- Thoughts for inspired living

July 31, 2009

Rent vs. Own

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:46 am

Are you a renter or an owner? Before you answer, this is not about housing.

This is about beliefs and behaviors.

What beliefs and behaviors do you rent and which ones do you have a deed to?

Many people claim they’re owners when, in fact, they only rent.

We all have beliefs and behaviors that we own – valuable and not so valuable. The ones that are serving us well deserve a place of high honor. When we recognize the ones that aren’t so revered, it’s time for some remodeling.

Those of us that rent beliefs are trying them on for size to see if they’re a fit.

Here’s the difficulty I’ve run into in the past and that you may be experiencing now – pretending.

When you continually pretend owning things that you actually rent, you build a reputation as someone who is a talker and not a do-er. People stop paying attention to you and tune you out.

It’s wonderful to be enthused about something new and want to talk about your new found discovery. It’s another thing to become a preacher of the practice while you’re in rent mode. You may get some followers the first few times you give your sermon, but the collection plate soon becomes filled with dust. Reminds me of a story . . .

Many years ago when all the boys were still at home, I was invited to a birthday party in Pennsylvania where a lot of the people I grew up with would be attending. It was about a 5 hour ride and the whole family was coming. We would visit and stay with relatives in the area and my wife and I could attend the party.

All five of us could have all fit in my Pontiac Grand-Am but it would have been a tight squeeze for such a long ride. I decided to rent a brand new Lincoln Town Car for the trip. It was big and roomy and it looked sweet! We had a smooth, comfortable ride down and back. It was during the party that things got bumpy.

The husband of one of my old classmates took notice of the car and engaged me in conversation about it. I made no effort to explain that I didn’t own it. I let the assumption of ownership hang in the air and started to talk about some of my accomplishments in hyperbolic terms. I was pretending and bragging. I should mention here that I dated his wife in high school. My chest was inflated and his ego had a giant pin prick in it.

The party ended and eight of us continued to celebrate at a nearby bar. The guy I had been regaling with my accomplishments earlier engaged my wife in conversation and it eventually got around to the luxury car. She said, “Oh that thing, honey, it’s just a rental.” With that, this guy in a loud voice announced to our group, “The drinks are on me!”

The jig was up. I was exposed as a pretender.

Had I continued to make a practice of this sort of behavior, I would own the reputation of a renter and not an owner – a talker not a do-er. It was a lesson well learned.

People eventually tune talkers out, even when they have something valuable to say. It’s the boy who cried “Wolf” one too many times syndrome.

If your complaint is that people don’t take you seriously, take a look at your preaching track record. Were you putting out something you didn’t own? That’s called renting self-esteem – pretending.

A bible phrase says, Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” The interpretation is to do your good deeds in silence and you will be rewarded for them exponentially.

Silence the preaching of what you rent. No one is paying attention. When you own something of value, you no longer need to pretend and people will listen with rapt attention.

All the best,



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July 30, 2009


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

When I was a young boy my proper Swedish Grandmother corrected me when I said, “Excuse me” when I wanted to be pardoned.

Her lesson was you say, “Excuse me” when you want to leave the room and “Pardon me” when you want to be pardoned for offensive behavior, like belching loudly as young boys do.

So, fast forward to our teen and adult years . . . we begin using an excuse as a way to get pardoned. It rarely works.

Don’t most of us have the word “Excuse” filed in the non desirable category? We have to qualify it with the word “legitimate” in order to make it acceptable.

Excuses, by and large, don’t get us pardons but that doesn’t keep us from dropping them like confetti.

I wonder what would happen if we spent the same amount of time that we dedicate to crafting excuses to doing the thing we want to be pardoned for not doing. Novel idea!

Find your excuse and you find your problem.

Are you making excuses for someone else? That’s even deeper do-do!

What do we make excuses for? – Behavior.

Behavior is a measurable action. Excuses ask us not to take a measurement.

“Don’t judge me on my behavior, judge me on my intention” seems to be the plea of the Excusee.

