I am a Christian and proud of it. I believe in capitalism. I pride myself on being a compassionate, caring person. I have raised tens of thousands of dollars for organizations devoted to helping underprivileged women and children. I had the honor of having an African American serve as the best man in my first wedding. My son is half Hispanic. I support the right to bear arms in a responsible manner. I enjoy great relationships with openly gay friends and family. I believe that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect and that all points of view should be heard. I truly care about my planet and do my part to recycle, conserve energy and be a responsible steward on the lands where I recreate. I believe that ALL lives matter and routinely share this in the articles I write and the talks I give. I am also a registered Republican.
As a Republican, I don’t appreciate being lumped into a group and routinely bashed on social media as an uncaring, greedy, insensitive, uninformed, capitalistic, environmentally irresponsible, racially insensitive, intolerant, immigrant hating, gun loving, homophobic, Islamophobic, unpatriotic loser because I CHOOSE to exercise my constitutional right to support someone other than Hillary Clinton for President of The United States. The last time I checked, we live in a DEMOCRACY, a DEMOCRACY made possible by all of those who have fought and in many cases given their lives defending the very flag that I routinely see being burned and spit on. I don’t agree with community organizers who lead chants of “who do we want, dead cops, when do we want them, now” and I don’t think its the least bit unreasonable to screen people who are entering our country, especially when “death to America” is a chant heard around the world.
You and I may disagree on who we would like to see in the White House next January, however, it doesn’t give us license to attack each other for participating in the DEMOCRATIC PROCESS. I encourage all of us to take a time out, count our blessings and focus on separating people from their positions. Together we are strong and our way of life will be preserved. Divided, we can easily fall prey to the forces who truly desire to end our way of life. I propose that we practice respectfully agreeing to disagree.
On Wednesday, June 15th, 2016, my wife Diana and I saw a large cloud of smoke rising high above the White River Apache Reservation in northeastern Arizona. This massive cloud of smoke would become known as the Cedar Fire. From the sheer size, color and location of the gigantic plume towering over our community, we instinctively knew we were about to embark on a precarious journey. A wildfire is dynamic, unpredictable and indiscriminate. The Cedar Fire did not disappoint. Over the next 8 days, my wife and I would have an opportunity to practice much of what I have written about and taught for over a decade. In short, the Cedar Fire provided me an opportunity to walk my talk.
If you follow my work, you know that I encourage my audience to focus on gratitude, compassion, faith, trust and to let go of material and emotional attachments. Over the past decade, I have written two books and over four hundred articles related to the dynamics of human behavior. The Cedar fire certainly illuminated the inherent goodness of people, especially when confronted with a tragedy or potential threat. With that being said, we will always have a minority of people who would find something wrong with winning the lottery.
A TALE OF TWO PEOPLE
A few days ago, I enjoyed a conversation with one of our local fire heroes. He shared a story of what three of his fellow fire fighters had experienced on day four of the Cedar Fire. These three heroes had come in from the fire line to purchase groceries at a local market. While waiting in the check out line, they overheard a conversation between a female customer and the stores manager. The customer was upset because these men had come into the store and were so “smelly and filthy”. She demanded the store manager do something about this situation as it was making her uncomfortable. One can only imagine the utter disconnect these brave heroes were experiencing as they left the store to return to the dangerous job of protecting her property.
Another story involved a woman who lives on a fixed income yet despite her limited resources CHOSE to purchase cases of water and several pizzas which she personally delivered to the fire command center. She “wanted to do something nice for all of the people who were working so hard to save her home”.
Talk about two ENTIRELY different perspectives!
NOTHING BRINGS A COMMUNITY TOGETHER LIKE A GOOD OLD FASHIONED WILDFIRE…
On day two of our pre evacuation status, I jokingly said to my neighbor, “nothing brings a community together like a good old fashioned wildfire”. In truth, this is exactly what Diana and I experienced during the first few days of the Cedar Fire. Our neighbors communicated with each other on a daily basis, meals were prepared and shared, wine was poured and laughter, albeit apprehensive, filled the smoky air. Several of our friends and neighbors were off the mountain but still managed to check in daily to see how we were doing. Even from afar, we remained connected.
