5 Tips For Engaging In Respectful Communication…John Page Burton


Our words have the power to hurt or heal. The words we speak can leave a lasting impression on the the people we connect with. The First Amendment affords every American a right to engage in free speech. Our democracy is one of the only countries in the world where citizens are given the unfettered freedom to agree to disagree and disagree we do! The Ego is a primary driving force behind our thoughts, words and actions. In my role of coach and inspirational writer/speaker I have enjoyed the privilege of interacting with thousands of amazing people. I have come to believe the way we verbally communicate with others is a direct reflection of how we feel inside. People who communicate in a biting, sarcastic, tone of voice are usually angry, bitter and resentful. People who communicate in a kind, caring, compassionate, tone of voice are usually grounded in self love. People who communicate in a forceful, demanding, dismissive, tone of voice are usually insecure and fearful of being out of control. Effective, quality, communication is a “two way street”. In other words, quality communication requires us to be receptive to differing points of view. It doesn’t mean that we will always agree but it does ensure that the other person’s thoughts and belief’s will be honored in a respectful manner.
5 tips to help us become more respectful communicators….

*Don’t strive to make the other person wrong. The first rule of respectful communication is to avoid accusatory language. When we set out to criticize or make another person wrong, we erect a wall that prevents meaningful communication. By listening to a different point of view we invariably learn something new.

*Listen carefully, avoid making assumptions. There is a reason God gave us two ears and one mouth. God wanted us to listen twice as much as we talk. When we really listen, we have a chance to hear what the other person is actually saying. When we half listen, our understanding is based primarily on assumptions. Listening is an art, one that takes a great deal of practice to master. Throughout history, the great communicators have been excellent listeners.

*Let go of the need to control the dialogue. Every productive conversation should feature different points of view. By being respectful of this fact, we can strive to actively seek balanced conversations. In most cases, the person who tries to dominate the conversation actually repels the conversation. Remember, forcing our position, weakens our position.

*Ask questions to gain clarity.
As a personal development writer, I am often approached by family or friends regarding articles I have written. Often, they believe my article is directed toward them. First, if the shoe fits wear it, second, I write about the human condition and draw my material from an array of life encounters and experiences. I often weave examples from the past with experiences in the present. I do this to paint a picture for my readers. Rather than assume things, we are always better served to ask questions in order to gain clarity.

*Seek to understand the other person’s perspective. As the late author, Stephen Covey wrote in his international bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “seek to understand, then to be understood”. When we strive to understand why someone feels a certain way or holds a specific belief, we open a door to respectful, effective communication.  Recently I asked a client why he felt the need to hold such a tight rein on his teenage daughter. As an outsider looking in, it seemed like he was obsessed with keeping her from participating in what I would deem “normal childhood experiences”. “When I was 16 years old, my 12 year old sister was abducted and raped by a neighbor. I vowed that I would never let that happen to my children. Maybe I have taken it to the extreme but I just want to keep her safe”. Because I sought to understand his reasoning, I had a much better understanding of where he was coming from and how he viewed the world around him. Seek to understand!

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

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?


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.


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

7 “HOT” Traits Found In REAL MEN…John Page Burton

“Where have all the REAL MEN gone”? This question was posed by a female student enrolled in one of my relationship workshops. “Your looking at one” a male participant said confidently as other students began to snicker in anticipation of a potential showdown. So, what does a “real man” look like, I asked. “Well I can certainly tell you what he doesn’t look like” another female student exclaimed. Thus began an open, honest discussion centered around what constitutes a “REAL MAN”. At the end of our discussion, the majority of our group was in consensus that the following 7 traits determine the overall “hotness” of a “REAL MAN”.


Romantic. “Real men” are not afraid to exhibit public displays of affection or speak loving words of affirmation to the object of their desire. Holding hands, snuggling or “being silly” are traits found in “real men”.

Emotional Intelligence. “Real men” control their emotions and are also in tune with the emotional needs of their partner. “Real men” are proactive, not reactive. They are comfortable listening to different points of view and refrain from forcing their opinion on others.