The first cousin of an excuse is a justification – another pardon seeker.

If you can envision excuses as roadblocks, you have a general idea why we can’t move forward with them in place.

Here’s our collective assignment for today. Let’s find a long standing excuse that we issue over and over and commit to never using it again.

That doesn’t mean the behavior won’t show up again; it just means that we won’t prop it up with the inaction of an excuse.

When we stop making excuses, we become more focused on the behavior. It’s much easier to go to work on a behavior when it isn’t surrounded by an entourage of excuses.

I hope you’ll pardon me if I’ve offended you with this rather loud belch. I’m now excusing myself from the room.

All the best,



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July 29, 2009


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:33 am

We’ve all been exposed to enough bad TV to have heard this phrase during a robbery scene: “Your money or your life.”

If we are presented with this type of choice, the choice we make is to give up almost anything but our life.

The choice seems so clear cut, so obvious, yet it doesn’t play out that way in our everyday life.

On a daily basis we choose anything but our life.

We can easily see the logic of this crucial choice during a formal intervention where family members, close friends and counselors caucus to present this choice to someone taking dangerous amounts of drugs or washing their life away with alcohol – “Your drugs or your life!”

Life has two definitions – Your life story and the life force that animates you.

The life we hang on to is our life story and the one we give up is our animating force.

When you clutch your life story so tightly, you constrict the amount of life force that can flow through you.

When someone takes themselves below consciousness on a regular basis by acting stupidly with alcohol, they have chosen the justification of their life story over the force of life. Watch someone who drinks to the point of numbness transform before your very eyes. You witness their life force drain as they choose their life story again.

The real choice for all of us is this: Your story or your life!

What are you giving up your life for? Is it really worth it?

The only question you have to answer is: “Does the choice you make give you more life or less life?”

If you choose to hang on to anger, you have chosen anger over life. If you choose to hold on to a grudge, you have given up your life for a feeling of resentment. If you choose to add to the façade you show to the world, you have given up your life for superficiality.

In order for life to flow through you, you have to let go of your life story – the justification you make for choosing diminishment over the infusion of life.

Look at how life flows into your passion; watch how it drains from your addiction.

We become addicted to our life story, and by doing so, we keep our life force from flowing.

Allowing life to fully animate us is our life’s mission. We began our life that way and then lost our way. The trip back begins by letting go of our life’s story.

So the real life choice is this: “Your story or your life?”

I encourage you to pick quickly, because the choice becomes less obvious each day that you keep life away.

All the best,



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July 28, 2009

What Am I Missing?

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:47 am

When we ask the question, “What am I missing?” we become aware of our failure to notice.

Some people have an uncanny knack for noticing things. They’re called detectives.

It’s time to hire a private eye if you keep asking yourself, “What am I missing?”

The good news is that sleuth is already on staff, we just don’t use them often enough.

Our personal Columbo becomes activated when we remember that we have a part of us that notices.

What this observant part of us notices best is what’s going on in the moment. It notices our behavior while it’s happening. The thing we most often miss is our own behavior. Behavior is what determines what happens in our life.

Behavior is what delivers results or lack thereof.

Our behavior is often hidden from our view. We have a tendency to project this hidden behavior onto others and make it their issue rather than our own. The reason we don’t see the behavior in ourselves is because we are not paying attention to what we do. We have completely given our focus to what others are doing.

Therapist and philosopher, Carl Jung said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate.”

Jung was letting us know that we don’t notice our behavior and there’s a price for not doing so.

Most of what we do goes on outside of conscious awareness. We just don’t have the capacity to pay conscious attention to everything. Attempting to do so would overload our abilities and keep us playing catch up. That’s called control.

It’s not necessary to notice everything. It’s just necessary to notice that we have the ability to notice.

Every time we remember to apply our observational skills to ourselves, we shine the light of awareness on our behavior. The net effect is we notice the origin of what causes things to happen or not happen in our life. We now have something to work towards rather than mulling over the mystery of “What’s missing?”

