The Richest Man In The Graveyard…John Page Burton

To quote my long time mentor Tony Robbins, “our goal is NOT to become the richest man in the graveyard“.  I have been blessed with an amazing life and by the grace of God I currently want for nothing. I realize that my life could change in an instant and this serves as a grounding principle for how I treat and relate to others.  Recently, I engaged in a conversation with a friend of mine who believes that my wife and I “may be accumulating too much stuff”.  His underlying message is that we should feel a profound sense of guilt for earning an exceptional income and enjoying nice things. In reality, my wife and I have chosen to live a modest yet active lifestyle while we are still alive and able to enjoy it. I encourage everyone to do the same. We designed a plan to earn our living from the comfort of home which has allowed us to split our time between Tucson and the White Mountains of northeastern Arizona. In short, we work hard and we play hard! I believe that as long as we are socially responsible with our earnings we shouldn’t feel guilty about creating and maintaining an enjoyable lifestyle and neither should anyone else! Our goal is not to become the richest person in the graveyard.

SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER…

*He who dies with the most toys is still dead. Don’t identify with “stuff”. We are not our things! In our final days it will be people and memories that will escort us into the afterlife.

*Personal relationships and experiences far outweigh stuff. A quality conversation is just as important as a quality pair of shoes. Long after my mountain bike wears out, memories of the people I rode with will live on.

*Service & outward focus make the world a much better place. GIVERS GAIN.  A life of service is a life well lived. Our willingness to give back to society speaks more about our character than our bank account ever will.

*Rewarding our efforts. When we reach our goals, it’s important to do something nice for ourselves. NEVER allow anyone to make you feel guilty for achieving success.

*Abundance. There is more than enough of everything for everyone. Share the blessing by clearing the clutter. If you are not using something, there is someone somewhere that will. Pay it forward.

*Give credit where credit is due.
No one attains success without the help and encouragement of a host of other people. Give credit where it is due. Don’t brag or gloat. First and foremost give credit to our creator.

*Don’t judge others based on material possessions. Some really great people live in large, well furnished homes and other really great people live in tents in 3rd world countries. Possessions don’t make a person, character does.

Remember, the secret to living is giving.

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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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Thank God For Dirty Dishes…John Page Burton

I recently attended a dinner party. The evening featured a plethora of great conversation, an abundance of laughter and it seemed that everyone genuinely enjoyed being in each others company. As the evening wound down, our host sighed and said, “I guess it’s time to tackle all of those dirty dishes” at which I remarked “thank God for dirty dishes”. We pitched in, cleaned up the kitchen, said our goodbyes and headed out into the night. On the drive home my wife and I began talking about the significance of “dirty dishes” and just how grateful we are for all of the “dirty dishes” we continue to have the privilege to wash.

What it means to have “dirty dishes” in my sink.

*I enjoyed a meal.
*I have the financial resources to purchase food.
*I am not starving.
*I have a roof over my head.

Many of the things that I take for granted are considered a luxury in 97% of the world. Most of what I complain about would be met with a blank stare by a person who lives in Haiti. The “left over” food that many of us routinely throw away would save lives in 3rd world countries. Being mindful of just how good I have it tends to keep me grounded whenever I find myself going into “complainer mode”.

With this being said, I must leave you as my wife has just informed me that it is my turn to do the dishes.

With much gratitude…..

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.

It’s Hard To Be Humble…John Page Burton

You are about to read my 170th blog post! This is quite an achievement considering a college professor once told me I “lacked communication skills”. I’m grateful that I didn’t allow his criticism to deter me from making a living as a professional copy writer, author, peak performance strategist or from earning two degrees in the field of mass communications. I enjoy sharing my perspectives with you and I want to thank you for reading and appreciating my work, it means a lot.

Let’s be honest, the vast majority of us crave recognition. “Men die for it and babies cry for it” is a quote I heard many years ago that still rings true today. When I “surf” my social media streams, I can’t help but notice all of the people who “advertise” their victories with the hope of garnering “likes” and “comments” that will further validate their achievements. I know that when I experience a win my initial reaction is to want to shout “hell yeah, I did it” and commence the celebration! With this being said, I have gradually learned to simply say thank you to my creator, express gratitude for my experience and get back to work. I can ensure you that I am not attempting to be holier than though, rather I’m sharing my “newly found” sense of humility, which by the way I am quite proud of! The seeds of humility are usually planted in childhood, although most of us don’t grasp the concept until much later in life. Society promotes a win-lose model in which winning is the ultimate goal. Looking back on my youth, I never truly grasped the concept of shaking hands with the other team after “losing” the game. It sucked to lose, I wanted to win. As an adult, I carried my “win at any cost” philosophy into every area of my life. The cost became family, relationships, friendships and partnerships. It wasn’t my success that was getting in the way, it was my lack of humility. How each of us can learn to appreciate our wins, embrace our losses and remain humble in the process is the topic of my 170th blog post.

Humility…A check up from the neck up.

Heart space vs Head space- Our head space encourages us to feel one thing, our heart space another. With regard to our victories, it is important to reside in our heart space. In my head space it is always about me vs. you. This is a win-lose model. In my heart space I appreciate my victories, however, I am keenly aware that they are a “temporary reward” for my dedication to a chosen endeavor. I also recognize that it is only fair that others have the opportunity to experience victories as well. As hard as this can be, it is a true win-win model. Residing in our head space will almost always demand the need for winners and losers. Our heart space allows us to recognize that today I had a victory, tomorrow is another day.

