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

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…..

Embracing our MISTAKES…John Page Burton

Many of us routinely “beat ourselves up” for making mistakes. Rather than embracing and learning from our mistakes we speak negatively over them. “How could I have been so stupid” or “I never get anything right” are some of the common utterances of a person who is in bondage to their mistakes. When we shift our perspective and begin viewing mistakes as learning opportunities we become increasingly open to venturing outside our comfort zone and we begin taking the type of risks that can significantly elevate our game. Remember, mistakes are one of the prices we pay for growth.

What our MISTAKES can teach us…

Modification. Mistakes can provide us with an opportunity to change our behavior. For example, if you or someone you know has ever been cited for DUI, you are well aware of the behavior modifications that must take place if the person charged desires to remain out of jail and keep their job. Mistakes are often the gateway to massive change.

Introspection. Mistakes provide us with an opportunity for self examination. Whenever I make a significant mistake I engage in a process of introspection. What could I have done differently? What led me to make this decision in the first place? What will I do differently next time? Rather than “beat myself up” I choose to reflect and re-direct.

Sabotage. Why do we make the same mistake over and over? When we continue to make the same mistake over and over it is often an indication that we are intentionally trying to avoid something we perceive as uncomfortable. Recently, one of my clients experienced a life changing breakthrough when she recognized that she had engaged in a series of “abusive” relationships because she was afraid of allowing herself to be completely vulnerable and intimate with a man. For years she had been sabotaging her happiness.

Trust. Embracing our mistakes allows us to trust ourselves at a much deeper level. By accepting that I am not immune from making mistakes, it becomes easier to make bold decisions. I recognize that I will make mistakes (poor decisions) from time to time, however, my intention is to use them as a barometer for my growth rather than berate myself because I am not “perfect”.

Accountability. Mistakes shape our character. When we make a mistake do we take personal responsibility or do we seek someone to blame? Far too many people in leadership positions look for a “scapegoat” rather than taking responsibility for their decision, learning from it and moving forward. Accountability and personal responsibility are key characteristics of authentic leadership.

Knowledge. If we are open to learning, mistakes can provide us with a wealth of knowledge. Many of us have heard the saying “only a fool makes the same mistake twice”. Not true. Many of us are capable of making the same mistake several times before we grasp the lesson. I say “only a fool doesn’t eventually learn from the same mistake”

Empathy. Mistakes can help us to be more understanding and tolerant of others. Once I embraced the concept that I am always going to make mistakes, I became less judgmental of others.
Over the years, this understanding has helped me become a much more empathetic, effective leader.

Solutions. Mistakes usually inspire us to look for solutions. Throughout my academic career, math was not my best subject. I routinely made mistakes. My teachers would encourage me to keep reworking the problem until I found the solution. This same philosophy serves us well in any area of our lives where we find ourselves routinely making mistakes. We can’t stay stuck in a problem if we are actively seeking a solution.

Remember, when we choose to embrace our mistakes we are choosing to embrace personal growth.

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

The Problem With Perfection…John Page Burton

I recently visited with a client who has spent the majority of his lifetime struggling with the concept of “perfection”. For as long as he could remember, he had been admonished to do things “perfectly” and was routinely chastised or punished when he failed to achieve the level of “perfection” required of him by a series of “well meaning” role models, including his parents. Because of his skewed reality around perfection he struggled to achieve a true measure of happiness in his intimate relationship or career. Millions of us can relate to the expectations of “perfection” that have been placed on us by our parents, athletic coaches, teachers and other role models we have encountered along our journey. I know that for many years I felt like a total “loser” for not living up to the demands of perfection placed on me. That was then, this is now. Today, I strive to do my very best in every endeavor, however, I realize that for me, “perfection” rarely happens and I’m fine with that. One of the fundamental problems with our obsession for perfection is that over time it tends to create an array of personal and health challenges. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Avoidance strategy. Many of us are using our quest for “perfection” as a means of avoiding potential rejection and therefore protecting ourselves from opening up and becoming vulnerable. For example, we have all known someone who is looking for the “perfect partner” and isn’t willing to “settle” for anyone who doesn’t measure up to the exact profile they have designed. Or how about the person who won’t go to the beach until they are in “perfect” shape. In both cases “perfection” is being conveniently used as an excuse to keep them from addressing their self doubt and fear and in both cases it is keeping them from having fun and meeting some really awesome people.

