The School Of Hard Knocks Retains #1 Ranking…John Page Burton

For the umpteenth year in a row The School of Hard Knock’s has been ranked as the worlds #1 educational environment, surpassing such perennial heavyweights as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Oxford and M.I.T.  In my travels, I have met hundreds of people who profess to have graduated or earned an advanced degree from The School of Hard Knocks. I have met countless others who admit that they simply caved in and dropped out of the school due in large part to the rigorous curriculum. I secretly consider The School of Hard Knocks to be my true Alma Mater and I find myself getting a tad giddy as I share with you what truly makes this educational environment so special.

According to the schools chief administrative officer, GOD, enrollment numbers are up but the overall graduation rate still remains much lower than expected. GOD said that he believes the lower than expected graduation rate is due in large part to the” know it all” attitude that is quite pervasive in today’s society.  GOD did say that he remains quite optimistic about the future of The School of Hard Knocks and with all things considered he is quite pleased with its overall performance.

SCHOOL OVERVIEW…

Campus Location: Planet Earth.

Current Enrollment: Approx 6 Billon fulltime students and 1.4 Billion that are engaged on a part time basis.

School Mascot: A Sperm Cell that goes by the name of “mo mo.”

MISSION…

The School of Hard Knocks is dedicated to providing a comprehensive learning environment in which students become wiser through a revolutionary process called trial and error. The school strongly discourages its student body from seeking advanced degrees or becoming professional students. In other words, earning your PhD is considered quite remedial. The sooner you get the message and graduate the better for all involved.

TUITION…

The School of Hard Knocks does not offer scholarships or student loans. It is up to each student to determine the price they are willing to pay to complete their education and graduate.

A UNIQUE AND CHALLENGING LEARNING ENVIRONMENT…

Lesson plans at The School of Hard Knocks are custom designed to meet the specific educational needs of each student. The school provides a variety of “teachers” that become available to assist the student in fully understanding and completing each assignment. Tests are administered randomly to ensure that each student fully comprehends the material before they can move on to their next lesson. Each student is graded on a pass or fail basis. Students will be “held back” until they have achieved a passing mark. The school also offers a very thorough continuing education program.

A SAMPLE OF COURSE OFFERINGS…

*Economics. This course focuses on money management. Through a series of painful life lessons each student will eventually learn why it is prudent to spend less than you earn. Some of the lessons include; how to file the bankruptcy that is right for you, the fundamentals of foreclosure, advanced repossession techniques and the ramifications of check kiting.

*Sex Education. During this intense and emotional course, students will learn the importance of contraception, why car sex is usually a bad idea, introduction to child support, understanding retainer fees and the principles of garnishment.

*Criminal Justice. This course is designed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of our legal system. Some of the offerings include; how to operate a breathalyzer, proper jailhouse etiquette, the high price of road rage, what traits to look for in a good divorce attorney, the misconceptions that surround joy riding and the two main reasons why we have leash laws.

I am fortunate that I was able to attend a traditional college. I also know with great certainty that life has been my best teacher. I have come to believe that it is through trial and error, setbacks, and outright failure that our character is formed. There is an open door policy at The School of Hard Knocks. We can sign up for a refresher course anytime we like. How quickly we learn, adjust and move on will make a huge difference in the quality of our lives.

As always I appreciate your thoughts and feedback.

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Our J.U.D.G.M.E.N.T.A.L.Journey…John Page Burton

Let’s be honest, most of us pass judgment on a daily basis. As we roll through life we give our thumbs up or down to just about everyone and everything we encounter. We pass judgment on how people drive, dress, speak, look, vote, worship, raise children, treat employees, run the country, serve the country and educate our children. Our friends over at Webster’s inform us that “to judge is to form an opinion by carefully weighing and considering evidence.” I contend that the vast majority of us don’t “weigh or consider” much of anything before we pass judgment. It is human nature to surround ourselves with people and circumstances that provide us with a high level of comfort. Anyone or anything that doesn’t fit into our “comfort zone” is an easy target for judgment. Today, I want to take a closer look at the word JUDGMENTAL and offer some ideas on how each of us can become less judgmental in our day to day interactions. Remember….When you point your finger at someone else there are three fingers pointing back at YOU.

J.U.D.G.M.E.N.T.A.L.

J=Jealousy. Judgment can be triggered when we perceive that someone has something that we want but have failed to obtain. For example, my neighbor pulls up in a new car that just happens to be the car of my dreams. I am a month late on my car payment due to a recent job loss. I am unable to be happy for my neighbor and find myself seething inside. Studies show that jealousy arises more often in people who are fear based and exhibit low self esteem. Snide remarks, cut downs and vicious accusations are often voiced by people who are consumed by jealousy. When these feelings begin to surface (and they will) we need to ask ourselves two questions. What am I really upset about? How are my feelings of jealousy and envy going to serve me in getting what I truly want? An honest answer to these questions will put things in perspective and can also soften your feelings of resentment and anger.

