3 Suggestions That Can Dramatically Reduce Work Related Stress…John Page Burton

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Many of us have been led to believe that working long hours is the key to achieving success. I held onto this belief for many years. In reality, studies routinely show that people who work sixty or more hours per week tend to be more unhealthy, careless and detached than people who work forty hours or less. Today’s message may not be popular with those who believe long hours guarantee success but I know it will be well received by spouses, children or friends of anyone who has become addicted to working long hours.

MY STORY…

For years, I worked long hours, traveled for business, tied my self worth to being able to out perform others and I failed to nurture my personal relationships. Three years ago, I contracted Valley Fever (Google it). For the next two and a half years, I experienced a limited amount of physical energy and was only able to work an average of 20-25 hours a week. Because I was unable to predict how I would feel on any given day, I stopped facilitating live seminars, workshops and retreats which in turn caused a significant drop in my income. I became increasingly frustrated and angry that my energy level didn’t allow me to play the game I was accustomed to playing. In order to experience a sense of significance, I began to focus on accomplishing 3-5 income producing tasks each day, tasks that when completed would move my practice forward. Knowing I only had a 3-4 hour window to complete my 3-5 tasks forced me to develop stronger time management skills.

THE UPSIDE…
During the last three years, working an average of 20-25 hours per week, I have been able to create and launch several new seminars and coaching workshops that I now facilitate via teleconferencing. I created a business course that I sell on line, launched a blog and I have written and published two books. Looking back, I continue to be amazed at the amount of time I wasted (prior to my illness) on inconsequential tasks that I convinced myself were of immense value. Today, I am at  90% strength yet continue to employ the 3-5 task strategy 5 days a week. I am enjoying new levels of personal happiness and business prosperity. I make it a priority to set aside time each day to re charge my mental and emotional batteries. You may be thinking to yourself, how is it possible to work fewer hours and be more productive? The answer is… FOCUS. Determine what it is you desire to accomplish and then go after it with determination and laser FOCUS.  

3 SUGGESTIONS  FOR REDUCING WORK RELATED STRESS…

1. Stop trying to be the office hero! Overwhelming ourselves with “extra projects” or routinely volunteering to spearhead tasks that we simply don’t have the bandwidth for will eventually backfire on us! Over extending ourselves will predictably lead to carelessness and burn out. Focusing on our top 3-5 income producing tasks and delivering consistent results is the best way to receive the recognition we deserve.

2. Work 8 hours (or less) per day. Over the years, I have counseled numerous clients who deeply regret not making family and friends as important as their work. I recently spoke with a client who had just ended his third marriage on the heels of completing his second stint at a rehab facility. “I let work become my entire life. Over the last twenty five years, slowly but surely, I lost everything that truly mattered. I turned to drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with work stress and in the end it made it even worse”. As an entrepreneur, I understand that in any new career or start up venture long hours are the norm. With that being said, once we get established, it’s important to take control of our career or business rather than allowing it to control us. FOCUS is the key. The old saying…”work smarter not harder” is sage wisdom.

3. Take all the time off you can. I always encourage my friends and clients to use all of their vacation days, sick days, holidays and any other time that is afforded them. Far too many employees feel “guilty” for taking time off. In many cases, employees are afraid to use their “paid vacation time” because they fear it will hurt them in their quest for a promotion or could be a reason they are let go. If you work in an environment where you fear using your vacation time…FIND ANOTHER JOB! If you are an employer I encourage you to HONOR your employees by encouraging them to take time off. Rested, re charged employees are far more productive than their counterparts. This advice also holds true for the business owner. Our creativity is thwarted when we are mentally and emotionally taxed. FOCUS on your mental and emotional health, your worth the investment!

There you have it! As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

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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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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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Are You A CAREfrontational Leader?..John Page Burton

The vast majority of us will serve in some type of leadership capacity. Many of us will lead companies or sales organizations, others will lead classrooms, community organizations, political groups or non profits. The most important leadership role we may ever experience is the role of parent and family leader. We must also focus on becoming a consistent leader of self. During a recent conversation with my friend Ross, he referred to me as a “CAREfrontational” business coach. I asked him what he meant and he replied “you are very direct in your communication, yet your compassion and understanding clearly shine through”. I liked his term CAREfrontational and promised Ross that I would incorporate it into my next article on leadership. Let’s take a closer look at two different leadership models…

CAREfrontational vs Confrontational Leadership.

Far too many leaders in their quest for significance, employ a confrontational, authoritarian style of leadership. Most confrontational leaders believe their approach produces results and garners respect. In reality, this approach is extremely polarizing within an organization and over time it tends to contribute to higher turnover rates and a decrease in productivity due largely to the volatile nature of the work environment. Some of the words commonly used to describe confrontational leadership include; argumentative, combative, contrary, volatile, quarrelsome, contentious, scrappy, authoritarian, unfair and dictatorial. Some of the feelings this type of leadership creates within the rank and file of an organization include; mistrust, fear, doubt, drama, self protection, concern, trepidation, anxiety and security. Confrontational leaders create a culture of ME vs you and “I am always right”!

