On Wednesday, June 15th, 2016, my wife Diana and I saw a large cloud of smoke rising high above the White River Apache Reservation in northeastern Arizona. This massive cloud of smoke would become known as the Cedar Fire. From the sheer size, color and location of the gigantic plume towering over our community, we instinctively knew we were about to embark on a precarious journey. A wildfire is dynamic, unpredictable and indiscriminate. The Cedar Fire did not disappoint. Over the next 8 days, my wife and I would have an opportunity to practice much of what I have written about and taught for over a decade. In short, the Cedar Fire provided me an opportunity to walk my talk.
If you follow my work, you know that I encourage my audience to focus on gratitude, compassion, faith, trust and to let go of material and emotional attachments. Over the past decade, I have written two books and over four hundred articles related to the dynamics of human behavior. The Cedar fire certainly illuminated the inherent goodness of people, especially when confronted with a tragedy or potential threat. With that being said, we will always have a minority of people who would find something wrong with winning the lottery.
A TALE OF TWO PEOPLE
A few days ago, I enjoyed a conversation with one of our local fire heroes. He shared a story of what three of his fellow fire fighters had experienced on day four of the Cedar Fire. These three heroes had come in from the fire line to purchase groceries at a local market. While waiting in the check out line, they overheard a conversation between a female customer and the stores manager. The customer was upset because these men had come into the store and were so “smelly and filthy”. She demanded the store manager do something about this situation as it was making her uncomfortable. One can only imagine the utter disconnect these brave heroes were experiencing as they left the store to return to the dangerous job of protecting her property.
Another story involved a woman who lives on a fixed income yet despite her limited resources CHOSE to purchase cases of water and several pizzas which she personally delivered to the fire command center. She “wanted to do something nice for all of the people who were working so hard to save her home”.
Talk about two ENTIRELY different perspectives!
NOTHING BRINGS A COMMUNITY TOGETHER LIKE A GOOD OLD FASHIONED WILDFIRE…
On day two of our pre evacuation status, I jokingly said to my neighbor, “nothing brings a community together like a good old fashioned wildfire”. In truth, this is exactly what Diana and I experienced during the first few days of the Cedar Fire. Our neighbors communicated with each other on a daily basis, meals were prepared and shared, wine was poured and laughter, albeit apprehensive, filled the smoky air. Several of our friends and neighbors were off the mountain but still managed to check in daily to see how we were doing. Even from afar, we remained connected.
When I was asked to pen this article from a spiritual perspective, I readily accepted the challenge. During our three hour drive from the White Mountains to our home in Phoenix (we had chosen to self evacuate on day 8 as I was having some respiratory challenges due to the thick smoke and the lingering effects from a three year bought with Valley Fever) Diana and I had a chance to decompress and talk about all of the things we were reminded of during our week of uncertainty.
GRATITUDE. Fortunately, as of this writing our home is still standing in the middle of a beautiful forest. During the course of the Cedar Fire, Diana and I found ourselves revisiting many of the wonderful memories created during our time on the mountain. We also talked about all of the amazing people God had brought into our life. Our gratitude overwhelmed our fear of potential loss and helped us remain grounded. We practiced an attitude of gratitude and it truly had a calming effect on our psyche.
FAITH. Faced with uncertainty, we must have faith in God’s plan. My wife has always described faith as “trusting in that which you cannot see or do not know”. Admittedly, this is a hard thing to do. As the days wore on, many in our community began to express frustration and outrage with the lack of communication from the fire lines. It’s hard to have faith in the face of fear. Fear is a bi product of the unknown. It was calming and refreshing to hear many of our friends and neighbors speak over their fear. “This to shall pass”, if He brings you to it, He will bring you through it” and “it’s in Gods hands now” were some of the uplifting messages spoken throughout our community. I was inspired.
