- Thoughts for inspired living

May 26, 2016

Dancing with the Dominos

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 5:16 am

Since it’s Throwback Thursday, here’s a Grasshopper tidbit from years ago:

“Small Adjustments Start Big Changes” – Grasshopper

“Our routines run us” is the foundation of what I believe, and when our routines don’t serve us well, we opt for wholesale change. That practice rarely works, and if it does, it’s often short lived.

Starting with too big a piece is what I refer to as “eating a whole cow at once.”

I’m saying more than “start with baby steps” here; I’m advocating for adjustment rather than preaching lock, stock and barrel change.

Let’s pretend that you have no rhythm and are a lousy dancer. You set out to change that. You take your two left feet and head to the Johnny Castle Dance Studio. I don’t care how many dance lessons you take you’re not going to wind up on “Dancing With The Stars.”

Your wholesale change strategy is to be a top dancer rather than enjoying dancing. If you are just focused on change, you miss the fun dance steps that can take you there. That’s where adjustment comes in. Change needs a new angle of view.

We get boxed into one way of seeing things and we think the only way to get out of our predicament is to make a major change – to be someone different than who we are. That desire causes us untold pain. We don’t want to work with who we already are, but want totally to be someone else.

When you go for wholesale change, it’s like being in the witness protection program. You are forever looking over your shoulder at the person you really are while pretending to be someone else. It causes lots of strain.

We rarely shift our position a few degrees and take another look. That’s adjustment.

Adjustment is taking time to look at you from another angle of view. Doing so is the catalyst for big changes.

You don’t need to change who you are; you just have to adjust what you do. Your routines are what need to be adjusted, not you. You’re fine; it’s your behavior that keeps you stuck.

Here’s the best news: You don’t have to adjust the behavior you want to work on; you can adjust any automatic behavior you have and it will have a domino effect.

Just start noticing things you automatically do and slightly adjust that behavior. Then notice something else that you automatically do and adjust that too. What you are training yourself to do is to notice your automatic pilot approach and making slight adjustments. You are looking at you from a different point of view – as an outside observer.

When you notice any routine that you run and make an adjustment, you are making an adjustment to your whole automatic system. After some practice, you’ll start to notice other things changing, slowly at first, and eventually they’ll reach a tipping point.

The key is to start noticing any automatic behavior and then adjust the routine slightly. Adjust every time you notice and before too long, you’ll notice changes happening everywhere.

It could be as simple as noticing that you say, “God bless you” when someone sneezes. Make a small adjustment and say something else or nothing at all.

Routines hold our behavior together. Looking at these routines from another angle (as that of the observer) and then making a slight adjustment causes these routines to come apart over time, making room for change.

It’s a highly effective and indirect method of going after change that’s different and much gentler than the way we pursue change now.

When you observe your behaviors from another angle of view and adjust what you do, you make change about the behaviors and not about you. That’s when big changes happen.

All the best,


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May 24, 2016

Died in Prison

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 6:44 am


This isn’t meant as a political statement, just a personal revelation about how I feel when I see or hear news about the death penalty being administered: I feel awful.

I can’t explain it or tell you its origin. I only know that I get a visceral response even when it’s given to some of the nastiest people you’ll ever read about.

I also get a similar feeling about people who are given life sentences with no possibility of parole.

I remember famed attorney Mark Geragos arguing at the sentencing phase for his client Scott Peterson who was convicted of murdering his wife Laci. Geragos argued to give him a life sentence instead of death by painting a vivid picture of how awful a life sentence would be. Here are just a couple of excerpts from his plea to the jury:

“Prison is an awful, awful place. Scott Peterson, if you vote to spare his life, will be placed into a cell that is roughly the size of a king size bed. Roughly encompasses you four jurors right here. That’s the size of his cell. And he would be in that cell roughly the size of a king size bed for the rest of his life. He will die in that cell.”

