5 Childhood Messages That Keep Many Of Us Stuck…John Page Burton

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Within the personal growth industry there is a widely held belief that 65% of our belief system is formed by the time we are 8 years old and by age 18 over 90% of our belief system has been firmly established. Do we believe the world is a scary, unjust place or do we believe it’s a safe place with unlimited opportunity? Are we bold or fearful? Do we ask questions or do we simply accept things at face value? Do we live with passion or are we complacent? Are we willing to take risks or do we prefer to stay in our comfort zone? Are we tolerant or intolerant of people who hold different beliefs than we do? The answers to these questions tend to be a direct reflection of the messages we received during our formative years. Having interacted with thousands of people in my capacity as a life and business coach, I have been able to identify 5 childhood messages that have kept many of my clients from achieving the results they truly desired. On a personal note, I spent years “re-wiring” my own belief system, much of which was a direct result of the messages I received throughout childhood. Below are 5 childhood messages that are keeping many of us stuck.
THE MESSAGES…
*Shut Up, unless you have something important to say! Many of us have still not figured out what constitutes important? We remain silent even when we know that something doesn’t feel right. We “keep our mouths shut” in abusive relationships, unfair work environments and in our dealings with friends and family. Over time, “going along to get along” has become our way of being. Our challenge is to begin using our voice in a respectful manner whenever we have something to say or add to a conversation. Each time we verbalize what is on our mind we are building muscles of courage and most importantly we are honoring ourselves.  This is an important first step toward self empowerment.
*Quit being so selfish! In my book, Wisdom Through Failure, I refer to a character named Helpful Harry. Harry has spent most of his life doing everything for everyone and very little for himself. Harry is a people pleaser. Harry is also an ANGRY GIVER! Whenever Harry does something for himself he immediately feels guilty and begins rationalizing his behavior. Harry will buy a beautiful new tie and then return it to the store an hour later because he feels guilty for spending money that “should be going to something else”. Harry’s challenge is  to become self centered. When we are self centered we are choosing to nurture ourselves and we are focused on doing what is in our best interests. This does not mean that we have to quit being generous, it means that we prioritize our needs. We can start out by doing something nice for ourselves once a week and build from there. Being self centered is not selfish.
*Why can’t you be more like your sibling? The message most of us received was that we were not good enough. Many of us are still comparing our success to the perceived success of others. For example, when I self published my first book, Wisdom Through Failure, I found myself comparing my book to every other author in the personal development arena. Once published, I obsessively tore through my book looking for every error, criticized myself endlessly and drove my wife Diana crazy with my never ending revisions. I was blind to my own content because I was comparing my work to that of Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins and Jack Canfield. When I stopped comparing myself to these “heavy weights” and focused on creating the best version of my book an interesting thing happened…my book gained traction and has become very well received by a worldwide audience. Our challenge is to run our own, unique, race! Comparing ourselves to others is a flawed practice because we really don’t know what has taken or is taking place on the other person’s journey.
*Quit acting so stupid! The message many of us internalized was that we were not smart. Far too many have become chronic underachievers due mainly to a fear of doing or saying something that could be perceived as foolish. In my practice, I routinely work with clients who are able to breakthrough this limiting behavior by creating a new story and hence a new reality around the intelligent, innovative people they actually are. Our challenge is to replace a past lie with a new truth.  A good coach can help you achieve this breakthrough by effectively guiding you to your new truth.
*Quit being so emotional! As a coach, I interact with clients who are very comfortable showing their emotions and others who will fight tooth and nail to keep them in lock down. Many men, including myself, have been admonished since childhood that showing our emotions is a sign of weakness. “Real men don’t cry”, “don’t be such a wimp”, “toughen up” and “quit acting like a girl” were all phrases I heard  growing up. On the other hand, it is socially acceptable for women to show their emotions, in fact it is expected. Recently, I was involved in an intervention designed to remove a wife and three small children from an abusive home. The husband, a former college football star and successful business owner had been arrested for a significant act of domestic violence. Everyone who knew the couple seemed shocked and most characterized them as such a “happy couple”. What they didn’t know was that the husband had developed a significant drinking problem shortly after his brothers death, had become very distant, refused to talk with his wife about his mood changes and finally one night when she pressed him to talk to her he broke her jaw, 2 ribs and dislocated her shoulder. In a subsequent conversation she admitted that she had never seen him cry or discuss his feelings as it pertained to his brothers death or any other challenge in his life. This is a tragic example of what can happen when a person doesn’t release their emotions in real time. Being an emotionally healthy adult involves being able to release our emotions in healthy ways. Our challenge is to give ourselves permission to share our feelings rather than hold them in to a point of combustion. A good coach or therapist can help us design a healthy strategy for managing our emotions.
In reality, most of us also received some very empowering messages designed to encourage and inspire us to become the best version of ourselves. I welcome you to take a look at any areas in your life where you feel stuck. Are any of these childhood messages contributing factors to your frustration? If so, it may be time to take the proactive first step toward creating a brand new story to tell yourself.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback! #myindustry
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5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Engage In Gossip… John Page Burton

