The Law Of Voluntary Association…John Page Burton

How important are our associations?  I would argue that they are critical for our personal and professional growth.  An association is defined as a “group of individuals who voluntarily enter into an agreement to accomplish a purpose”. Voluntarily means that we consciously choose to associate with a specific group. I firmly believe that the 5-7 people we spend the most time with will have the greatest influence on how we think, behave and react to the world around us. Several years ago, I took part in an extensive research project. This project was focused around behavioral psychology. I rented an apartment in an economically challenged section of a major metropolitan city. I lived in this area for nine months. With very few exceptions, the majority of my interactions over that nine month period of time were with people who I would characterize as highly “street smart”. After just a few short months I found myself relating to and taking on many of the characteristic behaviors inherent to the members of my new community. My language began to change, my physical mannerisms began to change, my mindset began to change and I began to gradually “fit into” this particular culture. Upon my departure nine months later, I had become a recognizably different person.  My re-entry into my regular circle of influence was initially awkward at best. As I began spending more and more time around higher achievers, something interesting started to happen.  I began to connect with the characteristics common to this particular group. My language changed, my physical mannerisms changed, my mindset changed and I began to gradually “fit back into” this particular culture.

The above story illustrates the POWER of our associations and the impact that they can have on our lives. We are ALL influenced by the people we spend our time WITH and the environments that we spend our time IN. If we desire to enjoy a higher level of happiness and success, we are well advised to start taking a closer look at our current associations. Who are the 5-7 people that we spend the most time with? What are their values and beliefs? Are they high achievers or are they chronic underachievers? Are they goal driven or blame driven?  Do they look for solutions to their “problems” or do they seek out others who they can commiserate with to keep their “problems” alive? It is important to align ourselves with people and groups that are uplifting and that add value to our life. For example, if your goal is to become a millionaire, it would be a great idea to seek out and start spending time around millionaires. Find out what their beliefs and strategies are for creating wealth.  Begin “modeling” their behavior, mannerisms, physiology and language. Remember, the mind doesn’t know the difference between fact and fiction, it simply processes the information you feed it. If you desire to EXPAND your world, you must first expand your circle of influence. A mind expanded will never return to its original size. I have never met a truly successful person who was unwilling to share their success strategies with a curious student!  SUCCESS LEAVES CLUES….Become a detective!


I encourage you to set aside some quiet time, designed to take a closer look at your current reality. Are you currently living out your greatest dreams and aspirations? Where do you envision yourself being one year from now? THINK BIG! This vision should include your health, personal relationships, economics, business or career. Will your current circle of influence support the personal growth necessary to undertake and manifest your vision? What changes in associations are needed to realize your vision? These may be some of the most important questions that you will ever ask yourself. Growth can be very challenging and it will more often than not require a high degree of sacrifice. Changing our associations can truly help us take our game to the next level.

To your success!!! I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.


The 7 Habits Of Highly INEFFECTIVE People…John Page Burton

In 1990, the late Stephen R. Covey wrote his international Bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. During the past 23 years, over 25 million copies of this book have been sold. Millions of people attribute their personal success to the fact that they mastered the 7 habits taught in this “mega bestseller”.  I personally find the 7 habits to be great tools for maintaining focus in both my personal and professional endeavors. For those of you who may have forgotten or are not familiar with the 7 habits, here is a quick recap.  1. Be proactive.   2. Begin with the end in mind.  3. Put first things first.  4. Think win/win.  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.   6. Synergize.  7. Sharpen the saw. These are great habits that apply to both life and business.

As a peak performance coach, I have the opportunity to visit with many clients who are proactive, focused, happy and driven. These individuals seem to run their lives in a manner congruent with Mr. Covey’s 7 habits. I also have the opportunity to visit with other clients who are frustrated, angry, stuck and resentful.  Many of my clients seem perplexed by the current quality of their lives?  I am usually able to quickly identify the reason why. They too are living 7 habits, the 7 habits of highly INEFFECTIVE people.  Here is an overview of these 7 habits….

