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.
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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 Things We Can Learn From ANGRY People…John Page Burton

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Is it just me or does it seem like there are a lot of angry people buzzing around our planet? Most angry people are two faced. They exhibit a public face and a private face. For example, the other day a man driving a high end vehicle, dressed in a suit and tie swerved his car and nearly ran me off the road. When I pulled up next to him at the stoplight and gave him a puzzled look, he promptly reached down under his seat and with a smirk on his face, brandished a hand gun! I certainly don’t care to do business with him! My social media streams feature countless posts “attacking” religious choice, sexual preferences, race, political affiliation or anything else that is determined different from the posters belief system. One of my clients recently asked me “why so many people seem so angry”? It’s a reasonable question. Many are quick to blame their anger on the economy, world problems, political agenda’s and even technology. I routinely interact with people who “ooze pissed off”. When I ask them why they are so angry it’s not uncommon for them to snap back… “I’m not angry”. Be honest, all of us get angry from time to time, it’s human nature.  As a coach, I routinely see the effects of unresolved anger. Divorce, illness, job loss and family challenges are some of the unfortunate consequences of unresolved anger. I have identified 5 characteristics commonly found in angry people. Also, here are five things I have learned on my own journey as a “recovering angry person”…

Acceptance. Because they have never completely accepted themselves, angry people struggle to accept others. Most of the angry people I have known share the common characteristic of being fearful people. Angry people have an above average fear of failure and are prone to anger when they find themselves roaming outside of their comfort zone. Angry people are quick to judge others because it is easier than facing their own fear.  I have learned to face my fears when they come up and to give myself some grace when things don’t happen EXACTLY the way I want them to. I remind myself that life tends to happen when we are making other plans.
Neurotic. Angry people tend to be compulsive worriers.  “95% of what we worry about never happens and the other 5% never looks as bad as we envisioned”. This quote is a reminder to focus on what we can control rather than on what may or may not happen at a future point in time. I have learned to stay in the present moment as much as humanly possible. I problem solve from my past, I create in the present.
Grudges. Angry people tend to hold grudges. My mother had a falling out with her two brothers over the disbursement of my grandmothers estate. Tragically, my mother passed away having not spoken to her brothers for over thirty years. Grudges rob us of our joy and over time, holding grudges may bring about physical or emotional health challenges. I have learned to speak my truth and move on. I remind myself that resentment only robs me of the energy I need to move toward a compelling future.
Reactive. Angry people tend to be reactive people. This is where the saying “they really have a chip on their shoulder” comes into play. Last evening I ran into a person who unbeknownst to me has been holding a long standing grudge toward me for not continuing to donate money to the charitable organization they represent. When I explained that I had decided to donate elsewhere because I had not received a thank you note or receipt for my previous donations they bristled and began to make it personal. “You misspelled my name when you signed my book” was one of the many “digs” this person leveled at me in an attempt to dodge any role they may have played in my decision to donate elsewhere.  In short, reactive people usually hear what they want to hear. Rather than be proactive and seek to understand they tend to pounce! As a “recovering reactive person”, I have learned to count to ten before offering my thoughts. “Seek to understand, then to be understood”. (Covey)
Yesterday. Angry people spend a great deal of time living in the past. They robotically recount the details of past hurts and disappointments and carry much of this anger into their present reality. Someone who disagrees with or upsets them may suddenly take on the identity of an unfavorable person from their past. A current spouse begins to remind them of an abusive parent, a new love interest does something that reminds them of a former spouse, an innocent mistake by a long time friend instantly becomes a betrayal of epic proportion or an admonishment from an employer becomes the voice of a demanding, perfectionist parent. I have learned that dwelling on the past only distracts me from the present. I get to CHOOSE what I focus on and I CHOOSE to focus on NOW!
We all get angry, it’s actually good for us to let off a little steam from time to time. If we find ourselves becoming an angry, ticking time bomb, it’s time for a check up from the neck up! A good coach or therapist can help us clear the clutter and allow us to live the joyful life we deserve.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback. Cheers!

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.
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The Benefit of Checking Into REHAB…John Page Burton

If you’re the type of person who sets big goals and desires to play an above average game of life you’re more than likely aware of the benefits gained from a trip to rehab. I recommend checking in quarterly. I like to refer to rehab as my “check up from the neck up”. Similar to residential real estate, my rehab process reflects a period of restoration. I keep what is working and remove or modify what is not. My trip to rehab is designed to move me closer to my stated objectives both personally and professionally. Let’s check into rehab…

REHAB…What really happens behind closed doors?

Review. Our first step is to take an in depth look at what has and hasn’t worked during the previous quarter. Did we reach the goals we set? If not, why? In order to reach our objectives we must have a strategic plan in place along with a reliable system to measure our progress. We must be willing to make course corrections when necessary. Conducting a comprehensive review enables us to analyze our past performance and then chart a new course for the upcoming quarter, a course that is based heavily on our past success. Heed the adage…”if it ain’t broken, don’t try and fix it”.

