Are You A CAREfrontational Leader?..John Page Burton

The vast majority of us will serve in some type of leadership capacity. Many of us will lead companies or sales organizations, others will lead classrooms, community organizations, political groups or non profits. The most important leadership role we may ever experience is the role of parent and family leader. We must also focus on becoming a consistent leader of self. During a recent conversation with my friend Ross, he referred to me as a “CAREfrontational” business coach. I asked him what he meant and he replied “you are very direct in your communication, yet your compassion and understanding clearly shine through”. I liked his term CAREfrontational and promised Ross that I would incorporate it into my next article on leadership. Let’s take a closer look at two different leadership models…

CAREfrontational vs Confrontational Leadership.

Far too many leaders in their quest for significance, employ a confrontational, authoritarian style of leadership. Most confrontational leaders believe their approach produces results and garners respect. In reality, this approach is extremely polarizing within an organization and over time it tends to contribute to higher turnover rates and a decrease in productivity due largely to the volatile nature of the work environment. Some of the words commonly used to describe confrontational leadership include; argumentative, combative, contrary, volatile, quarrelsome, contentious, scrappy, authoritarian, unfair and dictatorial. Some of the feelings this type of leadership creates within the rank and file of an organization include; mistrust, fear, doubt, drama, self protection, concern, trepidation, anxiety and security. Confrontational leaders create a culture of ME vs you and “I am always right”!

The “CAREfrontational” leadership approach is focused on the organization as a whole. The CAREfrontational leadership model seeks to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each team member, understand their primary communication style and focuses on exploiting the strength and leveraging the weakness of each member of the team. This leadership style encourages delegation and prioritizes time management. The communication style of a CAREfrontational leader is explicit yet respectful and is designed to instruct not degrade. Words used to describe this leadership style include; team, health, welfare, maintenance, concern, interest, importance, provision, responsibility, collaboration, growth and trust. Some of the feelings this leadership style creates within the organization include; pride, integrity, belief, autonomy, freedom, creativity, expression, fulfillment and personal responsibility. Doesn’t this seem like a more inspiring and empowering WORK environment?

QUESTIONS…

Which type of leadership model do you believe fosters a true sense of team? Which business environment might have a lower turnover rate? Which model encourages vision and collaboration? Which business environment is more authentic to the human spirit? Which environment would you prefer to work in?

The myth surrounding the CAREfrontaional leadership approach is that it is to “liberal” and doesn’t create a big enough gap between “leadership” and the “employee”. I disagree. The confrontational leadership approach has proven to be highly effective in the United States military where breaking our soldiers down and building them back up is essential for survival and success on the battlefield, however, the confrontational leadership approach is very INEFFECTIVE in today’s competitive business environment where INNOVATION tends to trump intimidation. Unhappy, stifled employees, simply transfer their talent to an environment that is more conducive to their personal and professional growth. The CAREfrontational leader understands that TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK and they strive to create synergy as they grow and protect the financial interests or their organization.

THE BOTTOM LINE…

Over the past 20 years I have had the privilege to spend time around an array of very dynamic, highly effective, CEO’s and business leaders. One of the common traits inherent to each one of them is their ability to create a compelling vision and sell that vision to their entire organization. I refer to this as the “buy in”. The “buy in” is essential for creating massive results in any organization. Rather than take an authoritarian approach, CAREfrontational leaders take a much different approach. They seek out and hire “play makers” and are then willing to get out of their way and let them make plays. In the sports world, this philosophy has proven to be a successful formula for winning CHAMPIONSHIPS. Another significant trait found in CAREfrontational leaders is their ability to build, nurture and maintain influential networks. THE TAKEAWAY…A truly effective CEO or business leader is rarely the person who has the most impressive credentials but rather the person who carries the most influence. Our personal and professional circle of influence say’s more about who we have become professionally than our resume does. In the spirit of polarization, confrontational leaders tend to infuse their insatiable need for significance into the organizations and networks they belong to. On the other hand, CAREfrontational leaders understand the value of relationships and make building and nurturing them a top priority.