Awareness.”Real men” have the ability to focus beyond themselves. They are acutely aware that the world doesn’t revolve around their want’s and needs. They are conscious of and attentive to the needs of others.

Language. “Real men” know that listening is more important than talking. Their words are respectful and they don’t need to raise their voice or use profanity to FORCE their point across.

Masculine. “Real men” are comfortable in their masculinity and never see a need to apologize for standing firm in their values or beliefs. “Real men” step up and take leadership roles in their family and community. “Real men” don’t “go along to get along”.

Energy. “Real men” make health a top priority. They maintain a high level of discipline and take pride in their vitality. Regardless of age, their energy inspires others.

Nurturing. “Real men” support and encourage personal and relationship growth. They celebrate their partners wins and are empathetic when things don’t turn out as planned. “Real men” genuinely care about and are considerate of their partners needs and desires.

As we concluded the seminar one of our male students summed it up best when he said…”I feel like I now have permission to bring my authentic self into my relationship”. That’s a pretty cool realization!

As always, 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!

REVENGE…It just feels good! John Page Burton

For many of us, thoughts of revenge feel pretty darn good! “I’ll get even with that no good jerk, nobody is going to wrong ME and get away with it” is a common utterance of someone immersed in a revenge mindset. Thoughts of getting revenge tend to get our blood pumping and give us a new sense of purpose, one which enables us to summon all of our plotting and planning skills and formulate a misguided strategy to right the “perceived wrong”. We are determined to channel all of our frustration and anger into one big, tightly wound ball of hateful energy and let it fly! It feels GREAT to visualize the misery we will inflict on that no good, scum sucking weasel! Sound familiar?

At one time or another all of us have harbored thoughts of revenge. For some, these thoughts have become all consuming and are clearly effecting a person’s physical and mental health. Fortunately, most of us fail to act on our thoughts of revenge or else our prison system would be more taxed than it currently is. We create a great deal of internal turmoil each and every time we harbor thoughts of revenge. Let’s be honest, people do things to us that make us angry. They may hurt our feelings, cause us financial harm or in many cases they subject us to significant physical and emotional abuse. We want our perpetrator to feel the same degree of pain “they have caused us”. We repeatedly visualize how good it will feel to “give them a heavy dose of their own medicine”. Thoughts of revenge allow us to seemingly regain the power that has been taken away from us. The Ego is LOVING every minute of this drama and is more than willing to add more fuel to an already raging fire. Revenge is a verb. Revenge is action! The Ego unconditionally supports our feelings of anger, rage, hurt, jealousy and disappointment.

Revenge presents itself either explicitly or implicitly. Explicit revenge is action based and immediate. For example, your dog just bit my kid. I am going to load my gun and shoot your dog. Implicit revenge is the most common form of revenge and thankfully for humanity it remains primarily in our mind. We consistently visualize what we will do to the person who “wronged us” and we create imaginary scenarios that depict the suffering and humiliation they will endure from our callous acts of revenge. Explicit revenge is clear and concise with an eye for an eye being the only rule of this game. Implicit revenge is a slow and painful emotional process that causes the person who is immersed in thoughts of revenge to relive their drama over and over. In the end they put themselves through twice as much emotional pain as anything inflicted by the perpetrator. The object of “implicit revenge” is oblivious to how much energy is being devoted to them and therefore the only person continuing to suffer is the person consumed with the thoughts of revenge. “The wheels on the bus go round and round”. Implicit revenge rarely leaves the planning stage. Over time, the intensity usually wears off and the person seeking revenge moves on to their next psychological drama.

3 questions that can help us manage our thoughts of revenge…

Did they really do something significant to us? Asking ourselves this question causes us to pause and ponder. This process can bring us to a more reasonable state of mind. Nobody is worth ruining our physical or mental health over. It is also a good idea to ask ourselves if the object of our anger is really just a trigger for something else that is lurking below the surface? On several occasions I have placed a target in the middle of someones chest for no other reason than they were available in the moment. My anger and frustration from another “perceived wrong” had been lying in wait, impatiently waiting for the perfect moment to strike!

