Living The Christmas Spirit…John Page Burton

As I share with you this morning, I am sitting at my desk gazing out a large window that faces the national forest. I feel privileged to be able to watch the snow as it gently falls from the sky. I appreciate the intoxicating beauty of the trees that are now wearing a new coat of fresh powder and I’m reminded that it has been several years since I have experienced a white Christmas. I am extremely grateful for this moment.

I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on the word Christmas and also share some thoughts on ways each of us can continue to celebrate the true spirit of Christmas throughout the year.

CHRISTMAS….

Compassion. All of us were born into a different set of circumstances. No one is better than anyone else. Whenever we are presented with an opportunity to lend a helping hand it is up to us to reach out. We must refrain from judging other people or their current situation. Remember…”but for the grace of God there go I.”

Humility. Remaining humble. God has blessed each of us in different ways. God graciously provides all of us with the appropriate lessons needed for our growth. In our success, be grateful and when we fail, be grateful. When we express gratitude we leave little room for a “better than” attitude.

Respect. It is up to us to treat everyone we meet with dignity and respect. We are all children of God. In an instant our lives can dramatically change for better or worse. How we treat those who are less fortunate than we are will define our true character more than anything we can ever say.

Inspiration. We should strive to be an inspiration to the people in our lives. It is just as easy to speak words of encouragement as it is to deliver cut downs or criticism. We must seek to find the good in every situation, choose our words carefully, refrain from anger and always come from a place of genuine kindness.  Our children, family, friends, co-workers, service providers and numerous others are watching our behavior and it is our responsibility to set an inspiring example.

Service. Every day we have an opportunity to be of service to someone who needs our help. We must be willing to offer our time, treasure and talent. There are numerous people and organizations in every community that need assistance and they will welcome us with open arms. Remember… givers gain!

Tolerance. We live in a extremely judgmental society where far too many people believe that their candidate, religion, race, sexual preference, education, employment or zip code is superior to that of someone else. Tolerance in today’s diverse world is critical for the advancement and enrichment of our society. We must be willing to judge people at face value rather than relying on misguided perceptions.

Miracles. Life is a miracle. Everywhere we look we see miracles. The Sun consistently rises in the east, our child is born, a family member beats Cancer, we meet our soul mate or we are able to land the perfect job. We must learn to appreciate the miracles in our lives and never take anything for granted.  Christmas is a celebration of the greatest miracle of all. When we find ourselves in a challenging situation we must pray for and believe that a miracle awaits us.

Authenticity. Each of us is unique. We are called to bless the world by being authentic. Many of us invest a tremendous amount of time and energy into being someone other than ourselves. We say what we think people want to hear, buy material things to impress people who really don’t care and eventually many of us find ourselves emotionally bankrupt. We must re-connect with our authentic self and embrace our own unique journey.

Sacrifice. We live in a world that features an abundance of material options. For many, the words instant gratification, have replaced the words hard work and sacrifice. Everywhere we look it seems that people are going deeper and deeper in debt to quench their insatiable need to “look good”. Many of us have lost the appreciation and sense of self that is a bi-product of sacrifice and hard work. We must share the concept of delayed gratification with the next generation or It may be lost forever.

In closing I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas and a very insightful NEW YEAR!!!

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Embracing our MISTAKES…John Page Burton

Many of us routinely “beat ourselves up” for making mistakes. Rather than embracing and learning from our mistakes we speak negatively over them. “How could I have been so stupid” or “I never get anything right” are some of the common utterances of a person who is in bondage to their mistakes. When we shift our perspective and begin viewing mistakes as learning opportunities we become increasingly open to venturing outside our comfort zone and we begin taking the type of risks that can significantly elevate our game. Remember, mistakes are one of the prices we pay for growth.

What our MISTAKES can teach us…

Modification. Mistakes can provide us with an opportunity to change our behavior. For example, if you or someone you know has ever been cited for DUI, you are well aware of the behavior modifications that must take place if the person charged desires to remain out of jail and keep their job. Mistakes are often the gateway to massive change.

Introspection. Mistakes provide us with an opportunity for self examination. Whenever I make a significant mistake I engage in a process of introspection. What could I have done differently? What led me to make this decision in the first place? What will I do differently next time? Rather than “beat myself up” I choose to reflect and re-direct.

