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.

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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.

5 Reasons We Visit Our “Unhappy Place”…John Page Burton

My friend Mark always seems to be unhappy with someone or something. His “little dark cloud” follows him wherever he goes. All of us know someone who is chronically unhappy and quite frankly they’re not much fun to be around. Lets take a closer look at five of the more common causes of unhappiness…

1. Expectations. Most of us go to our “unhappy place” when our “expectations” are not being met. When we EXPECT people to act a certain way and they don’t, we are disappointed. One of life’s most profound truths is that people are going to do exactly what they want to do regardless of what we EXPECT them to do. The key to our mental and emotional well being is to turn our expectations into preferences. In short, I prefer that the outcome look a certain way but if it doesn’t materialize, I can live with it. The challenge for most of us is to release our death grip on expectations and turn them into preferences.

2. Comparison. If I look around long enough, I can always identify someone who “appears” to be better off than I am. MY journey has been custom designed to present ME with the precise opportunities and lessons necessary to get ME where I am supposed to be going. When I am focused on the results of someone else, I am effectively selling myself short. Our challenge is to run our race and let others run theirs. FYI…In the world of human interaction, rarely are things as we perceive them to be. Regardless of how well disguised, EVERYONE is presented with their own unique set of challenges and limitations.

3. Limited vision. The grander our vision, the less time we have to visit our “unhappy place”. Once we have established a grander vision for our health, wealth and spiritual growth, we usually find that we no longer have time for feelings of discontent. On the other hand, when our vision is limited, everything effects us and we become prone to judgement and blame. Our challenge is to create a grander vision for our life, one that leads us toward a compelling future. The grander our vision, the more inspired we will become.

4. Fear of rejection and failure. Fear based people are unhappy people. When we run our lives based on a fear of loss rather than on what we stand to gain, we set ourselves up for a great deal of disappointment. Failure and rejection are necessary for our growth. (I recently wrote a book entitled Wisdom Through Failure which takes an in-depth look at the positive role failure plays in our lives) Our challenge is to confront our fear when it comes up. What we perceive as rejection is rarely about something “we did” but rather about the other person’s programs.

5. Lack of true faith. I can personally attest to the fact that talking about unwavering faith and actually practicing it are two different things. It is easy to “have faith” when things are going well but can be quite challenging when we are smack dab in the middle of the tornado. Those who truly have faith find it hard to be “unhappy” because they realize that the adversity they are currently experiencing is part of their creators master plan. Our challenge is to embrace and not question adversity. This is what it means to have true FAITH.

And there you have it. Time to “turn that frown upside down”. 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.