Will I become a better person if I act out my revenge? The answer is always a resounding NO. Revenge never has a positive outcome. Revenge is an unhealed response that fosters more negative energy. The only way can we can truly grow and become better people is to take the high road and move on. If someone steals from us we can press charges and let the legal system take it from there. If our spouse cheats on us we can choose to seek marital counseling or we can hire a divorce attorney. Taking the law into our own hands and dealing out the punishment of our choosing is not a wise option. NEVER ACT OUT REVENGE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS AND ALCOHOL!!!

What would happen if I simply let it go? We must trust the universal law that says… what goes around will come around. It may not come around the way we want it to but it eventually will come around. Letting go is hard to do because of the Ego’s need to control. As I wrote in my book, Wisdom Through Failure, I experienced issues with a neighbor over the non stop barking of his dogs. Eventually our HOA manager was able to get it to stop. We recently arrived at our mountain home (neighbor with barking dogs) to find that 3 of our upstairs windows had been shot out with a pellet gun. I can’t prove that he was involved, however, none of the other homes in our neighborhood had any pellet holes in their glass. Being that he is the only person who I had any type of conflict with, the odds seem reasonably high that he knows something about it. It’s his Karma. I filed a police report for insurance purposes and released it to the universe. FYI…I am human and had a wealth of vengeful ideas rolling around in my head but chose to not act on them.

Thoughts of revenge are a normal response when we feel we have been wronged. Holding onto these thoughts for any length of time is unhealthy. Carrying out acts of revenge is not only unhealthy but can have dangerous results. When we were children our parents encouraged us to count to ten when we were angry. The purpose of this exercise was to allow us to pause and ponder rather than respond impulsively. I contend that this is still some very solid wisdom each of us should strive to follow.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.
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Loving The HATERS…John Page Burton

Hate has always been present in my life. I wish this was not the case but unfortunately it’s true. All of us are exposed to a certain degree of hate and many of us have been victimized far more than others. The hater targets people who they classify as being different and who don’t fit into their view of how the world should look. Differences may include, sexual orientation, religious views, politics and ethnicity. Hate shows up in different forms and is often covertly displayed. For example, covert hate in the workplace may cause qualified people to be passed up for promotions, re-assigned or may lead to alienation by co-workers. YES this still goes on in 2014. As of late, hate seems to be inspiring certain religious organizations to boycott businesses owned by people who are not in alignment with their world view. In essence, certain religious leaders are saying…because you don’t agree with our point of view we will do everything in our power to destroy your business. This sounds pretty HATEFUL to me! This scenario is currently being played out as it pertains to Michael Sam, an openly gay, African American football player who was recently drafted by the St. Louis Rams. Visa is among the companies one particular religious organization is “demanding” that it’s “flock” boycott in order to “punish” Visa for sponsoring/supporting an openly gay athlete. In all fairness, there are numerous high profile gay celebrities requesting that their followers “punish” any business owner who opposes same sex marriage. Again this is sounding a bit HATEFUL all the way around. I am traveling to San Diego this weekend to celebrate the marriage of a same sex couple. Their marital choice is different from my marital choice yet I can still RESPECT, ENJOY and CELEBRATE them for being the amazing people they are. I have an African American friend who has published two books on the challenges of infertility. Everyday she speaks an uplifting message of hope for couples struggling with infertility. I RESPECT her for embracing Gods word and sharing her life experiences with those in need of understanding, grace and hope. If I had allowed sexual orientation or race to keep me from engaging with these amazing people I would have missed out on a truly enriching experience.


Once we understand why someone CHOOSES to engage in a hateful behavior it becomes easier to understand how we can learn to LOVE and accept them for who and where they currently reside. The key word is currently… it is their CHOICE to remain there. LOVE may not be an easy assignment but one we must be willing to embrace if we truly desire to make a difference in the world. It is imperative that we teach our children to show grace and have compassion. Hate must never be an option!


Hurting. Haters live in pain. Their model of the world is based on a me against you mindset. Because you are different, you pose a direct threat to my way of life. I will get you before you get me. When a person is confined to this type of mindset they are never at peace. Angst, anger and fear are the dominant emotions that rule their life. Most haters have spent their lifetime living in pain.