The “CAREfrontational” leadership approach is focused on the organization as a whole. The CAREfrontational leadership model seeks to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each team member, understand their primary communication style and focuses on exploiting the strength and leveraging the weakness of each member of the team. This leadership style encourages delegation and prioritizes time management. The communication style of a CAREfrontational leader is explicit yet respectful and is designed to instruct not degrade. Words used to describe this leadership style include; team, health, welfare, maintenance, concern, interest, importance, provision, responsibility, collaboration, growth and trust. Some of the feelings this leadership style creates within the organization include; pride, integrity, belief, autonomy, freedom, creativity, expression, fulfillment and personal responsibility. Doesn’t this seem like a more inspiring and empowering WORK environment?

QUESTIONS…

Which type of leadership model do you believe fosters a true sense of team? Which business environment might have a lower turnover rate? Which model encourages vision and collaboration? Which business environment is more authentic to the human spirit? Which environment would you prefer to work in?

The myth surrounding the CAREfrontaional leadership approach is that it is to “liberal” and doesn’t create a big enough gap between “leadership” and the “employee”. I disagree. The confrontational leadership approach has proven to be highly effective in the United States military where breaking our soldiers down and building them back up is essential for survival and success on the battlefield, however, the confrontational leadership approach is very INEFFECTIVE in today’s competitive business environment where INNOVATION tends to trump intimidation. Unhappy, stifled employees, simply transfer their talent to an environment that is more conducive to their personal and professional growth. The CAREfrontational leader understands that TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK and they strive to create synergy as they grow and protect the financial interests or their organization.

THE BOTTOM LINE…

Over the past 20 years I have had the privilege to spend time around an array of very dynamic, highly effective, CEO’s and business leaders. One of the common traits inherent to each one of them is their ability to create a compelling vision and sell that vision to their entire organization. I refer to this as the “buy in”. The “buy in” is essential for creating massive results in any organization. Rather than take an authoritarian approach, CAREfrontational leaders take a much different approach. They seek out and hire “play makers” and are then willing to get out of their way and let them make plays. In the sports world, this philosophy has proven to be a successful formula for winning CHAMPIONSHIPS. Another significant trait found in CAREfrontational leaders is their ability to build, nurture and maintain influential networks. THE TAKEAWAY…A truly effective CEO or business leader is rarely the person who has the most impressive credentials but rather the person who carries the most influence. Our personal and professional circle of influence say’s more about who we have become professionally than our resume does. In the spirit of polarization, confrontational leaders tend to infuse their insatiable need for significance into the organizations and networks they belong to. On the other hand, CAREfrontational leaders understand the value of relationships and make building and nurturing them a top priority.

In my role as an executive coach, my clients hire me for one reason, they desire to become more effective leaders. I am not concerned about being popular, I care about my clients achieving the results they seek. Can I be direct? Yes. Do I care? Absolutely. Can I be extremely CAREfrontational, you bet! Do the majority of my clients respect me? I believe my authenticity shines through more often than not. I encourage each of you to take a closer look at your current leadership style and ask yourself if it is helping or hindering your organizational growth? Admittedly, this is a tough question to ask as our Ego has a significant investment in our current reality but it is a question that we must pose if we desire to be the amazing leader we are capable of becoming.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.a41

6 Steps For Conquering Our Negative Self Talk (VOICES)…John Page Burton

Why do some people thrive and live seemingly happy, fulfilling lives while countless others seem to struggle to get by? In my work as a peak performance strategist and mentor, I routinely find that it almost always comes down to the “voices in our head”. Some of the voices we listen to are empowering, others, not so much. Our capacity to manage negative mental chatter plays a key role in determining the overall quality of our lives. The voices we choose to listen to dictate whether we experience joy and success or frustration and pain. Many of us engage in negative self talk to such a degree that our primary emotions have become anger, guilt and shame. These voices encourage us to stay within our comfort zone and make our decisions based on whether something brings us pain or pleasure. Others listen to positive, empowering voices which encourage us to take risks and go after our dreams. I believe that the “voices in our head” do in fact dictate our level of success as well as our sense of personal fulfillment. The question becomes… how can we stop our negative chatter when it comes up? For the next 30 days I encourage you to make a commitment to pay close attention to your self talk and to follow these 6 steps to help break the old pattern and create a new one.