Edit. What needs to be changed, modified or re-designed? If something isn’t working it’s often time to make a directional shift. Having edited the previous quarter we can now establish new objectives and create a detailed strategy for accomplishing our goals.

Habits. What habits are keeping us from reaching our stated objectives?. What new habits can we establish that will support our vision? For example, we may find that we have created the habit of avoidance in a specific area of our business. This habit may be what is keeping us from reaching our full potential. Armed with this awareness we can begin establishing new habits, habits that will move us closer to our stated objective and away from our avoidance strategies.

Action. What actions do we need to take in order to meet our objectives? Action leads to results. Massive action leads to massive results. I refer to this as the law of action. When we hit the proverbial wall or find ourselves experiencing doubt or fear the ONLY way we will experience a BREAKTHROUGH is by engaging in massive action. Action is the great equalizer.

Brainstorm. What new, innovative ideas will we incorporate into our next 90 day burst of focused activity? What resources (material and human) can we enroll into our action plan? Who can we add to our mastermind group that will bring additional insight to our mission? (If you don’t have a mastermind group it is a good idea to start one) Brainstorming is inspiring and can be extremely beneficial as we grow our business. Remember, the quality of our life experience is a direct reflection of the questions we ask.

I gain tremendous value from my trips to rehab and my hope is that you will find your experience fruitful as well.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

FATE or CHOICES? You Must Decide…John Page Burton

FATE is a word that many of us use to describe events that we believe are out of our control. Many of us describe FATE with words like destiny or divine purpose. For example, some believe that FATE is why Will Smith is one of the highest paid actors in the world and why Will Smith is also currently serving a 10 year sentence in a state correctional facility. Has Will Smith’s life been shaped by FATE or by his CHOICES? I recently spent time with a person who is having significant health challenges. This person is at least 80 lbs over their ideal body weight and they seem to have little interest in diet or exercise. During our conversation they stated that it was simply “their FATE” to experience health problems. I couldn’t help but believe their health challenges were caused more by their CHOICES than by FATE and that they were using the concept of “FATE” as an avoidance strategy. So why does one person named Will Smith end up becoming a box office sensation while another Will Smith ends up serving a 10 year sentence for armed robbery? Was it FATE or was it the bi-product of their CHOICES?

I am a true believer in the “laws of attraction” and I have experienced the awesome power of manifestation on many occasions. In other words, what I have focused on has eventually become my reality. I also believe in the law of motion which says that we must keep moving toward where we desire to be. Our actions must be congruent with our intentions. In order for Will Smith to have become the box office sensation he is today, he first had to practice, master his craft, believe in his talents, move to California, go to countless auditions and finally accept the role of the Fresh Prince on the hit show, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Will Smith made specific choices that delivered him a life of fame and fortune. The other Will Smith made a series of choices that delivered him a much different lifestyle.

Everyday we are presented with choices. Every choice comes with a potential consequence. If I choose to drink and drive there is a distinct possibility that I may cause harm to myself or others. If I smoke a pack of cigarettes every day, there is a reasonable possibility that I will have significant respiratory challenges later in life. If I eat a high fat diet there is a possibility I will develop heart disease. If I engage in an extra marital affair there is a possibility that my marriage may end. There is also a possibility that none of these choices will produce any adverse effects whatsoever, which brings us back to Fate.

FATE or CHOICES? You decide.

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

Are You An “ANGRY FORGIVER” Suffering From “RESENTMENT FLU”…John Page Burton

If you have spent any time in or around the personal development arena you have probably heard the term “angry giver”. This term is used to describe the type of person who readily gives their time, treasure and talent to everyone around them but rarely does anything to nurture themselves. They smile as they busily meet the needs of everyone else and “proudly” state that “they are the only one who can be trusted to perform the task at hand”. Their pasted on smiles and tired sighs are feeble attempts to mask the anger they feel inside. They are ANGRY because they know they are allowing their own fear and insecurity to keep them from honoring their desires and dreams. I have also come to believe that many “angry givers” are also “angry forgivers”….Let me explain.

WHEN WORDS of FORGIVENESS JUST DON’T CUT IT…

In my coaching practice I work with numerous clients who have experienced a significant degree of emotional and in some cases extreme physical pain. Most attribute the root cause of their pain to parents, siblings, spouses, teachers, relatives or someone else entrusted to protect them from harm that failed to do so. At some point, most of my clients have been encouraged to first forgive themselves and then forgive their “betrayers”. They have been led to believe that they will not be able to begin their healing process until they speak WORDS of forgiveness. As someone who has experienced a reasonable amount of life pain, I contend that simply speaking WORDS of forgiveness will not create inner peace. We must give ourselves permission to confront and release our ANGER! I did not begin healing the wounds from my past until I OWNED and processed my true feelings. Over the years, I have met and continue to meet people who much like myself were “ANGRY FORGIVERS”. We spoke our words of forgiveness when we were around our church brethren, spiritual teachers and guidance counselors but on the inside we remained angry and resentful. Many of us even publicly declared that we had forgiven ourselves and our “betrayers” yet routinely drank or drugged to numb our pain and anger. Anger has the potential to infect every area of our lives and therefore we must quit deceiving ourselves and confront our “TIRED STORY.

