- Thoughts for inspired living

January 23, 2009


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 10:07 am

I think I’m not alone in saying that I watched more campaign, election and inauguration coverage than in years past. I got to see and hear much commentary from the candidates, their seconds, the commentators and pundits of all stripes. The phenomenon that was most interesting to me was the pivot.

If a candidate or spokesperson didn’t want to answer the question asked, they would offer a few words that lead you to believe they were going to go down the answer trail, but quickly and deftly made a pivot move and took us down a side trail where they lead us away from the question.

The problem with that strategy is the question remains, and hangs in the air to be asked again and again. The person who pivots most is known as the king or queen of “conversational dodge ball.” It’s not a coveted title.

There is a better use for pivoting – pivoting towards, rather than away.

When you have a question dogging you, the temptation is to pivot away, but as we learned from the election coverage, it only lives on to bite you another day.

Pivoting towards deals with the question at hand and finally provides some answers to the dilemma.

Pivoting towards begins when you recognize you are putting off the inevitable. When this realization hits, you recognize that your temptation to dodge once again digs you deeper into your “Alice in Wonderland” rabbit hole.

Reminds me of my Aikido training . . .

The most foreign thing to learn in certain martial arts is to step into the attack. Our natural response is to step away. When you step in skillfully, you take the power out of the attacking force and use it against them to propel them in a direction that works better for you.

Pivoting towards allows you to unclutter your mind from baggage you’ve been carrying for years. When you pivot towards your problem, you set the stage and make space for a resolution, rather than another round of results-less retreat that bogs you down.

Dodging is like treading water or swimming upstream. You use lots of energy and get nowhere. You can use that same energy to pivot towards your problem and swim with the tide towards a solution.

What question are you dodging? Noticing what you’re dodging may be all the recognition you need to pivot towards a solution.

Most difficulties don’t solve themselves but we operate from the Pollyanna position that they will if we ignore them once again.

Imitating an ostrich gets you a birds-eye view of your hiding place. Pivoting towards an answer gets your head removed from some other dark hole.

All the best,


Be Sociable, Share!

January 22, 2009

Divine Self

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 10:00 am

It’s difficult for some people to find the life within because they are too busy pursuing the life without.

Eventually, that search comes to a dead end and many don’t recognize they are there until at death’s door.

You would think this group would be made up of people with the biggest egos. It doesn’t seem to be the case. My experience is there are more members of this tribe who think poorly of themselves than there are members who think they have the world on a string.

They can’t find the divinity within because they exclusively trust their intellect. Their logic tells them that no God could make a person as wretched as them; therefore there is no life past the one they are muddling through.

They don’t seek divinity because they know they won’t find it. They get caught up in their life situation and attempt to assuage their disconnectedness with earthly events. They fill their social calendar with “things to do,” because they fear the feeling of being alone with themselves – a self, that if the real world knew, wouldn’t like.

The Grasshopper checked in on this topic when he said,

“When your life is a way station between events, you have no life.”

These people are a tough sell. They are usually lovely individuals, but they don’t know it.

The antidote for this poisoned psyche seems to be time alone. They measurably profit by a dark night of the soul. But getting them to be with themselves is harder than getting your kids to eat vegetables.

They fill their lives with distractions, keeping them from themselves. They will work tirelessly, party vigorously, hardly ever drive without the radio or CD player playing. They give of themselves quite freely and rarely give to themselves.

These folks live in a faraway land that seems far from home, but home is as near as their next quiet moment alone.

These words will only fill up a page rather than fill in a blank for those who don’t take the time to seek the animating force of their life and align with it.

It’s there. All you have to do to find it is: take a break in the action, stop your world, and spend time with yourself. It’s a visit that will change your life from the inside out.

All the best,


Be Sociable, Share!

January 21, 2009


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 9:27 am

The Grasshopper stopped by for tea yesterday and had this to say,

“As long as you pretend that something didn’t happen, the longer you carry around the weight of history on your shoulders.”

Pretending is a valuable gift except when you use it as a vehicle for denial.

Many people cannot acknowledge or face their history, so they cover it over with a fairy tale – a revisionist piece of fantasy that contains none of the foundational pieces of their history. The thinking goes something like this, “If I pretend it didn’t happen, I’m not responsible for anything that has happened.”

The elaborate workaround is designed to take the burden of their past off their shoulders when, in fact, the opposite happens – they become ladened with guilt in their reflective moments. This can lead to behaviors that are designed to smother their senses, loads of activities, drugs, alcohol, etc.

Acknowledgement is the weight reduction program that works.

Everybody has a past and a personal history. It’s not helpful to live there, but that’s exactly what you do when you deny its existence. Pretending creates a double focus. You have to consider something you’ve done in order to deny it. Don’t think of the color “blue.” In order not to think of it, you have to think of it.

