- Thoughts for inspired living

February 11, 2020

Surface and Depth

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 10:09 am

Screenshot 2020 02 11 10 04 11Who are you on the surface – your public persona? The answer we come up with to that question is how most of us describe ourselves: butcher, baker, candlestick maker, AARP member.

We invest so much time in attempting to describe who we are, and just as much time justifying who we are, that we ignore over 90% of our makeup.

When you ignore your depth, you stay on the surface. Translation: you remain superficial.

My friend Peter Hurley, who is a world-class photographer, has to work with every client who steps in front of his camera to dig past the surface to get a photograph of their authentic self: their depth. He recognizes that if he settles for a photo of their surface self, it would lack depth and wouldn’t connect.

When you truly connect with people, you are connecting with their depth. If you stay on the surface, you only get cotton candy, which is puffed up emptiness.

Going deeper with yourself and others is first recognizing when you’re staying on the surface. You do that by staying attached to a steady diet of smarm, small talk, and first-world “problems.” Don’t get me wrong, surface interactions can be fun but remember: you can’t live your life at the amusement park.

Once you recognize that you’re not connecting, you are one step closer to your depth. Just noticing that you’re on the surface is enough of a catalyst to dig deeper.

Connection is a feeling that can’t be felt when we stay on the surface.

I’ll end with a story I’ve told before. It illustrates leaving the surface to find more depth.

A couple of years ago I was at a golf driving range where I ran into an old acquaintance. After the hellos and handshake we went into our song and dance act we had started years before. It was for lack of a better description – “Top this!”

To the casual observer this may have appeared to be conversation but make no mistake, it was war. Who was going to have the last, potent “Ka-Pow”?

In the middle of this little sideshow, I got the gift of awareness. It dawned on me that this “conversation” was going nowhere and would end up like all the ones we had in the past – a ramping up of egos with absolutely nothing being communicated.

I stopped counter-punching and started asking questions. It turned into the most pleasant conversation I ever had with this fellow.

All the best,


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February 7, 2020

The Biggest Mistake

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 7:25 am

My BadThe Grasshopper offered this yesterday: “The biggest mistake is not learning from a mistake.

I think it’s safe to say that we have all made lots of mistakes. What we all haven’t done is:

A. Acknowledge them.

B. Learn from them.

If you continue to make the same mistake over and over, it’s a pretty clear that you haven’t learned from it, and even more than likely, you haven’t acknowledged it.

Acknowledging opens the door to learning. I’m reminded of the classic HAPPY DAYS episode where Fonzie can’t formulate the words “I was wrong.” It was laughable, but also instructive.

Admitting a mistake shines a light on the activity being admitted to. That illumination shows us the moving parts that need to be rearranged so we don’t move in that direction again.

“My Bad” needs to be taken off life support and put back in our vocabulary. Once we utter those words, we’re more likely to learn our lesson.

All the best,


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February 6, 2020

Your Movie

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 7:58 am

Screenshot 2020 02 06 07 52 20Yesterday, I saw a piece of video featuring Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx®. She became a self-made billionaire with her creation of undergarments for women.

In the video, Blakely was recalling that early in her work life she was going door-to-door selling FAX machines. After countless rejections, she had this thought: “I’m in the wrong movie.” That single revelation propelled her into a new, more rewarding role.

Hearing her story, this thought popped in: We’re in the right movie, just in the wrong role.

I think life is our movie. We only get one, but our role can vary.

We can be the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker or any other role we choose, but we have to choose it, or be relegated to the one we have evolved into.

What role do you want to play? If you don’t know that, you will stay stuck with your current character. Creating a role for yourself begins with imagining the role that will bring you the most satisfaction, joy, and a boatload of warm fuzzies. Remember, it’s your imagination. You can do anything you want in there.

You can call it silly daydreaming if you like; I think of it more as role reversal. Crafting your new role in your mind sets the stage for the delivery of a blueprint to follow. You will get instructions from your silent director; you just have to follow them when they surface.

Trust that there is a part of you that knows how to deliver an Academy Award winning script. It just needs you to tell it what role you want to play. Remember: you have to have a target to shoot at before any bullseye is possible.

There are some actors that can play only one type of role (think Steven Seagal). They lack imagination. But the the late, renowned author Wayne Dyer left us this revelation: “Imagination is the force of creation.”

You have an imagination; you just have to use it more than you do to create the role that’s perfect for you. I’m already imagining reading your 5-Star Revue.

All the best,


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February 5, 2020

Has An Accident Become Your Way Of Life?

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 8:06 am

AccidentIt’s an accepted fact of life that we are creatures of habit. The question is: What is a habit?

A habit is an automatic pattern of thinking or behavior that we weren’t born with but were conditioned into.

Most of that conditioning happened without our permission. I used to ask this question in seminars to illustrate the early learning of patterns: “How many have the same religion as your parents?” When people would respond that they did, my next question was, “Did they ask your permission?”

