Dec. 22, 2022

Ep.19 Real Talk with Michael Morgan

This week on Reel Talk, I had the privilege of interviewing Michael Morgan, UofT Men’s Rugby Alum. In this episode, Michael teaches us how to succeed as the underdog. Watch the full interview as we cover the following topics:
The Underdog Mindset

This week on Reel Talk, I had the privilege of interviewing Michael Morgan, UofT Men’s Rugby Alum. In this episode, Michael teaches us how to succeed as the underdog. Watch the full interview as we cover the following topics:

  1. The Underdog Mindset
  2. Succeeding as the Underdog
  3. Disregarding Negative People
  4. Finding Your Drive
  5. Becoming Self-Made

Background on Michael Morgan:

Michael Morgan is a former University of Toronto Varsity Athlete, with four years of experience playing with the Men’s Rugby Team. Growing up, Michael has played an array of sports to diversify his skills in order to find his true passion. Michael is not new to the challenges of adversity and perseverance faced by athletes, as he has learned to embrace the role of the underdog his entire career.

Today, Michael continues to stay physically and mentally active and is in constant search for his next challenge - both within sports and in life. In addition to his personal development, Michael seeks to inspire other athletes of all ages through his experience and knowledge, volunteer opportunities, and more unique ways to give back to the sport that has brought him so much!

Check out Michael Morgan on Instagram!

Interested in being a Growth on the Daily Real Talk guest? Head to our website to register as a guest!

Follow Growth on the Daily on Instagram and LinkedIn, and subscribe on YouTube. And, of course, check out our website for more info!


Ep. 19 Real Talk with Michael Morgan

Reyanna Lambie: Hey guys! Welcome to Growth on the Daily, the personal development podcast for athletes. My name is Rey. I'm a former competitive hockey player. I'm passionate about self-growth and I'm here to support you on your journey to becoming the best version of you. This week we have a Real Talk interview with Michael Morgan.

Michael and I crossed paths a few years back at U of T. Had to have him on the show. He's been a long time supporter of Growth on the Daily, so super excited when he said he was down to come on for an interview.Just for some background, Michael Morgan is a former University of Toronto varsity athlete. He has four years of experience playing with the men's rugby team.

Growing up, he played an array of sports to diversify his skills in order to find his true passion. Michael's also not new to the challenges of adversity and perseverance faced by athletes as he has learned to embrace the role of the underdog. Today, Michael continues to stay physically and mentally active and is in constant search for his next challenge, both within sports and in life. So thank you Michael for joining the show. I'm so excited to have you here. How you doing today? 

Michael Morgan: I'm doing great. Thank you. And I appreciate you having me here. It's really inspirational and I really like what you're doing.

[00:01:31] Background

Reyanna Lambie: I appreciate it, man. You know, athletes, we gotta do what we gotta do to continue to support the community, right? And this is my way of doing it, but you're also doing your part too with being here today. So, you know, the thanks goes both ways. But let's get started. Why don't you tell our listeners here in the Growth on Daily community, share with them your story. Like, where'd you come from? Why are you here today? 

Michael Morgan: Yeah, so I was born in Ukraine in the capital of Kiev and I immigrated to Canada when I was like three years old. So, coming to a new country, I kind of saw a lot of challenges in trying to fit in and trying to understand, you know, how to get around.

So through sports, I found that was a really good way to kind of understand not only, new sports to try, but also to really kind of get a fit for, understanding the culture and just the way of life in Canada. I lived all over Canada, and I grew up playing a ton of sports.

I mean, soccer, basketball, football, rugby, I did boxing etc. So I really kind of got a feel for, a whole variety of different sports and that kind of shaped me to get an understanding of the athlete that I am today, but also the person. 

[00:02:46] Intro to Rugby

Reyanna Lambie: That's amazing. I love that. And what brought you then to rugby?

Michael Morgan: So I never really knew much about rugby until high school. One of my football coaches, and football was a sport that I was most passionate about, but he was also the coach for the rugby team and he asked me to play, and originally I thought rugby was kind of a funny sport.

I never really, like I mentioned, I didn't know much about it and I just kind of brushed it off until one day he convinced me to come out to the tryout and, you know, next thing you know, I kind of fell in love with the sport. and you know, back in high school I saw it's an off-season training. But as I played it, during my undergrad, I did not regret sticking with this particular sport and it kind of changed a lot of things from me and, really brought a lot of good things in my life.

[00:03:32] His Life Today

Reyanna Lambie: That's awesome. So what are you up to now? 

