Andrew Morgan is an internationally recognized filmmaker focused on telling stories for a better tomorrow. His experience includes a broad range of work spanning narrative and documentary storytelling for multiple film and new media projects that have been filmed and released all over the world. His work is currently on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. The New York Times described his unique style as “gentle, humane investigations,” and Vogue Magazine wrote that it is “evidence that each of us can act as a catalyst for change within our own lives and work together towards a greater good.” He lives in LA with his wife Emily, and their four children.
Andrew and Stuart had an impassioned conversation about excellence, the power of storytelling and what it means to be a next generation leader worth following.
INFLUNSR. defines excellence as choosing to create a better future by going to second mile.
James 1:19 instructs Jesus followers this way, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”
Let’s consider the power of listening — being quick to listen — in Andrew’s interview and the story of Betty Bigombe with the Lord’s Resistance Army. So many young leaders try to make themselves look smart. Great listeners are more interested in making whomever they are speaking to feel smart. They help people approach their own views with more humility, doubt, and curiosity. When people have a chance to express themselves out loud, they often discover new thoughts.
Someone has wisely called this inverse charisma, the magnetic quality of a great listener. Think about how rare that kind of listening is. The power of listening doesn’t just lie in giving people the space to reflect on their views. It’s a display of respect and an expression of care. When Betty Bigombe stayed with displaced Ugandans in their camps and asked them to air their grievances, she was proving that what they had to say mattered to her. Listening is a way of offering others our scarcest, most precious gift: our attention.
Being quick to listen is on the second mile.
Would you say you are quick to speak and slow to listen or quick to listen and slow to speak? Ask the five people closest to you to answer that question as it relates to you. Why are you so quick to speak and slow to listen? How do you become quick to listen?
Let’s discuss this in the Circle…
INFLUNSR. asked you to read the riveting story of the smokejumpers of Mann Gulch in August 1949…
INFLUNSR. defines excellence as choosing to create a better future by going the extra mile. Let’s push at the better future idea in a different way…
We tend to think that the smarter you are, the more complex the problems you can solve—and the faster you can solve them. Intelligence is traditionally viewed as the ability to think and learn. Yet in a turbulent world, there’s another set of cognitive skills that might matter more: the ability to rethink and unlearn.
Imagine that you’ve just finished taking a multiple-choice test, and you start to second‑guess one of your answers. You have some extra time — should you stick with your first instinct or change it?
About three quarters of students are convinced that revising their answer will hurt their score. Kaplan, the big test‑prep company, once warned students to “exercise great caution if you decide to change an answer. Experience indicates that many students who change answers change to the wrong answer.”
When a trio of psychologists conducted a comprehensive review of thirty‑ three studies, they found that in every one, the majority of answer revisions were from wrong to right. This phenomenon is known as the first‑instinct fallacy.
In one demonstration, psychologists counted eraser marks on the exams of more than 1,500 students in Illinois. Only a quarter of the changes were from right to wrong, while half were from wrong to right. I’ve seen it in my own classroom year after year: my students’ final exams have surprisingly few eraser marks, but those who do rethink their first answers rather than staying anchored to them end up improving their scores.
Of course, it’s possible that second answers aren’t inherently better; they’re only better because students are generally so reluctant to switch that they only make changes when they’re fairly confident. But recent studies point to a different explanation: it’s not so much changing your answer that improves your score as considering whether you should change it.
We don’t just hesitate to rethink our answers. We hesitate at the very idea of rethinking. Take an experiment where hundreds of college students were randomly assigned to learn about the first‑instinct fallacy. The speaker taught them about the value of changing their minds and gave them advice about when it made sense to do so. On their next two tests, they still weren’t any more likely to revise their answers.
Part of the problem is cognitive laziness. Some psychologists point out that we’re mental misers: we often prefer the ease of hanging on to old views over the difficulty of grappling with new ones. Yet there are also deeper forces behind our resistance to rethinking. Questioning ourselves makes the world more unpredictable. It requires us to admit that the facts may have changed, that what was once right may now be wrong. Reconsidering something we believe deeply can threaten our identities, making it feel as if we’re losing a part of ourselves.
Rethinking isn’t a struggle in every part of our lives. When it comes to our possessions, we update with fervor. We refresh our wardrobes when they go out of style and renovate our kitchens when they’re no longer in vogue. When it comes to our knowledge and opinions, though, we tend to stick to our guns. Psychologists call this seizing and freezing. We favor the comfort of conviction over the discomfort of doubt, and we let our beliefs get brittle long before our bones. We laugh at people who still use Windows 95, yet we still cling to opinions that we formed in 1995. We listen to views that make us feel good, instead of ideas that make us think hard.
Paul writes the church in Philippi and says “… whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Paul strongly directs us to think about what is true. Which will mean that we have to develop the ability to constantly rethink and relearn.
