Spiritual Reminders, Courtesy Of An Arizona Wildfire…John Page Burton

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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.
SPIRITUAL REMINDERS…
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

6 Truths of Authentic Leadership…John Page Burton

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.
AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP…
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/

The Law of A.C.T.I.O.N. John Page Burton

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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.
THE TRUTH…
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

The 3 Most Influential Conversations We Can Have…John Page Burton

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During the course of any given week, most of us engage in hundreds of different conversations. Our conversations may be centered around small talk at the water cooler or they may showcase our positions and ideas. Some of our conversations will be sad or painful while others will be light and cheery. Our conversations may inspire, enrage, motivate, inform or educate those around us. Of all the conversations we engage in, I believe there are three that carry the most influence. Let’s take a closer look…

1. Our conversation with our self. All of us maintain a running dialogue in our head. How we speak to ourselves tends to become how we carry ourselves. Our self talk becomes our mindset. For example, when we experience a set back or failure is our self talk judgmental and self deprecating or is it encouraging and uplifting? When we experience a big win, is our self talk boastful or is it grounded in gratitude and humility? If we are constantly talking trash to our self, it’s time to take out the garbage! Remember, over time, our self talk will determine the quality of our life experience. We can CHOOSE our self talk.
2. Our conversation with our children. How we communicate with our children has the power to groom them for success or keep them from realizing their true potential. We must ask ourselves if our conversations with them are empowering, engaging, instructional and uplifting or are they critical, demeaning, one sided and controlling. Research has shown that 65-70% of our belief system (how we view the world) is formed by the time we are eight years old. Strive to be an empowering communicator.
 
3. Our conversation with our Creator. Initially, this can be a very challenging conversation because we can’t physically see or hear the person we are talking with. At times, this conversation may seem a bit one sided but gradually it becomes the foundation of our faith. Our creator does not mock our questions, judge our answers or lead us down a self serving path. Our creator desires that we freely share our challenges, dreams, desires and fears  so that we can receive the guidance we seek. In order for this to happen, we must be willing to reach out and begin our daily dialogue. Prayer opens the door of clarity and understanding.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feed

 

3 Suggestions That Can Dramatically Reduce Work Related Stress…John Page Burton

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Many of us have been led to believe that working long hours is the key to achieving success. I held onto this belief for many years. In reality, studies routinely show that people who work sixty or more hours per week tend to be more unhealthy, careless and detached than people who work forty hours or less. Today’s message may not be popular with those who believe long hours guarantee success but I know it will be well received by spouses, children or friends of anyone who has become addicted to working long hours.

MY STORY…

For years, I worked long hours, traveled for business, tied my self worth to being able to out perform others and I failed to nurture my personal relationships. Three years ago, I contracted Valley Fever (Google it). For the next two and a half years, I experienced a limited amount of physical energy and was only able to work an average of 20-25 hours a week. Because I was unable to predict how I would feel on any given day, I stopped facilitating live seminars, workshops and retreats which in turn caused a significant drop in my income. I became increasingly frustrated and angry that my energy level didn’t allow me to play the game I was accustomed to playing. In order to experience a sense of significance, I began to focus on accomplishing 3-5 income producing tasks each day, tasks that when completed would move my practice forward. Knowing I only had a 3-4 hour window to complete my 3-5 tasks forced me to develop stronger time management skills.

THE UPSIDE…
During the last three years, working an average of 20-25 hours per week, I have been able to create and launch several new seminars and coaching workshops that I now facilitate via teleconferencing. I created a business course that I sell on line, launched a blog and I have written and published two books. Looking back, I continue to be amazed at the amount of time I wasted (prior to my illness) on inconsequential tasks that I convinced myself were of immense value. Today, I am at  90% strength yet continue to employ the 3-5 task strategy 5 days a week. I am enjoying new levels of personal happiness and business prosperity. I make it a priority to set aside time each day to re charge my mental and emotional batteries. You may be thinking to yourself, how is it possible to work fewer hours and be more productive? The answer is… FOCUS. Determine what it is you desire to accomplish and then go after it with determination and laser FOCUS.  