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The truth be known, every now and then most of us enjoy a juicy piece of gossip. These morsels of misery let us know that we are not the only one facing life’s challenges. Misery enjoys company and boy oh boy do those poor Kardashian’s have it rough! Unfortunately, some of us are addicted to gossip. For example, on cool summer evenings my wife and I like to sit outside on our porch, turn on our fire table and enjoy a glass of wine. Sadly, we have a neighbor who loves to gossip. Whenever my wife and I see her walking her dog down the street we instinctively head inside. Sometimes she is able to “sneak up on us” and our conversation with her ALWAYS goes something like this….How are you tonight Babs (fake name)? “Oh heavens I just can’t believe what’s going on with our HOA board and did you hear about so and so and rumor has it that such and such is going on down the street”! She will ramble on and on and then seem quite put out when we come up with some “lame excuse” why we must head back inside. In the three years that we have been exposed to her, she has never once asked my wife or I a single question about our lives or interests but she readily “spews” details about the majority of our neighbors. Some of it is actually quite nasty! Surely, she must have some “dirt” on us that she readily shares with others as she makes her nightly rounds. “You know those Burton’s are (fill in the blank)”. The gleam in her eyes is a dead giveaway to the personal fulfillment that being the “purveyor of secrets” seemingly affords her.

Recently, after a one sided conversation with my neighbor, I began contemplating why some people are just naturally attracted to gossip while others (like myself) are absolutely repelled by it? What motivates someone to become a “serial gossiper”? Lets take a look at some of the possible reasons.

GOSSIP…

Generational. For many, gossip is a learned behavior. Many of us heard our parents, relatives and friends gossip and so in order to fit in we may have actively joined the conversation. Anything we engage in long enough becomes a habit.

Opiate. Similar to most drugs, gossip tends to give us a false sense of contentment. The gossiper gets a “rush” from sharing “secrets” and when their audience nods their heads in approval or offers up an acknowledgement like “REALLY, I didn’t know that”, the gossiper is off and running in an unfiltered continuation of whatever half truths they are sharing.

Significance. Gossipers are fueled by an insatiable need to feel important and be viewed as people “in the know”. When they perceive to have an audience they tend to become even more audacious and their filter is turned all the way to the OFF position.

Societal. Gossip is a societal obsession. The tabloids (National Enquirer) sensationalize and outright lie about everything under the sun yet people clear the news stands with millions of sales each week. Tabloid television (Entertainment Tonight) and reality shows (Housewives of Mozambique) enjoy extremely high ratings because millions of people prefer being anywhere other than in their own reality. Sadly, millions of people rely on gossip as their sole source of information.

Ignorance. Gossip is a by product of ignorance. True intellectuals talk about ideas and solutions, small minds talk about people and problems. I have always been able to get an accurate read on someone by carefully listening to what they talk about!

Power. Gossipers derive a false sense of “power” from  “sharing details about someone else”. There is no genuine “power” in “spewing” personal information and falsity about others. The gossiper is viewed by non gossipers as vicious and untrustworthy. They carry ZERO credibility!

5 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU ENGAGE IN GOSSIP….

1. Would I still share this gossip if the person in question was standing next to me?

2. Is what I’m saying about the other person designed to build them up or discredit them?

3. What void in my life am I trying to fill by routinely gossiping about others?

4. How do I feel when I find out that someone has shared an untruth behind MY back? (Gossipers usually employ a double standard)

5. Who would I become If I made the conscious decision to let go of my need to share gossip?

Nothing positive comes from gossip. Reputations can be ruined, employment opportunities may be tarnished and personal relationships can be damaged or destroyed. Before you engage in any type of gossip I encourage you to ask yourself these 5 questions. I believe that it will help you to make a better, more empowered decision.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts.

Are you a SPEWER or a DOER?…John Page Burton

There are those who DO and those who SPEW. More commonly stated…those who “walk the walk” and those who “talk the talk”.

Webster says…

do: transitive verb. To bring to pass, carry out, perform, execute.

spew: verb. Spout, gush, spurt, discharge, emit, eject, vomit, flowing in a fast and forceful way.

