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.

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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.

The 5 Most Ridiculous Excuses Of All Time…John Page Burton

We live in a world where making excuses is commonplace, especially among the truly complacent. Excuses limit our possibilities and stunt our emotional growth. Many of us are unaware of just how many excuses we are capable of delivering in a single day. I challenge you to pick one day this week and consciously take inventory of how many times you find yourself making an excuse. If you’re like most of us, you may be surprised at how many times you find yourself making excuses and just how subtle some of them are. Excuses keep us stuck! If we truly desire to grow personally and professionally, we must quit making excuses.
I have compiled a list of what I believe are the 5 most ridiculous excuses of all time and why we need to move away from these limiting beliefs.
The 5 Most Ridiculous Excuses Of All Time….
IT’S TOO LATE…In reality it’s never too late to pursue our dreams. For example, countless senior citizens are going back to college and earning degrees, the average age of a first time millionaire is 56,  a 93 year old women recently completed her 1st Triathlon and the life expectancy for men and women worldwide has increased dramatically over the last 50 years. “It’s too late” is an avoidance strategy that is keeping far too many of us from taking risks and enjoying a rich, rewarding life. It’s only too late when we’re dead!
I DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT LOOKS…Madison Avenue has done a masterful job of portraying success  as bright lights, fast cars and hot bodies. In reality, looks often open doors, however, it’s our work ethic, ingenuity and persistence that will determine how far we go. If you happen to consider yourself aesthetically pleasing, thank your creator but don’t use looks as a barometer for success. Looks can be deceiving. 
I’M NOT AS GIFTED AS HE/SHE IS…We are all blessed with specific skills and talents. It is entirely up to us whether we CHOOSE to use them or not. I always encourage my clients to focus on their strengths opposed to their weakness. Our weakness is another person’s strength and vice versa. Identify and exploit your unique gifts.
I DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT CONNECTIONS…Making connections and building networks takes time, effort and a great deal of patience. Be mindful of the law of reciprocity which basically say’s…If you help enough people achieve what they’re seeking, those same people will help you achieve what you’re seeking. Givers gain.
I HAVE NEVER BEEN LUCKY…Luck has very little to do with success. Preparedness and timing play a far bigger role than luck. If we are relying on luck to determine whether we succeed or fail, we will be disappointed most of the time. Our job is to create a success plan and follow that plan. (A good coach can be very helpful) When we are focused, determined and willing to do whatever it takes to succeed, the right people and resources will appear. This is a function of being immersed in the success process rather than being lucky. Hard work trumps luck!
 
We all have doubts and fears! We become truly empowered when we trade in our excuses for meaningful ACTION. 
 
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5 Characteristics Of True Personal Power…John Page Burton

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If you are a student of personal growth you have more than likely heard the words “personal power”. I routinely refer to personal power when I facilitate seminars and I have written about it in both of my books. I am often asked by clients to define personal power and to explain how a person comes to possess TRUE personal power. I define personal power as “a person’s ability to consistently take meaningful action and by so doing set an example that others desire to emulate”. In short, personal power is a bi-product of consistent right action. It is a MINDSET.  

Let’s take a closer look at what I believe are 5 characteristics commonly found in people who possess TRUE personal power…

PATIENCE. They keep things in perspective. They embrace the process.  They allow things to evolve. They don’t fear failure. They are not reactive when dealing with people or situations.
OWNERSHIP. They take ownership (responsibility) for their choices, decisions and actions. They refrain from blame. They operate with a bottom line mentality.
WISDOM. They make informed decisions based on prior experience and results. They crave knowledge and possess a profound willingness to learn. They are teachable regardless of their experience or level of success.
EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE. They manage their emotions and seek to understand the emotions of others. They are empathetic. They make outstanding leaders because of their ability to connect with and relate to others. They make decisions based on information, not emotions.
RESPECT. They respect themselves and others. They treat ALL people with dignity and respect. They may disagree with you but they will refrain from making you”wrong”. They respect different points of view.
TRUE personal power evolves over time. It is not exclusive to a chosen few but rather to those who commit to mastering these 5 characteristics.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback.

Do You Treat Yourself & Others With Dignity Or Disdain?…John Page Burton

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What does it mean to treat a person with dignity? What does it mean to treat ourselves with dignity? For many, dignity comes naturally. These folks have a strong sense of self worth and take great pride in their ability to honor themselves and those around them. For others it is quite the opposite. They have an uncomfortable relationship with themselves and routinely treat people in a disrespectful manner. All of us have known people who made fun of or were disrespectful toward disabled people, the homeless or people from different religious, economic and ethnic backgrounds. How we feel about ourselves tends to be a direct reflection of how we view the world. I have often said if you truly desire to experience a person’s true character, observe how they treat the poor, homeless, disabled or uneducated members of our society. Our character tends to shine the brightest when we believe nobody of importance is watching us.