When I was asked to pen this article from a spiritual perspective, I readily accepted the challenge. During our three hour drive from the White Mountains to our home in Phoenix (we had chosen to self evacuate on day 8 as I was having some respiratory challenges due to the thick smoke and the lingering effects from a three year bought with Valley Fever) Diana and I had a chance to decompress and talk about all of the things we were reminded of during our week of uncertainty.
GRATITUDE. Fortunately, as of this writing our home is still standing in the middle of a beautiful forest. During the course of the Cedar Fire, Diana and I found ourselves revisiting many of the wonderful memories created during our time on the mountain. We also talked about all of the amazing people God had brought into our life. Our gratitude overwhelmed our fear of potential loss and helped us remain grounded. We practiced an attitude of gratitude and it truly had a calming effect on our psyche.
FAITH. Faced with uncertainty, we must have faith in God’s plan. My wife has always described faith as “trusting in that which you cannot see or do not know”. Admittedly, this is a hard thing to do. As the days wore on, many in our community began to express frustration and outrage with the lack of communication from the fire lines. It’s hard to have faith in the face of fear. Fear is a bi product of the unknown. It was calming and refreshing to hear many of our friends and neighbors speak over their fear. “This to shall pass”, if He brings you to it, He will bring you through it” and “it’s in Gods hands now” were some of the uplifting messages spoken throughout our community. I was inspired.
COMPASSION. In any natural disaster, there are many whose only evacuation option is to stay at a local shelter. Not knowing if we would have a place to call home was quite humbling yet we found ourselves thinking about the plight of those who are less fortunate than us and we routinely thanked God for blessing the Burton’s with more than enough of everything. Everyone in our neighborhood had somewhere to go and like us, most have a home somewhere else. With that being said, I know many of us were putting on a brave face as the thought of losing our home was indeed troubling. I couldn’t help but think how difficult this would be for those without options. Engaging in heartfelt conversations with our friends and neighbors was cathartic.
TRUST. My wife and I are type A personalities. We are used to making key decisions and driving desired outcomes. We realized from the onset that we had absolutely NO control over the scenario that was unfolding and we would have to trust the firefighters to deliver us from harms way. I must admit this was a very humbling feeling as both Diana and I are solution oriented. We resolved to let go and let the fire heroes do their job! Our trust paid off!
ATTACHMENT. When faced with the prospect of a short notice evacuation, one must quickly prioritize what is irreplaceable and quickly come to terms with leaving everything else behind. As mentioned earlier, I have earned a living speaking and writing about the need to let go of our attachments. By day three I found myself wanting to rent a U Haul truck to transport “my stuff” to a storage facility that was out of harms way. Luckily, trust and faith kicked in (plus there was a run on the local U Haul store, ha ha) and I was able to practice the sacred art of “letting go and letting God”. Letting go of our attachments is a much more peaceful way of being.
Soon, the Cedar Fire will be characterized as an extremely close call. It was! The fire instilled fear in many, in others a newfound awareness of the realities associated with living inside a sprawling forest and for at least one person, a sense of relief that our markets won’t be over run with “filthy, smelly”, public safety workers. My hope is that eventually everyone realizes that it doesn’t take “a good old fashioned wildfire to bring a neighborhood together”, it takes conversation.
John Page Burton is a freelance writer and the author of Wisdom Through Failure, Guiding Principles for Life & Business (2014) and Knowing Sh#t From Shinola, Conquering Life One Breakthrough At A Time (2015) To learn more about John visit http://www.johnpageburton.com
I will never forget the day when my mentor Anthony Robbins stated, “your thoughts brought you here” and how it really pissed me off! At the time, I was very unhappy in my work life and my relationship was in the painful stage of winding down. The idea that somehow “my thoughts had brought me here” meant I was being asked to take ownership for my current reality and frankly, it didn’t feel so hot! Today, I realize if I had known better, I would have done better. Ah, behold the grandeur of hindsight.