U=Uncomfortable. Judgment is an uncomfortable feeling. When I am in judgment I usually have accompanying feelings of frustration and anger. First, I must determine what am I angry about? Then I must re-frame the situation in a manner that evokes a positive emotion? Discomfort of any kind is a sure sign that something needs to be addressed.

D=Divisive. Judgment is divisive. When I am in judgment my mindset is “me versus you.” I have determined that you are wrong in your actions, beliefs and choices. I see this played out time and again in religion and politics. “Republicans are evil”, “Catholics are the superior religion”, “Buddhists are whack jobs” and “those crazy left wingers are ruining our country.” When we find ourselves in this mindset we must ask some key questions.  What is it that I am afraid of? Why am I resistant to a different point of view? How can I look at this situation in a more objective manner? When we focus on understanding another person’s beliefs or point of view it becomes much easier to release the energy that is keeping us in judgment.

G=Grace. Judgmental people struggle with the concept of grace. Throughout our lifetime we will encounter people who act, think and believe differently than we do.  Showing grace allows us the freedom to let our guard down and open up to different points of view. Things tend to look differently when viewed from a spiritual perspective.

M=Mean. Judgment is mean spirited in nature. Think about your own patterns of judgment. Do you speak favorably about the people or situations you are judging? What type of language are you using? Is it uplifting or derogatory?  Is what you are communicating even true? It is important to remember that a great deal of what we say about others is how we truly feel about ourselves. Change your language…change your outlook.

E=Ego. The Ego will fight very hard to make others wrong or different. Whenever we go to a place of judgment our Ego goes into celebration mode! The Ego loves conflict, fear, separation, guilt, envy and anger.  By being mindful of our Ego and the dysfunctional role it plays, we are better equipped to manage our psychotic need to focus on the shortcomings of others.

N=Needs. When we find ourselves judging other people it is important to identify the area in which we are feeling inadequate.  For example, if I am envious of my brothers “awesome” marriage I may start looking for faults in other areas of his life. Once my judgmental feelings toward my brother begin to surface I can choose to stop, take a look at my own marriage and determine what areas I can focus on to make it more fulfilling. By taking personal responsibility for my own marriage I will no longer have the need to make my brother wrong for having his “awesome” marriage.

T=Transference. Transference is an unconscious re-direction of feelings from one person to another. In other words if I can make it about YOU then I won’t have to look at ME. It is far easier to focus on my brother and his shortcomings than it is to look at myself and admit that I have some work to do. Taking personal responsibility is an important first step in releasing our judgmental thoughts.

A=Acceptance. We must be willing to view people and situations in a more objective light. When we are coming from a place of judgment we are focused solely on changing or fixing people and situations so that we can feel more comfortable. It is important to recognize our patterns of judgment and change our focus from THEM to ME. When we are focused on ourselves we have very little mind space for judgment.

L=Love. When we spend our time in judgment we leave very little room for love. We offer “selective love” to those who conform to our perception of how the world should look. When anyone disagrees with us or offers another opinion we banish them from our heart space until they are willing to accept our point of view. Withdrawing love is an unconscious control drama that many of us engage in on a regular basis.  In order to unconditionally give and receive love we must release our need to be right.

My hope is that you will find this information helpful as you make your way down the path. As always, I appreciate your thoughts and feedback.

Making Peace With Our A.N.G.E.R. John Page Burton

Yesterday, while driving to the grocery store I was followed by an individual who was clearly angry with me.  He sped up next to me, gave me the finger, shot an imaginary pistol at me, cut in front of me, slowed down and then gave me the middle finger one last time before he sped off down the street.  You may be wondering what I did to deserve such an angry response from this person? I was going 44 MPH in a 45 MPH zone. Obviously, my compliant driving served as a trigger for some of his deeper anger issues. I believe that it is imperative that we learn to make peace with our anger. I believe that by making peace with our anger we will create a far less threatening world and that is a good thing.

ANGER: The psychological interpretation of having been offended, wronged or denied and the tendency to react through retaliation.

Studies have shown that holding on to anger can be very damaging to both our mental and physical health.  When we harbor resentment and anger we are creating a “me versus them” mindset that is extremely “victim” oriented. This type of mindset will never allow true peace and joy to enter our lives. I would like to breakdown the word anger and share some thoughts on how each of us can begin making peace with this undesirable emotion.

A=ACTIONS. There are two main types of anger. The first is passive anger, which can include gossiping, poison pen letters, sabotaging relationships, emotional blackmail and self blame. This type of anger is covert in nature but its effects can be quite devastating. The second type is aggressive anger, which can include road rage, bullying, substance abuse, threats, physical violence, vengeance and blaming others. This type of anger is more open and assertive. When we find ourselves experiencing feelings of anger it is very important that we acknowledge them and seek a more peaceful interpretation of what is really going on inside us. Be mindful that the Ego is very powerful and it will fight hard to challenge our reality.

