Breaking through to the next level! with John Michael Morgan

Breaking through to the next level! with John Michael Morgan

Breaking through to the next level! with John Michael Morgan

Well, hello, Dream, Think, Do-er! I have another interview in my Hero Series. That’s right. We’re doing a bit of a hero series. These are folks that I want to bring to you because they’ve been a hero to me in some shape, way, or form. Today is definitely the case.

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My guest today is John Michael Morgan. John is a tell-it-like-it-is business strategist who helps entrepreneurs and leaders with creating the beliefs and the behaviors they need to achieve their biggest goals and dreams.

His website says that he’s best known for his energy and passion, but since I’ve known John for almost a decade, I’d actually say that he’s known for his wisdom, his heart, his ability to bring truth, and his rather intimidating but yet awesome beard. Look him up.  You’ll see what I’m talking about.

He is an in-demand speaker who is hilarious but, at the same time, he brings truth bombs and strategies that stick, so he’s giving talks around the world.

So put on your seat belts. This is going to be fun!

He’s a trusted friend of mine and a true wise mentor for me so, I wanted to bring him back to DREAM THINK DO.  That’s right. It’s his second appearance on “DTD”, so let’s get to it. John, welcome back, buddy.

Thank you so much for having me, Mike. I’m excited.

This is just fun. The whole reason I have a podcast is to get to talk with cool people.  We’re almost at our 200th episode but you first were on DREAM THINK DO at episode 18. I mean it was just as the podcast was becoming an adult, turning 18, so, we’re back at it.

Yeah, I’m honored to be on twice. Kind of a long time in between, but…

Well, I said, “Man, we’ll bring you back and see if we can get it right this time.” So, I do recommend to everyone, go back and listen to our initial conversation, which would be at\018, episode 18.

John, you do a lot of coaching and consulting with entrepreneurs and leaders, really high level stuff and I’m looking forward to really diving into some of the strategies you help people with. But I also really want to let dream, think, doers know your background.

Because although now, you are all about creating the right beliefs and being intentional with your thinking, it hasn’t always been that way for you. Give us a little picture of you as a youth. Have you always had the optimistic, intentional mindset, all of those things?

I certainly did not. In fact, my youth was full of depression and anxiety and overcoming a lot of battles. But while I overcame them, what was left was damaged identity, a damaged self-esteem and things like that. So, even as a young adult, while I wasn’t depressed or really experiencing anxiety in any of those things, I was also just drifting, just going through the motions, trying college, various professions. Just going through all of those kind of things and not ever actually saying, “What do I want and how do I get that?” Then when I started to get a sense of what I wanted, I was still getting in my own way.

How I got to where I am today has been a lifelong journey of the more I grow and improve on the inside, the more all of my outer circumstances and situations also grow and improve.

I always appreciate that you’re really willing to be raw and authentic about that journey. So fast-forward a bit and you write a game changing book about branding, which was great of course. But your audiences, your coaching clients really started to demand more from the leadership stuff and the mindset stuff, because they were like, “Okay, your branding stuff’s awesome, but I’m learning just as much, if not more, about how do I lead, how do I live, all of that.”

So, I wanted to have you back on, because last time we really talked a lot of branding. This time, I want to talk about, not just leadership, but leading yourself. Taking yourself and your career, all of it to the next level.

What do you think? What are some of the things that get in the way of that initial kind of next step, that next level step?

You know, I think it’s easy when you don’t have success to set your goals. Right? Like if you’re broke, it’s really easy to set a financial goal of, “I would like money.” But then you get the money and you relax and you’ve got into a new comfort zone. Now, that new comfort zone is really nice. It is actually legitimately comfortable. Right?

Right. Absolutely.

So, things are good. You like your business, you like your career, whatever it is, your relationships and all of that, but then your mindset shifts. You used to be a creator, trying to build all these things. Now you achieved some of it and you shift to a manager. And now, instead of creating and thinking like an owner, you’re just trying to manage everything; manage your income, manage your clients, manage your job, your relationships, your schedule, everything. But you still have the ambition. I don’t think that ambition necessarily goes away and you feel like you’re called to do something greater, but you’re now stuck in a whole new rut and it’s actually more dangerous than when you’re in the rut of things not working. You know, success often is very, very dangerous because, like I said, it breeds that comfort where we think, “Okay, I can ease up on the gas for a while.”