It’s hard to work on a problem area in your life if you don’t notice it. Personal problems have behavior attached. Begin to activate your ability to notice your own behavior more often and watch the missing pieces of the puzzle start to jump out at you.

All the best,



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July 27, 2009


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:25 am

I watched with rapt interest last week as I witnessed people beginning to take sides on a slice of life that captivated the news.

The book title will probably be, “The Professor vs. The Police.”

Playing the part of a witness allowed me to see how taking sides is the precursor to a continental divide.

Each camp had ruffled feathers and their spokespersons had the stony appearance of being right.

If there is a force of evil, my guess is its motto would be “Divide and Conquer.” Pit one against the other and the focus will never be on a solution but on the perpetuation of the rift.

All parties contributed to the divide including the President of the United States.

Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher reminded us all to “Do the difficult things when they are easy and do the great things when they are small.”

My son is a police officer and I called him on Friday to wish him “Happy Birthday!” We naturally discussed the story of the professor and the police. He gave me some insight into police procedures that I was unaware of and we talked about how the camps were forming.

We agreed that the continued formation of sides would do nothing to solve the problem and, in fact, contribute to its escalation. The Grasshopper injected himself into the conversation and said that one of two O’s was necessary to diffuse this controversy – Oprah or Obama.

The thought was that one of these two popular, influential people had to bring the sides together and make sure this issue didn’t take on a life of its own and nip it in the bud. Imagine my surprise when later that day one of those scenarios happened.

Props to the President . . . he made the overture to both aggrieved parties to come together before their situation became a linchpin for continued division.

Arguing for rightness after a certain point becomes drama. Drama makes solutions nearly impossible. The best piece of advice I ever heard on solving volatile situations was, “Shorten the storm.”

I believe there is a lesson in this situation for all of us. The lesson is that if you hang on to being right, you will hang yourself out to dry.

All the best,



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July 24, 2009


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:17 am

Here is a reality based Mad Lib to play with and ponder over the weekend:


Any person, place or thing can fill in the blank and you still have a working model of reality.

Let’s find some words to fill in the blanks.

Relationship, Job, Wealth, Health, Happiness, Satisfaction, Situation.

You can even personalize this reality Mad Lib for additional insight.


The formula works every time.

This exercise gets you away from “Should” and immerses you in “Is.” “Should” can have many interpretations; “Is” is only one way.

As THE GRASSHOPPER said many moons ago, “Reality doesn’t have versions.”

“Should” keeps you scattered; “Is” keeps you focused.

Reality can only be the way it is right now. Reminds me of a story . . .

My business partner lives in a community where there are a lot of golf courses that are filled with people who have been playing golf for many years. He says you would be amazed at the number of people who write down the score they should have had instead of the one they got. This always causes problems when they enter a tournament when someone else is keeping score. That’s because when they are paired with people who have the same handicap (average score) as they do, they lose. This is due to the fact that they arrived at their handicap through the “Should Method.” It’s never a reflection of reality.

When you focus on what is, your choices are clear. Should occludes your vision with false choices that blindly take you down paths that lead to nowhere.

Noticing reality zeroes you in on what needs to be done in order to produce a new reality. Playing with should keeps you wandering in the woods and your new reality is a carbon copy of the old one. (Someone just asked, “What’s a carbon copy?”)

If you need help in finding reality, any mirror will do. Mirrors don’t lie and neither does reality.

You have the (blank) you have, PERIOD!

When you come to that realization, you have placed the first paving stone towards your new reality.

All the best,



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July 23, 2009

I Don’t Want

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:57 am

The surest way NOT to get what you want is to be an expert on what you DON’T want.

It’s a personal revelation for me that is eye opening.

If your accent of focus is on what you don’t want, where is your attention? It’s stuck on what you DON’T want and there’s little focus left for what you DO want.

It’s sort of like shopping in a discount store that features everyone’s overstocked merchandise. It takes a methodical search through the racks and bins to find something suitable. There’s a lot of dreck to sort through before finding anything of worth.

