Of all of the conversations I’ve had on Small Talk Big Ideas, this is one of the most powerful. David Morrison like many of us, struggled to balance his work and family life, and ultimately started to question the 9 to 5 work model. He drew a direct line between the search for happiness and abandoning traditional husband, father, provider roles that so many men strive to meet. He helps other fathers find ways to be their best selves in life, at home, and through their careers.

About David Morrison

Dave Morrison is a life coach, trainer, Master Practitioner in NLP and Hypnotherapy, and the founder and lead trainer of The Optimised Dad movement. He is taking a polarising approach to being a Man, Dad, and Husband. 

Dave has coached and led men from all over in one-on-one breakthroughs and through group coaching programs that resulted in marriages reigniting, careers transforming, and Dads owning their true purpose.

Voice Over (00:03):

Thanks for joining us for the Small Talk Big Ideas podcast, a podcast to enrich yourself, where we have conversations with inspiring people about all things property, business, and life. And now the host of Small Talk Big Ideas, Ian Ugarte.


Ian Ugarte (00:23):

Hey, welcome to Small Talk Big Ideas. And today I talked to David Morrison from The Optimized Dad. He’s a former executive style, a corporate style  worker, who realized that maybe life was much more than actually the 9:00 to 5:00 grind, and he specialized in helping fathers to get their full output out of life by integrating their life with children and getting a work life balance. Please enjoy today’s podcast. And if you like, please subscribe and follow us on all the social media outlets. And we’ve got David Morrison here, executive worker in the past, but completely changed, he’s now the founder of The Optimized Dad movement. Welcome, David.


David Morrison (01:05):

Thank you. Thank you for having me and great-


Ian Ugarte (01:08):

Tell us what the movement’s about, tell us before we get into your life? How did it come about and what’s it about? 


David Morrison (01:14):

Okay. So in essence, it came about through doing a lot of coaching and working with men in different capacity. And I started to see some common themes and traits as to why they just weren’t having happiness in their life. Bottom line, everyone wants to have happiness. No one wants to walk around angry, cranky. And this common thread that I saw for a lot of men was they had a real lack of standards and living in integrity in their life, and they weren’t making the best use of who they were as an individual. And that’s like kryptonite for a man.


And ironically, when I started looking at that and coming from a corporate career where they used the word optimized ad-nauseum across every kind of business, vertical or channel. I actually googled it and optimized meant to make the best use of. I was on Wikipedia or dictionary or whatever. And I was like, “Right, okay. Well, that’s my name.” I mean, I’m not a marketing expert at all, but they always talk about, you should try and use language that connects with your audience and all that kind of stuff. But it did really hit home for me going, well, if I can help more men make the best use of who they are so they’re not just letting themselves just wither on the vine of life or whatever you want to call it, then I knew that when I did help men do that, that transferred into greater sense of confidence and certainty, which allow them to lead more in their life, in their marriage and with their kids. I’ll stop there, because that’s just really the genesis of it. 


Ian Ugarte (02:46):

I mean, so you’ve distinguished the fact dad, I mean the word dad is in your movement. Do you work with men that aren’t fathers?


David Morrison (02:55):

I certainly do. I narrowed that focus down there just because I’m a dad, I’ve got three daughters and that in itself is there’s a fair bit of stuff you can help people with. And I was like, “Right. Well, I’m going to maybe just nail down on the dads, because that in itself is a pretty big journey.” And I thought from our halo perspective and I do attract men that are maybe about to become a dad for instance. So it’s in their sphere of influence or whatever you might call it. But yeah, I certainly do, absolutely, a 100%.


Ian Ugarte (03:27):

Because I often talk about this, you obviously have a whole bunch of women led movement and they do women only things, to the extent where sometimes you can almost argue that it’s politically incorrect to do that. The men’s baths at Clovelly as an example in Sydney, they weren’t allowed to have women in there. And obviously of course now you can’t do that. But now we’ve got gyms that are women only gyms and [crosstalk 00:03:52].


David Morrison (03:52):

Women only. 


Ian Ugarte (03:53):

Yeah. And so you think, okay, well, I understand the complexity of that. But I often see a lot of people, women in particular that focus on women only education events, or women only groups. And I look at it from the perspective of, what if you’ve got a high feminine energy and you do actually like being around women because they’ve also got high feminine energies. Aren’t you just isolating 50% of your marketplace? You’re very niche obvious, niche within the fact that you’re 50% and then all of that, the fathers of that too. What was the catalyst for you to decide, I think I can help other fathers.


David Morrison (04:32):

The catalyst for me was when I started to solve some of my own challenges as a dad, particularly how I was so troubled in myself that I had these beautiful young kids, but yet I was so frustrated and angry every day. And they’re the embodiment of love, yet all I was doing was just spearing my own anger and frustration onto them. And I was just like, “This has got to fucking stop. Why are they getting that from me?” Now the catalysts of that was there was … we all know the power of leverage takes some … sometimes you can have a massive smack in the face and you’re like, “Shit needs to change.” Mine was a lot of smacks in the face. 