Michael Morgan: So now I am fully graduated, I no longer play for University of Toronto, but I still stay in contact with a local team in my hometown. And I occasionally, play with them, just kind of come out for a few games in the season. But I also am making sure that I stay fit. I'm constantly, you know, trying to find new challenges in sports, whether it's within the gym or just trying out a new sport altogether, just making new goals for myself. 

[00:04:05] What brings you to Growth on the Daily

Reyanna Lambie: No, I can relate to that. I don't know how you found it, but it's a transition for sure. You're constantly training, you got that performance mindset and then you're just living, right? So you need to figure out to stay fit and what new things you can try. So I feel you on that. That's awesome. As you're probably reflecting on, you know, your athletic career, your previous experiences, given that, what's brought you here today?

Michael Morgan: Yeah, so when I really sit back and reflect about all the years that, you know, I've played different sports and everything that I've had to overcome, I'm really kind of brought back to the notion of an underdog. My whole life I felt like I was an underdog in sports. I always had a nothing to lose, but everything to gain mentality. It really drove me to try harder than anyone else on the field, both on and off the field because I found that it truly is the best feeling to overcome the things that people say you cannot do. 

And I found that's very repetitive throughout my athletic career. The whole idea of an underdog kind of shaped me to be the person I am today. Even though my rugby career might be over for playing at a high level, the things I'm going to take for my whole life and my four years at U of T and all, I'm going to take that forever and that's going to stick with me.

[00:05:22] Birth of the Underdog Mindset

Reyanna Lambie: I love that, and I feel like that's true for most athletes, where everyone has those takeaways that just go so much further than the sport itself and just impact your life as a whole. So I know you're getting to that, but let's take a step back here. What even adopted an underdog mindset for you? Like you said you've had that your whole athletic career, where did that start? 

Michael Morgan: You know, sports has always been a part of my family. I mean, my dad played some soccer growing up, but it never reached a high level. And immigrating to Canada, there's so much on the plate that sports almost seemed like just an activity, like a hobby to do on the side. 

And, I feel as though I was the first person in my family to really incorporate sports into my life as a full-time gig. And because I come from an area where there isn't too much experience within sports. I always found like I had to not only study the sport off the field, but kind of had to push myself to really perform at the level that I want to and to try and outmatch my competition. 

[00:06:20] High Achievement Mindset

Reyanna Lambie: So where did that mindset or notion of achieving excellence or, you know, getting that full-time gig out of a sports career, where did that stem from?

Michael Morgan: You know, I'm coming from a family that really had to fight for everything they had. So I think that kind of instilled some fire in me. Sports was a perfect gateway to kind of use that fire to progress myself. Growing up, I wasn't the most athletic kid. I would struggle to really kind of grasp, not even being the best, but just being the average player. And then if I found something that I really had a passion for, then I would really take that fire and take that drive and just repeat it constantly. I felt like I would have to work a little bit harder than everyone else to try and just get to where I want to be and then do it all over again to try and get to the next level and so on, and so on. 

[00:07:11] Succeeding as the Underdog

Reyanna Lambie: I see. So run me through that. What does that look like? What was your process of not only surviving but succeeding as an underdog? 

Michael Morgan: Coming into U of T, I already built a foundation. So before I touch on U of T, I want to talk about, how I had to build that up in high school and in youth sports.As I mentioned, because I wasn't necessarily the most fit child on the sport teams, I would take it to myself to put in those extra reps and then find gateways into how I could study the sport all the time. In ways that I could push myself that goes beyond just training and practice. 

You know, I would stay and watch videos on how to get better in the sport, etc, etc. And, I would always want to push myself to go that extra level, when I'm doing my individual training. For example, like running long distance. I would always try to build the kilometer next and next because I know that, okay, if I reach one, achievement, why can't I reach the next, the next? 

And using that, I kind of applied that into my U of T career. Originally, I was in communication with the football coaches to play on the football team, but it just so happened that there was some complications in my first year, which meant that I wouldn't have been able to play the season for football. 

So I thought, I played rugby in high school. I love the sport. Why don't I just give it a shot? I DMed the Instagram account. They invited me to try out as a walk-on, and next thing you know, one thing led to another, and, I think that I had a great first tryout. And that kind of solidified my spot the field. 

And, and I just had to realize, you know, I'm on the team, but that's not enough for me. I have to put in the work and now I have to get to the next level. I have to try and, build size, build speed. I want to get that starter spot. I want to do this now. I want to be the captain. And then, that drive really pushed me forward to reach the heights that I didn't even think would be possible.

[00:09:04] Top Athletic Achievement

Reyanna Lambie: That's amazing. One theme I'm really seeing with you, and not even just your athletic career, but I think your personality as an individual is that you're a very resilient person. You are not only, I would say, setting those high expectations, but I don't think it comes from a place where you need to prove yourself to other people.