OUR CHALLENGE is to view the hater with compassionate understanding. Recognizing that none of us were born to hate is the first step in this process. Hate is a learned behavior.

Attention. All of us crave attention and most of us will do whatever it takes to fit into a specific social group. This insatiable need to fit in will often lead the most gullible members of our society down a very dark road. We were ALL born into the light but shortly thereafter many of us were exposed to and remain in a very bleak emotional place. Haters seek out other haters because it is a way to bond and continue to feed their internal anger. Like Vampires, haters resist the light.

OUR CHALLENGE is to not play into the “haters trap”. When we practice “reverse hate” we are adding fuel to an ugly fire, one that if not extinguished has the potential to burn forever.

Taught. Hate is taught. The tenets of hate are passed down from generation to generation in much the same way as Great Grandmother’s fine China.

OUR CHALLENGE is to remember that we are offered two choices… LOVE or Hate. Our experience of the world will be shaped by which emotion we feed!

Ego. The chief function of the Ego is to create separation from others. This occurs most commonly in the form of jealousy, fear, envy and anger. On the other hand, LOVE encourages us to co-exist unconditionally.

OUR CHALLENGE is to ask the question…what would LOVE do? When we come from a place of LOVE we can show grace to even the most hateful people.

Resistance. Haters are resistant to anything new or different because it means they will have to give up control. Haters engage in this behavior because they view it (however dysfunctional it seems) as a way of exerting control in a world that for them has always been out of control.

OUR CHALLENGE is to release OUR desire that members of society behave a certain way. OUR personal power comes from knowing that we can control OUR response to another person’s behavior.

Stuck. Haters are emotionally stuck at a specific point in time (normally childhood). They have failed or are unwilling to move past this point. Haters will fight tooth and nail to keep from expanding or growing into a new point of view. Their hateful behavior will often accelerate in order to solidify their misguided beliefs.

OUR CHALLENGE is to bless the hater and realize that this is their chosen path. It may not make sense to us, however, it is where they currently reside. We can choose to step out of their energy.

We are free to choose our response to hate. We can return hate or we can bless the hater and be on our way. I tend to view a person spewing hate from the perspective of an extremely wounded child. This is their response to fear, change and uncertainty. Some of the most profound directives found in the Christian Bible encourage us to stay away from judgement, treat everyone with respect and dignity and we are reminded that we are NOT our brothers keeper. The Christian Bible is also very clear that any type of revenge or corrective action should be left in the capable hands of our creator, not man. Many religions and their revered spiritual teachers also encourage us to love our enemies. I admit that this can be very challenging to say the least. In the end the ball is left in our court…Love or Hate?

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

GOSSIPERS BEWARE…We’re Onto You!…John Page Burton

As a society we seem to be preoccupied with gossip. Many of us just can’t seem to get enough. The National Enquirer has one of the largest readerships of any publication on Earth yet the vast majority of it’s content is fabricated. People love “dirt”. Think about it, when was the last time “a friend” pulled you aside to share something really POSITIVE about someone else? He said-she said is one of the most unconscious games we play. So why do people love gossip? Does the gossiper provide an important public service or are they simply struggling to find significance in their own lives by analyzing and sharing details about ours? First let’s review three common types of gossip and then let’s take a closer look at the word gossip and identify some of the characteristics inherent to a person who regularly engages in this behavior.

3 Common Types of Gossip…

*Malicious- The intent is to cause harm. This type of gossip often shows up in the workplace and is quite common during divorce/custody proceedings. This type of gossip is almost always based on false or half truths and is designed to make the other person look BAD! “I feel so sorry for Susy because Paul is so careless when he has Jimmy. Did you see that terrible scrape on Jimmy’s head?” ***Jimmy fell off the swing at school and his Principal carried him to the school nurse.

*Subtle- Designed to drop a hint or start a rumor. This type of gossip is often based on jealousy or a desire to get even for a perceived wrong. This type of gossip gained it’s roots in high school but is often carried into adulthood. “You know that John had a child out of wedlock didn’t you? You should probably be careful with that guy”. ***John didn’t call her for a second date which irritated her.