In my role as an executive coach, my clients hire me for one reason, they desire to become more effective leaders. I am not concerned about being popular, I care about my clients achieving the results they seek. Can I be direct? Yes. Do I care? Absolutely. Can I be extremely CAREfrontational, you bet! Do the majority of my clients respect me? I believe my authenticity shines through more often than not. I encourage each of you to take a closer look at your current leadership style and ask yourself if it is helping or hindering your organizational growth? Admittedly, this is a tough question to ask as our Ego has a significant investment in our current reality but it is a question that we must pose if we desire to be the amazing leader we are capable of becoming.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.a41

When In Doubt, Keep Your Clothes On! John Page Burton

I recently saw a bumper sticker that said…”I live my life with no regrets”. Although this sounds highly “enlightened” I believe that ALL of us have regrets. I contend that it is important to let go of things and move on, however, I also believe that an occasional dose of regret can help guide us down a more conscious path. I recently had a conversation with a couple who is attempting to salvage their 14 year marriage. The cause of the marital turmoil began when it was discovered that one of the partners had been having an extra marital affair. “How could this have happened, I thought everything between us was fine” my client said between sobs. “That’s just it, it isn’t fine, you have not met my needs for years” the “other half” said indignantly. As I listened to their conversation I found myself taking a trip down memory lane, a trip that found me revisiting a place in time when I too was having this conversation with a partner. I have experienced infidelity both as a willing participant and as an unknowing recipient. I can honestly say that actively participating in the act of marital infidelity is one of my biggest regrets. Infidelity is a self absorbed act where very little if any attention is paid to long term consequences. Once revealed, infidelity has an exponential effect, potentially hurting a multitude of people. Once a trust is broken it is very hard if not impossible to restore it. Guilt, shame, anger and rage are common emotional responses when this most intimate trust has been violated.

Lets take a closer look at the mindset of someone who may engage in the act of infidelity and then ask ourselves if this is how we desire to show up in our marriage or relationship. Infidelity is a CHOICE. I always encourage friends or clients who are standing on the edge of this perilous cliff to stop and think about the CHOICE they are about to make. I know firsthand the power of the Ego’s chief weapon, our libido, which can make this an even taller order but one we owe ourselves, our partner and our family.

Old Mindset, NEW Strategies…

Insecurity. Insecure people tend to be implicit communicators. On the other hand, explicit communicators are prone to put their cards on the table and rarely play a guessing game with others. Implicit communicators expect people to “understand what they are thinking and feeling” and often “act out” when their silent expectations are not met. Implicit communicators can be “sneaky” and impulsive. NEW STRATEGY…Speak your truth in real time. Let your partner know how you are feeling. Real time communication can go along way in keeping our relationships in balance. Be explicit but also be respectful in your communication with your partner.

Narcissistic. Narcissists like to make everything about them. “MY partner is not meeting MY needs” or MY partner doesn’t know what turns ME on” are examples of some of the excuses a narcissistic person might use to justify bad behavior. “MY partner should be able to understand why I stepped out on our marriage, if he/she were paying attention to ME we wouldn’t be having this conversation”. Nothing is ever their fault. NEW STRATEGY…For the next 30 days focus exclusively on meeting your partners needs. This will be a challenge but one that will take the focus off of YOU. Refrain from using the words, ME, MY and MINE.

Fault. Blaming a spouse or partner is also routinely used to justify bad behavior. Rather than take personal responsibility for their indiscretion they may attempt to build a case around why “MY partner is not meeting MY needs”. They may also attempt to rally friends and family in an effort to garner support for their poor CHOICES. I know that I employed this misguided strategy when I was confronted with my own poor CHOICES. This was also the rational presented to me when I found myself on the receiving end of infidelity. “The wheels on the bus go around and around”. NEW STRATEGY…Every time we find ourselves blaming our partner for our relationship problems we must stop and turn it around. For example, instead of saying “MY partner is not meeting MY needs” say “I am not meeting my partners needs”. This “MY to I” strategy will help us share responsibility for the challenges in our relationship.

I and YOU. “YOU” is featured in most defensive conversations. For example, “YOU make me angry” or “YOU” don’t understand me”. When communication is centered around “YOU” it is very difficult to open a door to understanding and resolution. NEW STRATEGY…Change the word “YOU” to the word “I”. “I” am feeling angry right now because “I” don’t feel like you understand me”. This simple word switch can soften the tone of a disagreement and allow the other person to explain their position.

Drug. I remember the “rush” I would get during “acts” of infidelity and the crash I would feel when it was time to return “home”. At the time it never occurred to me that I could create the same “rush” in my own relationship if I would begin practicing honest communication with my partner and encourage them to do the same. NEW STRATEGY…Talk with your partner about intimacy and sex. They are two very different things. What turns your partner on? What turns them off? What sexual needs are and are not being met in the relationship? How does your partner define intimacy? Are you meeting their desires? This can be the beginning of a brand new level of intimacy in the relationship with the added bonus of mind blowing sex!!!

