YES & NO…John Page Burton

Two of the most profound words in the English language are YES & NO. Every time we use either of these words we effectively cancel out the other word. Both words also constitute a complete sentence. Most of us have heard the saying “let your yes mean yes and your no mean no”. In other words, YES means “I’m ALL in, lets do this thing” and NO means “I’m not in at all and we’re not doing this thing”. Many of us struggle with the words YES & NO and may not realize just how big an impact these two words have on the overall quality of our lives. Let me explain…

How many times have we instinctively known that something felt WRONG and yet rather than say NO we moved forward anyway? This conflict routinely shows up in the dating world. Conversely, how many times have we failed to say YES when we knew something felt RIGHT? For example, I have a friend who recently turned down a job transfer to San Diego because he didn’t “feel comfortable” leaving his friends and family behind. He recently admitted that he had begrudgingly said NO and in hindsight “should have gone with his gut and said YES”. I certainly know that over the years I have had my fair share of conflict with these two little words. This conflict may surface in our role as parents. We instinctively know that an answer should be NO but because we desire to be our child’s “friend” we say YES. This conflict often arises in the workplace. For example, we have made family plans for the weekend but at the last minute our boss asks us if “we would be willing” to come in on Saturday. We know that our answer should be a resounding NO but our fear of retribution causes us to proclaim a very weak YES. Everytime we say YES when we really mean to say NO or we say NO when we really want to say YES we are significantly diminishing our personal power. Remember, YES & NO establish our decision!

YES & NO are boundary words. The words YES & NO teach people how to treat us. Case in point…Our boss knows that we don’t desire to come in to work on a Saturday, especially on short notice. When we weakly say “sure, no problem”, we have effectively given our boss permission to disregard our time in the future. However, when we say “I wish you had given me more advanced notice, I have already made plans that I can’t change” we have established a very important boundary. In the future, our boss is more apt to give us advance notice if they even ask us at all. Here’s the key…More than likely our boss will ask the person who never say’s NO. As a parent, our child may not enjoy hearing the word NO but our decision to establish reasonable boundaries and stand firm will teach them a valuable life lesson.

Whenever we are presented with the opportunity to say YES or NO it is wise to seek our deepest truth. Our answer will make a big difference in the quality of our lives as well as how we feel about ourselves.

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

Is Your Family “Ruining Your Life?”…John Page Burton

“John, my family is ruining my life” is something a friend of mine said during a recent conversation. I encouraged him to explain what he meant (I was thinking to myself, this should be interesting). He began a “long winded rant”, highlighting the issues he had with his brother, sister, mom, deceased cousin and 93 year old grandmother. I asked him how things were going with his own wife and kids and he said, “man with all this other crap going on It doesn’t seem like I get to spend much time with them”. My friend is so heavily invested in “righting” the past that he is completely missing out on NOW. Sadly, many of us find ourselves in a similar scenario.

Family of origin, the age old dilemma…

All of us have experienced conflicts with members of our family of origin. Our goal is not to carry around so much baggage that we need to employ two bellhops! It’s draining. I work with numerous clients who are still experiencing conflicts with parents or siblings over things that took place decades ago. RELEASE IT…holding onto anger is bad for our physical and emotional health! Many of us operate under the illusion that because we are “related” we must like each other. The key word here is RELATE. In other words, if we don’t RELATE to someone (even family) it is perfectly normal to have minimal contact with them. Ask yourself this question…is the family member I have a challenge with the type of person I would desire to spend time with if we were not related? The answer is probably NO. Many of us feel “obligated” to spend time with family members who treat us poorly because “after all, they’re family”. This is a very misguided belief. I believe we should treat everyone with dignity and respect and we should expect the same in return. Relationships are a two way street. Many of us are still desperately seeking approval from our parents and siblings. We desire to prove to them once and for all that we are someone of value and importance. I routinely ask clients..”so how is that going for you?” People can change but most won’t because true change requires a significant commitment to personal growth as well as a dramatic shift in perspective.

Extended Family is a good thing…

I grew up an only child. My closest relatives lived 2500 miles away which meant I only saw them every few years. I was well aware of the “family feud” between my father and his younger brother which stemmed from what my uncle determined to be my fathers “misguided decision” to move “out west”. My mother and grandmother also routinely bickered back and forth regarding my mothers “hidden agenda” which ultimately “tore the family a part”. In reality, my parents received a great job offer in Colorado and chose to take it. Their decision obviously made my fathers family of origin very uncomfortable. The drama between my uncle and my father was never resolved and both men died without saying a proper goodbye. I am glad we moved “out west” as I fear I might have lost my mind “back east”.