COMPASSION. In any natural disaster, there are many whose only evacuation option is to stay at a local shelter. Not knowing if we would have a place to call home was quite humbling yet we found ourselves thinking about the plight of those who are less fortunate than us and we routinely thanked God for blessing the Burton’s with more than enough of everything. Everyone in our neighborhood had somewhere to go and like us, most have a home somewhere else. With that being said, I know many of us were putting on a brave face as the thought of losing our home was indeed troubling. I couldn’t help but think how difficult this would be for those without options. Engaging in heartfelt conversations with our friends and neighbors was cathartic.
TRUST. My wife and I are type A personalities. We are used to making key decisions and driving desired outcomes. We realized from the onset that we had absolutely NO control over the scenario that was unfolding and we would have to trust the firefighters to deliver us from harms way. I must admit this was a very humbling feeling as both Diana and I are solution oriented. We resolved to let go and let the fire heroes do their job! Our trust paid off!
ATTACHMENT. When faced with the prospect of a short notice evacuation, one must quickly prioritize what is irreplaceable and quickly come to terms with leaving everything else behind. As mentioned earlier, I have earned a living speaking and writing about the need to let go of our attachments. By day three I found myself wanting to rent a U Haul truck to transport “my stuff” to a storage facility that was out of harms way. Luckily, trust and faith kicked in (plus there was a run on the local U Haul store, ha ha) and I was able to practice the sacred art of “letting go and letting God”. Letting go of our attachments is a much more peaceful way of being.
Soon, the Cedar Fire will be characterized as an extremely close call. It was! The fire instilled fear in many, in others a newfound awareness of the realities associated with living inside a sprawling forest and for at least one person, a sense of relief that our markets won’t be over run with “filthy, smelly”, public safety workers. My hope is that eventually everyone realizes that it doesn’t take “a good old fashioned wildfire to bring a neighborhood together”, it takes conversation.
John Page Burton is a freelance writer and the author of Wisdom Through Failure, Guiding Principles for Life & Business (2014) and Knowing Sh#t From Shinola, Conquering Life One Breakthrough At A Time (2015) To learn more about John visit http://www.johnpageburton.com
I have always been drawn to people who exhibit personal power. People who possess personal power present themselves in a confident manner and their energy tends to be off the charts. In other words, you’re not sure what they’re on but you know you want some! Over the past 25 years, I have interviewed and collaborated with hundreds of people who have exhibited above average personal power. Contrary to popular belief, personal power is not exclusive to a select group of seven figure income earners. Personal power is exhibited by children, educators, transportation drivers, office managers, stay at home moms, activists, clergy, cashiers and hundreds of regular people we encounter on any given day. Personal power has very little to do with economic status, it’s simply a way of being. Let’s take a closer look at three traits I consistently find in people who possess true personal power.
The 3 P’s Of PERSONAL POWER…
Purpose. When we understand our purpose, we tend to move with extreme confidence. Purposeful people tend to be focused people which enables them to accomplish great things and serve as an example for others to follow. Recently, I was shopping in a big box store and asked a floor assistant for help in locating an item. Not only did she help me locate the item but she also took the time to explain the features and benefits of several similar products. In all likelihood, she makes slightly above minimum wage, however, her confidence and sense of purpose is an outstanding reflection on her and the company she works for. Her personal power shined bright during our time together! KEY QUESTION…What is your purpose? What would your life look like if you began living more purposefully?
Passion. Without passion, no one can maintain the staying power necessary to accomplish great things. Life’s obstacles consume those who lack passion. Passion is fuel. Passion is inspirational. Passion is what drove Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Thomas Edison and countless others to take their ideas from the backroom to the showroom. Passion fueled the Revolutionary War and led to the establishment of the greatest country on earth. Without passion none of the above would have ever come to fruition. Our job is to find our passion and run with it! KEY QUESTION…What are you passionate about? This is the first step toward finding our true calling.
Patience. The foundation of personal power is patience. One of life’s certainties is that sh#t happens when we are making other plans. How we respond when the heat gets turned up exposes our personal power or lack of it. Do we get angry and play the blame game or do we accept responsibility and move toward a solution? Some refer to this as exhibiting grace under pressure. Patience is power. KEY QUESTION…What areas in your life do you find yourself struggling with patience? Patience takes practice and a great deal of self awareness.