It's about becoming the best you can be for yourself. And that is, not only a big part of what we talk about on the show, but also a big part of adopting that healthy athletic identity. So I have so much respect for you for that. On that note, I would love to hear about your top achievement as an athlete in your view.

Michael Morgan: First of all, thank you for those words. In regards to my biggest achievements, so I think one would be the reality of understanding that I was able to reach, you know, athletic heights and levels to where a lot of people told me I wouldn't even make half the road of where I went to. And that alone is probably one of the biggest achievements, just seeing my athletic dreams come true. 

[00:10:13] Overcoming Haters

Reyanna Lambie: That's amazing. I'm very curious about handling external, let's just call them haters and telling you I know you have this mindset, that's great, and you're trying hard. You know, reality check, you're not going to get there. And that's just their opinion. And obviously that's not the outcome, but how did you deal with that? 

Michael Morgan: I mean, I've had coaches tell me that I wouldn't reach the places that I have. And I've had friends, I had teachers tell me that it's time for me to drop sports and focus on something else. But really, it's kind of believing in yourself and knowing what you're capable of. It's really the confidence in knowing that you know that you can reach that. I had the mentality that, okay, maybe if they're right, they're right. But I wouldn't know until I tried for myself. I would love to hear also about your experience too, playing hockey about, how you were able to reach your goals despite what anybody else tells you.

Reyanna Lambie: Yeah, I mean, I think I can definitely relate to your elements there of, you know, whoever it is, coaches, friends, other people saying either it's unrealistic or, , you know, you just, you're not going to get there. And I really like the point you made that, so what, like even if they think that's so what? And I think that's a big difference in mindset because I feel like you can really look at it two ways. You can look at it and say, they're right, so I shouldn't do this. 

But you could also look at it as the way you said it is they might be right. And so what if they're right? That doesn't mean that I shouldn't try. And I think that just goes back to fear of failure and overcoming that because, I would rather try something and it not work out than wonder what if it did. For me in hockey, I got to a point where, in my second last year, going into my last year of my midget level, with hockey, I was like, okay, I can go on some like random juniors team and ride the bench to say that I play junior.

Or I could be a starter on a solid AA team. And I'm like, that's a difference between me playing varsity, and getting scouted for some school and me not. And I was like, well, aside from the lack of opportunities in female sports professionally, let's just put that aside. What do I really want to do? And I was like, I want to play. I don't want to train to sit. I want to play.

That coach, he asked me one question and I will never, ever forget it. He said. Do you want to play hockey or are you a hockey player? And I think that was the time that I had to make the decision of, is this my identity or am I just here for fun? And you know, once that clicks it's just like you said, tunnel vision focus and it's your life. And so that is, at least for me, what that was like, overcoming the mindsets. But like you, I feel like there was a lot of internal and external elements to that underdog mindset.

Michael Morgan: And it seems like you played, you chose to play for yourself, and that's the most important because you're not being a hockey player for them, but you're being a hockey player for yourself and for the sport, and that's the most important.

Reyanna Lambie: I feel like, you know what, that's actually a really great point, and thank you for that because you know, a lot of kids, especially hockey, but other sports as well, like parents they're throwing you into sports, right? You don't make the decision at four or five. There comes a point in every youth athlete's career where they decide if it's really what they want to do. And I feel like once you make that decision and you're like this is part of who I am. That's the difference in the mindset of what it takes to get where you're trying to go. So I appreciate you mentioning that. 

[00:14:02] Finding Your Drive

Michael Morgan: Yeah, of course. I would love to talk about also the mental barrier, trying to find that underdog drive, what it could lead. I mean, for me personally, I found that. You know, throughout, my whole life, I created this mental barrier of like self-appreciation, which is difficult. I always felt like I reached this point where this isn't enough. Like I'm not enough. I have to do better. And then I was driving myself to extreme levels of training.

And just really pushing myself to a point where I'm overdoing what I need to do to get better. It really is almost like walking a fine line between finding what is that point where to really push yourself and where are you actually only making it worse for yourself.

And that was something I was struggling with for a while. The more I got to understand who I am and my body and what kind of athlete I am, then I was able to really gain an appreciation and understanding of where I should be, and I was able to keep that drive, but also focus on where I need to put those efforts. 

And I found that taking that into my own life outside of sports, into work, into, socializing and really any other hobbies. I can keep that sort of same mentality and eventually turn into something positive and something I can use for the future. 

