggestion to shoot every time; it’s more of a blueprint to rise above bland.

Life is more than actuarial data. That sort of information provides a report on history and, at best, generates odds worth considering when contemplating a risk. If you always play the odds, you will wind up breaking even. It’s like the sports axiom you hear when a team ties another team, “it’s like kissing your sister.”

People who avoid high gear are avoiding risk. Next time you are on the highway, notice the signage on all the passing trucks. Each one of these businesses had a beginning and you can bet that there was risk involved. Someone got into high gear and made it happen.

This is not a suggestion to drive in high gear all the time. That practice will contribute to crash and burn quicker than anything. It’s more of a reminder that we were all given a high gear, and a nudge to entertain the notion of using it more often, instead of only for emergencies.

All the best,


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August 4, 2008

Major Leagues

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:53 am

Seems most young men who excel at baseball hold a vision of playing in the “big” leagues. Some make it to the minor leagues but most of them get stuck at that level. They are destined to play in a different stadium than the one of their dreams. If you’re not a baseball fan, read on.

The question is: “What keeps us stuck?” The answer is pretty basic. It’s the quality of our response.

Our conscious mind is a stimulus/response machine. Notice that the same stimulus continues to produce the same response. That’s a limited playing field. A door to the big leagues is recognizing this fact – Your life is determined by the responses you make. You cannot control what type of pitch the opposing pitcher will throw, or at what speed. You can only produce a response. If you are striking out a lot, chances are your response mechanism is on automatic pilot and you’re walking back to the dugout with your head down a lot, or worse, beating up the water cooler.

The ticket to the big club is beginning to recognize the patterned responses you have to any number of given stimuli. Noticing that they aren’t working is the easy part. The real work begins when you start interrupting a patterned response while it’s happening and choose another. This evens the playing field.

Every thought in your head is a response to a stimulus – known or unknown. We are responding all the time. It will beef up your batting average if you begin to notice your thought machine at work. The major league metamorphosis begins when you notice that the stimulus is unimportant. It’s only your response that increases your on base percentage.

Spend time today just noticing the pitches that your mind throws you. Just observe them as they go past you. There will be a continuous stream of fastballs, sliders, change-up’s, knuckle balls, and curves. As the thoughts pass by, notice your response to them. This is batting practice. You are conditioning yourself to notice how your mind works.

Many players make the mistake of waiting for their pitch. They strike out a lot through misplaced anticipation. Waiting for the right stimulus to come along has you miss a lot of opportunities. The appropriate response is available on every pitch; you just have to dig for it.

If we remain a slave to our patterned responses, our chances of hitting home runs remains diminished. Step up to the plate today and recognize it doesn’t matter who is pitching. It’s your response that will insure that you make contact. That’s truly keeping your eye on the ball.


All the best,





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August 1, 2008

3 Act Play

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:10 am

It seems reasonable to me that life is a 3 act play.

Act 1. Who I am

Act 2. Where am I going?

Act 3. Here is where I am

Judging by personal and professional experience, Act 1 is the longest followed in longevity by Act 2 and Act 3.

Act 1. This is the collection of scenes that adds to the backdrop of the role I’m playing. It’s the building of my self-image that is contributed to by my social, cultural and parental conditioning. I have name, reputation, occupation, marital or parental status, social security number and a host of other markers that indicate who I am.

Act 2. This is the sequence of events that causes me to question the path I’m traveling. This is a personal inquiry that is best highlighted by the Peggy Lee song, “Is That All There Is?” The façade of the image we present begins to crack. There is a period of time where we attempt to mend those cracks in hopes of getting back the image we were questioning in the first place. When that doesn’t work, we search for depths that have teased us but eluded us in the past.

Act 3. This one comes along later in life for most. If it had a name, it would be called “Discovery.” This is the clarity we’ve been seeking. This is when the strong wind of gentle change blows away the illusion of who I am. We peek behind the curtain and discover that we’ve been here all along. The prop of personality has been put into perspective as we find out that it was just a pseudo-decoration that hid the real us which can only be discovered in the here and now.

Epilog: We’re on the same stage for our entire life. Only the props make it look different and hide its true essence. The sooner we reach Act 3, the quicker we will, as they say in music, resolve the chord. This is when we live in accord with our true nature and truly begin to appreciate our life.

Here is the discovery I’ve made: Real life is only a 1 act play.

All the best,


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