All of us know people who are “doers” and we probably know some who are “spewers”. The majority of successful people I meet tend to exhibit a high level of self confidence. Their speech and physiology reflect this self confidence. Doers never apologize for their success. On the other hand, spewers go to great lengths to “talk around” their lack of results. “The timing just isn’t right” or “I need to talk this over with a couple hundred people before I can commit” or “I need to wait until I have enough money to get started” are examples of what you can expect to hear from a spewer. Regardless of timing, funds or consensus, doers take the ball and run! “Spewers” know a bit of lingo here and there but routinely disappear whenever they are challenged to step outside their comfort zone to take meaningful action or personal responsibility. Lets take a closer look at some of the key characteristics of DOERS  & SPEWERS.

DOERS….

Focus. Doers set meaningful objectives and get to work. They remain focused in the face of adversity. When problems arise they channel their energy toward finding solutions. They do not get distracted by bright, shiny, objects.

Love Challenges. Doers love challenges and thrive on being told that something can’t be done, especially if the challenge is being directed at their ability.

Prioritize Health. Doers rely on energy and realize that health is their greatest asset. They exercise and pay close attention to what goes into their body.

Bottom Line Mentality. Doers take full responsibility for ALL of their actions and decisions. Doers want the ball when the game is on the line and their followers want to get it to them!

SPEWERS…

Talkers. Due mainly to their profound sense of insecurity, spewers “talk the talk” but rarely back it up with any type of meaningful action. They will be among the first to let you know when you are “doing something wrong” but rarely can they provide a solution for doing it better..

Prone To Blame. Spewers are masters of the blame game. They habitually blame other people or circumstances for their lack of initiative and results.

Bullies. Spewers routinely force their thoughts and beliefs onto other people. If you disagree with a spewer or present them with a differing point of view they may try to overwhelm you with BS and if that doesn’t work they may revert to anger.

Quit Easily & Often. When the going gets tough, spewers tend to exit stage left. Quitting is a habit. They quit, rationalize it and move on to the next “great thing”. They rarely give anything a chance to germinate. They possess an instant gratification mindset.

FROM SPEWER TO DOER IN 3 STEPS…

1. Facing our fears! When we take ownership of our fear we no longer have to make excuses or blame people and circumstances (spew) for why we can’t do something. Once we acknowledge our fear we can then move to the next step….

2. Commit to taking MASSIVE ACTION. The most effective way to overcome our fear is by overwhelming it with MASSIVE ACTION! When we remain in action mode we don’t have time to focus on fear. Once we have committed to taking MASSIVE ACTION the only thing we have to remember is….

3. Don’t quit. No matter how hard things are, how loud the voices in our head become or how many “your a loser” programs we begin running, it’s imperative to press on.

If you made it to the end of this message my guess is that your a doer. Remember, solidifying a new habit takes 90 days of focused activity. If you find yourself struggling in an area of your life an effective life or business coach can help you successfully execute these 3 steps. Here’s to doing!!!

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Do You Suffer From GIGS? John Page Burton

I love getting older! I never thought I would say this, but it’s true. One of the benefits of getting older is that we tend to view everything from a more mature perspective. “We have been there and done that” which allows us to react to life events in a calmer manner. I have adopted the mantra, “this to shall pass” and I know that getting worked up will only rob me of the energy I need to ride out a storm.

The majority of my coaching clients hire me because they feel “stuck” in a specific area of their life. Over the years, I have been able to identify certain patterns of behavior that keep the majority of us from experiencing a much deeper quality of life.  Most of the time I am able to identify the cause of my clients discomfort as being what I refer to as GIGS. (Grass Is Greener Syndrome) More than likely a person will not die as a direct result of GIGS, but if left untreated it can cause a person a significant amount of anxiety and discomfort. During my initial client consultation, it is relatively easy to spot the warning signs of GIGS. I have taken the liberty to compile a list of the most common traits found in a person who suffers from GIGS. These traits have proven to be very reliable for the the early detection and subsequent treatment of GIGS. Here is the list of traits common to a person who suffers from GIGS.

*Impatience. Things are not happening fast enough for them.

*They are intolerant of others.

*They have an insatiable need for instant gratification.

*They crave constant recognition. They must be acknowledged for everything they do or they feel undervalued.

*They have extremely rigid expectations. Everything and everyone must conform to these expectations or they become very uncomfortable.

*They rely heavily on routines. Spontaneity is very challenging for them.

*They take people for granted.

*They lack a true sense of gratitude.

*They desire to fix others rather than look at themselves.

*I will just go/be somewhere else is their predominant mindset. They are willing to “bolt” if things don’t work out exactly as they envision them. This will include work, relationships, friendships, marriage and geographical locations.

Once we recognize the traits associated with GIGS, we are able to make a course correction and get “unstuck”.