Over the years, I have seen firsthand, the power to “bring about what we think about”. I have known a person who overcame a terminal illness, another who became a box office sensation and yet another who built a high eight figure business. I have also watched numerous people “think their way” into illness, poverty and despair. I would go so far as to say “what we think about, we tend to bring about” is the most empowering truth in the universe! In reality, our thoughts become our actions, our actions become our habits and our habits dictate the quality of our lives. Therefore it makes sense to think empowering thoughts. For example, if I think the thought that I don’t have enough of _______________, I will more than likely never have enough of ____________________. On the other hand, if I think the thought, there is more than enough of everything for everyone, the chances are above average I will attract more than enough of everything.
TIME FOR A CHECK UP FROM THE NECK UP…
*Am I enjoying my current reality? What role are my thoughts playing in any unhappiness I may be experiencing?
*What would my life look like if I began changing my negative thoughts to positive, uplifting ones? (All of us harbor negative thoughts)
*What fears have become a fixture in my current mindset? (we ALL have them) Are they holding me back in key areas of my life?
*What tired old stories do I continue to tell myself? I’m not smart, attractive or gifted enough? I am a victim of______________.
CHANGE OUR THOUGHTS, CHANGE OUR LIFE.
It’s really this simple yet many of us don’t fully understand the power behind WHAT WE THINK ABOUT WE TEND TO BRING ABOUT. Below is a 30 day challenge that is both enlightening and transforming for anyone who truly desires to rise above any dis empowering thoughts they may be clinging to.
30 DAY CHALLENGE…
*Monitor your thoughts. If you’re like most of us, you’ll be amazed at how many times in a given day we automatically drift into a negative thought pattern. For many, it routinely surfaces in the form of judgement, blame, jealousy, anger or guilt.
*Enroll an accountability partner(s) and keep track of how often you think or verbalize negative thoughts. Be especially aware of any that question your ability to excel in any area of your life. We are often our own worst enemy.
*Monitor your vocabulary. Remember, what we speak about we tend to bring about. We must speak over our negative self talk every time it arises. For example, change “I’m not qualified to receive a promotion at work” to “I am willing to do whatever it takes to earn a promotion at work”. It’s surprising how much trash we talk about ourselves!
*Fill your mind with empowering thoughts. All of us CHOOSE what we read, what we watch on television and who we spend our time with. When we fill our mind with empowering thoughts and associate with uplifting people, we can’t help but change our psyche. I recommend reading at least one personal development book per month. That’s 12 books a year. The only way to change a negative mindset is to feed it NEW, EMPOWERING information!
*The only way to move past fear is to confront it head on. Justifying or denying fear simply feeds it. For example, at first, most of us were intimidated by the thought of jumping off a diving board. It appeared daunting. Eventually, we closed our eyes and “let it rip”. Once we surfaced, our fear was gone and we were eager to climb the ladder and do it again! Sadly, far too many adults have never summoned the courage to “let it rip”. They are still allowing themselves to be held hostage to fear and many are transferring their unresolved fear onto their children. “LET IT RIP!!!!
Here’s to thinking great thoughts!
I have always been drawn to people who exhibit personal power. People who possess personal power present themselves in a confident manner and their energy tends to be off the charts. In other words, you’re not sure what they’re on but you know you want some! Over the past 25 years, I have interviewed and collaborated with hundreds of people who have exhibited above average personal power. Contrary to popular belief, personal power is not exclusive to a select group of seven figure income earners. Personal power is exhibited by children, educators, transportation drivers, office managers, stay at home moms, activists, clergy, cashiers and hundreds of regular people we encounter on any given day. Personal power has very little to do with economic status, it’s simply a way of being. Let’s take a closer look at three traits I consistently find in people who possess true personal power.