N=NORMAL. Anger is a very normal emotion. We all experience moments of anger in our daily lives. Anger can often provide us with a healthy emotional release.  In many instances, such as sports, anger can become a great motivator and lead us to victory. The key is to differentiate between “good anger” and “bad anger.”  If your anger starts to become all consuming, it is advisable to seek the wisdom of a third party to help you work through this unhealthy emotion.

G=GRACE. One of the most effective ways to make peace with our anger is to practice showing grace. We all operate from our own unique set of internal rules. When we feel that these rules are being violated, we react.  Again, this is usually our friend the Ego at work.  Our job is to step back and determine how much energy we are willing to put into “righting” the perceived wrong. We must also be willing to look at things from a different perspective. By “putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes” we are opening the door that will allow grace to enter.

E=EXPRESSION. When feelings of anger and resentment arise, it is important to identify what is actually occurring inside of us. What emotions are we feeling? Are we feeling sorry for ourselves and just want to “lash out” or are we feeling threatened in some way? In any type of anger driven confrontation it is advisable to use the word “I” as opposed to the word “you.”  A statement such as “I am feeling this way” is far more effective than saying “you make me feel this way.” By using “I” we are taking responsibility for our feelings and the conversation will usually become far less volatile.  One of the fastest ways to make peace with our anger is by honestly communicating how we feel. By “bottling” up our anger we are setting ourselves (and those around us) up for an “explosion” of emotion, the results of which can be devastating!

R= RELEASE. When we were children we were encouraged to stop and count to ten as a means of “cooling off.” As adults it is also very important to “cool off” while we sort through our emotions. Taking a series of deep breaths can help us achieve a more relaxed state. Daily exercise is a very effective way to combat stress and manage anger. A 30 minute run, walk or bike ride can do wonders for our physical and mental health. Speaking words of gratitude for all of our life experiences allows us to keep our lives in perspective and helps us to release feelings of anger. Learning to effectively release our anger will ensure that we live a much healthier and emotionally rewarding life.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

OOOPS, My Parents Weren’t As Dumb As I Thought…John Page Burton

Growing up, I made a daily habit of tuning out my parents. Yeah, yeah, yeah were frequent mutterings of mine and “ok I got it” was an on demand response to just about everything they said. My best friend and I used to compare notes on just how “dumb” our parents were and we were more than convinced that all of their “rhetoric” was being used to “brainwash” us into their way of thinking. By God I wasn’t going down without a fight!  HELLO WORLD HERE I COME!!!

Today, I realize how much I actually did learn from my parents and what truly amazes me is the amount of hardship I could have avoided if I had actually applied just half of what they shared. I have decided to take a closer look at some of the “rhetoric” they bestowed upon me while I was “living under their roof” and what it actually means to me today.  Here goes….

 

*Your Word Is Your Bond. Translation…Speak your truth in every situation. It takes far more energy to tell and maintain a lie than it does to speak your truth. In business we should strive to under promise and over deliver. Your integrity is truly your highest commodity.

*Life Is Not A Dress Rehearsal. Translation…You only pass through once. There are no do over’s. Live your life with passion and purpose and treat everyone you meet with dignity and respect. Summon the courage to take risks and by all means treat life as the grand adventure that it is. Never stop learning and growing.

*Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees. Translation…Be a good steward with your money. Don’t spend more than you earn. Take good care of the things you buy and they will last a long time. Tithe a portion of the treasure you have been blessed with.

*Practice Makes Perfect. Translation…Be patient, stick with things and don’t quit. The only way to see a dream come true is to first believe that it is possible and then go after it with all you’ve got. Every time you fail you are building the muscles of success and getting one step closer to fulfilling your purpose.

*Turn The Other Cheek. Translation…Don’t take things personally. Show people grace. Be willing to ask for and offer forgiveness. Only use physical violence if there is no other option and a life is truly threatened, otherwise always seek a peaceful solution.

*You Reap What You Sow. Translation…Your thoughts and actions go a long way in determining the quality of your life. If you plant seeds of generosity, kindness and love you will reap much of the same. If you plant seeds of anger, hatred and envy your crops are sure to perish. What you think about, you will bring about.

*All Work And No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy. Translation…It is very important that we establish balance in our lives. Too much of any one thing is never good for us. We need VARIETY as it truly is the spice of life. Creating a good work-life balance will improve our relationships, our physical and mental health and more than likely add years to our adventure.

Both of my parents have passed on.  I never took the opportunity to thank them for all of the “rhetoric” they shared with me during my formative years but I have a feeling that they are looking in on my life and have come to the conclusion that I was not as “dumb” as they thought.

As always I appreciate your thoughts and your feedback.