There was certainly moments where you pitch your kids starting to play out some of your behavior patterns and it coming from your own insecurities and your kids. And that’s pretty … I’m grateful that I had that level of awareness to see that and go, “That’s not cool.” And then I saw my wife and myself, Lisa, our relationship, I caught myself blaming her. I caught myself not understanding her level of questions and uncertainty she had in her life was not her picking on me all the time. She just needed to know what the fuck was going on. And I didn’t know how to admit it. I didn’t know what the fuck was going on. So that probably happened when the kids, my first two kids who are aged around about two to four. 


And look, sitting in the background, man, I had some massive substance abuse stuff going on, just holding it all together. I mean, if this is not the right forum, you just tell me.


Ian Ugarte (06:27):

No, [inaudible 00:06:28], I’d even like you to go down to the type of substance abuse you were in.


David Morrison (06:32):

Yeah, absolutely. I was doing everything and anything. My substance abuse evolution started in mid twenties with a lot of clubbing, a lot of ecstasy. Because that I had … externally very confident person, but internally extremely insecure. And that allowed me to connect to a social group because you felt valued, right. And I didn’t have that anywhere else. And so then you form a habit, becomes an addiction. And that was not a daily thing, but it was a weekend thing, where my weekends would just disappear, and it allowed me to, sex, relationships, got me validated, all those other kinds of things.


Then I moved more into still heavily drinking, but more cocaine abuse. When I was working in the PR industry, probably no big surprises, you worked in the PR industry, particularly having to work in music and sport, which is a pretty good epicenter for it. And that was more maintaining the facade of this is who I’m supposed to be for success because you’re surrounded by other people that were doing the same kind of thing. Then that continued to get worse and worse as I moved to London for three years to work in more PR, which was not the greatest place to go to when you’re living that kind of lifestyle, but that’s where I met my wife, Lisa.


And I brought those habits back home with me, and they probably got worse and worse as I struggled to understand my own personal, my own emotions and my own feelings. And usually from a huge amount of lack of self-worth. And that was huge amount, they had massive amounts of anxiety and stress and the only way you had to dull that down with alcohol and drugs, because I couldn’t process it, intellectualize it or express it, because of more shame and embarrassment. But still holding in a multiple six-figure job. 


Ian Ugarte (08:33):

Yeah. And so how did you kick the major use of it? I mean, I don’t know whether you’ve still got minor use of it, but how did you kick it? 


David Morrison (08:41):

No, I kicked it. It was a gradual process. It was not like, bang, it’s done. I started just to get healthy again, to be honest, I used to be really, really healthy, but I just let it go for so long. And I found more pride and personal satisfaction in the discipline I built through becoming very, very fit. Ironically, what that did was it removes a lot of fog, right? As in the fog of alcohol, drugs, bad food and all that kind of stuff, the sedation, if you want to call it for better part of a word. Then you start to see clearer, but then the frustration doubles down because you can see the destination. And now you’re sabotaging yourself even more and more and more, and you’re going, “What the fuck is going on here? I know I can be having this, everyone’s telling me this, but yet I am still carrying on this way. I’m doing this. I have these patterns I keep running and running and running.” 


And then eventually you have a bit of an eruption or a blowout because you haven’t been able to process it all. That took me a few years to be honest. And when I say like a few years, by the back end of it, it was maybe once a year I’d had some kind of head fuck blow out. Whereas now it’s been a couple of years. I don’t know the exact day, but it’s been like two years.


Ian Ugarte (10:02):

Did you start to wind down and get fit before the kids? 


David Morrison (10:06):

No. It’s like I got married and things slid faster downhill, because I wasn’t coping with the expectation. I mean, I was doing an interview about this the other day. You go from being a man, a husband and a dad in nine months. Now, you believe you prepared for it based on the story that you tell yourself about. Well, I want to be a dad partly because family is something that I’m passionate about, but my upbringing wasn’t … I had a great upbringing, nothing bad happened to me. Well, actually that’s a lie, something not so great happened a long time ago when I was 13. But my parents are awesome, they just got divorced, all that kind of stuff. 53% of marriages in the eighties ended in divorce. So if you’re at 46, 47, you probably coming from some kind of dysfunctional family unit, which had an impact on particularly men, I believe more than women. 


The whole moving into kids thing, I thought I was going to be 100% prepared for it. And then it just imploded and it actually got worse, more crap, I had no relationship with good food, no nothing. As long as I was earning good money, then that was my excuse to let everything else slide basically.