*Unfiltered talker- They make a career out of sharing something about someone with everyone. Commonly referred to as the neighborhood “busy-body”. “I heard that Mark and his wife are having financial troubles, their house hasn’t been painted in a few years”. “Did you know that Sarah talks to the mailman for 15 minutes everyday and even had him come into her house the other day…looks like she’s up to no good!” ***Mark and his wife are putting all of their extra money toward the care of Marks sister who has a rare medical condition that is not covered by insurance. Sarah routinely visits with her cousin Larry who just so happens to be her mail carrier.


Gullible. Gossip meets the needs of gullible people. How else can you explain the monumental success of tabloid publications. Far too many of us are so busy keeping up with the Kardashians and their family challenges that we miss the real life challenges within our own family. I recently read a news account of a teenager who committed suicide by using a hand gun. Her mother claimed she was in the other room watching “Real House Wives of Atlanta” and never heard the gun go off. She told police that she discovered her daughter after she “realized she had not seen her for awhile”.

Opiate. Gossip addiction is similar to drug addiction. The gossiper receives a fix due to the “rush” they get from sharing “secret information”. Withdrawal from gossip can be a very intense process. Forced to mind their own business, a habitual gossiper can easily have a relapse and fall back into their old, destructive pattern of sharing “information”.

Social Bonding. Gossipers tend to attract other gossip dependent people and together they form a social bond. For many people, gossip is the only type of communication they are comfortable with. Talking about and analyzing the lives of other people keeps the spotlight away from them and feeds their profound sense of importance. Like attracts like and soon a community is formed. Within this community a hierarchy will develop as members strive to solidify their position of importance and power. It’s a safe bet that gossip will start flying!!!

Self Esteem. The lower a person’s self esteem, the greater the chances become that they will engage in gossip. Gossipers are masterful at transference. The gossiper offsets their insecurity and fear by sharing and analyzing the perceived problems of others. By taking the focus off of themselves they don’t have to look at their own unhappiness. “Did you know that Sues husband is cheating on her because she had a breast removed? I heard it from a very reliable source”. I overheard this comment at a party we recently attended. The person who shared this “morsel” of information did so with a demonic gleam in her eye. As I watched Sue (the Cancer survivor) interact with other people at the party, it became obvious why the gossiper was so angry. Sue looks great, radiates happiness, smiles, uses touch in her communication with others and seems to be a genuinely happy person who has survived a difficult challenge. On the other hand the gossiper in question is 60-80 pounds overweight, radiates misery, has a wall surrounding her and oozes pissed off!

Intelligence. I have found that the vast majority of chronic gossipers possess below average emotional intelligence. Remember…Great minds talk about ideas, small minds talk about people.

Power. The habitual gossiper operates under a false belief that they somehow wield power over others. They remind me of the “proud peacock” as they strut around sporting their “I’ve got something on someone” look. The reality is that outside of their co-dependent circle of influence (if we can label it as such) their message offers nothing of value. Authentic power isn’t a bi-product of gossip. Authentic power is achieved through congruent actions based on integrity.

I embrace the first amendment and I am grateful for the wisdom of our founding fathers in making it the cornerstone of our constitution. Everyone is entitled to their point of view and we live in a society that affords us this liberty. Fortunately there are laws in place that protect our personal interests when freedom of speech gets out of hand. I.E. Libel, Slander and Defamation of Character. In my opinion, gossip only serves one purpose and that is to tarnish the reputation of another person. When I find myself in the company of a gossiper I immediately exit stage left. On the other hand, when I am around people who are discussing concepts and ideas I cannot help myself from engaging in the conversation. Another benefit of our amazing constitution is that we have the freedom to choose the speech we desire to listen to. Choose wisely my friends!