“This is not a minimum security facility. He will be at the highest Level 4 of the California Department of Corrections every day for the rest of his life. And one of those days some guard is going to walk by, and some guard when he walks by six months from now, or a year from now, is going to knock on the cell and say, Peterson, your mom is dead. And a year after that, six months after that, another guard is going to walk by and bang on the door. Peterson, your dad is dead. Six months, a year after that, five years, ten years after that, your brother John is dead. He’s not going to be out there enjoying anything. It’s not any kind of a picnic for him.”

This is not a lobby against the death penalty or an argument to improve prison life. I’ll leave that to the more qualified. My mission is to highlight that many of us are in self-made prisons and our sentence can extend until our death if we let it.

It’s my experience that many of us will argue that we had nothing to do with how we got into this prison. We will point the finger out there somewhere and rail against the bars of reality until we “rale” our last breath.

The first step towards parole is to recognize that you are your own jailor. It’s you who locks the door that keeps you from experiencing more. You put yourself here, and if you want to be there, it’s going to take more than a fervent prayer.

It takes recognition that you are the judge, jury and executioner of your own life and responsible for your own imprisoning actions.

Once you admit to your part in your sentence, it gets lighter. Light begins to form at the end of the tunnel and you’ll gravitate towards it like a plant in a dark place grows towards even the tiniest bit of sun.

Taking personal responsibility for our situation is freeing.

It’s a big step to admit that you had a large hand in being where you are because it’s so easy to blame others and ignore our part. That finger pointing strategy doesn’t work and insures a life sentence.

Your chance to be free is to recognize that your situation is “on me.”

Once you cop to your part, options you have blinded yourself from show up and pave the way to the straight and narrow path towards freedom.

All the best,


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May 20, 2016

Organized Mess

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 6:02 am

It seems like an oxymoron, but I find that “OrganOrganized Messized Mess” best describes many functioning lives that I’ve witnessed. It is certainly a descriptor I would use for my own life.

I’m one of those people who yearns for an organized desk and from time to time I make the effort to make it look that way. Yet, most of the time, it looks like the aftermath of a ticker tape parade. (Do they still have those in the computer age?). But the good news is I know what pile of rubble I need to look in.

The same is an accurate description for many of our lives. To a portion of the outside world, we may look like organized messes but if you look at our production, we’re doing just fine.

This is a round about way of saying that there are many ways to get to heaven.

If you give someone a step-by-step formula and insist they follow it, they may get the same result, but you will not get access to their creativity or inspiration. Left to their own devices, they may have a “messier” way that delivers the same or better results.

Having rules for everyone is an exercise in control and my experience is that control doesn’t work well with the messy.

If someone’s way is not working, it may be beneficial to introduce them to your way, but if you petulantly insist, the downside of messy is likely to persist.

Everyone raises their family differently and may I be so bold as to say, “There is no ‘right’ way.” Yet upstanding citizens come from those differing approaches which brings me to the point of this writing: We all approach life from a different angle and the only “right” angle is found in geometry.

The only question we need to ask ourselves is: Is my angle of approach working? If the answer is “No,” seek out a new angle. If the answer is “Yes,” stick with your organized mess.

All the best,


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May 17, 2016

Desertion of Assertion

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 6:33 am

OpinionatedHere’s something I know I can benefit from, and, perhaps, you can too: The Desertion of Assertion.

The dictionary on my computer defines “assertion” as a “confident or forceful statement of fact or belief,” as in: “His assertion was that his father deserted the family.”

Most often I find that my assertions fall into the opinion category. With a bit of investigation, you may find that yours do too.

My friend Jerry Stocking defines assertion this way: “An assertion is a fact about the past: most people make a lot of these and use them to protect and defend positions they have adopted.” Notice that his definition is an assertion. It will be up to you to investigate your own assertions to find out if Jerry’s statement is factually correct. My assertion is: He’s right on the money.

But why do we have to have assertions desert us?

Because defending them keeps us on the battlefield.

Whether we’re battling with others or ourself, notice the amount of assertions that fuel the war.

When you are rigid in your thinking, notice that you’re an assertion machine. Rigidity is the enemy of fluidity which is the escalator to the level where peace lives.