All of us possess a deep reserve of personal power that is patiently waiting to be unleashed. By focusing on the 3 P’s we can dial it in and truly live the rewarding lives we deserve.
Everyday, I see the word “leader” casually tossed around by people who seem to know very little about authentic leadership. For example, on my social media stream, I routinely see people publicly declare that they are “great leaders” and if someone desires to make real money, travel, live in the burbs and drive the car of their dreams, it would be wise to follow them. Give me a break! Last week, I actually saw a post where a person declared he was “a nationally recognized leader of leaders”. If this declaration wasn’t so blatantly egotistical, it might have had a slim chance of being funny!
For the past 15 years I have had the privilege of interviewing, working alongside and coaching hundreds of authentic leaders, leaders who conform to the highest standards of professional decorum. None of these authentic leaders go around declaring themselves leaders, their followers have already made that determination for them. Their ACTIONS speak to their leadership skills. Remember, leadership is not taken, it is earned. Authentic leadership is genuine, real, worthy of trust, accountable and consistent. Authentic leadership doesn’t need a title to be effective, It’s effective because it is genuine.
Listeners. Authentic leaders tend to be excellent listeners. They listen to different points of view, ideas, concerns and most importantly, they pay attention to what is not being said. God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.
Empathetic. Authentic leaders are able to identify psychologically with the feelings, thoughts and attitudes of those in their charge. An authentic leader rarely asks you to do something they are unwilling to do themselves. Empathy builds bridges and fosters allegiance. Empathy is endearing.
Alignment. Authentic leaders remain grounded by their beliefs and values. Their vision and actions are congruent with these beliefs. Effective leaders are recognized by others as people of strong character who can always be counted on to take the moral high ground.
Decisive. Authentic leaders are decisive. They gather information, weigh evidence and make a decision. They are willing to make changes if something is not working. They possess strong emotional intelligence and take bottom line for their decisions. Blame is not an option for an authentic leader.
Ethics. Authentic leaders place a high value on professional ethics. They don’t cheat, take shortcuts, lie, use disrespectful language, hold grudges, gossip, sabotage subordinates or engage in any other “shady practices”. Authentic leaders prioritize integrity and treat people in their charge with dignity and respect.
Results. Authentic leaders achieve results. Results inform the world. Remember, people don’t follow titles, they follow people who they admire and trust. People will work their tails off for someone who is genuine and who has the teams best interest at heart. This is why authentic leaders achieve predictable results.
I encourage you to strive to become a leader others CHOOSE to follow. These 6 truths will help us stay focused on our journey to becoming an authentic leader.
John Page Burton is a life and business coach and the author of two books. To learn more visit http://www.jpburtongroup.com/
If we desire to live a rich, rewarding life, it’s important to embrace three universal principles. 1. What we appreciate, appreciates. 2. Gratitude is the foundation of abundance. 3. Givers Gain.
The 5 Minute Challenge…
*Count your blessings when you first wake up. (1 minute) Being grateful is a great way to start your day. Speak to the things you are grateful for. For example, I am grateful I woke up, can enjoy a healthy breakfast, have a reliable car to drive to the job that supports the family I love. Remember, what we appreciate, appreciates.
*Compliment, encourage or thank 3 people today. (3 minutes) Everyone enjoys being appreciated. “I’m proud of you”, “I appreciate your efforts”, “you look nice” and “great Job” are a few examples of how we can brighten someones day. Let’s face it, we need more positive energy swirling around our planet!
*End the day with a prayer of thanks. (1 minute) Take a minute (that’s all most of us need) to thank GOD for another day and for all of the blessings that came with it. This is a great way to sign off!
John Page Burton is a life and business coach and the author of two books. to learn more visit http://www.jpburtongroup.com/
“Living up to the lofty standards of Jesus is impossible in the real world” stated Jane in response to her husband Bob’s comment “ask yourself what Jesus would do?” After 15 years of marriage, Jane and Bob are experiencing significant challenges in their relationship. Jane is also experiencing a great deal of frustration with her career. To further complicate matters, Bob is a very religious person while Jane has spent most of her adult life rebelling against what she describes as “a rigid, religious upbringing, wrought with hypocrisy”. Bob firmly believes in living the 10 commandments while Jane gives them very little thought. This scenario prompted me to ask myself two questions. First, how hard is it to live the 10 commandments in today’s fast paced, high tech world? Second, does is really matter what Jesus would do? After all, it’s our life experience to live as we choose.
