- Thoughts for inspired living

June 30, 2014


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 5:52 am

C166059 mThe Grasshopper must have been channeling Aristotle over the weekend when he asked this: “Do you argue to win or to solve something?”

You may have answered “both” to this question but the more emphasis you give to winning, the longer the life of the argument.

Winning is a mind based concept; solving something involves action past intellectually arguing who’s right. The longer you hold on to being right, the longer the argument will be, delaying any chance of solving the dilemma.

Like you, I’ve witnessed and have been involved in countless arguments that go nowhere. The need to win is the culprit. It blinds us to solutions. When our focus is on victory, we can’t get close to a solution with someone because we are so prickly.

The telltale sign of someone looking to win is when most of their effort is to make someone else wrong. That is pure petrol for keeping an argument going. Reminds me of two words I learned years ago: accurate and inaccurate.

I certainly knew these words but using them in an argument was a lesson well learned from the late Dr. Dave Dobson.

He claimed that it would be useful to update the words “right” and “wrong” in our vocabulary to “accurate” and “inaccurate.” The updated versions just don’t have the same emotional baggage. Try these sentences on for size and see how soon you’ll agree with Dave:

1. You’re wrong.

2. That’s an inaccurate statement.

“You’re wrong” sets up a polarity response of “I’m right” from another with a guarantee that this argument will go on into the night.

“That’s an inaccurate statement” puts the emphasis on accuracy and the statement, not the person.

Arguing, for the most part, gets bogged down in being right or not being wrong. When either of them is your focus, the argument will be long.

Start to notice where your focus is when you choose to argue. It will be a great predictor as to whether you’ll arrive at a solution or not.

Best as I can tell, some people just like to argue. I hope they have the good sense to become trial lawyers because outside the courtroom, arguing to win is a losing strategy.

All the best,


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June 26, 2014

What’s Possible?

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 5:44 am

C515616 mWhat little piece of creativity is itching to get out? That’s a question The Grasshopper asked this morning.

Everyone is creative; we all create, all the time. But there are some pieces of creativity that we keep bottled up. We keep them at arm’s length by crowding our attention with notions of “not able.”

When our consciousness is focused on what we can’t do, our creativity has a more difficult time getting through.

What is it that you think you can’t do? Once you rule out world-class ballerina or Olympic swimmer, there is a lot we’re capable of creating that’s not seeing the light of day, simply because we keep it locked in with limitation.

Here’s something to try on for size: Start asking yourself, “I wonder what’s possible?” Make possibility inquiry part of your daily routine. My experience is that our subconscious mind works well with questions. The answers we receive aren’t instant – something the conscious mind demands and rarely gets. This other-than-conscious part of us does its work in the background but it does need something to work on to spur its creativity.

Take the time to create some physical reminders for yourself. Put a 3 x 5 card or Post-it note by your bedside with the question “What’s Possible?” on it. Stick one on your bathroom mirror or on the refrigerator. Put one in your wallet or purse. Surround yourself with possibility.

The secret to receiving is asking. Ask “What’s Possible?” often and watch your creativity begin to flow and your notion of “not able” become an outdated fable.

All the best,


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June 18, 2014


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 5:44 am

0I was attending a seminar 12 years ago when the seminar leader said something profound: “The way you do one thing is how you do everything.”

He was suggesting that how someone held the microphone when asking a question gave away more than their mike technique; it showed you their approach strategy to everything.

Reminds me of my sainted mother . . . When she ran into an every day problem, like the stove not opening easily, she approached it with the force of a Category 5 hurricane.

She didn’t have a “gentle” approach to anything. I will admit that some of that strategy has “rubbed off” on me and to one of my sons.

While the hellfire approach is very effective in certain situations, it has its limitations.

Is your approach limiting you?

It’s worth noticing. Are you a one-trick pony? Most people answered “No” to that question when, in fact, the evidence points in the direction of “Yes.”

Just stopping to notice your approach presents you with more options. If you don’t notice, you’ll continue on automatic pilot and every approach will be on the same runway – one that’s on a collision course with reality.

There are two immediate benefits to noticing your approach:

1. It makes you more flexible.

2. It keeps your oven door from being ripped off.

All the best,


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June 12, 2014

“A” for Effort?

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

C167557 mIt seems to me there is a difference between effort and pursuit. I haven’t arrived at any conclusion yet but let me give it a little effort and pursue the topic.