Begin to observe what you’re forcefully defending that you can’t prove and you’ll find yourself stuck in the assertion groove. That means the war continues and the attendant rigidity makes us assert that staying as solid as a boulder is a life preserver. That’s an assertion worth investigating.

I can only speak for me and guess about you, but I find the “desertion of assertion” removes the glue – from the opinionated Post-it© notes in our thinking, that keep us solid as a rock and keep us sinking.

All the best,


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May 10, 2016

Something Old, Something New

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 4:34 am

NK2A2247 EditThe older I get the less I buy into the adage “Out with the old, in with the new.”

I’m all in favor of getting rid of what isn’t working – old or new, but as a blanket policy, OWTOIWTN is kind of short-sighted.

A wise old man once said, “The more dials you have on a washing machine, the more things that can break down.” The problem with new is that it has not stood the test of time, yet “New” is the biggest word used in marketing.

Too often, “New” is attempting to sell you something new that old does just fine.

Take your car as an example. Do you really need a new car? You may want a new car but do you really need one? Car buying is typically not a logical choice. Logic will tell you that the new car smell is the most expensive aroma you’ll ever buy, but we’re usually smelling with our emotions.

This is not a plea to hoard; those people make me exclaim, “Good Lord!” This is more of an exercise in appreciation for that which you already have.

Old can inform new, so that new has a shelf life longer than the attention span of . . . (Squirrel).

Old has lots of information that new forgot to tap into – a practice that makes a lot of new stuff outdated in a hurry.

My car is 12 years old. I bought it new and by most standards, it’s now old, but it works just fine. I did hear a loud noise last week and took it to an old-time mechanic. He said that the pipe that goes into the catalytic converter had rusted out. The easiest thing to do was to replace the catalytic converter and it was also the most expensive. Instead, he got a piece of pipe and his old welding machine and just replaced the piece that was malfunctioning. I saved a bundle. I guess I should really put it into a fund for when I actually need a new car.

Yes, rid yourself of old if it’s stale and outdated, but resist the temptation to the allure of new, especially when old is tried and true.

All the best,


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May 9, 2016

A Cause for Pause

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 5:37 am

PauseIt seems any day can be a “throwback day” if we label it that way. Here on “Throwback Monday” is something that flowed through me a few years ago:

“A Pause Precedes Wisdom” – Grasshopper

There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom and when you discover the difference, you’ll pause more often.

One of the hardest lessons to learn is that wisdom comes through you, not from you.

When we precipitously spout out our answers to life’s questions, we may have our facts lined up, but there’s no room for our wisdom, unless we pause.

That prefabricated information is coming from us. That type of information can be Googled or looked up in a library. Wisdom comes through you.

In order for that to happen, you have to pause what you know in order for wisdom to flow.

There is a need for pat answers, but when we use them for every question, life becomes stale and so do we.

Wisdom isn’t arrived at logically. Wisdom comes from a different place than facts and figures. I like to imagine wisdom sitting in a creative cauldron below the surface. In order for it to bubble to the top of our mind, we have to make room for it. That space we are making for it is called silence.

It’s necessary for us to pause our pat answers to make a silent space for wisdom to enter. When we pause our instant reactions, there is a moment of silence. It’s in that moment that creativity fills the void and wisdom can flow through us.

How many of our answers do we automatically push out without pausing to consider what else is available? – Almost all of them, until we learn to pause and be silent.

Acting is the delivery of rehearsed lines; spontaneous life comes from the unrehearsed response to any reality that’s presented.

That organic reply is what gives fullness to our lives.

“Pause it and they will come,” – Answers, that is.

Prefabricated retorts have all the polish of a slickly packaged political candidate. When’s the last time you heard any wisdom in one of their orchestrated sound bites?

We are no different. Our “stump speech” is attracting less and less listeners each time we forget to pause.

The people I learn the least from are those who won’t let me breathe. They talk seemingly without pause and don’t give me time to process what they are saying. They may have valuable information but I have to work too hard to glean any wisdom from it when it comes without pause.