I decided to take an objective look at the 10 Commandments and see if maybe it was in fact “impossible to live up to the lofty standards of Jesus” while navigating through today’s world.
THE 10 COMMANDMENTS…
1. I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD. Sounds reasonable to me, someone has to be in charge. Seriously, regardless of our religious affiliation, we must possess a great deal of faith to move through our earthly experience. We must have faith in our parents, teachers, political leaders, employers, spouses and most importantly ourselves. Having a healthy respect for GOD establishes a foundation on which we will build our worldly values. This is a great commandment to the get the ball rolling!
2. DON’T WORSHIP FALSE IDOLS. Madison Avenue executives work tirelessly to convince us the key to success and happiness is our ability to make money and purchase cool, fashionable, stuff. Celebrity spokespeople, on behalf of corporations, look into the camera and seductively encourage us to be one of the “cool kids” by signing up for their credit card, driving their luxury car or vacationing on their amazing cruise ship. We must not base our self worth on our ability to accumulate money and stuff. This is an emotionally healthy commandment.
3. DON’T USE THE LORDS NAME IN VAIN. There are thousands of words in the English language and some of us choose to use the ones that incorporate our creator and his son. I recommend GOSH DANG and JEEZY WHEEZY as two good alternatives. Beyond using the Lords name in vain, we are well served to stay away from insensitive speech toward people of different ethnic, religious or economic backgrounds. Cleaning up our language and speaking in a respectful manner is the foundation of this commandment.
4. KEEP THE SABBATH HOLY. Different religions observe the Sabbath on different days. Mine happens to be on Sunday. The Sabbath is an abstinence from work. It’s a time to re-charge our batteries. Most importantly, it’s a time to celebrate our creator. This commandment brings to light the importance of rest.
5. HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER. Beyond our parents, I interpret this to mean respecting our elders, teachers, employers, law enforcement officers or anyone else who is a person of influence or authority. Being courteous and compassionate is a great way to be in relationship with our family of origin as well as the world around us. This commandment encourages us to be respectful people.
6. DON’T MURDER ANYBODY. This commandment is dead on. Nothing kills momentum like a trip to prison. All puns aside, this commandment speaks to anger management. Most murders are committed in a moment of rage, however, many are planned and executed because of greed and envy. For example, most of us have seen a story on Dateline involving a “hired hit man” that is paid to kill an unsuspecting business partner. If you find yourself feeling intense anger, greed, envy, jealousy or any other low level emotion, I encourage you to seek help. The Ego is very powerful and in one irrational moment lives can be changed forever. This commandment encourages us to use self control.
7. DON’T COMMIT ADULTERY. Sex is a very powerful drive. Adultery is a selfish act that can have life changing consequences. Today’s business environment presents a plethora of opportunities to find ourselves in a compromising position. Business travel, social engagements and employer intimidation can lead to acts of sexual indiscretion. I encourage my clients not to use sex as a means of getting even. If you find yourself moving toward an adulterous act, I recommend engaging a coach or therapist to help you put your thoughts and feelings into perspective. A 20 minute indiscretion can haunt you and your loved for the next 20 years. This commandment encourages us to keep our clothes securely fastened.
8. DON’T STEAL. Many of us equate stealing with shoplifting, burglary or white collar crime. I contend that many of us steal everyday and don’t give it a second thought. We steal from our family when we stop off at the bar on the way home from work. We steal from our employer when we surf our social media sites during work time or we “fudge” on our expense reports. We steal from our government when we routinely apply for entitlement benefits rather than seek a job. We steal from our country when we protest against our military or we fail to cast our vote in elections. This commandment encourages us to focus on being in integrity.