Don’t let GIGS take away from the quality of your life! YOU deserve the best life has to offer. REMEMBER…The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence, it’s greener where you water it!

As always I welcome your thoughts and comments.

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If You Think “Life Sucks”, Elevate Your Standards…John Page Burton

In my role as a life and business coach, it’s not uncommon to here the phrase, “life sucks”.  Recently, my friend Lisa posted a great quote that sums up my feelings regarding the chronic use of the phrase “life sucks”. “If you don’t appreciate what you have now, you may find yourself talking about what you once had”. In all fairness, there will be times when life does temporarily “suck” and we are well served to get angry, cry, vent to a friend or release our feelings in other emotionally healthy ways. The danger occurs when we develop a “life sucks” mindset. If we find ourselves slipping into a “life sucks” mindset, it’s time to elevate our standards.

Let’s take a closer look at the word SUCKS

Stagnation. If we’re not growing, we’re dying! Over time, stagnation fosters frustration. Frustrated people tend to use phrases like “life sucks” and routinely blame the outside world for their unhappiness. Solution… GET CURIOUS, TRY NEW THINGS, MEET NEW PEOPLE, COLLECT NEW EXPERIENCES.

Unconscious. When we go through life expecting external conditions to be “perfect” before we can feel happy or fulfilled, we effectively give away our personal power. Rarely, if ever will conditions be “perfect”. Basing our happiness on conditions or expectations is an unconscious way to live. Solution… TAKE RISKS, BE SPONTANEOUS, MARVEL AT LIFE’S IMPERFECTIONS.

Clarity. When we lack clarity of purpose we tend to roll through life accepting whatever life “dishes up”. When it “dishes up” anything we don’t like, we often determine that “life sucks”. Solution… DREAM, SET GOALS, HIRE A COACH, DESIGN A PLAN OF ACTION, GO AFTER WHAT IT IS YOU DESIRE.

Karma. When we operate from a “life sucks” mindset we routinely attract people and situations that validate our assertion. Simply put, we get back more of what we put out. When we operate from a mindset of gratitude, we tend to see life as a series of growth oriented lessons and we begin attracting the right teachers. Solution… SAY THANKS FOR ALL OF YOUR EXPERIENCES, SPEAK UPLIFTING WORDS, OFFER GENUINE PRAISE, TALK NICELY TO YOURSELF.

Scarcity.  A “life sucks” attitude is the bi-product of a scarcity mindset.  Many of us “buy into” the fallacy that there is a shortage of opportunities and resources readily available to us and so we use this fallacy as a convenient excuse to support our assertion that “life sucks”. In reality, there is more than enough of everything for everyone. Solution… TAKE INVENTORY OF ALL YOU HAVE, GIVE AWAY MATERIAL POSSESSIONS YOU DON’T USE OR NEED, TITHE YOUR TIME, TREASURE & TALENT.

RAISE YOUR STANDARDS, CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

A standard is considered a model of authority or excellence. It is a measurement of value. To become all we are capable of becoming, we must begin thinking differently.

*EXPECT THE BEST. Whether it’s a challenging project at work or a new personal relationship, “expect the best”. Far too many of us reflect back on a past loss or disappointment and carry this baggage into a our present reality. Today is a brand new day, expect to succeed! Affirm that this will be the best relationship you have ever had or that you will CRUSH your project at work and then fully commit to the success process.

*CAREFULLY CHOOSE YOUR CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE. The 5-7 people we CHOOSE to spend the most time with have the biggest influence on how we think and behave. CHOOSE wisely! I am highlighting the word CHOOSE because it is totally up to us to decide how we spend our time and who we spend it with.

*DON’T SETTLE. Why settle for scraps when you can enjoy the banquet! Many of us hold a misguided belief that we are only “allowed” to rise as high as our parents.  For example,”we have always been a middle class family, that’s just who we are”. When we put our dreams and aspirations on hold rather than make someone else feel uncomfortable, we usually end up frustrated and angry. PLAY BIG….it’s your life!

*DON’T MAJOR IN MINOR THINGS. When we have clarity of purpose, extreme focus and the help of a coach or mentor we tend to stay in a results oriented mindset. If we find ourselves getting caught up in “water cooler gossip” it’s time for a check up from the neck up.

*DON’T PERSONALIZE FAILURE. All of us experience set backs and failure, it’s part of life.  As I shared in my book, Wisdom Through Failure, it is through failure that most of us attain true wisdom. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. The key is that we are in the game. “Life sucks” is not the answer to failure, gathering the lessons from the experience and getting right back in the game is the answer!

Life is a gift…OPEN IT!!!
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SHIFT Happens! Change Is A CHOICE…John Page Burton

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

SHIFT Happens…

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time….Here’s to SHIFT!

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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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