Judgment. How many times have we failed to make a connection with someone because they were not driving the “perfect” car, wearing the “perfect” clothes or living in the “perfect” zip code. Our need to pass judgment may be preventing us from meeting talented, progressive people. I know several extremely accomplished professionals who drive older model vehicles,regularly wear shorts and flip flops and live where they “feel the vibe”. You can’t possibly know anything about someone unless you have a conversation.

Health. Our quest for “perfection” can lead to a variety of health problems, including diet pill addiction, Anorexia, Skin Cancer, disfigurement from plastic surgery and an array of other health related challenges. Accepting ourselves for who we are is the first step toward optimal health. Diet and exercise are natural, proven strategies for living a longer, more enjoyable life.

Parenting. Anyone who has been subjected to the pressure stemming from parental demands of “perfection” has experiential knowledge regarding the emotional damage it can cause. As parents we want our children to do and be their best, however, the reality is that from time to time they are going to fall short of our expectations. It is up to us to teach our children that failure is an essential element of success and encourage them to embrace failure as an important part of the success process.

Self Examination. When we demand “perfection” in others it is always a good idea to examine our own motives. Why are we demanding “perfection”? Years ago, I coached high school baseball. I remember a particular parent who managed to always find something wrong with his son’s performance. One night, after a game in which his son had gone 4 for 4 and made several spectacular defensive plays, I observed the father verbally abusing his son as they walked to the car. Troubled by the incident, I called the players father and asked him why he had been so upset after the game? He explained that there had been a professional scout in attendance and that his son had gotten a late jump on an attempt to steal second base. The father went on to share that he had never been able to play college or professional baseball due to an eye injury suffered during his senior year of high school and that all he had ever wanted was for his son to have the opportunity that had alluded him. FYI… His son never played another inning of baseball after he graduated from high school. A few years ago I ran into him at a local restaurant and asked him why he had decided not to pursue college ball? (He certainly had the talent) “Coach, by the time my senior year rolled around I hated the game, no matter what I did it was never good enough for my dad and I just didn’t want to see him in the stands anymore”.

The problem with “perfection” is that it is unrealistic. I believe we should all strive to be the best at whatever we do, however, we must also realize that we are human and that we will fail and experience set backs. The pursuit of “perfection” can cause us to hold back from trying new things, meeting new people and from taking risks. Strive to be the best version of yourself and show yourself some grace.

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

The Truth About “Magic Bullets”…John Page Burton

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

MAGIC…

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

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

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

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

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

THE TAKEAWAY…

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

I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

5 Steps To End The “Drama Habit”…John Page Burton

We all know someone who is addicted to drama. They are the type of person who struggles to engage in a conversation that is not centered around “woe is me”. They will openly air their “problems” to anyone who has two ears and is breathing. They are attracted to people who have an equally strong need for drama. They crave attention and routinely create drama in order to meet their insatiable need for significance. Anyone who disagrees with them or offers a “proactive point of view” may find themselves in the cross hairs of the dramateer. Personal responsibility is death to the dramateer and they will avoid it at all cost. The drama habit can be a hard one to break. Drama is addictive. Below are 5 steps to help us end our drama habit once and for all.

DRAMA REHAB…..

1. We must take ownership of our drama. Admitting that we thrive on and identify with drama is the first step toward breaking this habit. Have you ever confronted someone who is being overly dramatic? The first thing they will do is justify their behavior. “You don’t know the half of what I’ve been through and your calling me dramatic” is a typical response of a dramateer. Ownership is awareness and awareness leads to change.

2. Change our associations. The energy of drama needs to be fed. Dramateers attract other drama addicts. If we desire to break this habit it is imperative that we step outside our comfort zone and reach out to healthy, emotionally balanced people. It is time to cultivate a new circle of influence. At first this may be very intimidating because the dramateer is not used to having proactive conversations with people who will hold them accountable for their results. Changing our associations can “dramatically” change our life. Remember, the 5 people we spend the most time with will have the greatest influence in our lives. Choose wisely!

3. End the blame game. Dramateers struggle with personal responsibility and are always looking for people and circumstances to blame for their poor choices. Blame is a very disempowering emotion. When we go to blame we are sending a strong message that we are not in control of our decisions, behavior or choices. The only way to effectively end our blame game is by taking full responsibility for ALL of our actions. This is what is meant by emotional maturity.