If we believe we can’t afford to shop in the name brand store, we form a pattern of sorting through all the things we don’t want in order to find what we desire. That’s a long and tedious process that has less than hit and miss results.

This is more than about shopping.

It’s about a mindset that can insidiously take you over and run your whole life – a life with a lot more misses than hits.

The eye opening revelation for me is that just a small shift in our angle of view is all that’s necessary to refocus ourselves.

It’s a strategy I intellectually preach that, in the past, I unknowingly didn’t practice. I could see it in others but missed it in myself.

I was a master at finding out what was wrong with people, places and things because that’s where my focus was. Yes, there is some benefit in that strategy by identifying problems, but if it’s your only strategy, it gets in the way of problem solving. It’s like being an expert in finding the 6 things missing in those pictures in the comics section of the newspaper and not noticing what’s missing from your life.

Listen to your words, they are a dead giveaway to your underlying “Don’t want, don’t get” pattern.

“I don’t want . . .”

“I can never see myself . . .”

“That’s not my dream . . .”

It just takes a small turn of a phrase to put you on the path towards getting what you do want.

“I do want . . .”

“I can see myself . . .”

“My dream is . . .”

There is no magic in the words. The magic is in the focus.

If you’ve been looking through the binoculars backwards, it may be time to turn them around and bring the things you DO want into focus. Then you’ll have something clear to shoot for.

All the best,



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July 22, 2009


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

All of us have depth; we just don’t know it.

What is depth? – that which goes past superficial and rote.

We’ve all heard the expression “Depth of Character” and on some level we appreciate what that means even if we cannot articulate it. The experience is much like describing beauty; we make an effort but our representation (description, picture, painting, etc.) falls short of the beauty itself.

Depth is deeper than we normally go. It’s really my concept of THE GRASSHOPPER – the part of us that lets the truth slip out from time to time. Not the relative truth but the truth that can only come from the one source of everything. Depth is tapping into that source.

You were born with depth and it remains with you your entire life, but for many of us depth remains like continually lost keys. We know they’re somewhere; we just can’t find them.

Many years ago I had the good fortune to come under the tutelage of a savvy broadcast veteran named Paul Hennings in Norfolk, VA. Paul taught us the magic of the – pause. He said that just about everyone could speak the words, but few knew how to pause to let the message have more impact.

The pause is the pathway to depth. The pause allows us to wait for an appropriate response – one that’s deeper than rote.

Most of our interactions with others are on automatic pilot. The conversation takes on a bland life of its own, until we pause and allow depth to show up.

You owe people the benefit of your depth and vice-versa.

Please don’t confuse this with talking about “deep” topics. That’s often superficiality of the highest order. No, depth is a naturalness that trumps all the surface noise that comes before it.

Depth is not cagey, clever or glib. It comes out much softer and packs the wallop of a sledge hammer in its ability to capture your attention.

The pathway to depth is punctuated with pauses. Learn how to wait for the magic of your depth. You won’t win the instant answer contest or get the blue ribbon for blather, but if you pause . . . you’ll have access to the calm and still that bypasses will. It’s called depth.

All the best,


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July 21, 2009

Goal Setting

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:12 am

What if, suddenly, you couldn’t breathe, how focused would you be on getting oxygen?

My guess is it would be your only focus.

I was flying last week and was seated next to a young woman from Cambodia. We struck up a conversation and eventually she asked me this question: “Do you set goals?” I laughed and mentioned that the parent name of our company is “Goals International.”

Then I let her question sit for a moment and responded. I drew a horizontal line with my finger on the back of the seat in front of her. I said, “Imagine the far left of the line represented Zero and the far right of the imaginary line represented 100% (an exercise I learned from Jerry Stocking). Then I took my finger to about the 25% mark and indicated where some of my goals currently lived. I labeled them as “Nice to have.”

“Nice to have” goals have about the same chance of happening as winning the lottery.

