Different Sperm, Different Story…John Page Burton

There is a great deal of controversy surrounding a group of homeless people who have chosen to take up residency in a park located in the heart of a downtown “sun belt” city. February is one of this cities busiest tourism months and the root concern (Chamber of Commerce) appears to be how this “public display of homelessness” will be “perceived” by “winter visitors”. During a recent television interview, a homeless man offered that “he would prefer to be in a shelter where he and others could sleep on a bed, take a shower and have access to reasonable nutrition”. An advocate for the homeless shared her dilemma of having more homeless people than available shelter space. It is clear that everyone has a different opinion on this situation. Downtown business owners fear that potential customers will be driven away, homeless advocates are expressing a dire need for more shelter space and many of the local politicians appear to be playing to the opinion poll of the day.

I was recently asked my thoughts on the “plight” of the homeless vs the “plight” of the city. I gave it some thought and arrived at this conclusion.

I have never been homeless. I am however, very aware that but for the grace of God, I too could be living on the streets. I live a blessed life where my basic needs are met and I have more than enough to share, which I gladly do. I understand rules and ordinances and I understand the economic impact of tourism. I understand mental illness and what it means to fall on tough times. I am acutely aware that I was born into a stable home and provided a solid educational foundation which I often attribute to the above average opportunities I have enjoyed throughout my lifetime. A different sperm could have produced a much different story. I believe that before we casually and often callously pass judgement on others, we are well served to place ourselves in that person’s shoes. It is not up to me to determine the criteria for what another person’s ideal life circumstances should look like. If someone visiting this city is uncomfortable being around homeless people, it might be wise for them to take a closer look at what they are afraid of. They may be afraid of finding themselves homeless. It is human nature to avoid what we fear. If a homeless “park dweller” causes problems or commits a crime then they should be held to the same standard as anyone else. To conveniently move them to a “back alley” until “the coast is clear” doesn’t seem like a reasonable solution to a bigger problem. As Dr. Wayne Dyer wrote in his book of the same title, “there is a spiritual solution to every problem”. Now might be the time to test this theory.

Three things I am taking away from this “controversial” discussion…

Gratitude. I will continue to be thankful for everything I have been blessed with. I will not take anything for granted. “But for the grace of God there go I” is my mantra and it serves to keep me humble and grounded.

Compassion. “What you do for the least of my brothers, you are doing for me” is a reminder to show compassion and concern for those who are less fortunate than I am. We are NOT called to look the other way when we are confronted with the “uncomfortable” we are called to become part of the solution.

Non-judgement. It is easy to pass judgement on others. The challenge is to accept people for who and where they are and to send them prayerful energy. We ALL have a back story, we were ALL born into a family with various forms of dysfunction. None of us chose the sperm cell we rode in on! Different sperm, different story!

Enjoy a compassionate day! As always. I welcome your thoughts and feedback.

Advertisements

2 Keys For Living An Above Average Life…John Page Burton

As a peak performance strategist I have the privilege to interface with a diverse group of clients. Many of my clients are well established and quite successful while others are just getting started out in their business or career. Many of my clients enjoy happy, fulfilling marriages while others are searching the yellow pages for a good divorce lawyer. Some enjoy a healthy lifestyle, others are overweight and out of shape. I am always searching for key distinctions that separate the person who by their own definition is living a full, rewarding life from the person who routinely feels frustrated and dissatisfied.

Today, I would like to focus on two key distinctions that can play a big role in the overall quality of a person’s life. Our CHOICES and our PERSPECTIVE.

Every day we make choices. We choose what we wear, what we eat, how we treat our children, spouse, employer, employees, customers, neighbors and friends. We choose to be honest or deceitful, faithful or unfaithful, principled or unprincipled, kind or mean, generous or stingy, loving or hateful. Every choice brings about a consequence. Some consequences we intend to happen, others “not so much”. It’s the “not so much” consequences that offer us the biggest opportunity for growth. Here are three tips for making better, more informed choices.