3 SUGGESTIONS  FOR REDUCING WORK RELATED STRESS…

1. Stop trying to be the office hero! Overwhelming ourselves with “extra projects” or routinely volunteering to spearhead tasks that we simply don’t have the bandwidth for will eventually backfire on us! Over extending ourselves will predictably lead to carelessness and burn out. Focusing on our top 3-5 income producing tasks and delivering consistent results is the best way to receive the recognition we deserve.

2. Work 8 hours (or less) per day. Over the years, I have counseled numerous clients who deeply regret not making family and friends as important as their work. I recently spoke with a client who had just ended his third marriage on the heels of completing his second stint at a rehab facility. “I let work become my entire life. Over the last twenty five years, slowly but surely, I lost everything that truly mattered. I turned to drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with work stress and in the end it made it even worse”. As an entrepreneur, I understand that in any new career or start up venture long hours are the norm. With that being said, once we get established, it’s important to take control of our career or business rather than allowing it to control us. FOCUS is the key. The old saying…”work smarter not harder” is sage wisdom.

3. Take all the time off you can. I always encourage my friends and clients to use all of their vacation days, sick days, holidays and any other time that is afforded them. Far too many employees feel “guilty” for taking time off. In many cases, employees are afraid to use their “paid vacation time” because they fear it will hurt them in their quest for a promotion or could be a reason they are let go. If you work in an environment where you fear using your vacation time…FIND ANOTHER JOB! If you are an employer I encourage you to HONOR your employees by encouraging them to take time off. Rested, re charged employees are far more productive than their counterparts. This advice also holds true for the business owner. Our creativity is thwarted when we are mentally and emotionally taxed. FOCUS on your mental and emotional health, your worth the investment!

There you have it! As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

5 Suggestions For Achieving Happiness In Life & Business…John Page Burton

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As a coach, “I just want to be happy” is something I hear on a regular basis. Happiness is relevant and means different things to different people. One person may be extremely happy because they received a promotion at work while another person is equally happy because they are able to move off the streets and into a shelter. In reality, most of us define happiness based on the level of comfort we experience in any given moment. I have found in my personal and professional life that when I focus on the following 5 suggestions, my life and business thrive. When I deviate from them, I tend to experience discomfort and frustration. Let’s take a closer look….

1. Be PRESENT. When we dwell on the past or obsess about what may or may not happen in the future, we are missing our present moment experience. We problem solve from our past, we create in the present. Most of us have a pretty good present moment going on and the only way to ruin it is to jump back into the past or zip into the future. Stay focused on NOW and observe how your “happy meter” skyrockets.

2. Check the facts, don’t make assumptions. At one time or another, all of us have been guilty of making assumptions about someone or something. For example, we may have “assumed” that our boss was out to get us, our spouse was having an affair, our neighbor was a drug dealer or our teenager didn’t like us. By asking questions rather than making assumptions, we may learn that our boss’s decision to give us more work responsibility is because he is grooming us for a promotion. Our spouse is actually working late to earn extra money to surprise the family with a European vacation. Our neighbor works from home and because he met all of his sales goals he treated himself to a brand new BMW. Our teenager is actually being bullied at school and doesn’t know how to express their sadness and fear. By asking better questions and checking our facts, we can save ourselves and others a great deal of unhappiness and confusion.

3. Run your own race. Comparing ourselves to others only distracts us from reaching our full potential. Far too many of us base our success on the perceived success of others. The key word is “perceived”. I have known quite a few people who lived in gorgeous homes that were in foreclosure or who drove beautiful cars  that were on the verge of repossession. On the other hand, I know numerous people who live modestly, drive older model vehicles and enjoy 7 figure portfolios.YOU CAN’T JUDGE A BOOK BY IT’S COVER SO STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS AND RUN YOUR RACE!!!