Ian Ugarte (11:21):

I mean 80% of our makeup is ingrained by the age six, some say eight years old. And so you’re watching your parents parent you, that then becomes style. And then the other 20% is probably perceptions and lies to yourself as well. And I’ll give you one example. I was doing like you going through a whole process of understanding where all these emotions or anger or whatever was coming from. And she said to me, the therapist said to me, “Let’s go back to a time where your father hit you.” I had started my fatherhood as an authoritarian. And I went back to a point where dad had smacked me. I couldn’t for the life of me, if I can think of one time where he laid a finger on me. 


And so then I had to stop in the middle of that session, went outside and I rang my brother and I said, my brother’s nine years older than me, “Do you remember dad hitting me?” And he goes, “No, dad used to beat the fuck out of me, but he never laid a finger on you once.” And I went back, I had to apologize to my father because here I am parenting my children the way that I think he was parenting. And not that I was consciously doing it. Did you ever have any of those situations where you go, “Oh shit, that was my dad that just came out then.”


David Morrison (12:36):

Yeah. It’s predominantly more, because my mum raised my brother and I. What I see, now you start to … somewhat I still see my dad. Ironically even though I have very little contact with him, and we have a great relationship, it’s whatever, there are still things that he does that even though I’ve not been around him that are just ingrained, they’re very, very freaky. With my mom, single mom raising two boys by herself in Sydney, massive amount of scarcity, massive amount of fear, working three or four jobs trying to pay rent, send your kids to school. I saw a lot of that constantly playing out of me, fear of job security, fear which is a poisonous thing for men to have that pattern running all the time. 


And she always had a lot of fear and a lot of anxiety and stress. And so that’s something that I’ve still actively work to push out. It’s a lot better than it used to be. Is it a 100% gone? No. He comes up sometimes and you got to be able to have good process or a pattern to catch it and go like, that’s not … maybe I’ll call a friend, whatever, just interrupt the pattern. It’s more catching myself, not overreacting to situations is an overlying theme that don’t require, because then we all know that creates a negative anchor with kids, because they go, “Well, I was just doing something pretty random, and here’s this person who is the center of my universe and you’re losing your shit at me. What the fuck is that all about?” 


Ian Ugarte (14:12):

Yeah. And then that’s adding to their patterns in the future as well.


David Morrison (14:15):

Totally, because then they’ll go, “Right. Well, I was myself in this situation and the people that really love me that are the center of my universe reacted really badly.” Then they go, “Right. Well, I don’t want to speak up or I feel funny if people laugh at me.” And you see it happening in your kids now, they’re creating little patterns. Then we’ve got to re-coach them and re-coach them, talk to them, getting to reframe what they’re doing, not using that language obviously, because their eyes glaze over when I start talking that way. Just like, “Please. Dad, enough of the coaching.”


Ian Ugarte (14:51):

Just quickly, I’ve got a little theory here. guy that I used to employ years ago, he was very worldly, actually fought in the second world war. And with the amount of loss of life that they had in men’s lives because of the war. When they all got back to the UK, they fed them mercury tablets. And the reason they gave him mercury tablets was because the mercury tablets, the male is the gender picker, X, Y chromosome. That would stop the amount of males that were being born and there’ll be more females. And the idea was to repopulate, we need more females where multiple men could inject multiple females.


Then I started doing a little bit more research, and you’ve got three daughters and Iron Man always have more daughters, high mercury levels. And I have four daughters. You know what, I started doing the research. Now as it turns out, it wasn’t because of my fitness, my dad being a plumber used to get the town’s gas in Sydney, used to pour out the mercury out of the gas meter and bring it home for me to play with on the kitchen bench. And so highly toxic, and I used to play with this stuff, and here I have four daughters. I mean, that makes perfect sense. What’s your mercury excuse?


David Morrison (16:05):

Well, I’ve done that well, I was really relying on the one that … I certainly wasn’t fit when I was having kids. I was fit when I had the third one. I don’t know. I just always, once I had one daughter, I was like, “I just know I’m going to be that guy that has a lot of daughters.” Look, the way that I reframe it, not that it needs reframing, they’re your kids, right? But I just go, “Right. Well, I’ve got those women in my life because I need to be an example to them about what a loving caring man is, and what a loving relationship is.” And so they’ve just been … What’s the word for it? I’ve got designs on what my life can be and what I can do with it. And so I look at those three girls and my wife, that they’re in my life to hold me accountable to what that is.


Ian Ugarte (16:51):

And so for me, I look at it exactly the same way. I would hate for my daughters to be in a relationship with a guy that I was even six months ago. And it’s just this evolution of that your kids just want to feel safe. That’s what they want. And when you’re an angry man, they don’t feel safe.


David Morrison (17:17):

Cranky dad syndrome is a diagnosed condition. 


Ian Ugarte (17:23):

Yeah. Actually the irony for me, I don’t know about for you, was that every time at the birth, the first three, we didn’t find out what the gender was. In the last one we did want to find out, but the ultrasound lady got it wrong and thought we didn’t want to find out. So she says, “I think it’s a girl.” But every time at every birth, even the last one, I still expected a male to come out. And there was nothing wrong with it, I just went, “10 fingers, 10 toes, there’s just one appendage missing.” I’m okay with it. It’s just interesting how our heads play with stuff like that. Tell me, would you understand?


