The School of Hard Knocks Retains #1 Ranking…John Page Burton

For the umpteenth year in a row The School of Hard Knock’s has been ranked as the worlds #1 educational environment, surpassing such perennial heavyweights as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Oxford and M.I.T. In my travels, I have met hundreds of people who claim to have graduated or earned an advanced degree from The School of Hard Knocks. I have met countless others who admit they simply caved in and dropped out of the school due to its rigorous curriculum. I consider The School of Hard Knocks an Alma Mater and feel compelled to share some of the things that make this educational environment so special.

According to the schools chief administrative officer, GOD, enrollment numbers are up but the overall graduation rate still remains much lower than expected. GOD said he believes the lower than expected graduation rate is due in large part to the “know it all” attitude that is quite pervasive in today’s society. GOD did say that he remains quite optimistic about the future of The School of Hard Knocks and all things considered remains quite pleased with its overall performance.


Campus Location: Planet Earth.

Current Enrollment: Approx 6 Billion full time students and 1.4 Billion that are engaged on a part time basis.

School Mascot: A Sperm Cell that goes by the name of “mo mo”.


The School of Hard Knocks is dedicated to providing a comprehensive learning environment where students become wiser through a revolutionary process called trial and error. The school strongly discourages its student body from seeking advanced degrees or becoming professional students. In other words, earning your PhD is considered quite remedial. The sooner you get the message and graduate the better for all involved.


The School of Hard Knocks does not offer scholarships or student loans. It is up to each student to determine the price they are willing to pay to complete their education and graduate.


Lesson plans at The School of Hard Knocks are custom designed to meet the specific educational needs of each student. The school provides a variety of “teachers” that become available to assist the student in fully understanding and completing each assignment. Tests are administered randomly to ensure that each student fully comprehends the material before they can move on to their next lesson. Each student is graded on a pass or fail basis. Students will be “held back” until they have achieved a passing mark. The school also offers a very thorough continuing education program.


*Economics. This course focuses on money management. Through a series of painful life lessons each student will eventually learn why it is prudent to spend less than you earn. Some of the lessons include; how to file the bankruptcy that is right for you, the fundamentals of foreclosure, advanced repossession techniques and the ramifications of check kiting.

*Sex Education. During this intense and emotional course, students will learn the importance of contraception, why car sex is usually a bad idea, introduction to child support, understanding retainer fees and the principles of garnishment.

*Criminal Justice. This course is designed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of our legal system. Course offerings include; how to operate a breathalyzer, proper jailhouse etiquette, the high price of road rage, what traits to look for in a good divorce attorney and the two main reasons why we have open container laws.

I am fortunate that I was able to attend a traditional college. I also know with certainty that life has been my best teacher. I have come to believe that it is through trial and error, setbacks, and outright failure that our character is formed. There is an open door policy at The School of Hard Knocks. We can sign up for a refresher course anytime we like. How quickly we learn, adjust and move on will make a huge difference in the quality of our lives.

As always I appreciate your thoughts and feedback.success7

SHIFT Happens! Change Is A CHOICE…John Page Burton

“We problem solve from the past, we create in the present”. I tend to feel guilty, frustrated and angry when I choose to visit the past. I feel happy, fulfilled, energized and inspired when I choose to reside in the present. All of us drag around baggage from the past, some of us require two bellhops! Freedom comes when we take ownership of anything we regret or feel badly about, acknowledge that we did the best we could with what insight we had at the time and we move on. MENTAL SHIFT=FREEDOM. “When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change”. Over the years, I have coached hundreds of clients who formed their identity around an event(s) that happened somewhere in their past. “I’m an incest survivor”, “I’m the child of an alcoholic parent” or “I had to fight for everything I ever got” are some of the more common ways many of us choose to stay connected to our past. The key word is CHOOSE. I know that for years I chose to identify with my past, which contributed to a great deal of discomfort and what I refer to as my “lost years”.  Once I consciously made the decision to “stop identifying with my past” my life began to take on a much deeper meaning.