CHOICES…

1. Think things through. This sounds pretty basic however, most of us make emotional choices. In other words we make choices based on whether something offers us pleasure or pain. When we take the time to think things through we tend to make better choices. For example, I recently enjoyed dinner with a friend. During the course of dinner he consumed several cocktails. He wasn’t slurring his speech or acting silly but he did have a “good buzz”. He was concerned that he might be over the “legal limit” and thought that it would be a good idea to “take a few side streets home”. I encouraged him to think things through. I asked him to consider the worst thing that could happen if he made the decision to drive in his current state. I ended up dropping him off at his house and he retrieved his car the next morning. He CHOSE to leave nothing to chance. Good choice=positive consequence.

2. When in doubt, get a second opinion. Let’s be honest, most of us are capable of making unfavorable choices. Whenever I am making an important decision (choice) I routinely reach out to a close friend or associate and solicit feedback. I am NOT asking them to make the decision for me but rather to make sure that I am not missing anything that could lead to an unfavorable outcome. I then weigh the feedback and make my decision. This also allows me to keep my emotions in check.

3. History. Our past history can serve as a reliable indicator as we make future choices. For example, I may consider using my “bill money” to go to Las Vegas for a weekend with “the boys”. As I contemplate this choice it is important to reflect back on another time when I may have made a similar choice. What was the result? Did everything work out fine or did my phone get turned off? Did I enjoy the feelings associated with not paying my bills in order to experience immediate gratification? Our personal history can help us make better choices.

PERSPECTIVE…

Our perspective is the way WE see things. It is experiential in nature, meaning that our current perspective is based on past experience. I like to refer to an experience as a “reference point”. Simply stated, perspective is our point of view. When we find ourselves feeling angry or frustrated it is often a good idea to step back and look at things from a different perspective. Here are three tips for shifting our perspective.

1. Don’t personalize things. Whenever we experience a rejection many of us immediately begin looking for something “we must have done wrong”. We may also find ourselves taking on a tremendous amount of UNNECESSARY guilt. For example, when a relationship ends and despite what the other person claims, it was not entirely our fault. It takes two people to make or break a relationship. Deflection temporarily takes away from the sting of a rejection. It is always in our best interest to move through the stages of grief and gather the lessons from the loss. Personalizing our grief means that we are trying to be RIGHT about something. It is important that we identify what it is we are we trying to be right about and begin telling ourselves a new, more empowering truth.

2. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Objectivity is one of the most important things we can practice. Whenever I find myself in a situation in which tempers are flaring and angry words are being spoken, I seek to identify the “root cause” of the tension. Is the other person feeling insecure, insignificant, not heard or not respected? What can I do to meet that persons emotional need and diffuse the situation? By putting myself in their shoes I am able to gain a different perspective and begin meeting them where they currently reside. This practice is often referred to as “grace”.

3. Be open to other points of view. “My way or the highway” is not an endearing way to live life. It is important that we remain open to learning. A differing point of view can open a dialogue and this dialogue will often help shift our perspective. In any disagreement there are two points of view, mine and yours and somewhere in the middle lies reality. Our willingness to listen to new ideas and different points of view allows us to make informed choices based on a newer, more defined perspective. An “expanded mind, never returns to it’s original size”.

This is how I see things from my perspective. I would enjoy hearing your thoughts and perspective as well.