Evening the score. I am amazed by how many people engage in extra marital affairs as a way of exacting revenge or “evening the score” with a partner. If you are the “victim” of an affair you are well aware of the emotional scarring it can cause. It is a direct assault on our person hood, one that we may never completely recover from. Those who CHOOSE to remain in a relationship where infidelity has taken place may also carry around the feelings of weakness that come from not being strong enough to speak their authentic truth or leave the relationship. NEW STRATEGY…When thoughts of revenge begin to surface in a relationship we must make a conscious decision to NEVER use sex as a weapon. We must make the decision to either stay in the relationship and put our energy into working through our differences or we must make the decision to end the relationship. We must take SEXUAL REVENGE off the table!

Lack. When we contemplate or actively engage in the act of infidelity we are residing in a place of scarcity and lack. We are communicating to the universe that our partner is NO LONGER living up to the expectations we “demand” of them. We are also sending a clear message to our partner that they were only worthy of our “love” as long as they were at the top of their game. For example, a change in economics or health can be a very challenging time in a relationship but not a valid reason to run into the arms of someone else. NEW STRATEGY…When confronted with a significant challenge in our relationship, it is important to talk about the problem at hand and then make the decision to work together to find a solution. Life often happens when we are making other plans. Infidelity is avoidance that features long term consequences.

Immaturity. As children, many of us stomped up and down until we “got our way”. This is what is commonly referred to as a “tantrum”. As adults many of us throw “tantrums” of a different type, “affairs and flings”. Whether it’s a one night stand or an extra marital relationship lasting 5 years, infidelity is an immature act. An emotionally mature person is willing to cut ties before seeking a new “playmate”. NEW STRATEGY…When confronted with a sexual temptation (they will surface if we are receptive to them) it is advisable to stop, take out a piece of paper and do this exercise. Draw a line down the middle of the paper. On one side write the word BENEFITS. On the other side write the word CONSEQUENCES. Write down ALL of the benefits you will receive by engaging in the act of infidelity. On the other side make a list of ALL of the potential consequences that may arise if you are found out. Weigh them and proceed accordingly.

Theft. When we engage in infidelity we are stealing from the emotional bank account of our relationship. This emotional bank account contains deposits of faith, hope, love, dreams and most importantly, trust. Once the emotional bank account has been pilfered it will be difficult if not impossible to build it back up. NEW STRATEGY…When we find ourselves angry, bitter or feeling vengeful, we must strive to find a way to make a deposit into the relationship’s emotional bank account. Every time we make a “withdrawal” we are moving the relationship closer to emotional bankruptcy and every time we make even a small deposit we are securing our future. The CHOICE is ours.

Yukky. The bottom line…infidelity is a yukky mess that is very hard to clean up. NEW STRATEGY…Keep your clothes on while you decide to stay and work on the relationship or leave. There is enough pain in the dissolution of a relationship without adding an additional layer. A “clean break” should be just that…CLEAN.

3 Models of Relationship…which one best describes yours?

1. It’s all about MY needs. In this relationship model everything is about ME. What can YOU do for ME that will make MY life better. This is by far the most unconscious way to be in relationship and the chances of success are very low.

2. Let’s trade. I will do things for YOU in accordance with what you are willing to do for ME. For example, I will go to the game with YOU if you will go to the opera with ME. This model is a slight improvement over model # 1 yet still represents an unconscious way to be in relationship. Once one of the partners tires of “horse trading” the relationship is doomed.

3. It’s all about my partner. In this model my focus is on my partner. I am committed to meeting his/her needs rather than my own. At first this model may seem confusing as most of us have grown up with an “it’s all or mostly about me” mindset. When both partners are living in this relationship model they are each getting their needs met on a regular basis. This is a win-win model in which there is very little need to “roam” around the pasture.

Most of us float between model 2 and 3. Our goal is to reside in model 3. When we live here our chances of stepping outside the relationship will decrease dramatically.

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

6 Steps For Conquering Our Negative Self Talk (VOICES)…John Page Burton

Why do some people thrive and live seemingly happy, fulfilling lives while countless others seem to struggle to get by? In my work as a peak performance strategist and mentor, I routinely find that it almost always comes down to the “voices in our head”. Some of the voices we listen to are empowering, others, not so much. Our capacity to manage negative mental chatter plays a key role in determining the overall quality of our lives. The voices we choose to listen to dictate whether we experience joy and success or frustration and pain. Many of us engage in negative self talk to such a degree that our primary emotions have become anger, guilt and shame. These voices encourage us to stay within our comfort zone and make our decisions based on whether something brings us pain or pleasure. Others listen to positive, empowering voices which encourage us to take risks and go after our dreams. I believe that the “voices in our head” do in fact dictate our level of success as well as our sense of personal fulfillment. The question becomes… how can we stop our negative chatter when it comes up? For the next 30 days I encourage you to make a commitment to pay close attention to your self talk and to follow these 6 steps to help break the old pattern and create a new one.