SHIFT Happens…

Self Awareness. We begin to fully embrace who we are TODAY the moment we make the conscious choice to stop identifying with the negative messages/labels our parents, teachers, siblings or friends unconsciously bestowed on us. When we come to realize the identity of “our youth” doesn’t serve us as adults we have taken the first action step toward creating a permanent SHIFT. With self awareness comes a profound sense of personal responsibility. We can relish our NEW role as the chief architect of our life.

Habits. We can now begin creating new habits that will support our SHIFT. The most important one is our habit of “self talk”.  Do we speak in past or present tense? Is our “self talk” uplifting or self deprecating?  This single distinction/habit is a game changer in the world of SHIFT. Our growing self awareness encourages us to pay closer attention to our “self talk”. We understand and embrace the philosophy of “garbage in, garbage out”.

Independence. Freed from our past programming, we are now solely responsible for creating and designing our NEW life plan. In other words, we have given ourselves permission to paint our own, unique mosaic. At first, this can be daunting because we have always relied on the opinions and direction of others.  The key is to jump in and start applying the first brush strokes on our new canvas. As they say “try it, you’ll like it”.

Faith.  As we begin experiencing results from our new SHIFT, we are establishing a core FAITH in our ability to create the results we desire. Over time, our “muscles of faith” will grow stronger and stronger until they become our new foundation. The most effective way to build muscles of faith is through a willingness to take risks. The bigger the risk the greater our faith must be and this is how permanent SHIFT HAPPENS.

Tenacity. Each time we experience a breakthrough in our personal or professional lives we have effectively established a new point A. We have created a positive reference point that we can reflect back on, one that gives us the courage to move toward our next challenge. Every significant breakthrough in life began with a decision to make a SHIFT.  A SHIFT is the result of our tenacious desire to do and be more.

Until next time….Here’s to SHIFT!


5 Truths Of Personal Power…John Page Burton

Our influence over others, the source of which resides in all of us, carries far more weight than the title we hold or the credentials we display. Today, more than ever, our ability to leverage our Personal Power will be a determining factor as to how far and how fast we are able to climb the ladder of success. Effective leaders understand Personal Power and most importantly how to leverage it.

5 Simple Truths Of Personal Power…

1. Our Personal Power is determined by our followers, not by us. Personal Power is developed over time and is earned, not taken.

2. Our Personal Power is born from action. Our actions will always speak louder than our title or directives. The Peter Principle, a well known business theory assumes “the cream will rise until it sours”. Reactive leaders give away their Personal Power and are eventually replaced. Aware, emotionally intelligent leaders understand the vital role their example plays in gaining and maintaining a following.

3. Our Personal Power is enhanced by our ability to adapt, change and grow. Today’s technology driven world is changing rapidly and our ability to adapt and change with it is critical to our success. Those who resist change or rely on someone else to “figure things out” are greatly diminishing their Personal Power. The speed of the leader is the speed of the group. Creating new, empowering habits is the cornerstone of Personal Power.

4. Our Personal Power is influenced by the quality of the questions we ask ourselves and others. For example, have you ever asked the question “why does this (bad thing) always happen to me”?  Guess what you will draw into your life? That’s right…more of the same. A person who exhibits true Personal Power is inclined to ask the question “what can I learn from this experience”? Same experience, different question. Rather than ask an employee (or our children) “why can’t you get this right” try asking “what can I do to help you solve this problem”? Which approach showcases our Personal Power and is likely to gain a new follower?

5. Our Personal Power is reflected in our verbal and non verbal communication. Our physiology speaks very loudly as it relates to our psychology. In other words, how we feel about ourselves is reflected in our posture and mannerisms. Do we stand tall and speak confidently or do we slump our shoulders and wait for permission to be bold?  How we speak about others when they’re not present says a great deal about our self esteem. For example, I work with a client who is in a senior management position. He offhandedly refers to his co-workers and staff as “wanna bees” and “self appointed” leaders. Is this the type of leader who is a true team builder or is he a self serving leader who will eventually fall victim to the “Peter Principle”? This is what is meant when someone says “there is just something about him that rubs me the wrong way”. Most of us are pretty good at picking up on disingenuous energy.