Let’s take closer look at the word DIGNITY. Being a person of dignity means that we are emotionally grounded and are mindful of how our words and actions effect others. It is important to remember that NONE OF US CHOSE THE CIRCUMSTANCES WE WERE BORN INTO. 
DIVERSITY. Our world is made up of people from an array of backgrounds and cultures. Our ability to relate to people from different walks of life speaks to our level of our emotional intelligence. Are we open to learning and growing or are we closed and judgmental? Do we judge people at face value or do we take the time to get to know them? What messages are we conveying to our children? Dignity (or lack of) is learned.
IDEOLOGY. All of us hold long standing beliefs. Our current belief system is based on our life experiences. Treating people with dignity means that we are honoring their belief system. We may not agree with their point of view, however, we don’t make them wrong for their beliefs. For example, if a person grew up in a house were violence was a normal means of communication, they likely developed a different relationship (belief system) with the world around them than a person who grew up in a home where they were encouraged to engage in respectful, non violent communication. Seek to understand where the person is coming from. This is a much more dignified, enlightened approach than simply basing our opinion on assumptions.
GRATITUDE. But for the grace of God, I was not born disabled, poor, homeless or unable to obtain a higher education. Because someone was born under a different set of circumstances does not make them any less of a human being. Our ability to be grateful for all of our experiences allows us to be more compassionate toward others. Dignity is grounded in gratitude.
NOBILITY. The dictionary definition of nobility includes the words goodness, decency, honor, integrity, generosity and humility. Need I say more?
IMPERFECTION. No matter how successful we have become or how many material possessions we have collected, we all have imperfections. When we routinely judge others for their perceived “imperfections” we are playing a role in which there is only one CEO. (Chief Enlightenment Officer, who also goes by GOD) Our challenge is to show gratitude for our blessings and show grace to those who are having a more challenging time on the journey. Remember, “when we point a finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at us”.
TOLERANCE. In layman’s terms, tolerance is our ability and willingness to tolerate the opinions, behaviors and “perceived flaws” of others. We can do this even though we may not agree with them. The Ego is always up for a good challenge and for many, this proves to be the ultimate challenge.  Letting go of our need to control is an important first step in this process. Listening is the most important skill we can develop. When we really listen to others we can begin to understand their point of view. Again, even if we don’t agree with them we have treated them with dignity.
YOU. I can control my emotions and behaviors and so can YOU. It’s entirely up to YOU to choose whether YOU treat yourself and others with dignity or disdain. Our primary responsibility is to become growth oriented, compassionate people. We can’t do this until we have gained emotional mastery. In other words, we must take our eye off of the outside world and look inward. Those who hold a high regard for dignity know that to see the beauty in others they must first see the beauty that has always resided inside of them.
Here’s to DIGNITY!

5 Rules For Living A Truly Rewarding Life…John Page Burton

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“Rule # 1 is life is hard and it’s unfair”! Growing up I lived next door to a cranky old man who shared “rule # 1” with me every time I mowed his lawn or shoveled his driveway. I routinely smiled and agreed with him out of fear that if I didn’t acknowledge his negativity he might withhold payment for my services. It has been estimated that 65% of our belief system is formed by the time we are eight years old. This “Doubting Thomas” could have left a negative imprint on my 10 year old psyche but I didn’t allow it! Even at a young age I held a belief that achieving anything of value would require hard work and a little bit of luck . All I had to do was look at my lawn mowing, snow removal and lemonade stand business’s to validate this belief.
All of us are governed by internal rules. Most of us established these rules at a young age. It is not uncommon to carry these rules into adulthood. For example, if we were betrayed by a parent(s) at an early age we may have adopted an internal rule that people can’t be trusted. Consequently, we go through life testing everyone’s allegiance. As children, some of us were caught in the wake of divorce. Because of this experience, many felt abandoned and established an internal rule that has kept them from getting “too close to others”  because after all, “they will end up leaving anyway”. The fear of abandonment has caused many of us to habitually test people’s loyalty and we may even adopt a philosophy of “I’ll leave you before you leave me”. These types of rigid internal rules have caused many of us to consistently “blow up” friendships as well as our most intimate of relationships. These types of internal rules not only stunt our personal and emotional growth but also leave us feeling lonely, sad and confused. But let’s not stay in such a negative mind space, instead let’s look at 5 rules that will allow us to live a truly rewarding life!
Rule # 1. Life is an adventure! Live it with passion and purpose! The key is to determine what we desire to achieve and then pursue it with laser focus. Living our lives to please others or taking an easy, comfortable route through life is surviving not thriving. We are never to old to begin a new chapter, sadly far too many closed the book in the prime of their life. CONTINUE TO DREAM BIG AND GO AFTER IT!
Rule # 2. Let go of EXPECTATIONS.  Our goal is to release our death grip on expectations. When we “expect” things to go exactly as we want them to we usually end up disappointed. I have a friend who has made a very long list of “exactly” what she is looking for in a man. Her list is so extensive and demanding that if Jesus Christ asked her out on a date he would end up getting the boot! The reality is that she desires to stay in her comfort zone and will find something wrong with every man she meets and will easily justify it by referring back to her ridiculous list of expectations.
Rule # 3. Trust your inner voice. In my experience, my inner voice is right 90% of the time. When we learn to trust our inner voice and make our decisions accordingly we have fewer regrets. I personally believe that our inner voice is the voice of our creator and I have become conditioned to rely on it. Every time we follow our inner voice and the outcome is positive (90% of the time) we have created a strong reference point for future decision making. When we are facing a tough decision, it is always a good idea to go somewhere quiet and simply listen. The answer can usually be found in our quiet moments.
Rule # 4. The past is a reference point, not a permanent resting place. As a life coach I experience the past on a daily basis. The vast majority of client discomfort involves their attachment to events from the past. It took me years to realize that there wasn’t a thing I could do to change the past. What I could do was change my relationship to it. I could use it as a reference point to help me make better decisions in the present moment. Re-living the past dampens our relationships and the overall experience of the present moment. If you are still enslaved to the past it may be time to seek outside help to determine what pleasure you are deriving from your tired old story.
Rule # 5. Show yourself some GRACE!  We learn through a process commonly referred to as trial and error. In my book, Wisdom Through Failure (2014) I provide countless examples of why failure plays such an important role in the development of our emotional intelligence. Many of us are relentless in our attacks on ourselves. “How could I have been so stupid”, “I should have used better judgement”, “I’m so fat”, “I look stupid in this dress”, “I can’t believe I fell for that guy”, the list of negative self talk is long. The key is to catch ourselves in “mid beat down” and re-phrase our speech. “I will certainly be wiser next time”, “I will keep a closer eye on my food plan”, “I will continue to live with an open heart”, “I look pretty darn good for a man in my mid fifties”. Many of us have become our own worst critic and it’s time to become our own best friend.
If your currently living life by these simple rules….GOOD FOR YOU! If you find yourself living a life that is far from what you know you are capable of, I would encourage you to begin incorporating these rules into your daily routine.  We all deserve to live a rich, rewarding life!
As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