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

FATE or CHOICES? You Must Decide…John Page Burton

FATE is a word that many of us use to describe events that we believe are out of our control. Many of us describe FATE with words like destiny or divine purpose. For example, some believe that FATE is why Will Smith is one of the highest paid actors in the world and why Will Smith is also currently serving a 10 year sentence in a state correctional facility. Has Will Smith’s life been shaped by FATE or by his CHOICES? I recently spent time with a person who is having significant health challenges. This person is at least 80 lbs over their ideal body weight and they seem to have little interest in diet or exercise. During our conversation they stated that it was simply “their FATE” to experience health problems. I couldn’t help but believe their health challenges were caused more by their CHOICES than by FATE and that they were using the concept of “FATE” as an avoidance strategy. So why does one person named Will Smith end up becoming a box office sensation while another Will Smith ends up serving a 10 year sentence for armed robbery? Was it FATE or was it the bi-product of their CHOICES?

I am a true believer in the “laws of attraction” and I have experienced the awesome power of manifestation on many occasions. In other words, what I have focused on has eventually become my reality. I also believe in the law of motion which says that we must keep moving toward where we desire to be. Our actions must be congruent with our intentions. In order for Will Smith to have become the box office sensation he is today, he first had to practice, master his craft, believe in his talents, move to California, go to countless auditions and finally accept the role of the Fresh Prince on the hit show, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Will Smith made specific choices that delivered him a life of fame and fortune. The other Will Smith made a series of choices that delivered him a much different lifestyle.

Everyday we are presented with choices. Every choice comes with a potential consequence. If I choose to drink and drive there is a distinct possibility that I may cause harm to myself or others. If I smoke a pack of cigarettes every day, there is a reasonable possibility that I will have significant respiratory challenges later in life. If I eat a high fat diet there is a possibility I will develop heart disease. If I engage in an extra marital affair there is a possibility that my marriage may end. There is also a possibility that none of these choices will produce any adverse effects whatsoever, which brings us back to Fate.

FATE or CHOICES? You decide.

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

Is Your Family “Ruining Your Life?”…John Page Burton

“John, my family is ruining my life” is something a friend of mine said during a recent conversation. I encouraged him to explain what he meant (I was thinking to myself, this should be interesting). He began a “long winded rant”, highlighting the issues he had with his brother, sister, mom, deceased cousin and 93 year old grandmother. I asked him how things were going with his own wife and kids and he said, “man with all this other crap going on It doesn’t seem like I get to spend much time with them”. My friend is so heavily invested in “righting” the past that he is completely missing out on NOW. Sadly, many of us find ourselves in a similar scenario.

Family of origin, the age old dilemma…

All of us have experienced conflicts with members of our family of origin. Our goal is not to carry around so much baggage that we need to employ two bellhops! It’s draining. I work with numerous clients who are still experiencing conflicts with parents or siblings over things that took place decades ago. RELEASE IT…holding onto anger is bad for our physical and emotional health! Many of us operate under the illusion that because we are “related” we must like each other. The key word here is RELATE. In other words, if we don’t RELATE to someone (even family) it is perfectly normal to have minimal contact with them. Ask yourself this question…is the family member I have a challenge with the type of person I would desire to spend time with if we were not related? The answer is probably NO. Many of us feel “obligated” to spend time with family members who treat us poorly because “after all, they’re family”. This is a very misguided belief. I believe we should treat everyone with dignity and respect and we should expect the same in return. Relationships are a two way street. Many of us are still desperately seeking approval from our parents and siblings. We desire to prove to them once and for all that we are someone of value and importance. I routinely ask clients..”so how is that going for you?” People can change but most won’t because true change requires a significant commitment to personal growth as well as a dramatic shift in perspective.

Extended Family is a good thing…

I grew up an only child. My closest relatives lived 2500 miles away which meant I only saw them every few years. I was well aware of the “family feud” between my father and his younger brother which stemmed from what my uncle determined to be my fathers “misguided decision” to move “out west”. My mother and grandmother also routinely bickered back and forth regarding my mothers “hidden agenda” which ultimately “tore the family a part”. In reality, my parents received a great job offer in Colorado and chose to take it. Their decision obviously made my fathers family of origin very uncomfortable. The drama between my uncle and my father was never resolved and both men died without saying a proper goodbye. I am glad we moved “out west” as I fear I might have lost my mind “back east”.