Due in large part to the dysfunction within my own family of origin, my extended family has always had a profound influence in my life. Over the years I have enjoyed numerous brotherly and sisterly type relationships and I have sought advice and mentoring from a variety of older, wiser, friends. We don’t get to choose our family of origin but we do get to choose who we include in our extended family. With that being said, I always encourage my friends and clients to keep things in perspective and strive to work through and let go of past hurts or disappointments that may be keeping them from enjoying a healthier relationship with their family of origin. At the same time I encourage them to also cultivate, embrace and enjoy their extended family relationships.

Some tips for creating a healthier relationship with our family of origin…

*Focus on YOU! When we focus on becoming better, faster and stronger we leave very little time for trivial pursuits. When we find ourselves angry or upset with a member of our family of origin it is a clear sign that we need to get back to work on ourselves. When we surround ourselves with positive, uplifting people, we are able to insulate ourselves from mindless, baseless, drama. WHERE OUR FOCUS GOES, OUR ENERGY FLOWS!

*Prioritize what is important and don’t apologize for it. When a member of our family of origin DEMANDS our attention or time we can politely say NO. When any type family of origin drama begins interfering with our PRESENT responsibilities it is important to stand our ground and remain secure in our personal power. Remember, WE PROBLEM SOLVE FROM THE PAST, WE CREATE IN THE PRESENT!

*Establish healthy boundaries. We teach people how to treat us. Just because someone is “family” doesn’t mean we have to accept ill treatment or abuse. GUILT is an instrument that is often used to control people and situations. When we fail to establish boundaries we are effectively telling the other person that it is acceptable to walk all over us and THEY WILL! Boundaries establish the ground rules of how we expect to be treated NOW and in the FUTURE. We should never feel guilty about respecting ourselves enough to establish healthy boundaries.

Our family of origin can only “ruin our life” if we allow it! We get to CHOOSE how we desire to be in relationship with them or if we choose to be in relationship at all. This is a very empowering way to live our lives and yet at first it can feel uncomfortable. If you are struggling with a family of origin relationship I encourage you to begin taking the steps above as they will help you distance yourself from the drama.

As always I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

Take ACTION, Even If It’s “WRONG”…John Page Burton

We live in a society where most of us seem to be hung up on the concept of “right or wrong”. Please don’t get me “wrong”, I’m not talking about breaking laws and causing harm to others as that is just plain “wrong”. I’m talking about the “right and wrong” that is keeping many of us from playing a much bigger game of life. The majority of my clients initially hire me because they feel that they need “some direction” in their lives. Nine times out of ten, it is not direction that is holding them back but rather their fear of doing something “wrong”. Their fear is keeping them from taking the ACTION necessary to passionately go after their dreams and ambitions. For example, I have a client who invests a tremendous amount of money on personal development and business related courses. He knows the “lingo” of the business world, the “buzz words” of personal growth and has read “Think and Grow Rich” 25 times. The problem isn’t his educational commitment, it’s his unwillingness to take ACTION. A failure to take ACTION can almost always be attributed to an overwhelming fear of being or doing something “WRONG”. Remember, knowledge is a good thing, APPLIED KNOWLEDGE is a great thing! Everyday I TEACH and PREACH this simple philosophy….”TAKE ACTION EVEN IF IT ENDS UP BEING WRONG”. Taking ACTION is a decisive first step toward a compelling future. In other words DO SOMETHING, ANYTHING!!!

3 Strategies For Taking Action. It is important to note that we learn some of our greatest lessons from failure and in order to fail we must first be willing to take decisive ACTION!

1. Get clear on what it is you DON’T WANT. Until we have identified what we are no longer willing to settle for, it is impossible to harness the emotional energy necessary to propel us into the future. When we remain stuck in dead end jobs, meaningless relationships or unhealthy bodies (I’m not talking about a serious illness) we are telling ourselves that we are “not worthy” of happiness and success. The day we wake up and find ourselves truly PISSED OFF by what we have “attracted” into our lives is the day many of us will begin taking the ACTION necessary to move us toward our destiny. If we don’t like what we have “attracted” thus far, now may be a great time to make a significant course correction and start sailing in a different direction.

2. DREAM BIGGER. Big dreams are exciting and can serve as great motivators. For example, twice a week, Diana and I drive through a specific neighborhood where we desire to buy a home. We are extremely grateful for our current Tucson home as well as our summer home in the White Mountains, however our dream is to own a home that overlooks the city of Tucson, affords us spectacular sunset views and backs up to a mountain preserve that we enjoy recreating in. The specific home we desire to purchase is not currently for sale, however we know that one day it will be. Whenever we find ourselves questioning WHY we put in the long hours and deal with the frustrations that come with being entrepreneurs, we simply drive to the top of “our mountain”, spread our blanket, pour a glass of wine, watch the sun set over the city below and we quickly regain our clarity of purpose. Our glass of wine is an ACTION step!