Conquering Our NEGATIVE Self Talk…

Validation. The first step toward conquering the “negative voices” is to question if what we are saying to ourselves is even true? For example, “I never get anything right” usually has nothing to do with our current reality. We are still listening and reacting to the condescending voice of a parent or teacher who repeatedly admonished us during our formative years. The truth is that we get a lot of things “right” and like everyone else we will make mistakes. Our goal is to monitor our language and speak a NEW truth over the lie each and every time it comes up.

Ownership. We must be willing to take ownership of our negative self talk. In other words, we must acknowledge that we are speaking negatively about our self to our self. Far too many of us attempt to justify our negative self talk which adds more fuel to the lie. The long term danger of negative self talk is that when we repeat a lie long enough we begin to believe it. Most of us wouldn’t take ownership for a crime we didn’t commit yet many of us consistently and consciously take ownership of a worn out childhood story. Our goal is to quit justifying and defending our NEGATIVE self talk. BULLSHIT is BULLSHIT no matter how you package it!

Imagination. Imagine what your life would look like if you removed negative self talk from your vocabulary? Imagine your intimate relationship, friendships and career rising to a whole new level? We must establish and hold a vision of how our new habit of positive self talk will enhance the quality of our life experience. Affirmations beginning with “I AM” can be an effective way of re-programming our self talk. “I AM more than capable of meeting life’s challenges”, “I AM intelligent and gifted” or “I AM willing to learn new things” are all examples of empowered statements that can “overwhelm” our negative self talk. Every time a negative voice creeps in we must counter it with a positive “I AM” statement. Practice will produce results.

Choice. We CHOOSE our thoughts and our self talk is a bi product of what we are CHOOSING to think about. If I believe that the world is an unsafe place, it stands to reason that my self talk will reflect fear, scarcity and lack. If on the other hand, I believe that I live in a world of unlimited opportunity and abundance, my self talk will be uplifting, hopeful and positive. When we change our thoughts our language changes.

Expression. We must create a new HABIT of speaking positively over everything and everyone. Speaking words of gratitude and repeating positive affirmations are proactive ways to solidify our new habit of positive self talk. When we notice that we are starting to head down our familiar path of self condemnation, we can counter the voices by expressing our new truth. This is what is meant by having a conscious awareness.

Simplify. Keep this process simple. It doesn’t have to be complex. Remember… Our NEW thoughts become our NEW words, our NEW words become our NEW actions, our NEW actions become our NEW habits, our NEW habits become our NEW way of being.

We get to CHOOSE what we focus on. From this day forward we are the master programmer. What we CHOOSE to tell ourselves is now totally up to us. I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

6 Lies That Kill Dreams & Stifle Opportunity…John Page Burton

No matter how honest we believe we are, most of us are guilty of lying. Many of us have created a habit of lying. Our lies cost us financially and emotionally. Our lies may keep us from rising through the company ranks, starting our own business or from enjoying a truly intimate relationship with our partner. In the world of dreams and opportunity the TRUTH can indeed set us free!

The 6 Lies…

*If he/she would just change, my life would be so much better! Not only is this a lie but it means that we are willing to give away our personal power. Many of us tell this lie as it relates to our relationship partners, employers, business partners and friends. In reality, the person who tells this lie is fearful of introspection and prefers to avoid taking the bottom line for their life experience. We can either go through life playing the role of “victim of circumstance” or we can take responsibility for the people and circumstances we have attracted into our life and make different decisions going forward. Choose to be proactive!

*I don’t have enough time. Most of us will make time for anything we deem important. We can easily “find time” to hang out with our friends, go fishing, watch TV or engage in any other activity that makes us “feel good”. The reality of this lie is that many of us consciously choose to use our “lack of time” as an on demand excuse to avoid anything that requires us to leave our comfort zone. Time is our most precious commodity, it is up to us to allocate it wisely.

*I am not educated/qualified enough. The reality of this lie is that some of the biggest companies in America were founded and built by people who never attended a day of college or in some cases didn’t make it past junior high. As I share in my book, Wisdom Through Failure, I am apt to hire a person with a high I WILL over a person with a high IQ. The person who possesses both is a bonus. Is it really our lack of education that is holding us back? In many cases a lack of motivation is the real culprit.