It’s like the maxim you learned from your mother. “If you never lie, you’ll never have to work at keeping your story straight.” Many of us ignored Mom’s advice and have paid the price of burdening ourselves with the heavy penalty of pretending.

When you face your denial, a burden is lifted. Yes, it’s quite painful to our ego to admit to our pretending, but the lightness that follows acknowledgement is true freedom.

You can’t run away from your past because it always follows you. You can outgrow its burden though.

It begins by acknowledging the truth. Once you take that step, you lighten your load and don’t have to work at being you any longer.

All the best,


Be Sociable, Share!

January 20, 2009


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:48 am

There has been a LOT of talk about ideology leading up to the swearing in of our new President.

We have been treated to a number of philosophies from the campaign trail through Election Day, right up to today’s inauguration.

The difficulty with ideology is it’s a cemented point of view. The minute you commit, you are stuck. There is little room for flexibility once you marry a theory.

Ideology fragments reality and we attempt to extrapolate that fragment into a one-size-fits-all philosophy that has us miss quite a bit.

There is value to a point of view until that’s the only point you view it from. Then it becomes inflexible dogma that doesn’t encourage discussion but rather engenders argument.

When you dismiss another’s point of view out of hand, you are confined by your theory and incapable of stretching yourself to see another horizon. The world remained flat for Columbus’ detractors – a group of convinced ideologs.

I’ve quoted him before on this topic but it bears repeating. My departed mentor, Dr. Dave Dobson said,

Theory is bullshit. Defending your theory is bullshit squared.”

Have the sensory acuity to notice that something isn’t working even if you have spent your whole life believing in it.

It takes courage to abandon a philosophy that you have argued for endlessly. It’s the type of courage it takes to leap from a burning building into a safety net below. If you don’t take the plunge, you get burned up as you argue for your position.

Theory is a great springboard to truth. Those who remain bouncing up and down on the diving board never dive into reality; they only pretend to know about it.

Is there an argument that you are making that is getting tired? Are you tired of defending a philosophy that isn’t working? Are you brave enough to blaze a new trail?

These are the questions. Your answers will either lead you to a pathway of growth, or left standing on a soapbox with an audience of one.

When your philosophy becomes more flexible, you get more peachy and less preachy.

All the best,


Be Sociable, Share!

January 19, 2009


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 9:07 am

“Monday Monday, can’t trust that day.” So sang the Mamas and Papas many years ago. It got me to wondering about the idea of trust.

There used to be a TV show called “Who Do You Trust?” where Johnny Carson honed his TV chops. There are “trust falls” at scout camps and team building seminars, and we find the words “In God We Trust” on currency and in courtrooms.

It seems we are surrounded by a concept that, on first blush, is in short supply.

What is trust? I think if you examine it carefully, it turns out to be a sensation in our body that we affix a label to called “trust.”

Our nature is to trust. We have been conditioned not to.

The difficulty with the conditioning is that we have moved our sense of trust from our body to our mind where there is always a dichotomy about it. “How can I trust him when he didn’t come through in the past?” “I should trust him though because he’s family.”

The debate goes on and on and trust remains a mental concept.

This is certainly not a suggestion to ignore your experience and become blindly trusting and naïve. That’s one reason we have an intellect – to parse out the wheat from the chaff. That function of our mind is to be celebrated. It will save you a lot of grief, not to mention money.

The downside of evaluation is you stay in your head and ignore your body. That’s like judging the region’s weather by describing the snowfall in your front yard. It turns out to be a false barometer more often than not.

If trust is a feeling, get familiar with what that sensation feels like. Go back in your mind and think of a time when you felt the sensation you call trust and it worked for you. Notice what trust feels like in your body. Then think of another time when you felt the sensation of trust and catalog it.

You are calibrating your body to recognize trust. Practice this until you know what trust feels like for you.

Then, the next time you are in a situation to choose whether to trust or not, check in with body and see if this scenario passes the sniff test.

This simple calibration of your body will allow you to trust in trust once again.

It feels great and it will save you lots of debate.

All the best,


Be Sociable, Share!

January 14, 2009


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:42 am

I’m not a big fan of labeling myself because I find it limiting. For example, the minute you affix “raspberry salesman” to yourself, you may spend the rest of your life attempting to outgrow the label and all the connotations it represents. I have found a label for me that fits. It’s a bit of a dichotomy but it seems apt.

I am a “Social Hermit.”

My definition for that is that I enjoy and can play well with others in a social setting but prefer the solace of home. That was a sticky wicket when I traveled as much as I did for business in the past. I was in social settings every day and my balance was out of whack. I only travel occasionally now and get to enjoy the surroundings of my home and family more. Again, that’s my preference.