  1. Short term thinkers. Ineffective people rarely look at the bigger picture.  They routinely sidestep the “process” of success because they want it NOW. This “habit” haunts their personal and professional lives and they are prone to blame other people or their circumstances when things don’t live up to their expectations. Being proactive is uncomfortable for them.
  2. They CLING to their comfort zone.  As long as ineffective people can remain safe and comfortable they enjoy internal peace. However, when they experience any type of resistance they experience an internal turmoil.  Because of their extreme need for security, ineffective people base the majority of their decisions on whether something feels “bad” or “good”. They are ruled by their emotions. They don’t care about “the end” and they see no reason to begin with it in mind.
  3. They “POO POO” personal growth. A highly ineffective person will be the first one to crack a joke about your “self help guru” or admonish you for paying thousands of dollars to be “brainwashed” at a Tony Robbins seminar. They are adept at using humor and sarcasm to project onto others that which they are afraid to confront in their own lives. Rather than choosing to face and conquer their fears they put “belittling” others as their “first thing first”.  They are master “deflectors”.
  4. They Lack BELIEF. Ineffective people lack a fundamental belief in themselves and their ability. This lack of belief causes them to play the game of life with the objective of “not losing” as opposed to “playing to win”. They believe that in every situation there will always be a winner and a loser. They view failure as the ultimate loss. Win/Win situations simply don’t make sense to an ineffective person. Their entire life is built around a win/lose model.
  5. EGO Driven. Ineffective people seem to run a continuous “looking good” program. They invest a tremendous amount of time and resources in an attempt to impress people who more than likely could care less. The EGO is a killer of dreams and if left unchecked it will keep you BROKE. If you want to know exactly how much you are investing in what other people think, I encourage you to take this simple test. Weigh your EGO and then weigh your bank account. Which one is heavier? Seek to understand the true role that the EGO is playing in your life. You may find that you are paying a very steep price!
  6. Ineffective people focus on the WRONG things. Whatever you focus on long enough will usually come to pass. Ineffective people focus on scarcity, lack, rejection and failure. They attract other like minded people who support their misguided focus. What we think about we bring about should be a huge wake up call for all of us. We should strive to create empowering synergy.
  7. Ineffective people possess “dull blades”. If we are not growing, we are dying. If we are not learning new things, keeping up with technology and constantly developing stronger skill sets, we will be doomed to a life of extreme mediocrity. In order to rise from mediocrity to greatness we must be willing to sharpen the saw!

In order to become a highly effective person one must quit looking for reasons NOT to get the job done. We must be willing to “burn the ships” and leave no other option but to win and win BIG! Remember, if you keep doing what you have been doing, you will continue getting what you have been getting. The question becomes…Are you happy with what you have been getting? If the answer is NO then it might just be time to change your habits.

I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

Leaving Frustration For Success…John Page Burton

Have you ever wondered why certain people seem to enjoy consistently high levels of happiness and success while other people routinely experience frustration and disappointment?  Have you ever met a person who exudes a level of confidence that is absolutely “contagious” and then a few minutes later you meet someone else that seems to suck the life and energy right out of the room? What separates an extremely frustrated person from a person who is living a joy filled life for all it’s worth? What differentiates a person who views their obstacles and challenges as an opportunity to learn and grow, from the person who views them as a “setback” or “punishment”? The answer to all of these questions can be summed up in one word…MINDSET.  Success and frustration are both a state of mind. The statement “what we think about, we bring about” is absolutely true. We will bring into our lives exactly what we focus on. Knowing this, why would anyone CHOOSE to focus on anything other than happiness and success? What we focus on is our CHOICE. Below are a set of traits that can be found in both success minded people and frustrated people.


*They hold a very clear vision for their lives. They have a plan.

*They trust themselves and their abilities. They listen carefully to their inner voice and use it as their guide.

*They set goals and see them through to completion.

*They embrace learning and they never stop growing.

* They are very clear that success is a process and they stay focused on the process not on the outcome.

*They seek out mentors and hire coaches.

*They are outwardly focused and they are in tune with the world around them.


*They seem to always be looking for the “quick fix” or the “magic bullet”. They want it now and they get angry when things don’t materialize fast enough.

*They lack a true vision for their lives. They let life “happen to them”.

*They lack goals and dreams. Frustrated people say things like, “life’s a bitch and then you die”.

*The majority of their decisions are based on the uninformed opinions of others. They are “thin skinned” and bristle at any perceived criticism.

*They become masters at the art of avoidance. When the going gets tough, they tend to disappear.

*They are very poor listeners and therefore miss a great deal of valuable information.

*They are self absorbed and lack an outward focus.

*They resist accountability. Coaches and mentors terrify them.

True change will only occur when we are brutally honest with ourselves. If we desire to transition from living a life of frustration into living a more joyful, rewarding life we must be willing to shed our disempowering traits and begin “modeling” the traits commonly found in successful people. Success leaves clues and it is our job to put on our detective hat and find them. The only difference between living a happy, successful life and living an angry, frustrated life is the story we continue to tell ourselves about ourselves. Change your story, change your life!

