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.

7 Disempowering Traits To Move Away From…John Page Burton

We live in a diverse world made up of many different personality types. Therein lies the beauty and bane of existence. As a student and teacher of personal development, I am fascinated by the great adventure we call life and by how each of us chooses to participate in this adventure. In the past, I have written articles highlighting some of the traits found in leaders and others I believe we would be well served to move toward. Today, I desire to take a slight departure and examine 7 disempowering ADULT personality traits that I believe each of us should move away from. (nor would it be a good idea to include these types of folks in our circle of influence).


1. The Small Child. The small child is just that, someone who never truly grew up. They “demand” attention and acknowledgement from everyone around them and can be prone to adult tantrums when they don’t get their way. NO is their least favorite word and boundaries tend to frustrate and anger them. Because they choose to make everything about them, they are rarely good team players and often make challenging romantic partners.

2. The Mind Reader. The “mind reader” believes they know what you are thinking and they expect you to know what they are thinking. The fundamental problem with the “mind reader” is that the foundation of their communication is based on guesswork. “Mind readers” are implicit communicators who can be left dazed and confused when they are confronted by a “fact based” explicit communicator.

3. The Assumer. “The assumer” creates their own story line, one that is rarely based in fact. They form their opinions and pass judgment based on assumptions. For example, one of my neighbors told several other neighbors that we had decided to sell our mountain home. She later confessed that she had arrived at this conclusion because we had not come up for the summer when we normally did. We had not spoken to her since the previous summer and had NEVER discussed selling our mountain home. In reality, we had numerous social engagements during the month of May that prevented us from coming up sooner than we did. This is referred to in many circles as “foot in mouth disease”.

4. The Buck Passer. The “buck passer” has never met a decision they didn’t prefer to defer. Fearing they will fail, look stupid, piss someone off or be unpopular they simply leave the decision making process to someone else. “What would you like for dinner honey? I don’t know you decide. I decided last time, you decide this time. C’mon honey, you decide, I’m good with whatever you decide”. Sound familiar? The “buck passer” plays this game in every corner of their life and it can be “mind numbing” to be around for any length of time.

5. The Blamer. Nothing has been or ever will be their fault. This pattern began in childhood and has seemingly served them ever since. The problem is that conscious people see right through the blame game. Failure to take personal responsibility leaves the “chronic blamer” with one card left to play…the victim of circumstance. Taking personal responsibility for ALL of our choices and actions is true EMPOWERMENT!

6. The Distorter. Let’s just say that reality is NOT their constant companion. They will change or alter the truth in order to gain an upper hand in their emotional, financial or career objectives. Distorters create “smoke screens” in an attempt to hide their insecurity and shortcomings. Unfortunately, significant damage may occur before the veil is lifted.

7. The Magician. Now you see me now you don’t. The magician is adept at avoiding anything that is uncomfortable. When the going gets tough…poof, they’re gone! This includes relationships, jobs and friendships. Their life is a never ending illusion. They rarely stop “performing” long enough for anyone to meet the “real” person behind “the mask”. Should you challenge their authenticity, you guessed it…poof!

In fairness, we ALL tap into theses 7 traits from time to time. Our awareness of them is a positive step toward conscious living. If you strongly identify with any of them it may be time for a “check up from the neck up”. As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

The “Magic Wand” Fallacy, 3 Reminders For Maintaining Our Perspective…John Page Burton

Life sure would be a lot easier if I had a crystal ball and a magic wand! By being able to look into my future, I could avoid all types of pain, angst, misfortune and regret. All of my decisions would be painless and profitable. If by some off chance my crystal ball malfunctioned, I would simply wave my magic wand and POOF…everything would be restored to my new normal.

If you are over the age of ten and have a pulse you have probably figured out that there is no such thing as crystal balls or magic wands. This is the stuff of Harry Potter. We live in a survival of the fittest world in which a great deal of pain and suffering has been thrown in for good measure. I may be rattling some of my “new age” friends but I encourage you to bear with me and read on. By understanding that bad things often happen to “good people” and conversely, good things often happen to “bad people” we can begin designing a vision for what we desire our world to look like and then set out to manifest this vision.

3 Reminders That Keep My Life In Perspective…

*Everything is temporary. By remaining grateful for ALL of my circumstances I am able to maintain a current perspective. When things are going well I am grateful, when things go south, I can remain grateful. Is it challenging? YES! However, I realize I am leasing my time on Earth and it is up to ME to make it count. Nothing in life remains the same. Embracing the temporary nature of things makes my journey far less frustrating

*Someone is always worse off than I am. On my worst day, someone is having a more challenging day than I am. When I am knocking on deaths door someone else will have died. If I lived in a 450 square foot apartment in the worst neighborhood in any town in America and I was only able to eat one meal a day, I would still have a higher standard of living than 95% of the world. This is a powerful reminder of just how good my life really is. Anything I create above and beyond this example is “icing on the cake”!

*I control my thoughts. This is an absolute game changer. What we think about, we have the power to bring about. Senator John McCain was held as a prisoner of war for five years. During that time he was beaten, tortured and deprived of even the most basic tenets of human decency. When he was asked how he was able to survive and keep his spirits up, he said, “I knew that I controlled my thoughts”. We all have the ability to control what we think about and what we choose to focus on. I know that when I began to change my thoughts from scarcity (what was missing in my life) to thoughts of abundance (all that was possible) I began to truly grow as a person and recognize all of the opportunities that were available to me.

We may not be able to wave a magic wand to make our circumstances change but we do possess the power to determine what we focus on. None of us have access to a crystal ball allowing us to gaze into our future but we can condition our mind to recognize that everything is temporary and that life’s storms will eventually pass. When we become consciously aware of the world around us, it becomes much easier to navigate through both our favorable and unfavorable experiences.

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