I then took my finger to about the 85% mark and said, “Goals that live here are in the neighborhood of ‘if I can’t get this, I won’t be able to breathe’.”

My experience is that goals you really want to achieve have to be like needed oxygen in order to come to fruition. They need more than a casual focus.

Please don’t confuse this with setting a step-by-step plan. That is a helpful strategy AFTER you feel the requisite need, but too many people put their efforts into the plan without having enough emotional juice to launch it. I believe they call that “Bass Ackwards.”

The “7 Steps to Success” plans all are valuable tools, but if you are working with an anemic goal, you’re planning to keep your wheels spinning.

Take a look at any recurring goal you’ve had for a long time. IT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!

It’s not going to happen unless and until you elevate it to the category of needed oxygen.

This probably goes counter to everything you’ve heard about goal setting but, by and large, goal setting is ineffective. If you need proof, just look at your long list of unfulfilled New Year’s Resolutions.

Dreaming is also a part of the goal setting formula but it’s over emphasized. Dreaming or envisioning a “nice to have goal” may produce momentary reverie but, absent of any real need, it will become part of the flock of failures.

Daydreaming is a nice way to escape but a poor way to plan your future.

If you have a list of goals, may I suggest that you prioritize them and find the ones that need oxygen and breathe life into them. They are worth dreaming and planning for. The other ones are like the “C” list of your wedding guests – the first ones that need to be cut.

Here’s to taking a nice deep breath!

All the best,



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July 17, 2009


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:31 am

I was reading through some material that ad writing Guru, David Garfinkel sent me and found his description of objection fascinating.

He basically says that when a person objects, it just means they don’t believe – so simple, so profound.

Have you ever encountered someone who really could benefit by what you had to offer but their disbelief stood in the way?

You can’t get them to come over to your position by making them wrong. That NEVER works. “Wrong” is a frustration of not being able to get through to someone. It smacks of superiority and will close the door to communication at lightning speed.

My strategy for disbelief in the past was to counter with facts and figures that would certainly get a person to see the light I was seeing. That RARELY works.

Then I found out the way that has a much better batting average – honoring their disbelief. In NLP jargon, it’s called joining their model of the world.

When you position yourself on the other side of the line in the sand from someone, it’s a surefire way to get sand kicked in your face.

When you honor someone’s belief, you are temporarily adopting it to see how it feels. That way, you can engender some empathy for their position. What does it feel like to be them?

When you rent their disbelief, it’s easier for you to find a passageway out that makes sense for them, rather than have them walk your prefabricated path.

Additionally, the great teachers that came before us all taught us the power of the story to communicate ideas that people have conscious resistance to. The story has a way of disengaging their disbelief (objections) and opening them up to a new angle of view.

That reminds me of a story . . .

Many people who come to my seminars don’t believe that the routines they run are locked in time. For example, most people who smoke began as teenagers. What adult smokers have a hard time believing is that every time they light up, it’s the teenager in them that instigates the act. The smoking pattern they developed is locked in time even though they have physically and mentally matured.

Rather than address that head on, I ask an adult in the group (usually a big muscular guy) if their mother or father has a look they can give them that can freeze them in their tracks, or can say their name in a certain tone of voice that terrifies them. It’s amusing to see a big hulk of a fellow admit that his 5′ 1″ mother can make him feel 5 years old again with just a look or tone of voice.

That part of them that can still become terrified is locked in time. That pattern never got updated and it reacts as though they are still 5 years old. After this demonstration, it’s easier for someone to appreciate that their smoking pattern is also locked in time.

Rather than tell them “I know,” it’s always easier for them to see another angle of view when they discover it for themselves. You, without objection, lead them down a path with a trail of breadcrumbs until they fill themselves up with a new belief.

If you want to help someone release their objection, a good start is to adopt their angle of view to find out what it feels like to be them. Next, craft a story that parallels their situation and salt it with evidence that counters their current belief.

This method doesn’t counter the objection all the time but it’s a more efficient way of disengaging someone’s belief rather than making them wrong or facting them to death.

All the best,



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