3. Facing our fear of FAILURE! Everyone experiences insecurities and fear. How we manage insecurity and fear is the key to living an abundant life. It is easy to tell someone that they must face and conquer their fear but is also much easier said than done. Most of our fear programs are deeply rooted in our subconscious. My belief (and this is not a shameless self promotion) is that the most effective way to overcome a fear is to hire a coach. A good coach will help you pinpoint the true origin of your fear and then help you design a strategy to breakthrough that fear. An effective client-coach relationship is based on trust. Most of us will FIGHT HARD to avoid confronting our fear. A good coach can help you FIGHT EQUALLY HARD to conquer it. Nothing of significance can happen without ACTION. A good coach will hold you accountable to that ACTION.

RIGHT and WRONG have one thing in common, 5 letters. Whenever we make the commitment to take action it is with the understanding that we may end up being “wrong”. A “wrong” ACTION simply means that we learn what we can from the lesson, re-group and take a new, more informed ACTION toward our goal or objective. Worrying about being “wrong” (failing) will keep us from living the rich, rewarding life we deserve.

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

The Time Warp of Personal Growth, “Beam Me Up Scotty”…John Page Burton

The other night while mindlessly “channel surfing” I chanced upon an episode of the epic television show Star Trek. In this particular episode, the crew of the USS Enterprise has once again found themselves trapped in a time warp. They instinctively know that they are on board the USS Enterprise hurtling through the galaxies (“boldly going where no one has gone before”) and yet everything around them seems to represent something or someone from the past. Key members of the crew spend this episode reliving former loves, betrayals, disappointments, deaths, and other unresolved drama. From a personal growth perspective it was a very enlightening episode. Let me explain…

“Beam me up Scotty” were the instructions given by Captain James T. Kirk to his Chief Engineer, Mr. Scott, whenever he needed to get out of an uncomfortable situation. Captain Kirk would enter the transporter and “Scotty” would hit the switch that would return Kirk to the safety of the USS Enterprise. Now that is a high tech approach to avoidance!

How many of us find ourselves unconsciously living in our own “time warp”? Via our thoughts, we transport ourselves from the PRESENT to the past, off to the future, back to the past, off to the future and then back to the past. Rarely are we truly PRESENT. Our “transporter” keeps us from truly living a life of presence. Remember we LIVE in the present, we problem solve from the past.

A time warp is defined as (noun) an imaginary distortion of space and time whereby people or objects of one period are moved to another.

EXAMPLES OF PRESENT DAY TIME WARPS….Get “Scotty” on the phone, it’s time to get out of here!!!

*The Party Animal. Their drivers license identifies them as being middle age however, they still personify someone in their mid twenties. They maintain this image through their manner of dress, social skills and life priorities. A person stuck in a Party Animal “time warp” will prioritize buying concert tickets over paying a utility bill. NEWS FLASH…The eighties called and would like you to return the disco ball along with the mullet! PRESENCE serves us well!

*The Angry Child. They routinely revert to behavioral strategies implemented in early childhood. Most of these tactics don’t produce any better results today than they did at age 10. Some of the hallmark Angry Child behaviors include, blame, dirty looks, the silent treatment, gossip and when all else fails the good old fashioned temper tantrum! This behavior is highly unconscious and can be quite dangerous to you and those around you.

*The Cave Dweller. Avoidance is the essence of the Cave Dwellers “time warp”. When the going gets tough or things get uncomfortable the Cave Dweller retreats. What started out as a “secret hiding place” as a child often turns into a much darker “secret hiding place” as an adult. Alcohol, drugs and pornography are some of the most common hiding places for the adult Cave Dweller. When someone we love is in this place it is wise to seek an intervention. The life of a Cave Dweller is not living…it is a slow death.

*Little Girl. A female friend of mine recently made the comment “women who employ “little girl” tactics truly undermine femininity”. I pressed her to further explain. “Using a little girl voice, acting helpless, engaging in manipulative cuteness or relying on men for everything are simply not endearing qualities but rather traits that indicate a total lack of self reliance”. The only thing I can add to these thoughts is that from a male perspective I find these “tactics” to be an immediate turn off and I don’t believe they genuinely serve the women who employ them.

