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.

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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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.

Loving The HATERS…John Page Burton

Hate has always been present in my life. I wish this was not the case but unfortunately it’s true. All of us are exposed to a certain degree of hate and many of us have been victimized far more than others. The hater targets people who they classify as being different and who don’t fit into their view of how the world should look. Differences may include, sexual orientation, religious views, politics and ethnicity. Hate shows up in different forms and is often covertly displayed. For example, covert hate in the workplace may cause qualified people to be passed up for promotions, re-assigned or may lead to alienation by co-workers. YES this still goes on in 2014. As of late, hate seems to be inspiring certain religious organizations to boycott businesses owned by people who are not in alignment with their world view. In essence, certain religious leaders are saying…because you don’t agree with our point of view we will do everything in our power to destroy your business. This sounds pretty HATEFUL to me! This scenario is currently being played out as it pertains to Michael Sam, an openly gay, African American football player who was recently drafted by the St. Louis Rams. Visa is among the companies one particular religious organization is “demanding” that it’s “flock” boycott in order to “punish” Visa for sponsoring/supporting an openly gay athlete. In all fairness, there are numerous high profile gay celebrities requesting that their followers “punish” any business owner who opposes same sex marriage. Again this is sounding a bit HATEFUL all the way around. I am traveling to San Diego this weekend to celebrate the marriage of a same sex couple. Their marital choice is different from my marital choice yet I can still RESPECT, ENJOY and CELEBRATE them for being the amazing people they are. I have an African American friend who has published two books on the challenges of infertility. Everyday she speaks an uplifting message of hope for couples struggling with infertility. I RESPECT her for embracing Gods word and sharing her life experiences with those in need of understanding, grace and hope. If I had allowed sexual orientation or race to keep me from engaging with these amazing people I would have missed out on a truly enriching experience.

UNDERSTANDING…

Once we understand why someone CHOOSES to engage in a hateful behavior it becomes easier to understand how we can learn to LOVE and accept them for who and where they currently reside. The key word is currently… it is their CHOICE to remain there. LOVE may not be an easy assignment but one we must be willing to embrace if we truly desire to make a difference in the world. It is imperative that we teach our children to show grace and have compassion. Hate must never be an option!

HATERS…

Hurting. Haters live in pain. Their model of the world is based on a me against you mindset. Because you are different, you pose a direct threat to my way of life. I will get you before you get me. When a person is confined to this type of mindset they are never at peace. Angst, anger and fear are the dominant emotions that rule their life. Most haters have spent their lifetime living in pain.

OUR CHALLENGE is to view the hater with compassionate understanding. Recognizing that none of us were born to hate is the first step in this process. Hate is a learned behavior.

Attention. All of us crave attention and most of us will do whatever it takes to fit into a specific social group. This insatiable need to fit in will often lead the most gullible members of our society down a very dark road. We were ALL born into the light but shortly thereafter many of us were exposed to and remain in a very bleak emotional place. Haters seek out other haters because it is a way to bond and continue to feed their internal anger. Like Vampires, haters resist the light.

OUR CHALLENGE is to not play into the “haters trap”. When we practice “reverse hate” we are adding fuel to an ugly fire, one that if not extinguished has the potential to burn forever.

Taught. Hate is taught. The tenets of hate are passed down from generation to generation in much the same way as Great Grandmother’s fine China.

OUR CHALLENGE is to remember that we are offered two choices… LOVE or Hate. Our experience of the world will be shaped by which emotion we feed!

Ego. The chief function of the Ego is to create separation from others. This occurs most commonly in the form of jealousy, fear, envy and anger. On the other hand, LOVE encourages us to co-exist unconditionally.

OUR CHALLENGE is to ask the question…what would LOVE do? When we come from a place of LOVE we can show grace to even the most hateful people.

Resistance. Haters are resistant to anything new or different because it means they will have to give up control. Haters engage in this behavior because they view it (however dysfunctional it seems) as a way of exerting control in a world that for them has always been out of control.

OUR CHALLENGE is to release OUR desire that members of society behave a certain way. OUR personal power comes from knowing that we can control OUR response to another person’s behavior.

Stuck. Haters are emotionally stuck at a specific point in time (normally childhood). They have failed or are unwilling to move past this point. Haters will fight tooth and nail to keep from expanding or growing into a new point of view. Their hateful behavior will often accelerate in order to solidify their misguided beliefs.

OUR CHALLENGE is to bless the hater and realize that this is their chosen path. It may not make sense to us, however, it is where they currently reside. We can choose to step out of their energy.

We are free to choose our response to hate. We can return hate or we can bless the hater and be on our way. I tend to view a person spewing hate from the perspective of an extremely wounded child. This is their response to fear, change and uncertainty. Some of the most profound directives found in the Christian Bible encourage us to stay away from judgement, treat everyone with respect and dignity and we are reminded that we are NOT our brothers keeper. The Christian Bible is also very clear that any type of revenge or corrective action should be left in the capable hands of our creator, not man. Many religions and their revered spiritual teachers also encourage us to love our enemies. I admit that this can be very challenging to say the least. In the end the ball is left in our court…Love or Hate?