THE “TIRED STORY”…

The majority of our pain and suffering is based on a “tired story” that we continue to tell ourselves. Each time we tell our story it gains more traction. Our story is based solely on OUR perspective and more than likely it took place many years ago. Many of the “main characters” from our story are old or dead yet we still hold them responsible and BLAME them for everything we deem “wrong” in our current reality. Everyone around us suffers as a consequence of our “tired story”. Remember, when we cast BLAME we effectively shut out the perspective of anyone else. As adults we often blame our parents for the many ways “they wronged us” during childhood. For years, I blamed my father for my “unhappy” childhood. Finally, toward the end of my fathers life we had an open, honest conversation. My father shared HIS perspective on the events of my “unhappy” childhood and as a result of our conversation I effectively laid my “tired story” to rest. ***We also tend to cast blame on those who are not present to defend themselves. After all, if they were present our blame might not hold up to scrutiny.

ORIGINS of ANGER…

We have ALL had experiences we would just as soon forget. Let’s take a trip down memory lane. Many of us were effected by the physically or verbally abusive parent, the cheating spouse, the perverted teacher or the drama that unfolded with an alcoholic parent or spouse. All of these scenarios can make a profound impact on our psyche. These experiences also leave us feeling hurt and angry. We may have become obsessed with revenge, become sick with resentment flu or even taken aggressive steps toward hurting the other person. When we experience these emotions we are not in forgiveness mode but rather revenge mode…we want our “betrayer” to pay for hurting us! When we harbor anger and resentment yet proclaim forgiveness we are doing significant emotional harm to ourselves. We are in reality, “ANGRY FORGIVERS”!!!

3 STRATEGIES TO HELP US LET GO of OUR ANGER & TRULY FORGIVE…

1. Re-direct the blame. Recently, Tony Robbins shared something that really hit home.
He proposed that rather than continuing to go through life blaming our “betrayers” for what they did “to us” we would be wise to begin blaming them for what they did “FOR us”. For example, because of a horrific predatory experience at the hands of her father, one of my clients now blames her father for teaching her to be more protective and aware around her own children. Rather than blame her mother for leaving her alone for several days at a time, another client now blames her mother for teaching her to be a self sufficient women. Rather than blaming her overweight father for dying when she was eight years old, another client now blames her father for leading her to the healthy lifestyle she now maintains for herself and her children. Tony refers to this as CONSCIOUS BLAMING. Conscious blaming allows us the FREEDOM to make peace with our past challenges rather than dwell in our “TIRED STORY”.

2. Shift Your Perspective. Remember, our anger originated from a past experience. I would contend that in the present moment most of us are quite content. The fastest way to shift out of anger and resentment is to view it from a different perspective. Let’s say for example that during childhood I resented my brother Bob for getting most of my mom and dads attention. I was angry toward my parents for favoring him. Last week I got angry with my mom and finally told her how I felt. My mother explained…”I’m so sorry you felt that way and have been angry with us for so many years. We didn’t know it at the time but your brother Bob had what is now known as Attention Deficit Disorder. It was all we could do to keep up with him. I’m sorry if you felt that you were not important to us, it was just so overwhelming”.
This conversation would more than likely shift our perspective allowing our anger to subside. I encourage my clients to first seek to understand before demanding to be understood.

3. GET PISSED! Tell them how you really feel! The longer we hold things in the more damage we do to our physical and emotional health. With this being said, there are ways to release our anger without creating more psychic drama. I encourage my clients to write “the letter they never send”. In this letter, directed to the object of their anger, I encourage them to put it all on the table, word for word… really let them have it!!! I encourage them to read it out loud (preferably in front of a mirror) emphasizing their anger. When they are done, I ask them to rip up the letter and flush it down the toilet. They have effectively said what needed to be said and have flushed the drama out of their life. In another exercise I will ask a client to sit in a chair that is directly across from an empty chair. I encourage my client to visualize that the object of their anger is sitting directly across from them. I encourage the client to hold nothing back, telling them exactly how they feel about the betrayal. This usually proves to be a very emotional exercise but the result has a very cleansing effect. These are just two of many methods that can help us release our anger and truly move us toward GENUINE forgiveness.

It is important to keep in mind that every person who shows up in our lives has been placed there to play the exact role we need them to play at the time. The only way we can maintain a depressed state is if we continue to focus solely on OURSELVES. Change your focus…change your life!

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