I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

“Oh Crap, I Married My Mother”…John Page Burton

“Oh crap, I married my mother” were the words that came out of Jim’s mouth during a recent coaching session.  Jim is a client that is in the midst of his second divorce. This statement could have just as easily come from Traci, another client who recently came to the realization that she had “married her father”. I can relate to both Traci and Jim because I also repeatedly engaged in relationships with my mother, a pattern I didn’t break until I was well into my forties.

When we were children, the majority of us instinctively favored one of our parents. For me, that parent was my mother. My father was very strict and he could be quite intimidating. (When he died, I was still pretty sure that I had never lived up to his expectations)  On the other hand, my mother and I shared a very close emotional bond. My mother was my best friend and truest confidant. Shortly after my tenth birthday, my mother began slipping into a very dark mental state that would eventually require a significant amount of psychiatric care. I tried to do everything that a ten year old is mentally and emotionally equipped to do, all in a misguided effort to try and save her from her demons. In the end my mother succumbed to her thoughts and I was left looking into the eyes of someone who no longer recognized me. (For most of my life I carried a tremendous amount of guilt because I was unable to “rescue” her) A short time later, my father made the decision to send me away to boarding school, a decision that effectively brought my childhood to a close.

For nearly thirty years I held a grudge against my father. (We would later work through many of our issues and in the process become close friends) In my “mind” he should have tried harder to save my mother and keep our family together. I resented his failure almost as much as I resented myself for not being able to help her. Gradually, without even the slightest psychological awareness as to why, I evolved into a “serial rescuer”. Many years later, having left a trail of “damsels in distress” in my rear view mirror, I have become aware of WHY I became ensnared in this destructive behavior pattern.  * It should be noted that most of us are not even aware that we are engaging in this type of behavior. We are on what I refer to as a “dysfunctional auto pilot”.  Rather than highlight the specific dynamics behind each of my rescue missions, I would like to instead offer you some insights that have enabled me to finally move into a healthy, rewarding relationship with myself and my partner.


*Which of your parents did you find to be more emotionally UNAVAILABLE?

*Do you see any of these emotional traits in your current partner?

*Do you have unresolved emotional issues with a parent(s)?

*Have you forgiven this parent? Do you recognize that they did the best they could with their insight at the time? Are you willing to forgive yourself?

*Does your current relationship partner exhibit behavior traits that remind you of your unavailable parent? What feelings come up for you when you experience these behaviors?

*Do you find yourself trying to mold your partner into someone that you will be more comfortable with?

*Do you find yourself becoming frustrated, disappointed or disinterested in the relationship?

*Do you find yourself acting out or getting aggressive towards your partner?

When we harbor unresolved parental issues or conflict, we have a tendency to use our “adult relationships” as a means of working through these issues. This is where the dance begins! The universe has an uncanny ability to present us with the right people and opportunities to assist us as we work on the unhealed areas of our lives. For example, Sally’s father was very driven and successful. He was also emotionally unavailable. It is very likely that Sally will be drawn to men who are very driven and successful, men who exhibit the same qualities that she admired in her father. Sally will also have an expectation that her “man” will be available to meet her emotional needs. In the beginning of their relationship these needs will be met. During the “looking good” phase of any new relationship everything appears wonderful. Once the newness phase wears off, Sally’s “man” will re-focus his energy on the activities that drive him and make him successful.  Sally will begin feeling less and less important and she will become angry and resentful of her “man”. Her “man” will begin to gradually pull away from her energy field and he will predictably exit stage left. Sally has just experienced “daddy” all over again. This experience has also served to reinforce her belief that “men suck” and can’t be trusted with her heart. The “wheels on the bus go round and round”….



*Start by taking a close look at the questions above and answer them honestly.

*We must be willing to make peace with our parents and our past experiences. They do not serve us in the present moment.

*Be comfortable in being alone. We don’t need anyone else to complete us.

*When you enter into a relationship, take the time to get to know your significant other. I suggest waiting at least two years before getting married.

*Trust your inner voice. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not.

*If you find yourself trying to mold or fix your partner it’s time to step back and take a much closer look at your relationship. What conditions are you trying to create and why?

*Remember that we attract who we are. I strongly encourage my clients to make personal growth their top priority. It’s not about finding the right person it’s about BEING the right person.

*We must learn from our past experiences. Jim is going through his second divorce and Traci appears to be headed in the same direction. Once we have awareness and a reference point it becomes much easier to avoid repeating the same mistakes.

I don’t believe that any of us, given the choice would choose to marry our parents! I don’t believe that any of us desire to be in dysfunctional, angry or violent relationships. We can easily avoid this trap by taking a historical look at our relationship with our parents and by making a concerted effort to make peace with our past.

I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.