Others thrive on social contact and have a hard time staying home. I recognize that and respect their preference.

My sense is that the socialite and hermit within us have to find a working balance in order to bring more fullness to our life situation. A hermit can stagnate and a socialite can burn themselves out. The best option seems to be to find an “ecstatic psychic” – a happy medium.

You probably found yourself leaning to one side or the other when evaluating your preference. That’s quite natural. You may have already found the perfect percentages of each for yourself and that’s to be applauded.

If on the other hand, you notice that your preference is causing you more harm than good, it may be time to call a meeting between your socialite and hermit and work out a schedule each can live with. It’s called stretching yourself and it’s more beneficial than Yoga.

I read a quote from St. Augustine that opened my eyes to my socialite. He wrote:

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”

It reminded me of how fortunate I’ve been to visit so many of the places I have, and to be enriched by the people I have met.

Others need to find their hermit – the part of them that grounds them to home base. If you are uncomfortable at home, you live in a house. You could also benefit by stretching.

I don’t think there is a percentage that works the same for everyone, but everyone has an optimum percentage. If you find yourself torn between your socialite and hermit, or leaning too far to one side or the other, it’s time to rebalance your personal portfolio and find the joys both parts of you can bring.


All the best,


Be Sociable, Share!

January 13, 2009

Small Talk

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 4:46 pm

It seems as though it’s the currency of connection, but in the long haul, it’s Monopoly money – Small talk.

It’s a great way to warm up a conversation but many people never pivot off it and it becomes mindless chatter that fills the air.

I’m in “Smalltalkville” today. I’m traveling on airplanes on my way to conduct seminars in Birmingham and Huntsville, Alabama. I will interact with many travelers today, most of whom will go no further than thimble deep.

Many small talkers are just that – talkers. They have no interest in you, they just want to regurgitate what’s running around in their mind in hopes that saying it again will make it go away. They will go non-stop without breathing for multiple sentences at a time. It’s assaulting.

Small talkers hardly ever make a connection and are completely forgettable the minute you leave their sphere.

Small talkers are the hardest people to reach because there is no space in their mind for something new to enter. They are jam packed with facts and figures and numbing blather that perpetually replenishes itself.

I am fortunate to know about pattern interrupts. That’s a way to interrupt people on many levels – visually, auditorily, and kinesthetically – so that there’s momentary breathing room to insert something into the conversation to take them a bit deeper. Reminds me of a story from a half hour ago . . .

I took my seat on the plane and the guy next to me says he and the guy next to him were hoping that I would be a woman. I told him we were going to be part of the all boys club on this flight.

About 10 minutes later, after some non-stop, one-way chatter to the guy next to him, the expletives became more frequent. I noticed the woman in the seat in front of us and the woman across the aisle were shifting in their seat with each four letter utterance that came out. I turned to him and interrupted, “Let’s pretend I was a woman, would you be using the same words you are now?” He said, “No” and that was the last we heard of him until landing in Charlotte. He did manage to smile and wave at babies across the aisle. I also noticed a wry smile from the woman in front of us when I made the comment.

By all means, reach out and interact. It’s an acknowledgement of the other’s presence and it can be quite pleasant, informative, entertaining and a great way to connect. I guess the reminder is to notice there’s another person in the conversation with you, and that there are others within earshot around you. It’s respectful, it enriches you both, and the best news is you don’t have to reach out and choke them.

All the best,


Be Sociable, Share!

January 12, 2009


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:46 am

Do you have heroes?

I remember a host of them growing up – cowboys, superheroes, athletes and musicians.

These are typically people we would like to be like. Such was the case with my older sister’s boyfriend. He was everything I wasn’t. He could play all sports well, especially basketball. He was extremely competitive and smart as a whip. He was a great story teller and could make people laugh. He had the muscles I didn’t and a drive to succeed at whatever he tackled.

He and my sister got married rather young and had 4 children together. They moved away so we didn’t get to see them that often but, when we did, it was always great fun and camaraderie.

Years later, they divorced but I still got to see him during family functions that involved their children. It was always as if no time had passed. We would engage as though we had seen each other yesterday. My mother and father still loved him and so did I. We didn’t exchange Christmas cards or call each other on the phone but that connection was always alive.

He battled some personal demons along the way and eventually put them behind him, just like he did when he would leave you in the dust in a foot race.

Sadly, today, he’s at death’s doorstep, surrounded by his children saying their goodbyes. It’s a heavy time for all of us, close and distant alike.

As I grew older, I eventually got to see my hero as a person just like me – one with skills and flaws. My main memory of him will always be the dashing, fearless, fun to be around young man with loads of charm.

What I came to learn through knowing him as a person is that if you attempt to keep someone on a pedestal, you set yourself up for disappointment. It’s really unfair to all involved because holding on to heroes makes their fall even harder. You both suffer by putting the weight of unrealistic expectations on their shoulders and not allowing them to let their hair down. They eventually fall down and so do you.