Why It’s Hard To Go “Back Home”…John Page Burton

Recently, I enjoyed a wonderful evening of food and laughter with some good friends. We share the commonality of growing up in small towns and it wasn’t long before a humorous conversation ensued that centered on how uncomfortable we usually feel when we return home for a visit. We laughed about the “zingers” we routinely endure from family and friends. These “zingers” come in various forms, but the common theme is “how we could have possibly given up all of this, (hometown) to go there”. I shared a story of returning home for my forty-fifth birthday and how strange it was to see my childhood friend George, cruising up and down main street, his wife cuddled next to him in the front seat. As I enjoyed dinner at a sidewalk cafe overlooking the avenue, George passed by at least ten times. I fondly recalled how as teenagers George and I had routinely cruised from one end of town to the other talking about our dreams and how we were going to “blow this place” after graduation. I couldn’t help but wonder why George had never “blown the place”. I was also reminded of a quote by the late author, Thomas Wolf, who so eloquently stated “you can’t go home again”. I can’t help but draw a parallel to another quote I have grown to appreciate, “a mind expanded never returns to its original size”.
Below are some of the reasons why I believe it is uncomfortable to return home.
The crab pot analogy. If you have spent any time around the ocean you may have come upon a crab pot. As crabs are caught they are thrown into a pot that is void of a lid. You might be thinking to yourself, wouldn’t the crabs just crawl out and return to the ocean? The answer is NO, but not for a lack of trying. You see, as one crab begins to climb up the side of the pot and make a break for freedom, another crab will attach himself to the freedom seeking crab and pull him back down into the pot. This process repeats itself time and again, thus there isn’t a need to put a lid on a crab pot. Anytime we venture out of our comfort zone to explore new worlds or experience new things, we are bound to encounter people, often well-meaning friends and family members, who desire to “pull us back down” in order to keep us from disrupting their COMFORT ZONE. They will use criticism, sarcasm or other deflections to offset their own deep seeded fear of “leaving home”. We must keep CLIMBING!!!
Dumbing down. When we expand and grow, we become aware of the plethora of amazing opportunities available to us. Much like a child visiting Disneyland for the first time, we become consumed with our adventure and develop an unquenchable thirst for more. We now know what lies beyond the “city limits” and we are excited to return home and share this new found knowledge with our family and friends. Sadly, a short time after our arrival, we begin to notice that in our absence something has dramatically changed. We find ourselves “dumbing down” in order to hold a conversation while our friends and family gaze at us with vacant stares and robotically nod their heads as we describe our adventures in this “brave new world”. Within hours we feel stifled, frustrated and yearning to leave home again. We must keep LEARNING and GROWING!!!
Guilt. After choosing to leave the “city limits” of our youth, many of us find ourselves feeling guilty for making the decision to move forward. It was never our intention to hurt the feelings of our family and friends but we knew that staying around for their benefit would mean giving up on our dreams. Life is a process of trial and error and quite frankly most of us experience a great deal of error. When we return home and begin sharing our life lessons, we are often reminded by our loved ones just how “good we had it” and how sad everyone is that “we chose to leave them behind”. Initially, this drama can be easy to buy into and we may even entertain thoughts that we are being selfish and self-centered. We must remember that this is our personal journey and it is good to be SELF-CENTERED!!!
“Going home again” may be a physical visit or it may be a trip down memory lane. Once we have left the confines of “home” and entered the bigger picture we will never be the same. It is our acceptance of who we are today, combined with an appreciation of our past that allows us to step into our future.

Are We Living Up To Our Labels? John Page Burton

At one time or another all of us have been affected by a negative label that some “well meaning” person assigned to us. These “well meaning” people may have held the misguided belief that their “worldly” input was somehow going to be invaluable as we made our way through the ups and downs of our formative years. Many of us had some rather unhealthy labels attached to us, labels that we still identify with today. In all fairness, most of us were also the recipients of some very empowering labels. Most of our fear and insecurity as adults can be traced back to a label we “accepted” during childhood. The same can be said of the areas in our lives where we exhibit extreme confidence. Unhealthy label = insecurity and fear. Healthy label = confidence and daring.
In my coaching practice I have the privilege to work with a diverse group of clients. Many of my clients have been the recipients of empowering messages that have left them with a profound sense of self-worth and they take an upbeat, confident approach to life. Conversely, I have other clients who received a plethora of negative, discouraging messages which they have allowed to keep them stuck in the emotions of inferiority and fear. To them life is a scary place that consists of “winners and losers”.

