What Is Wisdom?…John Page Burton

Wisdom is a bi-product of our life experiences. One of the most common ways we gain wisdom is by experiencing the lessons inherent to what many of us perceive to be failure. Although many of us don’t learn from it the first time, we will eventually graduate from a life lesson if it is presented enough times. It is mainly through life lessons (some quite painful, others joyful) that we are able to gain and then share our wisdom with others. I was once told that the day we stop learning is the day we will take our final breath. Below are key characteristics of wisdom.

WISDOM

W- Willpower. Most of us have heard the phrase “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”. Translated, this statement means that we have made a conscious decision to “will” our way to success. I am a firm believer that the “I will” is a far better indicator of a person’s potential for success than their “IQ”. A person possessing a cultivated mind is able to effectively conjure up reference points (experiences from the past) that allow them to break through distractions, re-frame adversity and quickly clear the clutter from past programming.

I- Immersion. Wisdom is gained when we immerse ourselves in the process of success. It is during “this process” that we are able to gain the valuable knowledge and insight that ultimately leads to a better understanding of ourselves and the world around us. The majority of our true wisdom is gained during that important stretch of time between setting a goal and reaching our desired result.

S- Standards. Life is a great teacher, offering a classroom designed to present each of us with a series of moral and ethical tests. Over time, our response to these random tests becomes the foundation for our character. All of us set the bar for ourselves and for those we spend our time with. As a direct result of life experiences and tests, we establish our value system as well as our code of conduct.

D- Discipline. Using wisdom as our guide, we can live our lives in a manner that is congruent with our beliefs and values. For example, a person who recognizes the importance of health and vitality will more than likely have an established exercise routine in conjunction with a food plan that supports their belief system. Our level of discipline in anything is always in direct proportion to the level of importance we assign it.

O-Objectivity. Wisdom grants us permission to view the world from a much more objective place. Our wealth of life experience teaches us that life is neither black or white, rather it is a composite of diverse colors. Our backgrounds, learned behavior, circumstances, challenges and beliefs routinely come into play. Wise people have learned to look at life through an objective lens while searching for a deeper meaning.

M- Maturity. When we first step into adulthood we are pretty “green”. It is through setbacks, disappointments and outright failure that we begin to collect valuable life lessons. As we mature, our outlook expands. We are familiar with what to expect in a variety of situations because “we have been there and done that”. Wisdom causes us to make fewer emotional decisions and we tend to direct our energy toward seeking solutions rather than dwelling on problems.

Today, there is an ongoing debate regarding the workplace value of “the over 50 crowd”. Falling into this category myself, I believe that our wisdom and maturity can add a tremendous amount of value to any organization. More millionaires are created after the age of 50 than in any other age group. The average age of a United States President (at inauguration) is 55. Some of our nations greatest inventions came from people that today would fall into “the over 50 crowd”. In short, there is no substitute for wisdom and wisdom can only be gained through experience.

I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

“You’re Not The Boss Of Me”…John Page Burton

As children, many of us frequently challenged the authority of our family and friends by uttering the bold yet profound statement “you’re not the boss of me”. We let everyone around us know we were in charge of our own destiny and capable of handling our own affairs. Obviously this argument didn’t carry much weight as a 6 year old, however, as an adult I have found that “being the boss of me” has gone a long way toward determining the overall quality of my life experience. With the hope of creating a self sufficient world, I encourage everyone to once again declare from the rooftops…”you’re not the boss of me, I’m the boss of me!!!”

5 Tips for becoming “the boss of you”…

*We must be willing to take personal responsibility. We must develop a “bottom line mentality” in which we take ownership for our decisions and actions. Blaming others is no longer an option! When we acknowledge WE are the CEO of our own lives, we will become more mindful of our thoughts, words and deeds as well as their impact on everyone around us. I am “the boss of me”.

*We must speak our truth in EVERY situation. Far too many of us speak a “convenient truth” in order to get along with others. When I am indeed “the boss of me”, I am not willing to compromise my beliefs and values in order to please you. My truth may not always be popular however, it is my reality. Remember, it is far easier to recall the truth than it is to memorize the details behind a lie.