Unsolicited recognition-When we come from a place of true humility we don’t have a need to solicit recognition from others because our primary focus is on showing appreciation for the gifts given to us by our creator. We recognize that the only recognition that matters is of an “eternal” nature. We don’t need or seek approval, however we gratefully accept it when it arrives of it’s own accord. The comedian David Spade, recently was asked what he thought of Reese Witherspoon’s comment “do you know who I am” as she was being arrested. His comment was priceless…”If you have to ask that question then it is pretty obvious they don’t”.

Mindset- Being humble is a mindset. Humility is focused on gratitude, lack of humility features shameless self promotion, usually followed by a heavy dose of gloating. When we develop a mindset that is focused on gratitude we will naturally draw more success into our lives. People will desire to help us, favorable opportunities and events will show up in our path and we will exude an endearing aura of personal confidence and happiness. To me, nothing is more annoying than being around someone who has the insatiable need to draw attention to themselves. Conversely, nothing is more calming than to be around a person who is self assured and who acknowledges that their perceived success is due in large part to the combined efforts of countless others.

Blessing-Being a sports fan I was excited to see Nick Foles, a former University of Arizona Wildcat and now the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, tie an NFL record by throwing 7 touchdown passes in a single game. This is a monumental feat to say the least. His interview after the game illustrates his character more than anything else. He stated to a reporter that his three priorities (in order of importance) are “faith, family and football”. The very reason he was being interviewed is the least of his priorities. Nick recognizes that football is a temporary blessing and although he appears very grateful for the opportunity to get paid to play a game, he is also grounded in humility. Each of our lives are a gift that I believe should be honored accordingly.

Lease-Recently, a friend made the comment that they had a “new lease on life”. All of us, no matter how much we accomplish, how many toys we collect, how gynormous our house is or how many cars are parked in our garage must face the fact that we are going to die. We are leasing our time on earth and we will be remembered by how we treated the people we shared this time with. I have never experienced a eulogy highlighting the departed’s “uncanny ability to gloat over others”. In the end we will be remembered and rewarded for our humble service to mankind.

Ego-The Ego desires for us to seek approval, crave attention, win at any cost, gloat, compare ourselves to others and take FULL credit for our achievements. The foundation of the Ego is INSECURITY. The last thing our Ego wants is for us to acknowledge that a power far greater than ourselves is the driving force behind our accomplishments. The Ego always wants to make it about “us” and encourages us to never give any credit where credit may be long overdue! The Ego is indeed the “great separator”.

It’s hard to be humble, however, it is through our humility that our greatest rewards will be realized. In the words of the Dos Equis man…”stay humble my friends”.

I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

The Secret to Dying Rich…John Page Burton

No matter how much “stuff” we accumulate or how much “money” we earn, ALL of us are going to die. Death is the great equalizer! In our final moments we won’t crave the “stuff” we have accumulated or have a desire to fondle the piles of cash hidden under our mattress, rather, we will crave the love and connection of our family and friends. How we spend our final moments will be a direct reflection of how we lived our life. Dying rich should be our goal. Below, are a few of my thoughts on how each of us can begin filling up our emotional bank account as we travel down our chosen path.

*Nurturing our personal relationships. Far too many of us focus our non working energy on work related issues that we bring home from the office. Many of us routinely find ourselves immersed in someone else’s drama. This causes us to miss out on countless opportunities to connect meaningfully with family and friends. Remember…where our focus goes, our energy flows. Work is important , however, it should never dominate our personal lives. Our personal and family relationships require us to be fully present. In order for this to happen we must side step drama and leave our work at our desk. Ponder this… Are work related thoughts and conversations dominating your personal life? Do you routinely find yourself getting dragged into other peoples drama? Would the quality of your personal interactions improve dramatically if you focused your non work time nurturing them?

*Treating everyone with dignity and respect. When we make it our mission to live from this perspective we tend to find that the world opens up to support our journey. Despite what many of us have been led to believe, none of us are “better” than anyone else. ALL of us were born into a different set of circumstances. We are well served to be grateful for our blessings and refrain from judging others for what they have or don’t have. Remember…but for the grace of God, there go I. Ponder this… Do you find yourself judging other people by what they have or don’t have? How do you treat people when you believe nobody is watching you?

*Proclaiming our authentic self. This means that we speak our truth and run our own race. We don’t compare ourselves to others and we operate in a manner that is congruent with our values and beliefs. We are not swayed by the opinions of others and we freely stand up for what we believe in. We follow our heart and only engage in activities and vocations that are in alignment with our authentic self. Ponder this… Are there areas in your life where you are “selling out” on your truth? What would your life look like if you began living in a manner that honored your true, authentic self?

*Serve. Givers gain. Whenever we volunteer, we have an opportunity to connect with other like minded people and collectively we can effect change. When we give back to our community and the members within, we are honoring God’s blessing by sharing our time, treasure and talent. I believe that the more we give, the more we gain. As my mentor Tony Robbins often says…”the secret to living is giving”. Ponder this… What can you do this week to help someone who needs a helping hand or a little inspiration? Make the commitment to get more involved in your community. Teach your children the power of giving.

*LIVE NOW. A few years ago, Tim McGraw wrote a hit song called “Live Like You Were Dying”. In his song he shared many of the things he would do if he knew he only had a short time to live. We don’t need to receive a “death sentence” to start living. It begins with a conscious decision to begin doing the things we desire to accomplish and doing them NOW. Ponder this… What are some of the things on your bucket list? What do you desire to accomplish over the next 5 years? How would you feel if you began living your life with true passion?

Here’s to dying RICH!

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