The point is you learned many of your beliefs (which are patterns) by osmosis and by accident.

If your patterns and beliefs are working for you, consider it a “happy accident.” If they are not, you’re probably crashing into your share of difficulties.

Patterns are purposeful. That means they were formed for a purpose. You may have since outgrown that purpose, but the pattern never got updated. Think of an older adult, perhaps you, who still wears the faddy clothes or hairdo that was popular in high school. Maybe your purpose for adopting those fads back then was to be “one of the cool kids.” Now you no longer find it important to keep up with the Joneses but your tonsorial or fashion patterns got stuck in the past.

We may have other patterns that are more limiting than hanging on to our youthful, sometimes laughable, choices. These other counter-productive patterns are getting in our way, so how do we get out of our own way?

The first step in updating a limiting pattern is to recognize you have one. But recognition is not enough. To outgrow it, we have to interrupt it every time we recognize it running. Interrupting a pattern, while it is running, is putting a wedge between stimulus and reaction. It’s in that space between those two that new patterns emerge. Creating that space causes growth and new learning to happen.

The application of interruption has to be consistent, and the results of these efforts will be lasting. Updating patterns won’t happen by accident. It will take recognition and interruption and by doing so, you will be living your life on purpose.

All the best,


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January 30, 2020


Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 6:42 am

Arrogant 1Below something I wrote a year ago that seems appropriate to post again in light of what’s all over the TV screen these past few days.

The word “Spin” popped into my mind this morning. It arrived as an acronym: S.P.I.N.

“Spin” for me is presenting “what is” as “what isn’t.”

There is a positive side of spin. The NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) folks call it “reframing.” The reframe most are familiar with is the Helen Keller quote: “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”

The technique takes the whole painting and reduces it to a corner that acts a springboard to a change of attitude.

Others use spin differently. It seems to be a pattern that can be reduced to four steps.

S. Sidestep

P. Prevaricate

I. Insist

N. Negate

The first step is the favored strategy of the politician. Don’t answer the question asked.

The next step is to lie. The bigger the lie the more convincing it seems to be. (I believe it appeals to the conspiracy theorist that’s in all of us).

Next, insist emphatically that people believe you because you are on the side of the angels.

The last step is to negate the counter argument by not acknowledging it. This involves continually moving the goal posts which takes us full circle back to step one: Sidestep.

On and on it goes, around and around with endless rebound.

I recently heard the following quote to stop the merry-go-round. It came from TV talk show host Don Lemon: “Don’t play me, play lotto. Your odds are better.”

I used to have the following strategy to decide who to vote for. I asked myself if I would follow that person up a hill. If the answer was “no,” they didn’t get my vote.

I now have added another criterion: The politician who spins the least gets my support to procure their seat.

All the best,


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January 29, 2020

Bye, Bye, Law

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 9:30 pm

Bye Bye LawOPINION: We are no longer a “rule of law” country. We are a “rule of opinion” nation. I feel sorry for a young person pursuing a career as an attorney. They study long and hard in law school and all they get is a degree in history. The law is nothing like they learned – it’s extremely twistable based on the prejudice of the prosecution, the defense, and/or the judge, and on the plaintiff’s or defendant’s ability to pay.

I’ve heard arguments about the constitution being a hard and fast document or being a breathable document subject to the norms of the times. It’s like the argument about the Bible being literally translated or subject to interpretation. I’m sure the answer is somewhere in the middle on both accounts, but the legal system, for the most part, avoids that middle ground.

I’m reminded of the story of the drunk leaning on a lamppost. Question: Is he using it for support or enlightenment? He was a hedge fund manager who was charged with public drunkenness. There is a police record of him with a blood alcohol level of 2.8, and video evidence of him staggering like a wounded deer, and physically threatening people in his zig-zag path. It was argued that all he was doing was seeking light to read a note in his pocket to find a local address. Juries, judges, and military tribunals have acquitted people like this in too many cases to count.

It seems the poorer you are, the more strictly the law is applied. The wealthier you are, the more likely it will bend in your favor. Should the outcome of your trial be dependent on your ability to pay for a lawyer who has sway? I get that attorneys want to vigorously represent their clients. That’s the American way. What I don’t get is ignoring the law and attempting to rewrite it during a trial.

I’m embarrassed watching the rule of law sway in the breeze in the current nationally televised trial. The law doesn’t matter anymore. We are witnessing it being thrown out the door.

Occupational advice: Become a plumber or a doctor because the law is at death’s door.

All the best,


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January 27, 2020

New Favorite Quote

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 9:08 am

Jaco pretorius n9OqSW ROS4 unsplashI was watching a Sunday morning talk show and one of the presidential candidates was on. She said something in her closing remarks that grabbed me. It was a version of a quote from the late writer, humorist, and editor Jane Lotter. Lotter wrote the following:

“And may you always remember that obstacles in the path are not obstacles, they ARE the path.”

What a crystal clear hunk of reality.