4. Happiness is a CHOICE.  I am not going to be a Pollyanna and pretend that bad things don’t happen to good people or that life is all wine, roses and chocolate. Life can be very challenging. Choosing happiness means that we look for the blessing in every adverse situation we face. The blessing is there, our job is to find and embrace the lesson.

5. Listen to and learn to trust your inner voice. Our inner voice is a divine voice. When we listen to and trust our inner voice we are listening to and trusting our creator. We have all had those moments when we kicked ourselves for not trusting our gut. We knew something didn’t add up but we forged ahead anyway and lo and behold something was indeed wrong. We can save ourselves a great deal of unhappiness and regret by simply learning to trust our inner voice.

I hope these 5 suggestions will help you enjoy more happiness and less stress in your life and career.

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

Debunking The Myth of Work-Life Balance…John Page Burton

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I routinely hear clients express their frustration with their inability to find balance between their work life and their personal life. They tend to become equally frustrated when I explain that for most of us, achieving total balance in our personal and professional lives is a myth. In order to maximize our effectiveness in any area of life, we must be able to maintain focus and channel our energy into the task at hand. For example, when we are at work we must be focused on work. When we go to the gym we must be focused on our work out. When we are at home we must be present and focus on activities that involve our family. It’s impossible to be physically or mentally at two places at the same time. It’s also impossible to block out all of the distracting thoughts that roll through our mind in any given day. For example, if a family member is battling a disease we are going to carry this worry to our workplace. Likewise, if we are having significant challenges at work, we are going to bring them home with us. The key is to remain present and simply BE with the task or challenge at hand.

Below are a few suggestions to help keep us focused in life and business.

At work…

*Leave work at work. When we fail to turn off work we are effectively stealing from the emotional bank accounts of our family and friends. Our spouse, children and friends all deserve our undivided attention. For example, my wife and I will allocate 5-10 minutes at the end of the day to re-cap our work related experiences and then we shut off our work conversation and focus on BEING together.

*When at work it is important to focus on our 3-5 most important tasks. Don’t add anything else to the list until the last one is complete. This keeps us focused and free from creating long, meaningless “to do” lists.

*Stay out of office politics and refrain from participating in gossip. Gossip is like Cancer, if not cut off early, it continues to spread and grow and before long it infiltrates every area of our lives.

*Delegate. Delegation is freedom. When we routinely “do everything ourselves to ensure that it is done right” not only do we eventually burn out but we send a strong message to those in our charge that they are not capable. Delegation frees us up to focus on the tasks that truly need our attention. Focus on your strengths! Someone is strong where you are weak and vice versa.

*Use your vacation time. Every year, millions of Americans fail to use their paid vacation time. Vacation time should never be left on the table. If you are afraid that using your vacation time could put your job in jeopardy then it might be time to look for a new job. Vacation is good for the soul and allows us to recharge our mental and emotional batteries.

In our personal life…

*Date nights.  Regularly scheduled date nights are a great way to stay connected and keep the spark alive in our relationship or marriage. There is only one rule for a great date night…DON’T TALK ABOUT WORK! 

*Planned family activities. The family that plays together tends to stay together. Family activities effectively open lines of communication between parents and children which in turn builds trust. When enjoying family activities it is important  to disconnect from technology in order to focus on and truly enjoy the experience at hand. Growing and deepening our relationships with friends should also be high on our priority list.

*Nutrition. What we put into our body goes along way toward determining the quality of our life experience. Good fuel=energy and focus. Bad fuel=sluggishness and apathy.

*Exercise. Movement is good for the body and soul. For example, a brisk 30 minute walk can significantly boost our mental acuity and improve our mood due to the “natural high” that comes from the release of endorphins and serotonin. Become a mover and shaker!

*Become a life long learner. Not only is learning fun but studies have shown that as we get older the consistent use of our cognitive function may help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia.

By focusing on these suggestions we can’t help but become better partners, parents, employees and friends. In today’s fast paced, high tech world, finding balance between our work life and personal life is  “pie in the sky”. Our goal should be to focus on our present moment whether that involves work or play and let life unfold accordingly.

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