And, you know, in some seasons of life that’s awesome, but not if you’re still not feeling fulfilled and I believe very firmly that if you’re called to greatness and to lead a lot of people and have an impact, then the worst thing that you can do in that process is to get a taste of it and then settle.

Yeah, to let up.

You get this mindset. I just sort of nickname it this manager mindset, because if you looked at like a normal business, the owner thinks very differently than the manager. The manager’s just there making sure that day to day the place doesn’t burn down. But the owner is looking at it saying, “Well, how do we make it bigger, how do we make it better?”, and that’s the problem that happens to so many of us is that we start to get things in life and we’re like, “Okay, that’s great, and now I’m just going to manage that.” You know, we see it in marriages, when you’re pursuing your potential spouse, you’re all about surprising them and being romantic and learning about them and let’s have deep conversations and let’s travel and let’s do all these great things. And then you get married and it’s like, “Well, what do you want for dinner?”

Okay, awesome, but what if there’s more? Like what if it can go deeper? What if it can be better?

I love it. So, the owner mindset versus the manager mindset. That’s key. So, helping people identify that and being able to say, “All right, what are you doing differently? What are some of the things you do as you’re working with folks to help them, whether it’s to identify that or to be able to say, all right, what are some of those limitations that are keeping you from that next level?”

You know what’s really interesting is often the same thing that limited people from achieving something in the first place is what holds them back from getting to that next level. It’s just a little different and basically that is the story they’re telling about themselves. See a lot of people, they can tell themselves that they’re capable of creating enough value to be worth, let’s say six figures a year. But they tell themselves a story of if they go to seven figures, they’re greedy. Right? All of a sudden, it’s like that thing of like, am I being greedy? How does this look? Am I capable of managing and performing at that level? So, the story we tell ourselves gets misguided.

That’s great.

Because what happens, we start focusing on the wrong things because now we have achieved some stuff. Right? So, what we have to focus on instead, is Pastor Rick Warren, who wrote “Purpose Driven Life, said this great thing once of, “The purpose of influence is to help those without it.” It’s not about going from six figures to seven figures or seven figures to eight figures, it’s about becoming more influential so that you can help more people who don’t have that influence. And so that’s the metric now. Right? And money, of course, is just one indicator of influence.

So, all of a sudden we go from, “Oh, I didn’t have anything and now I’ve got stuff.” And we kind of touched on a moment ago, that’s the moment that we stop leading ourselves and we’re waiting for magic to happen and we’re waiting for just a new opportunity to come instead of stopping and saying, “Okay, wait a minute. How do I change the story about me?”

I love that.

I’m telling myself and how do I just reprogram this? You know, I have this, just even two years ago, I would have said, “My business is amazing, marriage is great, kids are great, faith is great, like checked all the boxes.” Okay, awesome. And if I could go back in time right now to me two years ago, I would punch that dude in the face because here I am now two years later and amazingly enough, somehow the marriage got better, much better parent to my kids, like as a dad, travel and experiences have been better, the business has grown and been better, my physical health has been better, and all of that happened because I woke up one day and said, “I’m doing a really good job telling everyone in the world what to do and a really poor job leading myself.” And so, I used to tell people all the time, Mitch, like it’s a slogan in my business, that income improvement follows self-improvement.

Well, what I realized is that you could replace the word “income” with any word. All improvement stems from self-improvement and that’s the problem is we stop working on ourselves once we have that little taste of success.

I couldn’t agree more and I love what you’re talking about, too, with the stories that we’re telling ourselves, because it is amazing and it’s so subtle. It’s not like obvious billboards. But those stories really do guide us. What are some of those beliefs that you have that could possibly be getting in your way? What are those things that you don’t necessarily write down or you didn’t decide to believe, but you just might believe them because?

A client of mine was worried about taking his business to the next level. “What if things go horribly wrong? It happens to people?” And I said, “Well it could, but what is another story you could tell yourself.”

So, what’s something you want to believe? What’s something you want to pick or choose to believe? And he said, “Well I could use that to influence people and I could teach my kids a lot. It could actually make my marriage better.”

So John, I love what you’re saying with the stories, because unless we’re really intentional, all that stuff is happening at that subconscious level and shutting us down when we don’t even realize it.