Below are five of the most common labels that were handed out during childhood. Remember, if we hear a message long enough we are likely to believe it’s true.

* ”Quit acting so darn stupid”. The message many of us internalized was that we were not smart. Many of us have held this belief since childhood and we have chosen to routinely under perform in every area of our life.
* ”You look fat, chubby or too skinny”. These insensitive labels may have been the catalyst for our negative self-image around weight, our distorted relationship with food and often contribute to a variety of unhealthy practices that support the belief that our body is not “good enough”.
* ”You never do anything right”. The message taken away from this “gem” is that we are incapable of thinking for ourselves and that someone else will always “have to fix our mess”. Because we fear that we will do it incorrectly, many of us have created the habit of avoidance and procrastination.
* ”Why can’t you be more like your sister/brother”. The take away from this “timeless classic” is that we are not good enough. Many of us go through life constantly comparing ourselves to others and we routinely avoid competition or scenarios in which we may be put in a position where we could lose and “look bad” doing so.
* ”Keep your mouth shut, unless you have something important to say”. Silenced at an early age, many of us have chosen to remain silent for a lifetime. We fail to speak up when we see injustice, we tolerate abuse, we routinely look the other way when we know something is wrong and we refuse to speak up for what we desire. We may also be unclear as to what actually constitutes “something important”.
Some of the people we received these messages from included parents, siblings, teachers, clergy members, coaches, friends and relatives. Many of us have internalized these messages to such a degree that we might as well just declare to the world, “I am nothing more than a fat, stupid loser who never gets anything right and I am obviously going directly to hell because of the error of my ways. I should have just kept my mouth shut and been more like my brother Earl”. Now that’s a positive self image!
In order to live a truly rich, rewarding life, it is imperative that we stop identifying with false, unhealthy labels and begin telling ourselves a new, empowering truth. It is not up to other people to write our life story…IT IS UP TO US!

Some things to consider regarding LABELS…

• Limiting. Labels are limiting. As long as we are living up to our “assigned” labels we can never truly expand and grow. The Ego knows that a “mind expanded will never return to its original size” and therefore it will fight hard to keep us trapped in our comfort zone.
• Adversarial. Labels offer two opposing sides. There is the truth and there is the Ego. The Ego wants to hold us hostage in our negative labels and the truth wants to set us free. Which side will prevail? The one we feed!
• Belief. Labels represent an outdated belief system. The labels that most of us have been carrying around were “assigned” to us during our formative years. As adults it is important that we speak the truth about ourselves to ourselves and adopt a new set of beliefs. For example, when I look in the mirror I am more than capable of determining whether I am a healthy weight, under weight or obese. I do not let someone’s “opinion” from 30 years ago determine my true self image.
• Excuse. A label can become an excuse for not taking the action necessary to reach our true potential. When we encounter a challenge do we seek a breakthrough or do we revert to an outdated label that allows us to conveniently justify our lack of courage?
• Lies. When we attempt to live up to a negative label we are consciously choosing to live a lie. Yesterdays’ label does not define who we are today. For example, I was labeled an average student with below average communication skills. If I had lived up to this label you would not be reading this article or hearing me speak at one of my seminars. I knew that my “assigned” label was false and that it was necessary to develop a new belief system that was congruent with my inner truth.
• Stories from the past. Do we desire to live in a world of make believe or in a world of truth? Labels keep us stuck in stories from the past. Living our truth gives us permission to live in the present moment. Living up to our labels means that we are choosing to let someone else determine the rules of OUR GAME. Living our truth means that we have made a conscious decision to take complete charge of our life.
What negative labels are you hanging onto that are costing you happiness, prosperity and a true sense of self worth? We must choose what labels serve us and which ones

5 Benefits of Risk Taking…John Page Burton

We have all heard the saying, “the greater the risk, the greater the reward”. I believe that with every significant risk there indeed lies the POTENTIAL for a greater reward. It is human nature to take “safe risks”. A willingness to take greater risks is often what separates a person who lives a rich, rewarding life from a person who resides within their comfort zone. For many, the word risk represents a chance to achieve fame, fortune and establish a significant legacy. For others the thought of taking a risk causes an uneasy feeling due to a deep seeded fear of failure. Remember, RISK is a word, we assign the meaning to it. Below are 5 benefits that are born from taking risks.