4. QUIT trying to fix people! Much of our drama occurs because our “fix it” projects fail. When we try to “mold” people to fit into our model of how we want them to show up we are going to end up angry and frustrated. Most of us have no desire to be “fixed” because we don’t view ourselves as broken. We are far better off working on ourselves and attracting into our lives the people who are destined to be here. “If he/she would just do this then I would be more attracted to him/her” is a typical dramateer perspective. We must work on becoming what we desire to attract. Pointing the finger at someone else is an avoidance strategy designed to keep us from facing our own shortcomings. Drama is born from insecurity!

5. START talking about concepts and ideas and STOP talking about other people. “Small minds talk about people, great minds talk about ideas”. Drama is a result of our frustration with other people. Innovation is a result of our collaboration with other people. When we stop talking about people (gossip, judgment) and begin discussing ideas, our world will open up to endless possibilities. We will find that our physical and emotional health will “dramatically” improve and our interactions will be uplifting as opposed to destructive. Which sounds more appealing to you?

Drama is a habit. We can break this habit with some good old fashioned discipline. I used to get sucked into drama on a regular basis. One day a light went off and I realized that my constant involvement in other peoples “stuff” was robbing me of time, resources and most importantly JOY! Today, I am compassionate and understanding, however, if a person is not taking a proactive approach to solving or resolving their “problems” I have no problem exiting stage left. Drama is a game I choose not to play.

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

Managing Our Demons…John Page Burton

All of us have demons and many of us find ourselves in a seemingly endless battle to exterminate these destructive “bed fellows”. As the recent death of Robin Williams clearly illustrates, our demons can exert a death grip on our soul. Our demons come in many different forms and no two demons are exactly alike. Your demons may be similar to mine in nature, however, the circumstances (back story) and characteristics of your demons will be vastly different from mine. This also holds true in how we CHOOSE to address them. For most of us, our greatest demons originated in another place in time, yet we have allowed them to travel with us wherever we go. A few of our more common “bed fellows” include the demons around physical, emotional or sexual abuse, body image, intelligence, sense of belonging, success, sexuality, financial loss, abandonment and relationship/marriage dissolution. Our demons from the past often surface and wreak havoc in our most intimate relationships. I can certify that my demons surrounding abandonment would routinely raise their ugly head whenever I found myself beginning to enjoy and place trust in a new, intimate relationship. As soon as the relationship became comfortable, an alarm would go off in my head screaming “danger, get out” and I would commence the slow, deliberate process of sabotaging and ultimately blowing up the relationship long “before my partner could”. Intellectually, it made no sense to “blow things up”, however, my emotional intelligence was not developed enough to quash my demonic thinking. I was finally able to destroy my abandonment demons when I was in my late forties.

For many of us, our demons surrounding abuse are the most difficult to make peace with. Abuse demons feature layer upon layer of scar tissue, often rendering us incapable of trusting anyone, especially ourselves. Many of us have turned to drugs and alcohol as a misguided way of quieting the demonic voices in our head only to wake up one day and find ourselves with an entirely new “bed fellow” to contend with. Demons attract demons!

A friend recently asked me how I have been able to overcome my personal demons and enjoy the happy, prosperous life I live today. My answer seemed to surprise him. I have learned how to manage my demons.

Managing Our DEMONS…

Distance. I have learned to distance myself from the past. I recognize that everything in the present moment is perfect and that ALL of my current pain originates from past events. Many of the sources of my pain and discomfort are no longer alive or living in proximity to me which illustrates the absurdity of hanging onto these programs. This realization and a great deal of daily prayer and self exploration enables me to view my life with a present moment perspective. I can manage the present moment and recognize that I have no control over the past.

Ego. Demons are figments of our imagination, hand delivered by the Ego. The Ego desires for us to stay in pain and readily uses guilt, shame, anger, jealousy, envy and depression to try and hold us hostage. I have learned to counter the darkness of the Ego with the light of compassion and love. I routinely find myself fighting my Ego and there are times when it actually wins a battle. The good news is that I have the awareness and resolve to win the WAR! The most effective way to manage the Ego is to look at everyone and everything from a place of compassionate understanding. We are ALL on our own custom designed journey.