It seems the main difference is how you feel when making an effort. Effort suggests getting past inertia and doing something, and that something can be taxing to your mind and body. For example, there is an expression you may have heard from someone after their exercise routine: “It’s a good hurt.”

The effort taxed them when they pursued exercise but the sore muscles the next day indicated to them that they were on to something – thus, “good hurt.”

For me, “Good hurt” sums up pursuit.

Let’s pretend that you did a “selfie” video of you doing something nondescript that brought you enjoyment and you posted it online. Many people may call your video lame but you got a warm fuzzy pursuing your expression. Contrast that with a video that you thought you “had” to make to make a point. A lot of effort may have gone into it, but there was no feeling of reward after posting it. It’s just something that “had” to be done.

The effort you expend in pursuing your goal is colored by the way you feel during and after making the effort. If it’s a non-rewarding feeling through and through, it can’t be categorized as pursue.

Winning is an end game. Pursuit is enjoying playing the game.

If you are expending a lot of effort without some feeling of reward, you may get an “A” for effort, but not enough reward to feed your soul.

I’m guessing that’s why we have hobbies – to feel the reward of pursuit.

I’m a lousy golfer. I only play 10 times a year at most, but I have enjoyed every round I have played since taking up the game in 2002. I have played with many people over the years and I can tell you many of them put in lots of effort but were not feeling the reward of pursuit. To paraphrase Mark Twain, “They ruined a 4 hour walk.”

I have expended some effort putting out this point of view and feel rewarded even if this makes no sense to you. I think that is the essence of pursue.

In life, there are many unrewarding things we have to do. The thing to get curious about is: “What’s pursue for you?”

All the best,


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June 11, 2014

Outgrowing Labels

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:23 am

Bumper stickers 620bThere is a concept I learned many years ago that says, “Once you label it, you limit it.”

The labeling makes it one thing and, by doing so, makes it difficult to be another. After all, suppose a hammer wanted to be a saw, what chance would it have with that label?

“But a hammer is a hammer and a saw is a saw,” you say. Yes, that’s accurate, and assigning them labels may pigeonhole them into being used only one way. How creative have you gotten with a hammer or saw when you used it for something other than the purpose the label implied?

But I’m not lobbying for removing the labels from our tools, just outgrowing our labels in life. We have stuck on so many that we look like an old car with a zillion bumper stickers.

Once you are labeled as something, it’s hard to be something other than that label – especially someone with no labels. The person with the fewest labels has unlimited potential for growth – just like a child before they get limited by labels.

Ask a pre-school class who’s the best artist in the class and just about all the hands go up. Ask the 2nd grade class the same question and watch the significant drop off in hands being raised. The labeling process begins early.

The roles we play in life are labels and also limiting. Father’s Day is coming up this Sunday and I will admit that, for me, “Father” is the hardest label to outgrow. I, like you, have identified with a label and that makes it even stickier.

I love being a Dad and now a grandfather but the role is limiting. If you continue to treat your grown children as children, you limit them as well. I’m sure that if Bill Gates’ mother was still alive and he was visiting her, she may be asking him if he had money for the tolls for the drive home.

So how do you outgrow a label? Begin to notice how identified you are with it. If you justify it, you just put more glue on it. Just noticing the identification starts the un-labeling process.

The purpose of outgrowing our labels is to give us room to grow. Identifying with our labels just keeps us stuck.

All the best,


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June 10, 2014

Justifications are Limitations

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:39 am

C266600 mThe Grasshopper added a new twist to a rosy old phrase when he offered this: “Limitations aren’t any sweeter when we justify them.”

My takeaway is this: Justifications are limitations. I’m sure there are exceptions to this bold assertion but not enough to justify them.

We limit ourselves when we attempt to excuse what we’ve done under the umbrella of justification.

To me, the most useful justifications happen in print – Left justified, right justified, center justified, etc. But no matter what justification we select for our text, there’s often a period at the end of the sentence.

When it comes to our actions, the period gets replaced by a justification and we limit our ability to take responsibility again.

How refreshing would it be to hear someone admit to something with just a period after the admission? “Your honor, I ran over my lover with my car.” That admission will rarely be heard in court. “I ran over that cheating S.O.B. because he was canoodling with my best friend” is the more likely admission peppered with justification.

We limit our ability to go forward when we allow justifications to take us backwards. Admission with a period is a move forward strategy. It gets you to the next step quicker. Justification is an anchor to past behavior.