David Morrison (17:59):

Yeah, really good question. I actually used to run a story on my head, which I don’t run anymore. And this is when I had a really low opinion of myself that I actually wasn’t … A son wouldn’t come into the world because I actually wasn’t man enough to raise him. It’s what I used to tell myself. This is a fucking horrible story to run.


Ian Ugarte (18:23):

It’s almost as if you have to bring a man into this world, you actually have to be softer. You have to be the opposite way.


David Morrison (18:28):

Yeah. And that’s what I eventually got that out of my head. But I did run that for a while. I was just like, as I would have more daughters, as one of them is trying to get into the room right now. 


Ian Ugarte (18:42):

Breaking in. 


David Morrison (18:44):

Yeah. Oh, okay, you fully broke in. Here you go, This is Summer.


Ian Ugarte (18:50):

Hello Summer. How are you?


David Morrison (18:53):

Say hi. 


Ian Ugarte (18:54):

Big smile. 


David Morrison (18:56):

Yeah. You’ve been on lots of Zoom calls interviews. This Summer, she’s nearly two. She’s very busy, very, very busy.


Ian Ugarte (19:03):

Your youngest?


David Morrison (19:04):

Yes. The other two are much more easily occupied. She’s busy, and she’s very, very in love with dad, and wants to see me all the time. Eating blueberries.


Ian Ugarte (19:21):

Eating blueberries. 


David Morrison (19:21):

Thanks for the blueberries. She inhales them.


Ian Ugarte (19:23):

Tell me, how did you transfer from corporate to what you’re doing now?


David Morrison (19:29):

Yeah. That’s a good story as well. That’s a really good story. One day I was out to breakfast with a mate of mine. I think I’ve been wanting to get out of full-time corporate for a while. I don’t know whether … Look, I was 40, so yeah, maybe I was at that age where I was kind of like, I could be doing other things in my life. And I think this generation that we live in has been, is an interesting one because there’s obviously a overload of information about, hey, you can go out there and do it all, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, everyone’s selling the yacht, right.


I had a good friend of mine that we were out having breakfast one morning, and I’d already had built up … my wife and I had built up a couple of little side businesses that were bringing us an income. He’s an accountant. He just kind of went through our numbers. He’s like, “Well, technically there’s nothing stopping you resigning today, based on what you just told me.”


Ian Ugarte (20:24):

It’s only the security. 


David Morrison (20:25):

Yeah. And so then I just walked into work and resigned. That was about two and a half years ago. 


Ian Ugarte (20:32):

That’s pretty similar to what happened to me. 


David Morrison (20:35):

Oh, really? 


Ian Ugarte (20:35):

I was working with a life business coach and Christine and I together, and Christine says, “I just need to go to the bathroom.” And by the time Christine had got back from the bathroom I’d already resigned, it was done. Because you’re held under the security, what if, what if, what if. Now I had a bit of a buffer because I had long service that I could take and I took it half pay, just to make sure it was right for me. Did you do something similar? 


David Morrison (21:01):

Yeah, I did. Look, I mean, you know what my stepping out of, let’s call it PAYE world to entrepreneur world is an interesting case study, in when we removed ourselves out of security. And I think it’s a cautionary tale for a lot of people that into business as well for themselves. It was like, I went out and then the realization of like, right, this is all sitting on me right now. I took on all the pressure, everything, everything. And under pressure, just like in sport, your skill level gets shown up. And not only your skill level, for me, what got shown up for me was like, I touched on it before, when I was much younger, I was abused as a child by someone I worked for, I had a second job at school. And unfortunately that wasn’t a great situation for me, but I’d compartmentalize that for 30 years literally.


And leaving corporate world just brought all that up because of the pressure that I was putting myself under. You can’t hold that, you can’t bottle that stuff in anymore. It just comes out, right. And that was basically getting, I suppose what you call diagnosed with PTSD. And that then led me, everything’s a gift, right. And I’ve reframed it as a gift, is as much as I would not wish it on anyone else. And I do say that like, you can be all really positive about stuff, but it sucks. It’s not cool that happened. You can sit there and open up books and go, it’s the most beautiful thing ever, and it’s given me this gift and strength, but it wasn’t. However, I’ve chosen to give it a meaning that allows me to keep moving forward, not looking back and anger and frustration, because that’s where you’re completely fucked. Jumping to the other thing.


Ian Ugarte (22:54):

Yeah. A year ago we did a Facebook live. I used to doing these Facebook lives while we were jogging and Darren was filming it all. And it was exactly that point. Those people where you’re feeling down, just think positive, and I came up with the analogy like, I’ve got my ball sack stuck in a vice, tightened up as much as I can. And what’s the positive? Well, at least I don’t need a vasectomy. Come on, give me some fucking, that’s bullshit. It’s just such bullshit. But like you said, you can reframe and look at it in a different perspective because if it wasn’t for that, you wouldn’t be who you are today.