9. DON’T BEAR FALSE WITNESS. Most of us have seen a television news story about someone being released from prison after new evidence proved they could not have committed the crime they served time for. Knowingly ruining someones life in this manner is pure evil. At one time or another, all of us have gotten caught up in gossip. The purveyor of gossip usually has a gleam in their eye as they share the latest dirt on some unsuspecting soul. Rather than work harder for a promotion, there are those who choose to start a covert “smear campaign” aimed at someone they consider a threat to their potential promotion. These are three examples of bearing false witness. The extent of the consequences varies but the intention is the same, to cause harm. This commandment instructs us to refrain from lying.
10. DON’T COVET YOUR NEIGHBORS WIFE OR HIS BELONGINGS. What we appreciate, appreciates. Many of us hold the false belief that the grass is greener in our neighbors yard. The grass is greener where we water it. Envy is a lower tier emotion and we are well served to run our own race. We can’t expect GOD to bless us with the abundance he desires to deliver, if we are focused on our neighbors house. This commandment encourages us to be grateful for what we have and hold.
There is no doubt in my mind that all of us are capable of living the 10 commandments. It’s a choice we can make everyday. Asking ourselves “what would Jesus do” serves as a reminder to take the higher ground when we are faced with life’s temptations. I know what Jesus would do matters to me.
John Page Burton is a life and business coach and the author of two books. To learn more visithttp://www.johnpageburton.com
Most of us are familiar with the “Law of Attraction”. Numerous books have been written about this law and how we can use it to manifest the things we desire. One of the most famous books written about the law of attraction is called The Secret. The Secret was also made into a blockbuster movie, viewed by millions of people worldwide. After reading The Secret or watching the movie, many of us set our intentions and waited anxiously for our dreams to manifest before our eyes.
Setting significant goals, constructing vision boards and speaking daily affirmations are important first steps toward bringing about what we desire, however, nothing of any real value will be created without applying “The Law of ACTION“. In other words, just thinking about what we would like to attract into our lives will not bring about what we desire. If we desire to bring about what we are thinking about, we must set our intentions and then implement….
THE LAW OF ACTION….
Accountability. We must be willing to take full responsibility for the goals we establish and the choices we make. When we possess a bottom line mentality, we will make choices and decisions that are congruent with our internal compass. The Law of ACTION leaves no room for justification and blame. We are the CEO of our life and we must be willing to take meaningful ACTION steps toward our objectives. Simply thinking about what we desire will not bring it into our reality.
Clarity. What do we desire to bring into our lives? We must design and EXECUTE specific strategies for accomplishing our objectives. (ACTION) Our clarity of purpose (VISION) keeps us on track and serves as a motivator whenever we face obstacles that threaten to derail our dreams.
Trust. Many of us have been led to believe that all we have to do is “visualize” what we desire, say a few affirmations and poof, it will appear. I am a firm believer in visualization, however, we must be willing to take ACTION if we want to manifest what we desire. ACTION requires us to trust ourselves and the process. When we doubt ourselves or our ability, we become vulnerable to those who peddle fiction. Again, simply thinking about what we desire will not bring it into existence if we are unwilling to do the work and trust the process.
Integrity. We must be in integrity with ourselves and others. Taking shortcuts or outright cheating will derail our success process. In other words, if our ACTIONS are not congruent with our stated intentions, we are destined for disappointment. Strive to be a person of integrity and allow the universe to line up the right people and opportunities to take your life and business to the next level and beyond!
Objectivity. If we find ourselves trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, we are well served to change our approach. Being open minded and remaining detached from expectations is the key to staying in ACTION mode. If something isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it. If something isn’t working, replace it.
Natural. Over time, The Law of ACTION becomes a habit. We simply set our intentions and take massive ACTION!
I’m a big fan of the Law of Attraction and an even bigger fan of The Law of ACTION. When we combine the laws we can’t help but enjoy a rich, rewarding life!
John Page Burton is a Life and Business coach and the author of Wisdom Through Failure, Guiding Principles For Life & Business and Knowing Sh#t From Shinola, Conquering Life One Breakthrough At A Time. To learn more visit http://www.johnpageburton.com