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

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

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

5 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.

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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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 Truth About “Magic Bullets”…John Page Burton

In today’s fast paced, I want it now world, millions of people are searching for the proverbial “magic bullet”. They want this “magic bullet” to immediately improve their health, business growth, intimacy and general happiness. Many of my clients initially seem quite receptive to any “shortcut” that would enable them to avoid putting in the hard work and discipline needed to achieve the success they seek. I routinely advise my clients that success comes to those who are willing to roll up their sleeves and engage in the SUCCESS PROCESS. Ironically, five of the key elements inherent to the SUCCESS PROCESS just so happen to spell out the word MAGIC. Let’s take a closer look…

MAGIC…

MOTIVATION. Motivation is an inside job, either you’re motivated or your not. There is no “magic bullet” that can motivate someone to do something they’re not dedicated to accomplishing. Find your “WHY”, design a plan, secure an accountability partner and get started!

ACTION. We must be willing to take massive action. Action doesn’t come in a “pill” or secret potion, it is born from BIG DREAMS. The bigger our dreams the more action we will be willing to take. Action builds muscles of courage and boosts confidence.

GOALS. Our attainment of a significant goal is a profound experience. Who we become as a person from the time we set our goal to the moment our goal is realized (the process) is the true “magic” of the goal. “Magic bullets” are not an option, hard work and sacrifice is the determining factor.

INTUITION. Tapping into and trusting our inner voice is THE grounding principle of the success process. All of us know how we truly feel in every interaction or situation we encounter. Our ability to communicate this truth sets us apart from those who are in a continual search for the “magic bullet”. When we are in touch with our authentic self we have little use for outside chatter. We take full responsibility for our RESULTS.

COMMITMENT. Without a high level of commitment we will never achieve anything of real significance. We must be committed to our plan of action. Our dedicated commitment to ourselves and our plan will get us through set backs, rejection, failure and our commitment will accelerate our resolve.

THE TAKEAWAY…

There is no such thing as a “magic bullet”. The only “magic” lies within the process. The process goes along way in determining who we become. LEARN TO EMBRACE THE PROCESS.

I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

Sometimes Life Just Sucks! John Page Burton

Let’s face it…sometimes life just sucks! It doesn’t matter how religious, spiritual or immersed in personal growth we are, when life throws us a wicked curve ball we find ourselves swinging wildly at the fence! I know that when someone has told me to “turn my frown upside down” I have often felt like punching them! It’s during times like these that we must show ourselves some EXTRA grace and give ourselves permission to release our emotions before we can truly move on.

Whenever we experience any type of adversity, our challenge is to look at it as objectively as possible. Below, are 3 considerations that can help us stay grounded in presence, even during the most trying times.

*We must be mindful of the meaning we attach to our challenges. Many times we unknowingly attach a meaning to a current challenge, a meaning that was birthed in another place and time. The meaning we have assigned to our current challenge has little if anything to do with our present reality. This “preassigned meaning” can skew our perspective and provide us with a distorted view of our true reality. It is imperative that we focus on our current reality and make our decisions accordingly. Remember…different challenge, different point in time.

*Are we experiencing PAST or PRESENT emotions? Many of us link PAST emotions to our current challenges. For example, let’s say that I recently lost a close friend to Cancer. I may find myself bringing up unresolved emotions around my fathers death from Cancer even though it occurred a decade earlier. As I begin to replay the tapes of all the things I “should” have said or done while my father was still alive, I may find myself inconsolable. I have shifted into a state where I am experiencing strong emotions surrounding both deaths. This is a very intense state of grief. By shifting my focus to my present reality (friends death) I can honor my current emotions of grief without entwining them with the lingering emotions surrounding my fathers death. This awareness can help keep us grounded as we experience this type of challenge. *Albeit, easier said than done.

*What we resist will persist. Perspective is usually based on perception. Many times, our greatest breakthrough’s occur when we are willing to change our perspective. I know that some of my greatest challenges remained steadfast as long as I remained steadfast. During my live seminars, I often ask two people to stand facing each other with their palms pressed together. By using just their palms I ask them to try and push each other out of an imaginary circle I have constructed on the floor. Invariably, they both dig in and engage in what amounts to no more than an unproductive pushing match. I then pull one of participants aside and ask them to push for a few seconds and then drop their arms. As soon as one of the participants drops their arms the other participant lunges forward, falling off balance. This is the exact same thing that happens in life. As soon as we drop our arms (SURRENDER) the person or problem we are struggling with loses it’s power over us. What we have resisted has persisted until we have surrendered. Through surrender we may also find our greatest joy.

To sum it up…Sometimes life just sucks, what we resist tends to persist, we must remain in the present moment and be mindful of the meaning we attach to our challenges. This is a tall order, however, it can certainly keep our focus where it needs to be…NOW.

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