“Michael Murphy teaches all of us how to successfully navigate the unpredictable and uncharted road less travelled.” Paula and Bernie Swain, Founders, Washington Speakers Bureau
Michael Murphy is smiling, laughing, loud and friendly. His outlook and positivity radiates across the Atlantic and cyberspace as we chat over Zoom.
Casey, his wife, sits alongside him listening intently to the conversation. Gunner, their German Shepherd, is on the scene wanting sloppy kisses.
Casey is a big part of Paul’s World. She stepped up to 4% Club Mastermind three years ago, after Business Growth School.
The start of 2021 in business has been a good one for Empower PT and Pilates, based in Denver, CO.
It would be fair to say that Michael has the power and personality to empower. Try reading his new book for starters. When I Fell: How I Rerouted My Life And Found Strength In A Severed Spine.
The title tells you all you need to know about Michael. He is a paraplegic after severing his spine when falling from a roof in 2007. He hopes to inspire with this publication: this book is part 1 of 3.
In conversation, Michael talks straight, talks sense, and talks with authority. Not surprising as he is also a public speaker of some repute.
And, in both business and in life, the impression and values Paul Gough has left on the pair is fixed.
Michael: “We met Paul at an event and I was able to become friends with his children – an amazing weekend. I listen in when we are in the car when Casey listens to the podcast. She needs to listen to him and I get so much out of it too. I love his philosophy and his outlook.”
Casey: “He has infiltrated everything in my head and my experiences and if we are out in the restaurant, I kind of think what Paul would do… if we don’t have a great experience, we always think what he would say about it.”
Michael: “I love hearing him, it’s not just business-related, but it’s life-related too. His perspective on things is always right. I love his non-political views on things – it’s logical, thought out, not left or right or middle, and usually good for all parties.”
Casey: “I’ve been learning from him since a year into my business, last four years, and he’s been a massive influence where I am today and how I run things.”
Michael: “If you stick by his processes and principles, it works and it works because it all makes sense for any kind of business – humans dealing with humans.
“If Casey gives someone a good experience, it works, word of mouth gets around, they come back.”
I Still Have So Much More To Do
Lesser people than Michael would have long folded in the period since his accident.
He holds a burning ambition to become a Paralympian, amongst other accolades he has recorded top-5 finishes in the New York and Boston Marathons, has a B.A. in History from Randolph-Macon College, and a Masters in American Military History from George Mason University.
Oh, and he and Casey have also become proud parents while running their successful business.
“It’s been a fun journey and still going, minus some setbacks, and I’m recovering from back surgery in March and I’m still in a back brace and not 100 percent,” said Michael. “I got a workout in the other day which felt really good and I can’t wait to get back out on my handcycle. It’s not like I’ve written the book and that’s it, I’m done – I still have so much to do and want to do.
“I’m quick to incorporate all my new stuff into my books and I need those writing days to sit down and write this stuff – the journey continues for sure…
“Becoming a dad is a whole book on its own! Dylan is a little over 13 months now and he’s becoming a little dude, a little person – so fun.”
The Story Behind The Story
While many of you in Paul’s World have become authors and had books published, Michael’s script is certainly in a different category to most. They all do the same in getting your message across, it’s just that his is unique.
The pride in having a book published and on sale is immense.
He said: “The response to the book has been awesome. Really pleasing. It’s been a long time coming and I’ve been writing this and the follow-up parts for a decade now – I’ve been imagining for a long time how it would be and the stories people don’t know yet.
“Getting the positive feedback is cool and a lot of fun.
“Doing the book itself, the motivation behind it, originally when I was in college and into reading and writing, 2005-6, slowly the idea of becoming an author seeped into my head.
“Then I had my accident and I was in rehab and I came across A Caring Bridge.com, a site for people to follow your journey and leave a message. But it has other components too and I was able to write a diary on a daily basis and that was therapeutic in helping write my journey and let them know how I was doing.
“That was the foundation for this book – that whole spring/summer 2007 I wrote 15-20 entries and that added to the idea that maybe one day it could become a book.
“More and more as my life as a paraplegic developed and I was getting into adaptive sports and, coming through Grad School, I wanted to write more and share my story.”
Michael added: “Who could benefit from hearing how I handled my accident recovery process and my attitude and effort? I would write more and more over the years and I would have writing days where that was all I would do and it was fun and therapeutic.
It was an outlet for my creative writing side, a lot of times I would be inspired by other books I was reading: Game Of Thrones and George R Martin, and my writing would become long and flowery and overly long.
Then crime thrillers, Dan Brown, and I was writing short and sharp and quick and fast – it was cool to example the different sides of my writing.
“I worked with my editor, who is from the UK and who I graduated with, and she knows what needed to be here, there and what needed to be moved. Move this word here and it changes the tone. The level of detail took those styles and blended into my own voice, into things people didn’t really need to hear.
“So we got to the point where we are now, of years of editing, to incorporate my story and the post-traumatic growth thread in there.
“There are two timelines: the accident, hospital time, and my young timeline and they converge to the point of my accident.
“The whole process has been a long journey and eye-opening and people like Virginia, my editor, helped improve my writing. She does a lot of work in this field and knows her stuff.
“At the same time, I’m working on parts 2 and 3. It was 1 long book, then 2, now 3 and I can roll it out over the years. I need to get back to part 2 and figure it out – a lot is done, a lot to come.”
Maintaining a positive attitude
Michael is sat talking in his back brace. It’s big and he keeps pulling at it to get it in place after surgery in early April. He can’t wait for the day it’s removed to get back to the gym, to compete and push himself to the levels he is accustomed to. That Paralympic dream remains…
“I’ve had surgery last month and hopefully get active soon – will I be golfing? I’m not supposed to be twisting and I’ve got the brace for another 6-8 weeks… maybe I can do some putting. I still feel a little vulnerable and by the summer I’ll be back being active.
“My rehab is about recovering and I’m not doing a ton of stuff – I need to sweat and get my heart rate up…. but healing is going well.
“I’ve done New York and Boston marathons and I’m trying to get Casey to do another and step up from a half-marathon.”
And so that positivity shines throughout our interview. Now he has another chapter in his journey recorded – right on the shelf behind him.
He smiled: “I have a positive outlook. I’ve been lucky to have this attitude all my life and it’s a nod to how I grew up, and my influences – parents, friends, brother and sister, teachers and coaches and it’s a product of that.
“It’s not always sunshine and rainbows, I’d be a robot if that’s the case. Of course, I have down moments and it’s part of the process, going through those moments when you want to punch your fist through a wall and I’m good with them, I know I will bounce back and I’m lucky like that.
“I can now see my book on the shelf and I’m like, OK, suck it up. I have it in print and evidence I’ve got through this crap before – there’s the proof right there.”
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