No more apparent are the limitations of justifications than when issued in apologies. “I’m sorry I shot at your dog, but he was barking.” As silly as that apology looks and sounds, it’s in the form that most of us use when apologizing. Notice how the justification takes you back into the argument. “Barking is what dogs do, a$$hole.” And the back and forth devolves into more limiting behavior.

The next time you find yourself about to justify a piece of behavior, think of the Mahatma Gandhi quote: “Speak only if it improves upon the silence.”

Here’s a life lesson that will take us forward when applied: Admissions without justifications result in less limitations.

All the best,


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June 4, 2014

You Can’t Get There From Here

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 6:05 am

C536710 mOne thing I love about The Grasshopper is his odd use of language, like this tidbit from the other day: “You can’t start from where you’re not.”

Like all his little gems, I had to reflect on it for awhile.

My sense is that we too often don’t know where we are in relation to where we want to go and, thus, start from “where we’re not.”

It’s helpful to know where you actually are in order to get to where you specifically want to go.

Imagine this call: “Hi officer, I’ve run out of gas on a desert road and need some assistance.” “What road are you on?” he asks “Oh, just one surrounded by a lot of cactus and sand.”

You may laugh at the caller but how many times do we not know where we are in relation to where we want to be? It may also be called, “kidding ourself.”

We think we are at some place on the map but aren’t even close. Triangulating from where we’re not will not get us to where we want to go. It will be a trek to nowhere.

Reminds me of a story from my radio days . . . I had a full time opening on my air staff and many people applied for the job. One particular person was quite vocal about how they were the right candidate and I would be foolhardy not to pick them. The one thing they were unaware of was that their assessment of their qualifications didn’t match up with anyone else’s, including mine. They thought they were at a different place on the scale than they actually were and were quite disappointed when they weren’t hired.

Reminds me of another story . . . This time, I was the one applying for a job and the man who was conducting the interview told me he interviewed 32 candidates and I was his last interview. I asked him, based on his 32 interviews, where I stacked up. He said, “Number 2.” I remember asking, “How do I get to be number 1?” He laid out some specific things I would have to do to jump to the top position. I not only had a clear goal to shoot for; I knew where I was in relation to where I wanted to be.

If you’re having a hard time getting to where you want to go, you may want to more carefully investigate where you are right now. It’s this GPS-like identification of your current location that will help you start from where you are. It will also provide you a clearer picture of the path you have to travel to get to where you want to go.

Kidding yourself keeps you where you’re not and makes getting to where you want to go a long shot.

All the best,


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June 3, 2014

Justifying Anger

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:36 am

C332954 m“The hallmark of an often angry person is justification.” That’s what The Grasshopper offered on a walk this past weekend.

Everyone gets angry from time to time. Even Jesus threw a fit and threw the money changers out of the temple.

What about the person who’s almost always angry? What you will find if you listen to them is one justification after another about why they are angry.

The justification makes their anger all right for them as long as they can assign it to someone or something.

I don’t know about you but I don’t see very many, very old, angry people. It seems that there is an earlier expiration date for the perpetually angry. Not only that, people, in general, are very uncomfortable around angry people and start to avoid them at every turn.

Angry people wind up alone with their anger and they keep it in place with their never ending justifications. Now that’s something to get angry about.

All anger isn’t unproductive. Some people build empires on anger. Others use their anger to structure a hierarchy of rules that provide guidelines for living more efficiently. Others bury their anger so they don’t become out of control.

Anger doesn’t serve you when it’s not serving a purpose. A couple of years ago I met an extremely angry man who is incredibly successful. He had a scapegoat for every bit of his anger and it was beginning to take its toll on him – on edge, short temper, acid reflux, hard to warm up to, and the list went on and on.

I mentioned to him that he was angry and he was angry that I noticed. After he calmed down a bit, I mentioned that anger has its uses but when it’s not serving a purpose, it’s turning on him. I had his attention.

My suggestion to him was to notice his anger, not justify it. Instead of saying, I’m so mad because so and so did such and such, just notice that you are feeling angry without any justification. Just notice the sensation in your body. Just noticing your anger allows it to dissipate. Justifying it just keeps it in place.

I made a connection with him that day. I only hope, for his sake, that the connection continues. He’s truly a creative giant in his field and brings lots of enjoyment to lots of people. My sincere hope is that he can bring more of it into his own life.

We all can. We just have to begin noticing our anger without justification. Justification is a drug that keeps us hooked on anger.

It only seems fitting to end this with one of my favorite quotes from The Buddha: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else: you are the one who gets burned.”

All the best,


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