Remember, Personal Power is energy! It is infectious, inspiring and most importantly, it is authentic. Here’s to tapping into your Personal Power!power

5 “NEEDS” That Stifle Our Personal & Professional Growth…John Page Burton

We all have needs. We need air, water and food to survive. Most of us have a need to feel safe, secure, loved and cared for.  I believe we can all agree that these are healthy needs. Unfortunately, not all of our needs are healthy. Many are destructive and can significantly stifle our personal and professional growth? Let’s take a closer look at 5 unhealthy needs and what we can do to create a shift.

1. The Need To Be Right. This need causes people to become argumentative, confrontational, condescending and vindictive. This need is Ego driven. The need to be right can be very polarizing in our personal and professional relationships. A person needing to be right struggles to consider any point of view that differs from than their own. Growth occurs when we become open and accepting of NEW and DIFFERENT beliefs, opinions and perspectives. It’s not as important to be right as it is to be respectful in our communication with others.

2. The Need For Constant Approval. This person expects to be acknowledged for everything they do. This juvenile, insecurity driven need is emotionally draining to spouses, friends, family members and co-workers. If you don’t acknowledge and shower them with praise they often become angry and resentful. Growth occurs when we learn to be humble. Our ACTIONS will always speak much louder than our words. We must learn to accept unsolicited praise, say thank you and move on. Nobody likes being around a person who “gloats” or demands acknowledgement.

3. The Need To Be Noticed. A person driven by this need is heavily influenced by appearances and is always in search of a new audience. They tend to base their self worth on material possessions and will go to great lengths to “flaunt their stuff”.  Characteristically, they are loud, boisterous communicators. They will do anything to grab the spotlight and they love to be seen as the “star of the show”. When they feel ignored, many will throw “adult temper tantrums” in a last ditch effort to satisfy their craving for attention. Growth occurs when we realize that substance is much sexier than stuff. People who crave notoriety tend to be seen as “show offs and braggarts”. People who exhibit humility and gratitude are generally seen as intelligent, trustworthy, responsible people.

4. The Need For Control. This need is fueled by insecurity and fear. Control is an avoidance strategy. At a subconscious level, the controller is simply avoiding their own self doubt and fear by focusing their energy on “fixing” and “manipulating” the people around them. Controllers are disappointed, frustrated and angry most of the time because rarely if ever do the people around them live up to their rigid expectations. “Control freaks” have a deep seated fear of being out of control and will do everything they can to control their environment. Growth occurs when we release our death grip on control, face our fears, embrace and accept failure, learn to delegate, appreciate that most people don’t desire to be “fixed” and commence on a dedicated journey toward self acceptance.

5. The Need To Be Needed. In my book Wisdom Through Failure, I refer to this need as “Helpful Harry Syndrome”. Helpful Harry routinely prioritizes the needs of others before his own. At first glance this seems to be a noble trait but in reality it is an avoidance strategy. Eventually, Helpful Harry becomes an angry giver as he comes to realize that many of his needs are not being met. The need to be needed does not encourage self sufficiency. In other words, “Helpful Harry’s” are teaching their children, spouses and employees to rely on others first. Growth occurs when we establish the habit of meeting our own needs before we focus on meeting the needs of others. With that being said, it is important to prioritize the needs of small children, those with disabilities and of course the elderly. We must encourage our adult children, spouses and employees to become problem solvers and doers. Admittedly, many may consider this a “self centered” approach, however, in the long term it will pay big dividends.

The beauty of personal growth is that ALL of us are a work in progress. It is VERY safe to say that none of us will ever achieve total mastery. We are human! Our goal is to recognize a familiar program when it begins to run and make an immediate shift toward our truth. With each shift we lay the foundation for our NEW REALITY.  As a wise man once said…SHIFT HAPPENS!

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