Due in large part to the dysfunction within my own family of origin, my extended family has always had a profound influence in my life. Over the years I have enjoyed numerous brotherly and sisterly type relationships and I have sought advice and mentoring from a variety of older, wiser, friends. We don’t get to choose our family of origin but we do get to choose who we include in our extended family. With that being said, I always encourage my friends and clients to keep things in perspective and strive to work through and let go of past hurts or disappointments that may be keeping them from enjoying a healthier relationship with their family of origin. At the same time I encourage them to also cultivate, embrace and enjoy their extended family relationships.

Some tips for creating a healthier relationship with our family of origin…

*Focus on YOU! When we focus on becoming better, faster and stronger we leave very little time for trivial pursuits. When we find ourselves angry or upset with a member of our family of origin it is a clear sign that we need to get back to work on ourselves. When we surround ourselves with positive, uplifting people, we are able to insulate ourselves from mindless, baseless, drama. WHERE OUR FOCUS GOES, OUR ENERGY FLOWS!

*Prioritize what is important and don’t apologize for it. When a member of our family of origin DEMANDS our attention or time we can politely say NO. When any type family of origin drama begins interfering with our PRESENT responsibilities it is important to stand our ground and remain secure in our personal power. Remember, WE PROBLEM SOLVE FROM THE PAST, WE CREATE IN THE PRESENT!

*Establish healthy boundaries. We teach people how to treat us. Just because someone is “family” doesn’t mean we have to accept ill treatment or abuse. GUILT is an instrument that is often used to control people and situations. When we fail to establish boundaries we are effectively telling the other person that it is acceptable to walk all over us and THEY WILL! Boundaries establish the ground rules of how we expect to be treated NOW and in the FUTURE. We should never feel guilty about respecting ourselves enough to establish healthy boundaries.

Our family of origin can only “ruin our life” if we allow it! We get to CHOOSE how we desire to be in relationship with them or if we choose to be in relationship at all. This is a very empowering way to live our lives and yet at first it can feel uncomfortable. If you are struggling with a family of origin relationship I encourage you to begin taking the steps above as they will help you distance yourself from the drama.

As always I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

Are You A Giver Or A Taker?…John Page Burton

As a writer I’m always looking for new ideas and material. This week one of my clients stated “all I do is give, give, give” which prompted me to ask them the question…do you consider yourself to be a “giver” or a “taker”? My subsequent conversation with this client prompted today’s message. ***At the conclusion of this particular coaching session my client came to the realization that they were actually “taking” far more than they were “giving” which was the real cause of their frustration.

The million dollar question…

Would the people you interact with on a regular basis describe you as a “giver” or a “taker? It is a safe bet that most of us view ourselves as “givers” but are we really giving as much as we think we are? I encourage you to answer the following questions honestly and objectively.

Be honest with YOURSELF…

*Do you readily give credit to others or do YOU take most of the credit for a group or team success?
*Do you routinely hand out sincere compliments and praise or do you hold back?
*Do you practice your manners? Please, thank you, I appreciate you, etc.
*Do you take people for granted? I.E. “It’s their job, they’re supposed to do it” or “they’re just volunteers”?
*Do you genuinely support the accomplishments and success of your friends, co-workers and peers?
*Are you jealous or envious of someones success, relationship or health?
*Do you give freely or do you keep score? I.E. “I did this for you, so you need to do this for me”?
*Do you volunteer your time and tithe on a regular basis?
*Do you crave recognition and feel unappreciated when you are not “celebrated” for everything you do?
*When was the last time you were in a restaurant and picked up the check for an elderly couples dinner? Paid for a soldiers lunch?

The results are in…

How did you do? If you scored an 8 or higher you are living the conscious life of a true giver. If you are in the 6-7 range I encourage you to take a look at areas where you hold back from unconditional giving. Make the decision to become more aware of this habit. It may be uncomfortable at first because of our human nature to make everything about us. If you scored a 5 or less you are extremely self absorbed and possess a scarcity mindset. It is important that you come to realize that there is more than enough of EVERYTHING for EVERYONE! Release your death grip on “getting what’s yours” and start giving!

The secret to living is giving!

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