David Morrison (23:25):

Absolutely. And that really started me on the deeper path of like, I want to heal myself first, because I was hurt and that moment was connected to a lot of the drugs and a lot of the alcohol, and a lot of the patterns of behaviors I have because of what that did to my head and my mind and my heart, about who I was as a person, as a boy, then as a young man. Then that path of learning more about like, right, okay, well, I can choose what this now means. I can learn how to, sort of healing and all that kind of stuff let go of, because I had a lot of anger and a lot of hurt that I had to let go of me, because it was just, my family was getting it. I was punishing myself through alcohol and drugs that way, and that wasn’t going to end well. That process then meant … I did all that, and then I actually, obviously once you have a great experience doing something, well, not obviously, it’s my experience. 


But I then learned, okay, right, well, I know I’m not alone in this struggle for men today is significant about who they are and how to be a man, and how that then impacts their life parenting and marriage and et cetera. I think I wrote an article about that, I was going to call it the Cleo effect. We all remember Cleo magazine. In the eighties it was all about sensitive new age guys, right? Snags. It was about this, bringing men out of neanderthal thoughts to be able to emotionally connect. And there was this huge swing, because if you weren’t this way, majority of people weren’t going to get in a relationship, they weren’t going to get laid, they weren’t going to have a family, just basic things that men crave. 


And then when you have the other swing of, and rightly so women having more equality and more recognition of who they are, you just have this complete deep polarization of people that no one knows how to lead or when, or if they do lead they are cast in this shadow or this picture of them being misogynistic, fuck whatever it is. And then women are told that they must lead, they must be independent. But they’re doing that also at the sacrificing of understanding what their true femininity is. And so then they can’t really, all they attract into their life is these incredibly feminine men, because they actually can’t experience any feminine leader, any depth of level. And then the kicker-


Ian Ugarte (25:56):

Yeah. Sorry, go on, give me the kicker.


David Morrison (26:01):

Then the kicker is, you attract those people as a husband and wife. But then the pressure of parenting, family and all that stuff gets applied to that pressure cooker. And you probably know, when we’re under extreme pressure we always revert back to who we were at our core that we haven’t truly evolved from, because we’re full of a lot of people that attain, they’ve evolved, but under pressure, they haven’t evolved. And that’s one of the big issues. And look, that was my own personal experience. 


My wife is a massive alpha female. I’ve had to grow more into the man to allow her because she doesn’t want to be an alpha female. But it doesn’t mean she’s not a person who has respect for herself and is a fucking incredible human being just because she likes to have fun and drink champagne on the weekend. That’s her favorite thing to do. 


Ian Ugarte (26:52):

Yeah. I mean, David, the work we’ve done with David Deida is exactly about that. It’s actually about being able to sit in your energy, whether it be your masculine energy or whether it be feminine energy, when to turn it off and turn it on. And really it’s truly about being back in your essence of who you are. We did some intensive three day and five day courses, and in there we had … he decided to go 14 males and 14 females. And in that group, there was a whole bunch of … there was actually two in particular that had a high feminine energy male that happened to be brought up by a single mother. There was the impact of that that came into the relationship as well. It’s really interesting aspect to how we all evolve and look at things differently. Have you found that you’ve been able to learn how to balance masculine and feminine, or is it that you had to grow your masculine or?


David Morrison (27:47):

Oh, I had to probably more grow my masculine because I had, my feminine energy I describe as I was very good at … women felt family very approachable, always have. And can feel safe in my energy and have very, very deep connected conversations, right. And that’s awesome in terms of meeting people, but when you get into a relationship where everything, if there is no direction, if there is no momentum or growth and look, and those sayings get thrown around in the world of personal delve a lot, but they are true. There’s nothing that you’re working towards a connector. That’s a dance and it’s a dance where you both lead at some point in time, but it’s like having an understanding of each other’s time when my wife, me developing my skills to go, “Lisa’s struggling today. She doesn’t want to lead for shit. I’ve got to step into that.”


And I’ve also got to understand, she might react a little bit weird to that. She might have a bit of a, I’m a crazy bitch moment, I call them. But I don’t need to take that as her being a crazy bitch to me. She’s just getting something out of a head, so I’ve got to be a bit stronger in that moment. Sometimes the masculinity is just being like a big Oak tree, just standing there strong, and a woman’s energy is that feminine storm, and you got to sit there and weather it for them, and then they’ll …


Ian Ugarte (29:13):

Yeah. All the movement happens in the legs, that’s the feminine. I mean, that was actually one of the most beautiful moments in my life was actually a David Deida event. And it was on the last day of an intensive. And I asked that question because I misinterpreted what had been said in the previous two days about being masculine and feminine. Here I am, I’ve stood on stage with some incredibly masculine women. And the reason that that’s worked is because I’ve been in my feminine at those times of being on stage. Because if I went in my masculine, we would have butted heads. 