The 3 P’s Of PERSONAL POWER…
Purpose. When we understand our purpose, we tend to move with extreme confidence. Purposeful people tend to be focused people which enables them to accomplish great things and serve as an example for others to follow. Recently, I was shopping in a big box store and asked a floor assistant for help in locating an item. Not only did she help me locate the item but she also took the time to explain the features and benefits of several similar products. In all likelihood, she makes slightly above minimum wage, however, her confidence and sense of purpose is an outstanding reflection on her and the company she works for. Her personal power shined bright during our time together! KEY QUESTION…What is your purpose? What would your life look like if you began living more purposefully?
Passion. Without passion, no one can maintain the staying power necessary to accomplish great things. Life’s obstacles consume those who lack passion. Passion is fuel. Passion is inspirational. Passion is what drove Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Thomas Edison and countless others to take their ideas from the backroom to the showroom. Passion fueled the Revolutionary War and led to the establishment of the greatest country on earth. Without passion none of the above would have ever come to fruition. Our job is to find our passion and run with it! KEY QUESTION…What are you passionate about? This is the first step toward finding our true calling.
Patience. The foundation of personal power is patience. One of life’s certainties is that sh#t happens when we are making other plans. How we respond when the heat gets turned up exposes our personal power or lack of it. Do we get angry and play the blame game or do we accept responsibility and move toward a solution? Some refer to this as exhibiting grace under pressure. Patience is power. KEY QUESTION…What areas in your life do you find yourself struggling with patience? Patience takes practice and a great deal of self awareness.
All of us possess a deep reserve of personal power that is patiently waiting to be unleashed. By focusing on the 3 P’s we can dial it in and truly live the rewarding lives we deserve.
In the game of life, there are WINNERS and there are LOSERS. The last time I checked, the universe doesn’t hand out participation trophies. Sometimes we find ourselves “on a roll” and other times we seem to be in a “downward spiral”. So what is the secret to living VICTORIOUSLY? How can we WIN more than we LOSE? The dictionary defines VICTORY as “an act of defeating an enemy or opponent in a battle, game or other competition”. For many of us, the battle keeping us from living a VICTORIOUS life is a battle we consistently wage in the 6 inch space between our ears. Our thoughts, programs and mental conditioning prevent many of us from experiencing the truly VICTORIOUS life we deserve.
Let’s take a closer look at the word VICTORY and examine what I believe are 7 keys to what pastor Joel Osteen refers to as “living our best life now”.
VIGILANCE. We must be vigilant in all our efforts and actions. When we take consistent action, we produce consistent results. The key is to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Frustrated people tend to be inconsistent people.
INTUITION. I believe our inner voice is the voice of our creator. Every challenge presents us with an opportunity to make a CHOICE. The CHOICE we make is more empowering when we trust our intuition. We are wise to listen to other points of view but ultimately our decisions and choices must be made by us.
CHARACTER. As stated in the opening sentence, sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. Showing ourselves grace in defeat and exhibiting humility in victory is a true sign of character.
TOLERANCE. We live in a diverse world. We can’t live victoriously if we constantly find ourselves in judgement and disagreement with others. We all have our own set of personal beliefs and values. Living victoriously means that we respect different points of view and learn to separate the other person from their position. This is often referred to as spiritual maturity.
OWNERSHIP. There are three undeniable truths…We ALL make mistakes. We ALL have flaws. We are HUMAN. Our ability to take responsibility for our decisions and subsequent actions (or lack of) is the foundation for victorious living. When we ditch the blame game and embrace personal responsibility, we send a message to the universe that we can be trusted with abundance.
RELATIONSHIPS. Our success in life and business is a team effort. Parents, spouses, friends and associates have all played an important role in our success. Remember, hermits don’t have anything or anyone to celebrate with. Quality relationships are a cornerstone of victorious living.
YESTERDAY. It’s hard to live victoriously and move into our future if we are always looking in the rear view mirror. I once heard a great quote that stated, “yesterday is history, tomorrow’s a mystery, today is a gift, that is why it is called the present”. Victory is found in the present moment. The next time the past calls, let it go to voicemail, it has nothing new to say.
Here’s to a VICTORIOUS living!