Reyanna Lambie: I love that. I think that's a very great way of putting that. I think everyone. At some point goes through that sort of mental battle where you're just like so hard on yourself and you might not even realize you're hard on yourself. And because you're so hard and those expectations are so high, you might be thinking like, I'm lazy, or I'm not doing enough. Or like, why am I not reaching X, Y, Z? 

And you know, something that I definitely struggle with, and I'm trying to figure out is handling my perfectionism. I'm very much a perfectionist. It's funny because I didn't even realize I was a perfectionist until someone else pointed it out and then I started to look at myself and say, Hey, wow. Like, chill. 

Especially with sports and activity, it's like, oh you're burnt out from school or work and you're skipping a workout, but then you're hard on yourself for skipping on a workout because you're like, but I'm trying to be captain of this and I'm trying to be a starter, and like, that's not going to happen if I skip- and all you're doing is skipping one workout because you're drained and you're exhausted. And actually, your body and your mind probably would benefit more from the rest so that you can perform better the rest of the days. But you know, there's this mindset that it's just like you've gotta be always on. And the second you kind of take your foot off the gas, it's as if it's done. 

And once you realize that there needs to be a balance between putting your foot on the gas and putting your foot on the brake, you realize that you're coasting at a speed that's actually going to take you further. Relating that back to hockey and my career there that looked like, training efficiently and not over-training, but also adjusting my expectations. I don't mean lowering, I really mean adjusting by saying what do I actually want rather than what are other people influencing me to do. So going back to playing for yourself, right? So I don't know if you can relate to that, but that's at least my mentality. 

Michael Morgan: You brought up a good word when you mentioned perfectionist. I think it's important that every, high level athlete, I think it's inevitable, and I think it actually is an important trait to be a perfectionist in your field, but to not take that to a point where it's unhealthy, you know? You have to find that balance into being a perfectionist into perfecting the most that you can do, but not putting yourself in a position of someone else or trying to create an unhealthy lifestyle for yourself. 

[00:17:53] Being Self-Made

Reyanna Lambie: It seems to me like, no matter the background, no matter the sport athletes have a lot in common and, especially that mental battle and, coming to meet their own expectations, right? I love everything that you shared with us today. It's honestly been so great speaking with you.

I am not only learning more things about you, but also myself and seeing how that all comes together, which is great. But I know that our listeners are definitely wondering. how they can apply this to their own lives. So I would love for you to share any advice you have for our listeners in the Growth on the Daily community and how they can not only overcome being an underdog, but also driving that self-made achievement.

Michael Morgan: I'll keep it simple and I think that you really have to understand that what you're doing, it shouldn't be for anyone else. It should be for you and as an underdog, you're already at the point where, okay, you truly do have nothing to lose, but you have everything to gain. So why not try to reach that next level and why not try and set your sights to something on what may not seem realistic. But I promise you that if you believe it is, and you believe that you can achieve it, then you really could. 

And one thing that I can really recommend is a book by, David Goggins called Can't Hurt Me. After I read it, it flipped a switch. David Goggins has a really good way of putting the feelings that you get as an underdog into reality and into his experience. And then you can take that and apply it to yours. So that's something I definitely recommend to read as well. 

Reyanna Lambie: That's great. I love that piece of advice and also a book recommendation. I'm a big reader, especially on that self-development and improvement topic. So it's great and yes, that's a great bestseller. So highly recommend that as well. Well, I want to say, Michael, thank you. It's been such a pleasure having you on the podcast and another Real Talk interview here. So thank you so much for coming on and looking forward to our future endeavors and seeing what you continue to achieve going forward.

Michael Morgan: Yeah. Thank you Rey. It was really a pleasure and you know, we are just keeping it real. 

Reyanna Lambie: Only way to do it. Alright guys, that wraps up this week's episode on the Growth on the Daily podcast and our Real Talk segment with Michael Morgan. If you guys like this interview, check out Michael Morgan on Instagram. I'll throw his handles down in the show notes. And of course, check out our Instagram @growthonthedaily and our website for more info and I'll see you guys next week. 

Michael MorganProfile Photo

Michael Morgan

Rugby Player

Michael Morgan is a former University of Toronto Varsity Athlete, with four years of experience playing with the Men’s Rugby Team. Growing up, Michael has played an array of sports to diversify his skills in order to find his true passion. Michael is not new to the challenges of adversity and perseverance faced by athletes, as he has learned to embrace the role of the underdog his entire career.

Today, Michael continues to stay physically and mentally active and is in constant search for his next challenge - both within sports and in life. In addition to his personal development, Michael seeks to inspire other athletes of all ages through his experience and knowledge, volunteer opportunities, and more unique ways to give back to the sport that has brought him so much!