David Morrison (29:50):

That’s weird. 


Ian Ugarte (29:50):

Yeah. And so my question was, how could I possibly be in the middle of interaction of sex with my wife and break down in my femininity and cry, and won’t she not trust me then? And he then went through this whole process long, like 15 minute answer, as David Deida does. But basically his answer was, in the fifties and sixties, there was the housewife. And that relationship was, who went to work, who came home. The slippers came to him, all the dinner was cooked and whatever, and that role was really clear. And then we went into the progressive of the feminist then starting to kick in to the point where the equality came. And now at the point where the things that masculine people do is organized holidays, ordering the dates, the vacation, the hotels or not, is a complete masculine energy, yet the majority of 20, 25 year olds nowadays in a relationship, the women are doing all of that and a man is standing in the background.


And so he said that he’s seeing more and more the work that he’s doing with couples is based on the basis that they’re starting to learn to flip in and out of their masculine, feminine, according to the time of day that they’re in, whether they’d be in bed or whether they are off to work. Do you find that a lot of … What are the type of people that you work with, and do you find that that’s an issue for them? 


David Morrison (31:19):

Yeah, absolutely. I work with men from all different careers, industries, business owners, to self-employed, to working for someone else, right. So they all sit in a different kind of values, levels, sort of space. And look, a lot of it is who I work with as a product or the message I put out there of course. But I do find that they’re usually confused and angry because they are behaving … It’s like their relationship in their life is a bit of a car crash and they can see it happening. And it’s groundhog day, constantly and constantly and constantly, but they don’t have the skills to do it. And the very fact they don’t have the answers makes them get more angry at themselves because they feel stupid, they feel inept. 


And then in the background obviously their wife has just had enough and she’s just taking charge of things. And so there is this kind of thing, like I’m … And then when you have in the background, maybe their career and their life is not going where they want it to be, so there’s these multiple levels of failing. What I’ve seen mostly with these guys is helping them shift in firstly to move out of the boy and into the man. And when you think about masculine, there is masculine boy, masculine man, right? And getting to understand that where their ego plays a part in this as an individual. And that if they’re trying to progress forward in their relationship, they need to get some really deep education about how to make that happen based on what they want to see happen. If you don’t want the relationship, if you don’t want the happy family, then I can’t really help them. 


But when they’re like, “This is where things are at.” One of my classic messages is to be around like, “Are you housemates with your wife right now? Are you inconvenient housemates?” Basically 90% of people are, it’s just the fact. They didn’t want to get there, but they arrived there under the weight of sleep deprivation and societal pressure to make marriage work, you just arrive there, and it’s a shit place to be. And then people feel trapped. And then when you feel trapped, when we don’t feel like we have options, all the other kinds of emotions start coming up. Yeah, I mean, they’re all experiencing a level of frustration and anger drifting back into that immature boy versus understanding how to step into things. 


Now, a lot of them have also had in the past, so their partners won’t trust them a lot because they have done the gambling, they’ve done the drugs, done the alcohol, whatever it could be, infidelities, right. There’s typically some kind of breakdown in trust as well, which takes time to repair and bring back. 


Ian Ugarte (34:03):

Yeah. And that’s happened with my daughters too, that previous behavior, it’s taken years and years, and sometimes things happen quickly-


David Morrison (34:13):

That’s from you?


Ian Ugarte (34:14):

Yeah, for them to trust me, because of who I was and where I’m at now, and continuing to move forward as well. I mean, you obviously came from parents who didn’t stay together. What’s your view on that now? Should people stay together? 


David Morrison (34:33):

I don’t believe people should stay together. Only arriving at that point after you’ve … you know you can look at yourself and go, “Did we get this a 100%?” I look at my parents’ situation, and they are a product of that era where you kind of got, once you got married, you had kids. And for what? My dad was going to Vietnam, my mum was a nurse. It was a pretty crazy time. And I don’t even know how they got married because they couldn’t be any further from two people you’d think fit together. They definitely didn’t belong together. But I mean, I look at what happened to them as like, I have to look at it as a positive, because it’s given me a drive and an ambition to serve and help other people, and also in my own relationship.


So with people, should they stay together? I don’t believe so, because I mean ultimate, if you’ve got kids, your ultimate obligation is obviously to yourself to be living from a place of love and compassion, and at highest intention as an individual. But if you’ve actively brought children, well, you have a responsibility to show up each day in the best possible way. And if that means that, you guys come to the point where you’ve given a 100%. I coach guys through this, there’s a process to work through. If they’re talking about splitting up and I go, “Can you honestly tell me you’ve given this a 100% in the last six months or 12 months?” And they all say, “No.” And I say, “Well, are you willing to walk away on somebody that you know that you haven’t given a 100% to?” 