1. Taking risks builds and strengthens emotional muscles. Each time we take a risk and subsequently experience success, we gain more confidence. This new found confidence gives us permission to take more risks which over time creates the conscious habit of risk taking. Every time we take a risk we are building a new layer of emotional muscle.

2. Forces us to confront and breakthrough our fear. FEAR is the #1 reason why people avoid risk. Risk represents the potential for failure and failure is the Ego’s chief weapon in the battle to quash our self esteem. Every time we take a risk we have the opportunity to confront our fear and when we succeed we enjoy a significant psychological breakthrough. Our FEAR no longer controls us.

3. Enhances our leadership ability. I have never read the biography of a successful leader who attributed their success to their uncanny ability to play it safe. Leaders are calculated risk takers who cultivate a following due to their bold spirit, vision and ability to routinely do what others won’t. Our natural tendency is to follow a risk taker.

4. Connects us with our authentic self. Our authentic nature is to play a big game of life. When we take risks, we are sending a clear message to the universe that we are honoring the talents we have been given and that we are putting our full trust in the process. This is commonly referred to as having faith. Our authentic nature is not to be meek and mild but to be brave and bold.

5. Quality lifestyle. Risk takers tend to live above average lives. They live their lives on their terms and usually have few regrets. Risk takers tend to enjoy above average incomes and experience the sense of freedom that comes with financial security. Risk takers generally possess above average emotional IQ’s and are very comfortable in their own skin.

It is difficult to feel satisfied when we know that we have given less than our best. For most of us, staying in our comfort zone is actually quite uncomfortable. We all have dreams, ambitions and desires and to achieve them we must be willing to take risks.

