Steven Morrison is a former psychotherapist, author, and creator of Spiritual Workout®. He has cultivated a mastery of his work with 25 years and with more than 100,000 hours of clinical/practical experience. Morisson is the author of An Extra Year: Grief and Loss in the New Age.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I grew up in the house my mother grew up in, in the northern New Jersey suburbs, part of the “New York metropolitan area.” We were certainly housed, fed, clothed, and went to school, but I did not like my parents or my one sibling, and our house was filled with a great deal of stress, tension, vitriol, and yelling. I knew by the age of 5 that money was a very, very big problem even if that did not appear to be the case for any of my friends from nursery school through high school. One way or another, rightly or wrongly, that was the lens through which I viewed life and it shaped everything about how I lived: life is a gargantuan struggle; there’s no such thing as support/I have to do it on my own; things are harder for me than everyone else; lack and limitation are my lots in life. I otherwise had friends and robust outside-the-home life did well in school and fantasized continually about starting my “real life” once I turned 18.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
I wish I would have realized or known that I was never even remotely as limited in life as I thought I was.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
As an entrepreneur and, specifically, as a social entrepreneur, “bad recommendations” have been garden variety stuff from people who don’t matter like friends who say, “Are you sure you want to do that instead of kicking back with a cushy job and an actual paycheck like you used to?” or something like “Maybe you want to start a little smaller” — that kind of stuff. The wonderful part about being an entrepreneur, though, is the shared experience of other entrepreneurs who, by nature, don’t listen to naysayers and, don’t make me say it, “realists.”
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
I was at the top of my game with a couple of unsatisfying careers behind me, about to self-finance the launch of my market-tested work/business into the world when I lost it all in the global financial meltdown we refer to as The Great Recession, circa 2008. So instead of launching it from a best-practices, cushy financial runway, I did so instead of from the bottom of a deep, dark ditch of financial ruin, loss, and emotional upheaval. I credit my practice (Spiritual Workout), which is also the work I purvey as a social entrepreneur, with the “creating from nothing” story I tell today. I learned that one doesn’t have to have a house or a home or a community or a credit rating or health insurance or income or investors or mentorship or a rich uncle to go from nothing to having a successful, viable business.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
Perseverance. That’s the short answer because that’s what it looks like on the surface. But I’d say that the biggest contributor to my success has been my insistence on listening only to my heart, not my head, in spite of the fact that my heart took me down some insanely bumpy roads that my head would surely have avoided. The heart is what perseveres.
What is your morning routine?
I wake up every day at dawn, sometimes just before, no alarm clocks ever, and the earlier it comes the better. I down two or three pints of water and head out for a hike that gives me a good 20-minute aerobic jolt before I make my way to “Morning Rock.” That special slab of granite in the mountains where I watch the sunrise and, depending on weather and circumstances of the day, otherwise pray and align myself with any or all of my ongoing intentions (things I’m wanting to create in my life that doesn’t yet exist). It’s a place and a routine that affords blissful quiet, abundant solitude, and copious landscapes of Nature, beauty, flora, and fauna. I don’t head back out down the trail loop that returns me to where I began until I can say with genuine fervor and enthusiasm, “I feel good!” (It doesn’t always start that way.) At no time do I hear words from or speak words to another human being.The rest of the time is for (sometimes) more exercise of some sort and the newspaper and coffee, and then the start of “committed time” at 10:00. I create some version of this routine wherever I may be. But if too much time goes by where I can’t have the first 3-4 hours of the day to myself for these activities, all bets are off.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
As an otherwise home-free digital nomad, I have developed pride in my ability to adapt to sometimes wildly different living situations and circumstances pretty much on a dime. In many ways, I love the romance of waking up each day and going with the flow of what’s happening where I am. Still, as an entrepreneur who necessarily wears many hats and has no shortage of “things to do,” I have learned that a sturdy yet flexible daily/weekly schedule pumps up my productivity as much as 90%. That’s probably why the pride now comes in maintaining the schedule/routine regardless of where or how I’m living.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
This is a partial list of a number of books that undergird everything about how I live my life and which inform the work I purvey in the world. I read them — and some others — in short order about 25-30 years ago resulting in an absolute shift in my consciousness and a new trajectory for my life. They were full of new ideas, mostly that I was “a spiritual being having a human experience” and that there was far more to life than what appeared. Very welcome news indeed!
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.” Rev. Howard Thurman
Underpromise, overdeliver. (Unattributed)