Conquering Our NEGATIVE Self Talk…

Validation. The first step toward conquering the “negative voices” is to question if what we are saying to ourselves is even true? For example, “I never get anything right” usually has nothing to do with our current reality. We are still listening and reacting to the condescending voice of a parent or teacher who repeatedly admonished us during our formative years. The truth is that we get a lot of things “right” and like everyone else we will make mistakes. Our goal is to monitor our language and speak a NEW truth over the lie each and every time it comes up.

Ownership. We must be willing to take ownership of our negative self talk. In other words, we must acknowledge that we are speaking negatively about our self to our self. Far too many of us attempt to justify our negative self talk which adds more fuel to the lie. The long term danger of negative self talk is that when we repeat a lie long enough we begin to believe it. Most of us wouldn’t take ownership for a crime we didn’t commit yet many of us consistently and consciously take ownership of a worn out childhood story. Our goal is to quit justifying and defending our NEGATIVE self talk. BULLSHIT is BULLSHIT no matter how you package it!

Imagination. Imagine what your life would look like if you removed negative self talk from your vocabulary? Imagine your intimate relationship, friendships and career rising to a whole new level? We must establish and hold a vision of how our new habit of positive self talk will enhance the quality of our life experience. Affirmations beginning with “I AM” can be an effective way of re-programming our self talk. “I AM more than capable of meeting life’s challenges”, “I AM intelligent and gifted” or “I AM willing to learn new things” are all examples of empowered statements that can “overwhelm” our negative self talk. Every time a negative voice creeps in we must counter it with a positive “I AM” statement. Practice will produce results.

Choice. We CHOOSE our thoughts and our self talk is a bi product of what we are CHOOSING to think about. If I believe that the world is an unsafe place, it stands to reason that my self talk will reflect fear, scarcity and lack. If on the other hand, I believe that I live in a world of unlimited opportunity and abundance, my self talk will be uplifting, hopeful and positive. When we change our thoughts our language changes.

Expression. We must create a new HABIT of speaking positively over everything and everyone. Speaking words of gratitude and repeating positive affirmations are proactive ways to solidify our new habit of positive self talk. When we notice that we are starting to head down our familiar path of self condemnation, we can counter the voices by expressing our new truth. This is what is meant by having a conscious awareness.

Simplify. Keep this process simple. It doesn’t have to be complex. Remember… Our NEW thoughts become our NEW words, our NEW words become our NEW actions, our NEW actions become our NEW habits, our NEW habits become our NEW way of being.

We get to CHOOSE what we focus on. From this day forward we are the master programmer. What we CHOOSE to tell ourselves is now totally up to us. I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

The MVP Formula For Becoming A Legacy Builder…John Page Burton

What does it take to build and leave a true legacy in life and business? Is there a formula for success? If so, is it reserved for a privileged few? Why do some people rise to the occasion, achieve massive success and enjoy relative happiness, while others possessing far more natural ability end up achieving nothing of real value and spend the majority of their lives angry and frustrated?

Over the past 20 years, I have had the privilege to spend time with LEGACY BUILDERS and I have also had the opportunity to spend time around far too many chronic underachievers. What’s the difference? It’s actually quite simple… LEGACY BUILDERS embrace what I refer to as the MVP formula.

Becoming a legacy builder…

Mission. First, we must find our calling, one that propels us out into the world. Next, we must be willing to share our message with everyone who will listen. Our mission is our “special assignment”. Our level of conviction will determine the success of our mission. Our calling must be compelling enough to overcome the many obstacles we will encounter on our journey to success. What is your mission? What would you be willing to sacrifice everything for? Recognizing our true calling and making the DECISION to take ACTION is the first step toward building our legacy.

Vision. The challenge with FUTURE vision is that it requires us to visualize something that we can only see through our imagination. This can be very hard for a person who resides in a “show me first” world. Vision is “blind faith”. Do you currently hold a grand vision for where you would like to go and who you would like to become? “Without a vision, the people will perish” is a biblical truism that is a time tested, proven, game changer. What does your ideal legacy look like? Hold this vision and keep moving forward!

Passion. Passion is a powerful, compelling emotion. Passion is ambition materialized into action. Passion is heart centered. Passion fuels our mission and will keep us focused on our vision. Passion is the glue that keeps us on point as we build out our legacy. What are you passionate about? Will your current level of passion carry you across the finish line? Without passion most of us will quit easily and often. Our level of success is the bi-product of our passion. Passion is contagious! Passion inspires!

PERSONAL GROWTH….

The MVP formula alone will not carry us across the finish line. We must be committed to developing and maintaining the skills necessary for us to reach our goals and build our legacy. Our commitment to sharpening and enhancing our skill set will have a huge impact on our success. When we prioritize continuing education and personal growth we are taking significant ACTION strides toward the creation of our legacy.

Build on my friends!

As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback.

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…..