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

Quit Acting So Darn Stupid!…John Page Burton

At one time or another all of us have been effected by a negative label that some “well meaning” person assigned to us. These “well meaning” people may have held the misguided belief that their “worldly” input would somehow be invaluable to us as we made our way through the ups and downs of our formative years. Many of us had some rather unhealthy labels attached to us, labels that we still identify with as adults. In all fairness, most of us were also the recipient of empowering labels. For the purpose of this article, I am choosing to take a closer look at some of the more “damaging” labels many of us have been subjected to. Most of our “hang ups” and insecurities as adults can be traced directly back to a label  we “accepted” during childhood. The same can be said of the areas in our lives where we exhibit extreme confidence. Unhealthy label=insecurity and fear. Healthy label=confidence and daring.

In my practice I have the privilege to work with a diverse group of clients. Many of my clients have been the recipients of empowering and encouraging messages that instilled in them a profound sense of self worth. They enjoy an up beat, confident approach to life. Conversely, I have clients who received a plethora of negative, discouraging messages which they have allowed to keep them trapped in the emotions of inferiority and fear. To them life is a scary place that consists of “winners and losers”.

Below are five negative messages/labels that many of us received during our formative years. Remember, if we hear a message long enough we are likely to believe it’s true. This should serve as a reminder when we are communicating with young people.

*”Quit acting so darn stupid”. The message we received was that we were not very smart. Many of us have held this belief since childhood, and we have chosen to routinely under perform in every area of our life.
*”You look fat, chubby or to skinny”. These insensitive labels may have been the catalyst for our negative self image around weight, our distorted relationship with food and may contribute to an array of unhealthy practices that support our belief that our body is not “good enough”.
*”You never do anything right”. The message taken away from this “gem” is that we are incapable of thinking for ourselves and that someone else will always “have to fix our mess”. Because we fear that we will not do it right, many of us have created the habit of avoidance.
*”Why can’t you be more like your sister/brother”. The take away from this “timeless classic” is that we are not good enough. Many of us go through life constantly comparing ourselves to others and we routinely avoid competition or scenarios where we may be put in a position where we could lose and “look bad” in doing so.
*”Keep your mouth shut, unless you have something important to say”. Silenced at an early age, many of us have chosen to remain silent for a lifetime. We fail to speak up when we see injustice, we accept abuse, we routinely look the other way when we know something is wrong and we refuse to speak up for what we desire. We may also be unclear as to what actually constitutes “something important”.

Some of the people we received these messages from included, parents, siblings, teachers, clergy, coaches, friends and relatives. Many of us have internalized these messages to such a degree that we might as well declare  “I am nothing more than a fat, stupid loser who never gets anything right and I am obviously going directly to hell because of the errors in my ways. I should have just kept my mouth shut and been more like my brother Earl”.

In order to live a truly rich, rewarding life, it is imperative that we stop identifying with false, unhealthy labels and begin telling ourselves a new, empowering truth. It is not up to other people to write our life story…IT IS UP TO US!

Some things to consider regarding LABELS…

Limiting. Labels are limiting. Living up to our “assigned” labels will never allow us to expand and grow. The Ego knows that a “mind expanded will never return to it’s original size” and therefore it will fight hard to keep us trapped in our comfort zone.

Adversarial. Labels feature two opposing sides. There is the truth and there is the Ego. The Ego wants to hold us hostage to our negative labels and the truth wants to set us free. Which side will prevail? The one we feed!

Belief. Labels represent an outdated belief system. The labels that most of us carry around were “assigned” to us during our formative years. As adults we know our truth and it is crucial that we adopt a new set of beliefs. For example, when I look in the mirror I am more than capable of determining whether I am at a healthy weight, to skinny or morbidly obese. I do not choose to allow someones “opinion” from 30 years ago shape my current reality or my true self image.

Excuse. A label can become an excuse for not taking the action necessary for us to reach our true potential. When we encounter a challenge do we seek a breakthrough or do we revert to an outdated label that will allow us to conveniently justify our lack of courage?

Lies. When we attempt to live up to a negative label we are consciously choosing to live a lie. Yesterday’s label does not define who we are today. For example, I was labeled an average student with below average communication skills. If I had lived up to this label you would not be reading this article. I knew that my “assigned” label was false and so I set out to develop a new belief system that was congruent with my inner truth.

Story from the past. Do we desire to live in a world of make believe or in a world of truth? Labels keep us stuck in our stories from the past. Living our truth finds us alive and well in the present moment. Living up to our labels means that we are choosing to let someone else determine the rules of OUR GAME. The truth means that we have made a conscious decision to take authorship of our own life.

What negative labels are you hanging onto that are costing you happiness, prosperity and a true sense of self? We all get to choose what labels serve us and which ones don’t. If during your formative years you were encouraged to use your voice, run your own race, love your body, embrace your God given intelligence and always speak your truth, you owe the influential people in your life a HUGE debt of gratitude. If like many of us you feature a few scars, now may be the time to begin embracing a new belief system, one that offers a more honest representation of who your really are.

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