And you find out what’s been stopping them from giving a 100%, all that kind of stuff. And it’s usually stories, and then you go and blame all that stuff. And clear all that out and it’s like, “Right. Okay. Well, what has always been your highest intention with this?” And they get really clear, then it’s like, all right. Well, you’ve got … This is now your turn to be a leader, right. And with leadership, it can be a lonely game. Sometimes you can go for a long walk and no one is behind you, because they’re probably trying to build trust with you again and get certainty in who you are.


Give it a 100%, and that doesn’t mean you take shit from people. If your wife’s a horrible human being, it’s just like, “Hey, she won’t throw plates at me? Whatever.” But it’s you give a 100%. Now, if someone gets to that point, they’ve done that for 12 months and done everything. Then when they do decide to move forward, they can do it in a place of like, gave it a 100%, we’ve grown, there’s probably a better relationship there. That’s going to allow them to do it from a place of love and compassion versus anger and frustration and all that kind of stuff. 


Ian Ugarte (37:10):

Yeah. I was watching a documentary on the weekend, Jim Carrey, when he was playing the comedian on Man on the Moon. And he actually stayed in character for that entire time. And during the documentary, he came up with a quote which I actually posted on Facebook just this weekend. And it said, “You can fail at something you don’t love, so you may as well do something you do love that. There’s really no choice.” Do you love doing what you do?


David Morrison (37:45):



Ian Ugarte (37:49):



David Morrison (37:50):

Why? I’m really like wanting to see the generational shift that can take place right now and families is right now. And when I know that I’ve impacted that marriage and all that dad and that man, and I know how he’s now showing up at home and the relationship he’s having with his kids, I can see into the future, what a positive impact that’s going to have on their lives. And that moment or that interaction I know creates a massive impact, just not only that family, but everywhere. Because I get in feedback and stories, and let alone, it’s the kids, the wives talking about how they’ve changed, it’s their broader family, because they’ve all of a sudden are being able to have that conversation with their parents and heal that relationship. 


Instead of his parents arriving on their death bed in 40 years and they’ve never spoken, they’ve created this incredible relationship. I enjoy it because it allows me to be me. It allows me to continually dive deeper into who I am as a person, because there’s always the union skin to peel back. It’s just like, “Hey, I’m perfect.” 


Ian Ugarte (39:03):

And that onion is massive, you know what, I suppose when you get down to the last skin on the onion, you’re a Buddha sitting on the side of the hill really.


David Morrison (39:12):

Totally. You’re just like, I’ve reached the Zen moment of just total, I’m just pure consciousness. I don’t even exist anymore. 


Ian Ugarte (39:19):

That’s right.


David Morrison (39:20):

I’m just matter floating in the air.


Ian Ugarte (39:24):

It’s interesting though to watch Jim Carrey go through that process. I mean, if you get a chance to watch that documentary, because it was probably-


David Morrison (39:30):

What’s it called?


Ian Ugarte (39:32):

It’s Jim and Dave, I think they call, it’s on Netflix. And because he stayed in character the whole time, he actually had this whole basis of happiness because he was acting out exactly, he was actually channeling. And then when the movie stopped, he went back to Jim Carrey and his life went, I’m now surrounded by a set of dogmas that I have to relate to and be part of and set by the rules. Here’s everyone going, “This guy is nutbags and crazy.” Jim & Andy it’s called, what’s Jim & Andy the great … what’s it say? The Great Beyond official trailer. I know that’s not it, that’s the … yeah, so it’s the trailer. It’s Jim & Andy. It’s a really great-


David Morrison (40:23):

It’s on Netflix. 


Ian Ugarte (40:24):

It’s on Netflix. And it’s really interesting just to watch him talk about it and how he played this one character. And then he became unhappy when he went back in his own life again. And that was really … I think that’s when he got in contact with (inaudabile) and then started to realize that he was a person that was named Jim, but who is he really? And that’s where people say, and people think he’s nutbags, but he’s actually just woken up a little bit and thought, holy crap, this is so much more out there.


David Morrison (40:50):

And it’s often with those people, right? Must say those people, he’s an actor. He has an incredible energy and the capacity to project that and manifest it in lots of different ways for movies and all that kind of stuff. You often find with those people, when they’re able to either evolve out of that, I see them step into this space with such clarity because they’re just accessing something so deep inside themselves, that they’ve been effectively manipulating for what they do for work. But now it’s just like, “Well, I’m not manipulating anything, this is just 100% who I am. But now I’m actually using it in a way where I’m impacting people on such a deeper level.” But yeah, he’s a fascinating dude. He’s a crazy, crazy.


Ian Ugarte (41:35):

And to that extent, you probably think, and it’s happens to me too, where I’m standing on a stage or someone asks me a question. I go, “How the fuck am I going to answer this?” And it just comes out and you go, “Where the fuck does that come from?” And your coaching no doubt has had a number of those moments. 