Sabotage. Why do we make the same mistake over and over? When we continue to make the same mistake over and over it is often an indication that we are intentionally trying to avoid something we perceive as uncomfortable. Recently, one of my clients experienced a life changing breakthrough when she recognized that she had engaged in a series of “abusive” relationships because she was afraid of allowing herself to be completely vulnerable and intimate with a man. For years she had been sabotaging her happiness.

Trust. Embracing our mistakes allows us to trust ourselves at a much deeper level. By accepting that I am not immune from making mistakes, it becomes easier to make bold decisions. I recognize that I will make mistakes (poor decisions) from time to time, however, my intention is to use them as a barometer for my growth rather than berate myself because I am not “perfect”.

Accountability. Mistakes shape our character. When we make a mistake do we take personal responsibility or do we seek someone to blame? Far too many people in leadership positions look for a “scapegoat” rather than taking responsibility for their decision, learning from it and moving forward. Accountability and personal responsibility are key characteristics of authentic leadership.

Knowledge. If we are open to learning, mistakes can provide us with a wealth of knowledge. Many of us have heard the saying “only a fool makes the same mistake twice”. Not true. Many of us are capable of making the same mistake several times before we grasp the lesson. I say “only a fool doesn’t eventually learn from the same mistake”

Empathy. Mistakes can help us to be more understanding and tolerant of others. Once I embraced the concept that I am always going to make mistakes, I became less judgmental of others.
Over the years, this understanding has helped me become a much more empathetic, effective leader.

Solutions. Mistakes usually inspire us to look for solutions. Throughout my academic career, math was not my best subject. I routinely made mistakes. My teachers would encourage me to keep reworking the problem until I found the solution. This same philosophy serves us well in any area of our lives where we find ourselves routinely making mistakes. We can’t stay stuck in a problem if we are actively seeking a solution.

Remember, when we choose to embrace our mistakes we are choosing to embrace personal growth.

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

The Benefit of Checking Into REHAB…John Page Burton

If you’re the type of person who sets big goals and desires to play an above average game of life you’re more than likely aware of the benefits gained from a trip to rehab. I recommend checking in quarterly. I like to refer to rehab as my “check up from the neck up”. Similar to residential real estate, my rehab process reflects a period of restoration. I keep what is working and remove or modify what is not. My trip to rehab is designed to move me closer to my stated objectives both personally and professionally. Let’s check into rehab…

REHAB…What really happens behind closed doors?

Review. Our first step is to take an in depth look at what has and hasn’t worked during the previous quarter. Did we reach the goals we set? If not, why? In order to reach our objectives we must have a strategic plan in place along with a reliable system to measure our progress. We must be willing to make course corrections when necessary. Conducting a comprehensive review enables us to analyze our past performance and then chart a new course for the upcoming quarter, a course that is based heavily on our past success. Heed the adage…”if it ain’t broken, don’t try and fix it”.

Edit. What needs to be changed, modified or re-designed? If something isn’t working it’s often time to make a directional shift. Having edited the previous quarter we can now establish new objectives and create a detailed strategy for accomplishing our goals.

Habits. What habits are keeping us from reaching our stated objectives?. What new habits can we establish that will support our vision? For example, we may find that we have created the habit of avoidance in a specific area of our business. This habit may be what is keeping us from reaching our full potential. Armed with this awareness we can begin establishing new habits, habits that will move us closer to our stated objective and away from our avoidance strategies.

Action. What actions do we need to take in order to meet our objectives? Action leads to results. Massive action leads to massive results. I refer to this as the law of action. When we hit the proverbial wall or find ourselves experiencing doubt or fear the ONLY way we will experience a BREAKTHROUGH is by engaging in massive action. Action is the great equalizer.

Brainstorm. What new, innovative ideas will we incorporate into our next 90 day burst of focused activity? What resources (material and human) can we enroll into our action plan? Who can we add to our mastermind group that will bring additional insight to our mission? (If you don’t have a mastermind group it is a good idea to start one) Brainstorming is inspiring and can be extremely beneficial as we grow our business. Remember, the quality of our life experience is a direct reflection of the questions we ask.

I gain tremendous value from my trips to rehab and my hope is that you will find your experience fruitful as well.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.