*We must know what we are worth and stop settling for scraps. Often, I will ask a client to share with me what they believe they are worth. Without fail, most of them provide the details of their salary, benefit package and the amount of money they have been able to save or invest. Many of us have become conditioned to tie our self worth to our pay check. As the “boss of me” I know I am worthy of love, respect, consideration, understanding and kindness. If I am settling for anything less, I am selling myself short.

*We must quit cheating. All of us have cheated at one time or another. We have taken a shortcut on a project, “fudged” on an expense report, spread gossip designed to hurt a fellow employee, knowingly sold a defective product, played on our computer during work time or a host of other activities that have kept us from being in integrity. It has been said that if you truly desire to get to know a person’s character, play a round of golf with them and watch how they keep score. As the “boss of me” I know when I cheat, I am only cheating myself, which makes no sense.

*We must strive to set a good example. Our children, employers, clients, friends, family members, neighbors and even strangers watch our behavior. Recently, while having dinner at a restaurant, I observed a man loudly insulting a waitress because his food was not prepared to his exact specifications. His wife, children and elderly parents were sitting with him at the table and a host of other restaurant patrons were clearly being effected by his actions. Is this the type of person we should strive to be?  I often reflect back on something my dad once told me. “Son, your actions are speaking so loudly, I’m not able to hear what you are saying.” Being “the boss of me” means I am mindful of the example I am setting in any given situation and I’m always striving to set a good one.

My hope is that in your mind you will aspire to become “boss of the year” and hold that title for years to come. I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

Embracing “God Scheduled Opportunities”…John Page Burton

All of us have faced, gone through and survived adversity. For most of us, adversity is a constant companion. Without adversity, we would never be able to realize our true potential or come to know who we really are. With this being said, many of us bristle at the thought of adversity and quite frankly subscribe to the theory of LESS is more. Over the last few years, I have started looking at adversity from a different perspective. Rather than resist adverse situations or people, I have come to embrace them as “God scheduled opportunities”. In other words, when I find myself in an adverse situation, I realize that I am being presented with an opportunity to learn, grow and mature into a more conscious person. Below are 4 common areas of our lives in which adversity routinely shows up. Our challenge is to find the “God scheduled opportunity” inherent to each. Remember, we cannot experience the gifts born from adversity if we are continually judging the experience as being negative.

*Death. Death represents the ultimate adversity. Death is a painful experience and it is final. None of us will escape death and most of us will experience it several times during our lifetime. Sometimes we will understand death and at other times it will make no sense. Only through death can we truly appreciate life. Understanding that death is an integral part of life, we are given an opportunity to enjoy the present moment and to take nothing for granted.

*Illness. I believe that a persons overall happiness is directly related to their health. When we feel good, our outlook on life is vastly different than when we feel ill. It is through an illness that many of us have gained a greater appreciation for life. Illness has a unique way of putting our lives in perspective. For example, a significant illness may cause us to make a major course correction that ultimately adds quality years to our life. In short, illness presents us with the opportunity to truly appreciate and honor our health.

*Career/financial loss. The world has changed dramatically over the last few decades. Once upon a time we went to work for a company, bought a home, raised a family, worked for that same company and lived in that same community for the majority of our adult life. Today, we live in an economy where job loss and financial insecurity are commonplace. According to a recent study, the average American worker will change jobs a minimum of 5 times during their professional lifetime. Each time we go through a career, financial or geographical change we experience a significant amount of adversity. Both career and financial adversity provide us with an opportunity to become more frugal, flexible and patient during periods of change. In today’s world we must learn to respect the fact that change is the new order of business.

*Relationship loss. From our first break up in high school to a recent fall out with a close friend or family member, relationship loss offers up some of life’s greatest adversity. Relationships fall into the categorical designations of reason, season and lifetime, with lifetime relationships being the least common of all. Once we get past the hurt of an ended relationship, we tend to go into a place of introspection. It is through this process that we can usually see why God scheduled this opportunity and how it was necessary for our growth.

I encourage you to embrace and appreciate the “God scheduled opportunities” in your life! As always I appreciate your thoughts and feedback.