How many of us get lost in the fantasy of “This isn’t happening”? We forget about another famous quote: “Life isn’t a dress rehearsal.”

What is happening NOW is the only thing happening, and now is the time to address it, not ignore it.

Indulge me with an overused sports analogy. When a basketball team is down by 25 points, every coach says, “one basket at a time.” Take care of what’s right in front of you, not the mountain in the distance but the molehill that’s under your feet. It’s the only path that leads you forward.

All the best,


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January 23, 2020

Are You Empathetic?

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 4:40 am

Nick fewings ka7REB1AJl4 unsplashI’m not empathetic. There, I’ve said it aloud.

I think empathy is like speed in football: either you have it or you don’t. The great football coaches will tell you that you can’t teach speed.

I know what empathy is, but I don’t feel it. We could get into a long discussion about nature/nurture here but regardless of the cause, the feeling is still absent for me.

I have yet to meet an adult who has taken dancing lessons that doesn’t still look stilted on the dance floor. There are no empathy lessons that work for someone who is not an empath.

I noticed that I have begun every paragraph with “I,” so naturally this must be about me. It’s more about attempting to wear something that doesn’t fit.

Some people are really packed with empathy. I both envy and feel sorry for them. Envy, because it’s something that society tells me that I should have and looks askance at me because I don’t. Sorry, because it must be painful to feel everyone’s pain.

Perhaps it’s a protection mechinism but that would be me trying to explain it or justify me not having it.

I’ve noticed that some of the best surgeons I have met also lack empathy. It doesn’t keep them from doing their life saving work.

Because someone doesn’t feel you doesn’t mean they don’t care. They just care in a different way.

It’s a mystery to me that I can sense what’s going on with someone seconds after meeting them, but I cannot replicate their pain in my body. The good news is it hasn’t prevented me from helping people over the years.

I admire people who have empathy, the same way I admire talented musicians or gifted artists. They can do something that I can’t, and no amount of effort will get me to their level.

I used to think it was a flaw. I’ve come to find it’s a reality.

Perhaps the lesson here for all of us is this: Spend more time doing the things you’re good at rather than pining away for something that will never come your way.

All the best,


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January 21, 2020

The Religious Atheist

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 9:03 am

Ryan riggins 2KJjKrod2RA unsplash“Even Atheists have religion.” That was the mini-sermon I heard from The Grasshopper this morning.

We all have things we believe in that we can’t validate. That’s faith; that’s trust; that’s religion.

Even the most devout religious person knows they cannot prove many of the tenets of their faith. That, however, is not enough to dissuade them from their belief.

When we believe in something that others cannot fathom, and that we cannot prove, we have a brand of religion. There is nothing wrong with believing; that’s how we are wired.

The problem arises when we want to sell our belief as the only one there is, or to be more specific – The one true religion.

That doesn’t mean we can’t have discussions with non-believers about our beliefs. It just means that we need to step down from our soapbox, so we’re on the same level.

When discussing beliefs, it’s important not to challenge the other person’s way of believing. Here are two words to use when asking a question about another person’s belief: Curious and Wonder.

“I’m curious how you arrived at your belief that all left-handed strippers are bi-sexual.”

“I wonder what makes you believe that your religion (way of believing) is the one, true religion?”

You’re just asking how they arrived at their conclusion. You’re not challenging it, demeaning it, or dismissing it. You are just starting a discussion about what most recommend that we politely don’t talk about.

What their answer will reveal is what NLP practitioners call their “convincer strategy.” But that isn’t my goal when having this discussion. I’m attempting to form a closer bond with someone who has different beliefs than me. I’m not attempting to convince them to see things my way. That generally has them quickly head for the highway.

My goal is to get closer to the belief that this person is just like me – just with different content. I think of us both as tea or coffee mugs. We’re both the same; we just contain a different brew.

The next time you are tempted to dismiss someone’s beliefs, get a little religion and discover that they don’t have to be just like you.

All the best,


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January 20, 2020

The Inertia of Fear

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Morgan @ 9:38 am

Alexandra gorn smuS jUZa9I unsplash“Inertia is fear dressed up in another suit of clothes.” So said The Grasshopper this morning.

The couch potato disguise cannot escape the observant eye of anyone willing to pay attention. Fear is the root of immobility.

The workaround is to not take on a big scary project to prove you’re not afraid. That tactic has a high rate of failure. The way to bypass fear is to take a step – in any direction. Movement is the antidote to fear. Taken in small doses, you can prove to yourself that you’re capable of mitigating fear.

Moons ago, The Grasshopper offered this: “Doing diffuses fear.” I have yet to see it not work.

Small steps in any direction relegates fear to second banana status. Your main focus is now on movement. It’s my experience that fear and movement cannot occupy the same space. So make movement a priority and you won’t be a sack of fear running in place.

One more Grasshopper quote to close this out: “You came from nothing, you’re returning to nothing; so while you’re here, do something.” – Move!

All the best,


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