5 Tips For Engaging In Respectful Communication…John Page Burton

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Our words have the power to hurt or heal. The words we speak can leave a lasting impression on the the people we connect with. The First Amendment affords every American a right to engage in free speech. Our democracy is one of the only countries in the world where citizens are given the unfettered freedom to agree to disagree and disagree we do! The Ego is a primary driving force behind our thoughts, words and actions. In my role of coach and inspirational writer/speaker I have enjoyed the privilege of interacting with thousands of amazing people. I have come to believe the way we verbally communicate with others is a direct reflection of how we feel inside. People who communicate in a biting, sarcastic, tone of voice are usually angry, bitter and resentful. People who communicate in a kind, caring, compassionate, tone of voice are usually grounded in self love. People who communicate in a forceful, demanding, dismissive, tone of voice are usually insecure and fearful of being out of control. Effective, quality, communication is a “two way street”. In other words, quality communication requires us to be receptive to differing points of view. It doesn’t mean that we will always agree but it does ensure that the other person’s thoughts and belief’s will be honored in a respectful manner.
 
5 tips to help us become more respectful communicators….

*Don’t strive to make the other person wrong. The first rule of respectful communication is to avoid accusatory language. When we set out to criticize or make another person wrong, we erect a wall that prevents meaningful communication. By listening to a different point of view we invariably learn something new.

*Listen carefully, avoid making assumptions. There is a reason God gave us two ears and one mouth. God wanted us to listen twice as much as we talk. When we really listen, we have a chance to hear what the other person is actually saying. When we half listen, our understanding is based primarily on assumptions. Listening is an art, one that takes a great deal of practice to master. Throughout history, the great communicators have been excellent listeners.

*Let go of the need to control the dialogue. Every productive conversation should feature different points of view. By being respectful of this fact, we can strive to actively seek balanced conversations. In most cases, the person who tries to dominate the conversation actually repels the conversation. Remember, forcing our position, weakens our position.

*Ask questions to gain clarity.
As a personal development writer, I am often approached by family or friends regarding articles I have written. Often, they believe my article is directed toward them. First, if the shoe fits wear it, second, I write about the human condition and draw my material from an array of life encounters and experiences. I often weave examples from the past with experiences in the present. I do this to paint a picture for my readers. Rather than assume things, we are always better served to ask questions in order to gain clarity.

*Seek to understand the other person’s perspective. As the late author, Stephen Covey wrote in his international bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “seek to understand, then to be understood”. When we strive to understand why someone feels a certain way or holds a specific belief, we open a door to respectful, effective communication.  Recently I asked a client why he felt the need to hold such a tight rein on his teenage daughter. As an outsider looking in, it seemed like he was obsessed with keeping her from participating in what I would deem “normal childhood experiences”. “When I was 16 years old, my 12 year old sister was abducted and raped by a neighbor. I vowed that I would never let that happen to my children. Maybe I have taken it to the extreme but I just want to keep her safe”. Because I sought to understand his reasoning, I had a much better understanding of where he was coming from and how he viewed the world around him. Seek to understand!

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