David Morrison (41:52):

Yeah, absolutely. I think one of the things that I learned, and this is the beautiful thing about, let me call it human evolution or whatever is, but just learning to trust yourself more. And yes, I’ve done all the hundreds of hundreds of hours of qualification and work and all that kind of stuff, so I can say that I’ve got all that stuff. But the reality is, once you get into anything and you do hundreds and hundreds of hours of practical work with people, you see all the commonalities, you see all the patterns. And then there’s thing that I got coached, so it was around about, yeah, just like not, never, ever thinking in response. 


And whatever the situation is, I mean, I coach clients that are incredibly successful people, they’ve got multi, multimillion dollar companies. And ironically they’ve come to me because they’re a cranky dad. And then one of them said to me the other day, it’s just like, “I came to you because I was a cranky dad, but you’ve actually helped fix my business.” And I kind of know, it’s not a Trojan horse at all, but I usually know particularly if it’s a business owner and they’re cranky, they will be some relationship stuff going on, but I usually then follow the trail back to their business. And especially if you built your business, your capacity to elevate yourself and delegate will determine your level of crankiness. I’ve seen this common thread. Because when your area of genius, you are not doing what you do, things are feeling very awesome. But if you don’t have a good capacity to delegate, so you’re holding onto more things, then you get frustrated that a lot of stuff is not happening. 


And there is a trust thing in there that sits within your team and your business, and there’s a trusting within yourself. Resolving that means that you as the business leader, A, you’re doing more of what you’re really good at, but also you know the systems working in the process. Because it has to be a process system since we know how to work with business, right, otherwise it’s just a hobby. So yeah, it’s really interesting when you solve that, but then it links back to something else. 


Ian Ugarte (43:56):

Well, there’s not mutual exclusivity in life. If you’re the cranky dad, you’re also the cranky boss, even if you can hide it, it’s going to pop in at some point in time.


David Morrison (44:09):



Ian Ugarte (44:09):

Keep going, keep going. 


David Morrison (44:10):

The other interesting one is the … How do I describe them? The data in their business or work that everyone thinks is husband and father of the year. And they kind of live that role, but then when they’re at home, they Jekyll and Hyde. And that Jekyll and Hyde comes about because they’re confused. You don’t know what to do, and also I’m so freaking amazing what I do over here, but I suck over here. And it becomes like a snowball effect, a snowball effect, a snowball effect. But they can also then be the classic of, I’m cranky at work, I’m cranky over here. There’s this disconnect, but there’s also the other. I don’t have character names for them like some people do, but I do see that role emerge where … And what that brings up is the wife gets in a more pissed off because she sees how everyone portrays and she sees how much you give to that, but then you’re not giving to them. And it’s like, what the fuck is up with this?


Ian Ugarte (45:10):

Yeah, loss of trust.


David Morrison (45:11):

Yeah. And the family’s like, “Well, what did we do wrong?” But what the man doesn’t know is he’s just getting so much more validation significance over there, and he doesn’t know how to get significance over here and his family, so he just ignores it, because this is, fuck, I don’t know, I’m the problem.


Ian Ugarte (45:30):

It’s very interesting. I mean, we could talk for hours around it. Tell us how people can get in contact with you [crosstalk 00:45:36].


David Morrison (45:38):

Yeah, absolutely. Probably the key couple of ways is they go to my website, we’ve got some free resources and programs, that’s They can go there and get in contact with me, join my community. The Optimized Dad Facebook group is the other place that people can get in contact with me, they call it basically my two models. You can email me at Now, if you’re a dad that knows you need to make some kind of changes because you can see what you’ve craved and fought for so much to create is slipping away, then reach out to me, so I can give you help because you can make some pretty quick shifts and get back on track really easily.


Ian Ugarte (46:19):

Awesome. What would be your final message for all dads?


David Morrison (46:24):

My final message for all dads would be, you don’t have to have all the answers. It’s totally okay not to know them. And it’s then okay to actually ask for help, to get it worked out. Bottom line, that’s it.


Ian Ugarte (46:39):

Pretty simple. David Morrison, thank you for your time. 


David Morrison (46:44):

Thank you for having me on. Just as a closer, I’ve said to you before, I love following your journey and what you’ve done, and it’s just extraordinary, so I was really, really humbled and honored to be invited on to come and talk to you as well. Thank you.


Ian Ugarte (46:58):

Cheers fella, no worries. Thanks for hanging around on the Small Talk Big Ideas podcast. We hope you enjoyed that and pulled out plenty of information that’ll help you move forward. If you want to find out or listen to more podcasts, please subscribe, follow us on social media or go to, to find out much more about what we do. And we’ll see you next time. 


Voice Over (47:20):


Thanks for tuning in to the Small Talk Big Ideas podcast. We hope we’ve succeeded in our goal to inspire and challenge you. And we look forward to catching you on the next episode of Small Talk Big Ideas with Ian Ugarte.

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