We, and those around us, learn more when we make space for wisdom to flow through us.

If you’ve grown tired of hearing the same answers, glean some wisdom from a wise old advertising slogan from Coca-Cola – “It’s the pause that refreshes.”

All the best,


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May 6, 2016

Marketing to Morons

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 5:55 am

TurkeyThis is a warning! Get ready for an onslaught of political advertising (TV, Radio, Print, Robo Calls, Social Media) that will be targeting the lowest common denominator in all of us. I call it the “Moron Factor.”

I’ve spent my entire adult life in some form of marketing and advertising and have seen and heard some moronic ads, none of which will measure up to what we’re about to witness from our candidates for President and their surrogates.

I marvel at ads and quite often ask myself, “Who’s buying into this?”

Perhaps you’re still getting emails from some foreign prince who wants to leave you his fortune. I know I still get them. What that tells me is that this scam is still working on a segment of the population or they wouldn’t be wasting their resources and efforts.

Are you a moron? The answer is “Yes” if you don’t probe this question: What button are they attempting to push in me with this ad?”

Earlier this year I deleted some people from my Facebook friends list. They were the ones who reposted obvious, unvetted information for or against a political figure. If they were stupid enough to buy into what they were reposting without any hint of investigation on their part, any future posts from them would be too moronic for me to read.

Most of the upcoming ads will pander to our prejudices. If you just said, “I’m not prejudiced,” you’re a moron. We all have prejudices and that’s what these ads will target.

O.J. Simpson was acquitted during his first trial. Was it due to how spectacularly the defense rebutted the factual case? No, it was how well they pandered to the prejudice of the jury. They knew exactly what they were doing and so do the marketers who will be crafting the ads you’ll know by heart by the time Election Day rolls around in November.

I, frankly, don’t care who you vote for; I just want you to avoid being a moron. Take the time to notice what “hot button” an ad is attempting to push and give yourself a choice before you decide to push it or not. It will be in that moment of clarity that you’ll separate yourself from the masses of morons.

All the best,


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May 3, 2016

Settling Dust

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 4:58 am

DustThere seems to be a “throwback” feature on many social media sites these days. Here’s The Grasshopper’s contribution from years ago:

“For dust to settle, you have to stop kicking it up.”

It’s what’s NOT said or done right after a dust-up that leads to a solution.

After all is said and done, we feel the need to say and do more. That’s more than adding fuel to the fire; that’s jumping into the flames and burning yourself up.

Time may not heal all wounds but it certainly can cause them to be less deep.

We gain perspective when we give what’s been said or done time to settle.
It’s the ability to resist saying, “. . . and another thing” and give what you’ve already communicated time to be processed.

When we are under siege or launching a frontal assault we are only focused on surviving or winning. Once the battle is over, we have an option we don’t often consider: To broker a peace.

We can’t arrive at that option without a settling retreat.

One of the biggest mistakes we make as communicators – professional or amateur – is not giving what we say or what is said to us time to be processed.

My experience is that the salesman that talks the most makes the fewest sales. That’s because he or she is assaulting you and not giving you time to breathe. They can’t understand why what they’re selling isn’t being bought. Their mystified thought may be, “After all, what I’m saying is factual.”

People need processing time. All learning is done in between the words. Iftheyarecomingatyoulikethis, you can’t be sold.

You can’t buy into another’s point of view if they are continually giving it to you. The corollary is also true.

We seem to miss the obvious: If we stop adding logs to the fire, the fire will go out. When the heat goes out of a communication, the process of settlement begins.

It may not always be settled to your satisfaction but it will be settled. The dust will cease.

It’s my experience that some people always have to be fighting to feel alive. Hire them as your attorney because they’re like a dog on a meat wagon. They won’t stop, they won’t settle.

Our personal peace is dependent on settlement. Tit-for-tat has to come to an end for any chance of peace to begin.

They say the mark of a great painter is knowing when the painting is complete. If you are only focused on getting the last word, you may continue painting over a masterpiece.

All the best,


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