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

Guilt Sucks! John Page Burton

All of us have experienced feelings of guilt. Guilt is an emotion that occurs when we believe we have violated a moral standard that we have been conditioned to believe is true. Many of us routinely CHOOSE to allow other people to manipulate us through guilt. Simply put, a guilt trip is a tactic someone employs in an attempt to gain a desired result from us. We have all been subjected to guilt trips such as “if you really loved me you would” (fill in the blank). People who routinely use guilt trips include parents, children, spouses, friends, employers, bill collectors, siblings, teachers, clergy and just about everyone else we interact with. In short, guilt is one of the most effective ways to exert control over others. Guilt is universal.
Let’s take a closer look at the emotion of guilt and judge for ourselves if it serves our higher good.
Gullibility. Gullibility is a failure of social intelligence whereby a person is easily tricked or manipulated into ill-advised courses of action. We have all found ourselves in a situation that we instinctively knew was not in our best interest, yet we moved forward anyway. Peer pressure is one of the more profound ways guilt is used. The fear of not “fitting in” overrides our judgment and leads us to make decisions that are rarely in our best interest. When feelings of guilt begin to surface, we must stop and seek our truth. The emotion of guilt can only pray on those who are open to it.
Useless. In my opinion, of all the human emotions guilt is the most useless. Guilt serves only one purpose, to keep us in bondage. When we allow ourselves to feel guilty we are telling ourselves that something is OUR FAULT and that we will NEVER be able to make it right. This belief is very dramatic! We have all said and done things we would like to take back. Many of us have experienced the death of a loved one and later wished we had told them how much we loved them while they were still with us. We have all been “dumped” by a significant other and contrary to what they told us it was not entirely our fault. Many of us have raised children who found themselves on the wrong side of the law. The child made a choice. The list of things we can CHOOSE to feel guilty about is a long one. With few exceptions, when we look at the true reality in any given situation it usually comes down to choices we made. Choices are based on our knowledge and understanding at a given point in time. New understanding = different results.
Ignorance. People who choose to be ruled by emotions of guilt are choosing ignorance over intelligence. Ignorance is a deliberate act to ignore or disregard the truth. True emotional intelligence means that we are able to form clear distinctions between fact and fiction. Guilt is fiction!
Lack. When we are driven by feelings of guilt we possess a scarcity mindset. We are allowing a past hurt, event or circumstance to keep us from moving toward a place of abundance. Many of us use guilt as an excuse for staying stuck in a dead end job or relationship. “My boss said this place couldn’t run without me” or “my mom gets really sad when I don’t stop by EVERYDAY” are examples of self-imposed excuses that keep us from moving forward. When we are coming from a place of abundance we make decisions in alignment with our dreams and ambitions and we don’t allow ourselves to be held hostage by guilt. This doesn’t mean that we are not compassionate, only that we are discerning.
Tombstone. The greatest truth in life is that someday we will die. How we are remembered and what is written on our tombstone will be the final testament to how we lived our life. Were we bold and adventurous or afraid to let others down? Did we think and act for ourselves or did we let those around us dictate the terms of our existence? Did we try, fail and then spend the rest of our life wrought with guilt or did we try again? Did our marriage or relationship fail and cause us to make a conscious decision to never love again? Each of us is the author of our tombstone, what will yours say?
If you find yourself living your life from a place of continuous guilt, it’s time to let it go. We have all made mistakes and we are bound to make more. Our ability to forgive ourselves and move forward is the key to happiness. When someone attempts to put us on a guilt trip we can let them know that this is not the way we desire to be in communication with them. If they cannot accept this, we have nothing to feel guilty about because we have spoken our truth. Remember, our truth will set us free!

3 Strategies For Massive Personal Growth In 2014…John Page Burton

As we step into a brand new year many of us are setting new goals, formulating success strategies or even kicking it up a notch by hiring a life/business coach. As a peak performance strategist this is one of my favorite times of the year. I have the privilege to work with and guide my clients as they map out their goals and strategies for what they believe will be their best year ever!

I wanted to take a few minutes to share 3 strategies that I believe will help each of you create YOUR best year ever.

1. Stop comparing yourself to others. It is very easy to get caught in the trap of comparing OUR success with what we “perceive” other people are accomplishing. This will keep us stuck! Everyone is on a different journey, one that has been divinely designed to present us with the perfect people, circumstances, challenges and events to test our resolve and shape our character. We never know the “real” story behind another person’s “perceived” success or failure and therefore we are wasting valuable energy by focusing on their life. RUN YOUR RACE!

2. Connect with your TRUE passion. What excites you? What gives you a sense of accomplishment? What get’s you up early and keeps you up late? This is what you are being called to do! Going down any other path tends to leave us feeling unfulfilled. When we love what we do it never feels like work. Identify what you are truly passionate about and begin taking action. For example, if you desire to become a writer, block out an hour a day and write. The universe tends to support our passionate actions.

3. Expand your circle of influence. The 5-7 people we spend the most time with have the biggest influence in our life. By taking a closer look at our associations it is easy to determine who lifts us up and who brings us down. In order to play a bigger game of life we must surround ourselves with people who support our belief system. Do our associations talk about other people or do they discuss ideas? Do they encourage us to stretch and grow or do they criticize us for desiring to become better? How do they treat their friends and family? Is it respectful or condescending? The answer to these questions will help us build upon and expand our circle of influence. Our goal should always be to seek out and connect with uplifting, like minded people.

My sincere hope is that by implementing these 3 strategies you will be able to look back on 2014 and say…”this was my best year ever”!!!

I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.