It’s wonderful to admire people and emulate their traits. That helps you grow. The moment you expect something more from another than is humanly possible, you tarnish your hero, and you stay stuck.

I have been immeasurably enriched by getting to know my hero as a person whose animating spirit is about to change form. I treasure his memory and will call on his spirit in my times of need.

I love you, Joe!

Be Sociable, Share!

January 9, 2009

Mitigation & Justification

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 9:24 am

I watch enough Law & Order to know the names of the crimes people are charged with: 1st degree murder, 2nd degree murder, manslaughter, depraved indifference, etc.

Conviction on a lesser count means less prison time. The defense, if they have a weak case, will plea bargain for their client to be sentenced for a lesser crime and spare the legal system the expense and time a trial would take. Many cases are settled out of court this way.

The thing that we lose sight of in the midst of all the wrangling and machinations is that someone died. No label will change that fact.

Mitigation and Justification are the two smoke bombs we set off when we don’t want to admit to reality. Our purpose is to cloud others’ vision, so that we can escape facing the reality they represent.

How much time do you spend in your head justifying what you do?

How many scenarios do you run through in your mind that present your unproductive actions as “not so bad?”

Reminds me of a story . . . about 30 years ago I applied for a radio job in Philadelphia – the city where I grew up. I was working in Syracuse at the time and was looking to make a move to a bigger market. I was invited down for an interview and it went very well. There was a connection. About a week later, I got a call from the Philadelphia program director. He said, “I’ve got good news and bad news.” The good news (for him) was that he was able to hire Joe Niagra, a well known Philly personality. The bad news (for me) was I didn’t get the job.

I remember what I said to him when I got the disappointing news. It was a piece of rare, unvarnished honesty that just slipped out. I said, “If I were in your position, and had the choice between me and Joe Niagra, I would have picked Joe too.” The interesting thing about the story is that 3 years later this fellow moved to Providence and remembered me and hired me there.

When we sugarcoat the truth or water it down, everyone suffers.

Just listen to the conversations around you – in the supermarket, airport, bus stop, drug store, hair salon, or water cooler. If you pay attention, you will be treated to a multitude of mitigation and justification. More importantly, notice it in your own head.

You will always be two steps from the truth when you mitigate or justify. The truth is: no one believes you – not even you – when you justify or mitigate your actions.

The preservation of our made up self image is at stake. We deny and lie to keep a puppet alive. It’s a lot of work with a small payday.

Is there a justification you’ve been keeping on life support for a lot of years? Have you mitigated something so much that it no longer even resembles the reality it was and still is?

It may be time to look in the mirror and find the truth. As I’ve said before, mirrors have no agenda. They don’t justify or mitigate. They only reflect back reality.

The comfort and ease that accompanies the truth will mitigate the angst you keep alive by justifying your actions.

All the best,


Be Sociable, Share!

January 8, 2009


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

I had a brief visit with The Grasshopper this morning. He said,

“Giving begins when withholding ends.”

It got me curious about these two actions – giving and withholding.

True giving has no expectation. There is no Quid pro quo considered by a genuine giver. If there is, that’s no longer giving but deal making.

No caring father or mother nursing a sick child is saying, “I’m giving this care in order to reserve my place in heaven.”

Pure giving expects nothing in return. The reward comes from the giving itself.

Conditional giving is really withholding. You are holding out for something before you are willing to give. Withholding has an air of uncertainty about it which leads to constriction, rather than the flow that giving creates.

Withholders tend to be sickly. When you cannot open up to the flow of life, life doesn’t flow that well through your body.

Some withholders are afraid to allow themselves to flow. The fear that keeps them from giving of themselves is the conditioned misperception that they are not enough. Their withholding doesn’t come from stinginess, but rather fear.

Other withholding stems from a sense of superiority. When you think you are a rung or two up on most others, giving translates into “giving away” your position of “King of the Hill.” So you hold on to your illusionary spot and all flow ceases.

Giving is not a consciously arrived at state. It comes without pre-thought. Yet it will rarely come if we’re highly invested in withholding.

What are you withholding? Whatever you are withholding from the world, the world is withholding from you.

War ends when peace begins. Flow begins when withholding ends.

The question isn’t “What should I be giving?” Giving will come naturally and effortlessly when your withholding ends.

Begin to wonder what it is that you are withholding from the world. Then open that valve a little and feel how wonderful it is to take the pressure off and let yourself flow. This is the beginning step to a life of giving that allows life to flow in both directions – out to others and back to you.

All the best,


P.S. If you need an excuse to celebrate today, it’s Elvis’ birthday.

Be Sociable, Share!

Next Page »