5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Engage In Gossip… John Page Burton

index

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.

grass-close-up

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!!!
NYC.team_.building.planner.frustration

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.
key

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.

YES & NO…John Page Burton

Two of the most profound words in the English language are YES & NO. Every time we use either of these words we effectively cancel out the other word. Both words also constitute a complete sentence. Most of us have heard the saying “let your yes mean yes and your no mean no”. In other words, YES means “I’m ALL in, lets do this thing” and NO means “I’m not in at all and we’re not doing this thing”. Many of us struggle with the words YES & NO and may not realize just how big an impact these two words have on the overall quality of our lives. Let me explain…

How many times have we instinctively known that something felt WRONG and yet rather than say NO we moved forward anyway? This conflict routinely shows up in the dating world. Conversely, how many times have we failed to say YES when we knew something felt RIGHT? For example, I have a friend who recently turned down a job transfer to San Diego because he didn’t “feel comfortable” leaving his friends and family behind. He recently admitted that he had begrudgingly said NO and in hindsight “should have gone with his gut and said YES”. I certainly know that over the years I have had my fair share of conflict with these two little words. This conflict may surface in our role as parents. We instinctively know that an answer should be NO but because we desire to be our child’s “friend” we say YES. This conflict often arises in the workplace. For example, we have made family plans for the weekend but at the last minute our boss asks us if “we would be willing” to come in on Saturday. We know that our answer should be a resounding NO but our fear of retribution causes us to proclaim a very weak YES. Everytime we say YES when we really mean to say NO or we say NO when we really want to say YES we are significantly diminishing our personal power. Remember, YES & NO establish our decision!

YES & NO are boundary words. The words YES & NO teach people how to treat us. Case in point…Our boss knows that we don’t desire to come in to work on a Saturday, especially on short notice. When we weakly say “sure, no problem”, we have effectively given our boss permission to disregard our time in the future. However, when we say “I wish you had given me more advanced notice, I have already made plans that I can’t change” we have established a very important boundary. In the future, our boss is more apt to give us advance notice if they even ask us at all. Here’s the key…More than likely our boss will ask the person who never say’s NO. As a parent, our child may not enjoy hearing the word NO but our decision to establish reasonable boundaries and stand firm will teach them a valuable life lesson.

Whenever we are presented with the opportunity to say YES or NO it is wise to seek our deepest truth. Our answer will make a big difference in the quality of our lives as well as how we feel about ourselves.

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

Are Mixed Messages Blocking Your Success?…John Page Burton

Are mixed messages blocking your success? All of us send mixed messages and most of us are unaware of how much time we spend contradicting ourselves. Sending mixed messages means that our actions are not in alignment with what we “say” we desire. Each time we send a mixed message we are effectively blocking the receptive energy necessary to achieve what it is we say we want. In other words, we are sabotaging our success one contradiction at a time. Mixed messages almost always include the word BUT. The word BUT usually precludes an EXCUSE or a JUSTIFICATION. Here are some examples of the types of mixed messages many of us send. ” I really want to lose 30 pounds BUT with my schedule fast food is my only option”. “I can’t seem to find a suitable life partner” BUT I’m just not ready to leave the friendly confines of my one bedroom apartment”. “I don’t have enough money left to pay all my bills BUT who could pass up a sale like that”. Mixed messages show up in our relationships. “I think we should just be friends BUT I will still call you everyday”. “We shouldn’t live together until we get married BUT it would be great if we could sleep together seven nights a week”. “I hate you” BUT It’s only because I really love you”. “I want you to pack up your things and leave BUT your welcome to stay for dinner”. Mixed messages show up in our career and business. “I will do whatever it takes to get this company up and running BUT don’t ask me to give up my hobby”. “I sure would like to get that promotion at work BUT I’ll be darned if I’m coming in on a Saturday”. We do it in our spiritual practice. “I know that God won’t deliver more than I can handle BUT this seems to go above and beyond what a person should have to endure”. “I have faith that things will work out BUT it sure would be nice to see a positive sign every once in awhile”. “I love going to church BUT it really doesn’t fit into my schedule during football season”.

Mixed messages have the potential to unleash damaging emotions such as jealousy, anger, frustration and guilt. We can avoid a great deal of heartache by being more mindful of the mixed messages we may be sending to others as well as the ones we may be receiving.

Below are three strategies to help us become more aware of and breakthrough our “habit” of sending mixed messages.

1. Take ACTION. Do our actions support or reject what we say we desire? For example, if we desire to lose weight it is important to examine our current habits. With few exceptions, overweight people tend to consume more calories than they burn. Talking about losing weight and actively designing and sticking to a food and exercise plan are two different things. When we become a person of ACTION we leave little room for contradictions that show up in the form of excuses and justification.

2. Practice EXPLICIT communication. It is important to say what we mean and mean what we say. This is one of the most fundamental ways to eliminate mixed messaging. People who routinely send mixed messages tend to LACK CONVICTION. They don’t want to “hurt someones feelings” or “rock the boat”. The hallmark of “explicit” communication is CLARITY. Everyone involved in the conversation knows where we stand. On the other hand “implicit” communication leads to a never ending “guessing game”. Implicit communicators expect everyone around them to instinctively know why they are unhappy or frustrated. Their operating principle is that “they shouldn’t have to say anything” because “if you really cared, you would get it”. They routinely say one thing while acting in an entirely different manner. Welcome to the “super bowl” of mixed messaging!

3. Eliminating the word “BUT” from our vocabulary. Every time we use the word “BUT” we are running for our “chicken exit”. “I would love to learn more about your opportunity BUT”, (here comes the excuse) “that sounds great BUT”, “I would love to join you BUT”, “I would love to go out with you BUT”, “that sounds fabulous BUT”…blah,blah,blah. When we begin monitoring our use of the word “BUT” we will be able to see how readily we have used “BUT” to justify our lack of conviction. Many of us have been on BUT “auto pilot”. Explicit communicators rarely use the word “BUT”.

My hope is that you will find these strategies helpful as you move forward. Most of us will find that as we send fewer and fewer mixed messages our success receptors open up more and more. Before we know it we are playing our biggest game ever!!!

I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.