*Little Boy. The “Little Boy” is always seeking approval. They tend to have experienced a co-dependent relationship with one or both parents. The message they received during childhood was that they were “never good enough” and consequently have spent their lifetime trying to be “good enough”. They are prone to frustration, tend to be control freaks and struggle to make decisions without first getting a consensus opinion from their circle of influence. Because their parents did just about everything for them””Little Boy” is not self reliant and they often expect their wives or girlfriends to cater to their every need. This “time warp” is a relationship killer.

We all know someone (maybe even ourselves) that are stuck in a personal growth “time warp”. This “time warp” may be taking a greater toll than we want to acknowledge. Only we know the price we are paying. Mr Scott will not be able to hit a switch and transport us away from our discomfort, however, a good coach or mentor can help us design a strategy that can BEAM US UP so that we can realize our greatest potential.

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

Are You A Giver Or A Taker?…John Page Burton

As a writer I’m always looking for new ideas and material. This week one of my clients stated “all I do is give, give, give” which prompted me to ask them the question…do you consider yourself to be a “giver” or a “taker”? My subsequent conversation with this client prompted today’s message. ***At the conclusion of this particular coaching session my client came to the realization that they were actually “taking” far more than they were “giving” which was the real cause of their frustration.

The million dollar question…

Would the people you interact with on a regular basis describe you as a “giver” or a “taker? It is a safe bet that most of us view ourselves as “givers” but are we really giving as much as we think we are? I encourage you to answer the following questions honestly and objectively.

Be honest with YOURSELF…

*Do you readily give credit to others or do YOU take most of the credit for a group or team success?
*Do you routinely hand out sincere compliments and praise or do you hold back?
*Do you practice your manners? Please, thank you, I appreciate you, etc.
*Do you take people for granted? I.E. “It’s their job, they’re supposed to do it” or “they’re just volunteers”?
*Do you genuinely support the accomplishments and success of your friends, co-workers and peers?
*Are you jealous or envious of someones success, relationship or health?
*Do you give freely or do you keep score? I.E. “I did this for you, so you need to do this for me”?
*Do you volunteer your time and tithe on a regular basis?
*Do you crave recognition and feel unappreciated when you are not “celebrated” for everything you do?
*When was the last time you were in a restaurant and picked up the check for an elderly couples dinner? Paid for a soldiers lunch?

The results are in…

How did you do? If you scored an 8 or higher you are living the conscious life of a true giver. If you are in the 6-7 range I encourage you to take a look at areas where you hold back from unconditional giving. Make the decision to become more aware of this habit. It may be uncomfortable at first because of our human nature to make everything about us. If you scored a 5 or less you are extremely self absorbed and possess a scarcity mindset. It is important that you come to realize that there is more than enough of EVERYTHING for EVERYONE! Release your death grip on “getting what’s yours” and start giving!

The secret to living is giving!

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

Enjoying Success In A “Good Old Fashioned Argument”…John Page Burton

Truth be told, most of us enjoy a good argument, it’s invigorating! I’m not talking about a knock down drag out fight where significant psychic or physical trauma is suffered, I’m talking about a “good old fashioned argument”. This type of argument generally takes place between friends, co-workers, relationship partners or maybe even a complete stranger at the local pub. Topics guaranteed to start a “good old fashioned argument” include; politics, religion, sports, family matters, parenting styles and lifestyle choices. Although a “good old fashioned argument” can be good for the soul it is wise to be mindful of a few healthy ground rules prior to engaging in your next one.

3 reminders for maintaining civil discord during your next “good old fashioned argument”…

*Replace the words YOU and YOU’RE with the word I. The words YOU and YOU’RE are “finger pointers”. The word I implies ownership. For example, instead of saying “YOU make me upset or YOU’RE the cause of the problem” a person might try saying “I’m a bit confused and would really appreciate some clarity”. We have now made it about US rather than THEM which opens the door for constructive conversation. This reminder is guaranteed to enhance the quality of your next “good old fashioned argument”.

*Turn down the volume. The loudest voice doesn’t win an argument. Using a threatening or menacing tone is an intimidation tactic that weakens your position and characterizes you as a bully! The person who prevails in any argument is the person who presents the best case. Confident communicators don’t scream to be heard. Practice using your “inside voice” when arguing and watch your results SKYROCKET!

*Learn to graciously concede. Arguing for the sake of arguing is never productive. In other words, don’t take a strong stand or try to force your position on something you know nothing about. Honoring another person’s point of view casts us in a positive light. Remember, we can learn something from everyone. With regard to baseless arguing, ignorance is not “bliss” it is downright annoying!

My hope is that these 3 reminders will help you enjoy your next “good old fashioned argument” for all it’s worth!

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