*I’m not attractive enough. Intelligence outweighs looks. We live in a society where first impressions do favor job candidates, however, in the end, it really doesn’t matter how “good looking” you are if you suck at what you do! Even the most aesthetically pleasing people will eventually become a liability and sent packing. Taking care of ourselves and presenting well should be a priority for all of us, however, the belief that we are somehow limited because of the way God created us is a fear based fallacy. We are better served to focus on developing our skills than hunting for a plastic surgeon.

*I don’t know the right people. It’s true that our “connections” can help us move through life and business at a faster pace but keep in mind our connections will take time to develop and nurture. The reality is that in order to attract the “right people” both personally and professionally we must become the person we desire to attract. Our job is to focus on becoming the best version of our self. To quote my favorite movie line…”If you build it they will come”.

*I don’t deserve to be successful/happy. This lie is based around the guilt we feel about something that occurred in our past. We have deemed our particular situation(s) to be so “heinous” that we have subconsciously determined that it is far better to be mediocre than strive for greatness! Each time we find ourselves moving forward, the voice in our head reminds us of what a “complete loser or imposter” we are. The reality of this lie is that we are much wiser because of the experiences from our past and we can use this wisdom to help us make better choices and decisions in the future. Our past doesn’t determine our future…we do!

When we make the decision to stop telling these lies we can move toward the compelling future awaiting each of us. One of the fastest ways we can change our lives is by changing the story we have been telling ourselves. Here’s to the TRUTH!

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

The MVP Formula For Becoming A Legacy Builder…John Page Burton

What does it take to build and leave a true legacy in life and business? Is there a formula for success? If so, is it reserved for a privileged few? Why do some people rise to the occasion, achieve massive success and enjoy relative happiness, while others possessing far more natural ability end up achieving nothing of real value and spend the majority of their lives angry and frustrated?

Over the past 20 years, I have had the privilege to spend time with LEGACY BUILDERS and I have also had the opportunity to spend time around far too many chronic underachievers. What’s the difference? It’s actually quite simple… LEGACY BUILDERS embrace what I refer to as the MVP formula.

Becoming a legacy builder…

Mission. First, we must find our calling, one that propels us out into the world. Next, we must be willing to share our message with everyone who will listen. Our mission is our “special assignment”. Our level of conviction will determine the success of our mission. Our calling must be compelling enough to overcome the many obstacles we will encounter on our journey to success. What is your mission? What would you be willing to sacrifice everything for? Recognizing our true calling and making the DECISION to take ACTION is the first step toward building our legacy.

Vision. The challenge with FUTURE vision is that it requires us to visualize something that we can only see through our imagination. This can be very hard for a person who resides in a “show me first” world. Vision is “blind faith”. Do you currently hold a grand vision for where you would like to go and who you would like to become? “Without a vision, the people will perish” is a biblical truism that is a time tested, proven, game changer. What does your ideal legacy look like? Hold this vision and keep moving forward!

Passion. Passion is a powerful, compelling emotion. Passion is ambition materialized into action. Passion is heart centered. Passion fuels our mission and will keep us focused on our vision. Passion is the glue that keeps us on point as we build out our legacy. What are you passionate about? Will your current level of passion carry you across the finish line? Without passion most of us will quit easily and often. Our level of success is the bi-product of our passion. Passion is contagious! Passion inspires!

PERSONAL GROWTH….

The MVP formula alone will not carry us across the finish line. We must be committed to developing and maintaining the skills necessary for us to reach our goals and build our legacy. Our commitment to sharpening and enhancing our skill set will have a huge impact on our success. When we prioritize continuing education and personal growth we are taking significant ACTION strides toward the creation of our legacy.

Build on my friends!

As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback.

Thank God For Dirty Dishes…John Page Burton

I recently attended a dinner party. The evening featured a plethora of great conversation, an abundance of laughter and it seemed that everyone genuinely enjoyed being in each others company. As the evening wound down, our host sighed and said, “I guess it’s time to tackle all of those dirty dishes” at which I remarked “thank God for dirty dishes”. We pitched in, cleaned up the kitchen, said our goodbyes and headed out into the night. On the drive home my wife and I began talking about the significance of “dirty dishes” and just how grateful we are for all of the “dirty dishes” we continue to have the privilege to wash.

What it means to have “dirty dishes” in my sink.

*I enjoyed a meal.
*I have the financial resources to purchase food.
*I am not starving.
*I have a roof over my head.

Many of the things that I take for granted are considered a luxury in 97% of the world. Most of what I complain about would be met with a blank stare by a person who lives in Haiti. The “left over” food that many of us routinely throw away would save lives in 3rd world countries. Being mindful of just how good I have it tends to keep me grounded whenever I find myself going into “complainer mode”.

With this being said, I must leave you as my wife has just informed me that it is my turn to do the dishes.

With much gratitude…..