That’s exactly right and I’m going to use that client and his story as an example, because what I love to do in this situation, what I tell clients to do all the time, is sit down with a pen and paper and think of the story you’re telling yourself and then ask, “Is that true?” You know, so, in his mind, he’s like, “Well, look at all the celebrities that get rich and famous and then divorced.” But the story he’s saying is that the money is what caused the divorce.


Is that true? Well, we have no idea because we don’t actually know what the relationship was like in the first place.

Right. Exactly.

I don’t think there are a lot of people in this world, there’s probably some, who have said, “Oh, my gosh, I’ve got 10 million dollars now, I’m going to go get a divorce.”

Right. Exactly.

Right? That’s usually not exactly the way it works. I mean, probably some stupid men out there, I’m sure that’s probably exactly how it’s happened, but-

Exactly, but for most people-

Right. Not how it works. But these are the stories we tell ourselves. I’ll wake up and I’ll have the self-doubt and I’ll think, “Okay, if I post content on this topic, my audience is going to hate it.” Where did that story come from? Is that true? Let me really sit down and think about that. But we never want to actually understand if the stories we’re telling ourselves are true or not.

So, I love the idea of being able to sit down and say, “All right. What are some of those stories?” And sometimes you really have to give yourself a second or minute or an hour or whatever to say, “All right. What are the stories that are milling around up in that melon?” Because it’s not always at a conscious level. But if we really ask ourselves, “All right, what are some of those stories?”, but then to ask that follow-up and to write it down, I’m guessing, is really powerful, too, or an important part of that is to be able to say, “Is that true?”.

Yes, because there are so many reasons that people hold themselves back. I’ve seen people say, “Well, I don’t want to become that wealthy because look at all the taxes you’ll have to pay.” And I’m like, wait a minute, like I’ve never met anyone who said, “Well I used to be rich, but then I paid taxes.”


Right? Like you don’t meet a homeless person and say, “What happened, man? How are you homeless?” And they’re like, “Well, I had 10 million dollars in the bank and then I paid taxes and now I’m homeless.” Like what? We don’t see that. So, we don’t ever tell ourselves the real story or the full version of that story.

Right. I love it. All right. So we’re talking owner mindset versus manager mindset. We’re talking about being aware of the stories that we’re telling ourselves and being able to say, “All right, is that true?” So, I’m loving that. That is great stuff. When you’re working with someone, they’ve had success, now they’re busting it, they’re going to that, or they’re starting to go to that next level. They’re trying new things, they’re testing those stories out. What else? What are some of the other things that you think get in the way of that next level?

I think people start seeking approval instead of results and what I mean by this is that when you have some success, you all of a sudden fall in this habit of caring what everybody thinks, because you’ve got more people paying attention to you. Right? You know, your friends and family are paying attention to you, what you’re wearing and what home you live in, your online community, your audience or clients or whatever kind of business someone’s in, like, you know people are paying attention and so all of a sudden, you feel like the spotlight is on you and you start caring about approval. How many likes am I going to get when I post this picture on Facebook?  You know, we start to have a little bit of success and all of a sudden we’re chasing popularity.

So, you’re exactly right. And social media has just made this really easy to fall in the trap, but it’s existed well before the Internet.

Right. Right. You know, because like I said, we all of a sudden, our moves are a little bit more magnified and that freaks us out.

Totally. Well and I think it’s that, I think, actually whereas before it was a problem, now I could say, it’s full scale addiction. So, what, with your clients that you work with, what are some ways to call that out and get them more results-focused, versus approval-focused.

You know, I think a lot of it is about helping people become a little more self-aware and doing things and asking like, “What is the outcome I’m after?” You know, what is it that I want out of this? My wife, Brooke, who you know well, she and I had made this commitment years ago that we would have least one date night every single week and the point of date night is connection. Well, it’s really easy for me to get upset when, “Oh, we can’t get the kids to the sitter in time.” And “We’re not gonna make it for the movie”, or “The restaurant I wanted to go to was crowded”, or whatever, and it’s like, is any of that the outcome I wanted? No. The outcome is just spending time with my wife. We could just hang out and have coffee and that would be amazing. Right? To just have that connection and time to talk and exhale and all of that.

Right. We’re not cooking, we’re not cleaning, we’re not talking about the business.