At some point, you’ve probably heard that if you drop a frog in a pot of scalding hot water, it will immediately leap out. But if you drop the frog in lukewarm water and gradually raise the temperature, the frog will die. It lacks the ability to rethink the situation, and doesn’t realize the threat until it’s too late.
I did some research on this popular story recently and discovered a wrinkle: it isn’t true.
Tossed into the scalding pot, the frog will get burned badly and may or may not escape. The frog is actually better off in the slow‑boiling pot: it will leap out as soon as the water starts to get uncomfortably warm.
It’s not the frogs who fail to reevaluate.
Once we hear the story and accept it as true, we rarely bother to question it.
Let’s dive into this in the Circle…
We asked you ask for your parents or guardian’s permission and watch the critically acclaimed documentary The True Cost. This is a story about clothing. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. The True Cost is a groundbreaking documentary film that pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing?
Today, we are outsourcing more, consuming more (in the US a 500% clothing consumption increase in the last two decades alone), using more resources, and paying less than we have at any previous time in history. At the same time, there are record high numbers of worker casualties in factories, and a fundamentally unsustainable growing toll on the environment. What kind of world will we create now that we are beginning to see the cost of our actions? In a time where our impact on people and the world is measured in real time, will we choose to create new systems to alleviate this pressure? How does this inform your idea of excellence: choosing to create a better future by going the second mile? Journal your thoughts.
Let’s discuss this in the Circle…
We asked you to read the Wall Street Journal article by Robin Kawakami regarding how The True Cost documentary exposes the hidden costs of $8 blue jeans.
Andrew Morgan, telling the Wall Street Journal about reading about the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment-factory building, which killed more than 1,100 people and injured some 3,000 more, says “It definitely broke my heart, but I think the more stunning thing to me when I read that article was the awareness that I had never in my whole life really stopped to think about where my clothes came from… I grew up in middle America, middle class, and I had never stopped to think about the fact that some of my really simple choices might have very real impact on the world.” Great next generation leaders consider the fact that every decision they make sets up another decision — and there is always another decision. Paul tells the church in Galatia “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.” (Galatians 6:7-8 NLT) Are there areas of your life where you need to really think long-term about the consequences of your choices?
Let’s discuss this in the Circle…
We asked you to ask for your parents or guardian’s permission and watch the critically acclaimed documentary The Antidote. Made in response to the times we are living in, The Antidote is a feature documentary that weaves together stories of kindness, decency, and the power of community in America. It’s about everyday people who make the intentional choice to lift others up, despite the fundamentally unkind ways of our society, which are at once facts of life in America and yet deeply antithetical to our founding ideals. Directed by Academy Award-nominee, Kahane Cooperman, and six-time Emmy winner, John Hoffman, The Antidote aims to drive a national conversation about the roles that kindness, decency, compassion and respect play in a civilized, democratic society.
While it’s easy to court despair in the face of monumental, structural problems, The Antidote tells stories of compassionate people intentionally leveraging the resources within themselves and their communities to give others a chance at a better life. The Antidote isn’t about an idea or a policy; it is about how we treat each other. It is about who we are. How does this move you regarding the second mile and creating a better future? How does this contradict our current culture of instant success?
Time to dive into this in the Circle…
We asked you to watch The Antidote filmmaker Kahane Cooperman interview on MSNBC, as she reveals the inspiration for the movie and what it was like bringing these stories together:
The eyes of the world are opening, and history is giving us this moment to choose a better path. The goodness of humanity moves forward when those who have a voice use it on behalf of those who do not. It moves forward when a moment is seized rather than ignored. And it most certainly moves when we decide that the profit of some must never come from the exploitation of others. How does this make you feel or think?
Let’s discuss this in the Circle…
We asked you to watch the Stephen Curry: Success Is Not An Accident YouTube Video.
It’s easy to say “I want to be great” or “I want to be a college athlete” or “I want to be a professional ____________,” because the dream is free. But the hustle? That will cost you. What are you willing to pay? How long are you willing to struggle? Are you willing to experience the pain, the disappointment, and go toe-to-toe with failure? That is what it will take to achieve your dream.
The extra mile is a lonely place, but it is the only path to greatness. There are no fans lining that mile. No cameras. No bright lights. Most of your friends won’t join you there, because your dreams belong to you, not them. No one else is supposed to understand your calling. It wasn’t a conference call. Many of your “friends” will tell you that you are wasting your time, because how could they know how badly you want it? They have no idea. Your parents and leaders may inspire you, but they can’t do the reps. Only you can. When Steph Curry had to change his shot technique in high school, do you think his friends cared how late he stayed up practicing? How many of his friends were willing to show up an hour early to practice, or stay after, waiting for him to swish five straight free throws before calling it a day? When does your second mile begin? When are you satisfied enough to call it quits for the day?
Let’s dive into this in the Circle…
INFLUNSR’s mission is to fuel the next generation of leaders worth following and to help students learn how to think, not what to think. Any articles posted and questions asked are intended for that sole purpose.