We have to start asking ourselves, okay, “What am I really after with this?” And we have to look at, in business with our goals, why do we want it? And I don’t mean like let’s have your big why that’s your motivator but for people who will sometimes say, “I want to add 100,000 people to my audience.” Okay. Beautiful. Why? Are you gonna turn a certain number of those to clients? Are you gonna try to serve them in a certain way? Let’s not just seek the popularity, let’s make sure that every action we take is somehow tied to a result that we want.

And even asking, I think you’re exactly right. It’s kind of boiling it down to say, “Okay, what does success look like?” What are the results we’re looking for? So, getting clarity on that and whether that’s business or marriage or whatever.

So, in my business, I do coaching and write books and like you, travel and do public speaking. Right? And in the last two years, I’ve done less public speaking and the reason why is that I love it but what I love is the applause. When I look at my goals, what do I want, I want more clients. I want to help more people. That’s the result I’m after and as you know, there are some events that really lend themselves to that and there some events where you get on stage you do your song and dance you get a check, and it’s done and there’s really no one in the audience that’s actually gonna become a client.

To get to that next level, we’ve got to go back to being very, very focused on the results. See, that’s the nice thing when we’re starting at ground zero, is that the result is all we have to focus on. You know what I mean? If you look at the bank account and the bank account is zero, I want to change that. Okay, awesome, like that was easy. When the bank account looks nice, now changing it becomes more difficult.

So, I know you’re a big proponent of accountability. What would you say, as far as being able to narrow in on these results, what are some of the strategies especially for that higher tier person, because the higher you go, the fewer people that get your success. Right?

You know, I think accountability is wonderful because no one wants it but we all need it. We’re such a product of our environment and breaking through to a new level means you’ve got to surround yourself with other people who are not settling but they’ve got their own next level that they’re going to.

And so I think that’s the thing is that so often, we put ourselves on an island and all of a sudden we look around and it’s like the people around us, they don’t have the same dreams and they’re not that ambitious and they’re not thinking to that same level and that’s why it’s really important that we don’t say that we’re surrounded by good people and we’re only looking at our team or our clients, because yeah, of course your team’s great, of course your clients are great. They wouldn’t be there if they weren’t. You’ve gotta look outside that and say, “Who are the peers that I can surround myself with that maybe they’re ahead of me, maybe they’re a little bit behind me, but they’re going.” And they’re moving forward and I want to be around that momentum.

Well, I can remember you started a mastermind group and we got together ’cause it was like a perfect season in all of our businesses to push through, just like we’re talking about. And I remember you talking about it and who you were wanting to invite and I was both excited and intimidated.

What’s so funny about that is, from my point of view, I was thinking – I’m going to put the group together that makes me massively uncomfortable because I won’t be able to coast.

Yeah, yeah.

Right? You know what I’m saying? And that’s what we’re talking about is like we said at the beginning, you get in this new comfort zone and man, it’s awesome because things are going well. So, it’s like legitimately comfortable.


It’s a nice comfort zone and it’s awesome to be grateful and have like an immense amount of gratitude for where you are and what you’ve achieved, but that doesn’t mean that you have to settle. Right? I think that’s the other story sometimes we tell ourselves: if I’m still ambitious, does that mean I’m not grateful for what I have? No of course not. It just means, let’s go create a legacy, let’s help more people, let’s serve more people. Let’s serve people in new ways. We don’t do the world any favor by settling. Right?

That’s absolutely true, being intentional about surrounding yourself with people who will challenge you.  While were in a group together – just four people. but for that season, that group was so important and we found a way to connect, to help each other stay sharp.

That’s right. And this sort of thing doesn’t just happen. It took awhile to find people with the right mindset, with the right habits. It’s not just let me go get my buddies, because if I do that, then we’re just all buddies. There’s a place for those guys. This was like, when you’re hearing Mitch and I say, “Surround yourself with these kind of people”, be patient on that, because it’s not like there’s 5,000 of them in your town. Right? You know, like you said, we were all over the country. Be patient. Give yourself grace on that and if you find one in the beginning, awesome, start there.

Right. Well, it’s fun, because you know, look for that person that you want to surround yourself with and start that conversation with them and then ask.

So, John, how do people find out more about you? What’s the best place to keep track of the John

I love it. All right. Well, go check him out, You will be glad you did. John, thanks so much for being a part of “Dream, Think, Do” again and thanks for being a hero, brother.

Thanks for having me.

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