ME. The greatest breakthrough I realized during my process of making peace with the past (demons) was the moment I truly understood that the quality of my life from that moment forward was entirely up to ME. I was “the adult” in charge and remaining a prisoner to my thoughts was INSANE. The quality of my life would be a direct result of the CHOICES I made from that moment forward. As simple as this sounds, taking personal responsibility for ALL of my actions and subsequent outcomes was the single biggest game changer in my process of personal transformation. When it’s about ME there is no room for demons.

Ownership. As long as I AVOIDED addressing and confronting my demons I remained in a state of constant pain. Once I took ownership of my right to CHOOSE what I focused on, my life began to change. Denial guarantees that we will continue experiencing pain. Taking ownership is the first step toward abolishing our demons and living a life of inner peace.

Numbing. When I was under “demonic control” I found myself “numbing” to avoid feeling the pain and disappointments in my life. My numbing included, drugs, alcohol, exercise, thrill seeking, work and travel. Once I made the decision to confront my demons head on, I found myself living my way into a state of moderation and balance. At first this was a bit odd but now I have become quite used to it.

Support. One of the best ways we can manage our demons is by seeking support. Friends, partners, spouses, life coaches and cause specific support groups are excellent resources to help us stay on track. Everyone’s pain is different and as I mentioned earlier, no two people will experience the exact same demonic experience. When we seek support we are sending a clear message to the universe that we are committed to ending our demonic bondage once and for all. Seek and you will find the support you need in the moment you need it.

ALL of us have experienced things we would like to forget. ALL of us have done things we regret. ALL of us have the capacity to offer and accept forgiveness but before that can happen we have to give ourselves permission to FEEL the FEELINGS. Once I made the decision to confront my demons and release my anger I was truly ready to move forward. This is an ongoing process. EVERYDAY I am tested to see how serious I am about managing my demons and living a pain free life. My personal report card indicates that I am a solid B student working toward an A.

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

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.
Sent from Samsung tablet

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.

Quit Acting So Darn Stupid!…John Page Burton

At one time or another all of us have been effected by a negative label that some “well meaning” person assigned to us. These “well meaning” people may have held the misguided belief that their “worldly” input would somehow be invaluable to us as we made our way through the ups and downs of our formative years. Many of us had some rather unhealthy labels attached to us, labels that we still identify with as adults. In all fairness, most of us were also the recipient of empowering labels. For the purpose of this article, I am choosing to take a closer look at some of the more “damaging” labels many of us have been subjected to. Most of our “hang ups” and insecurities as adults can be traced directly back to a label¬† we “accepted” during childhood. The same can be said of the areas in our lives where we exhibit extreme confidence. Unhealthy label=insecurity and fear. Healthy label=confidence and daring.

In my practice I have the privilege to work with a diverse group of clients. Many of my clients have been the recipients of empowering and encouraging messages that instilled in them a profound sense of self worth. They enjoy an up beat, confident approach to life. Conversely, I have clients who received a plethora of negative, discouraging messages which they have allowed to keep them trapped in the emotions of inferiority and fear. To them life is a scary place that consists of “winners and losers”.

Below are five negative messages/labels that many of us received during our formative years. Remember, if we hear a message long enough we are likely to believe it’s true. This should serve as a reminder when we are communicating with young people.

*”Quit acting so darn stupid”. The message we received was that we were not very smart. Many of us have held this belief since childhood, and we have chosen to routinely under perform in every area of our life.
*”You look fat, chubby or to skinny”. These insensitive labels may have been the catalyst for our negative self image around weight, our distorted relationship with food and may contribute to an array of unhealthy practices that support our belief that our body is not “good enough”.
*”You never do anything right”. The message taken away from this “gem” is that we are incapable of thinking for ourselves and that someone else will always “have to fix our mess”. Because we fear that we will not do it right, many of us have created the habit of avoidance.
*”Why can’t you be more like your sister/brother”. The take away from this “timeless classic” is that we are not good enough. Many of us go through life constantly comparing ourselves to others and we routinely avoid competition or scenarios where we may be put in a position where we could lose and “look bad” in doing so.
*”Keep your mouth shut, unless you have something important to say”. Silenced at an early age, many of us have chosen to remain silent for a lifetime. We fail to speak up when we see injustice, we accept abuse, we routinely look the other way when we know something is wrong and we refuse to speak up for what we desire. We may also be unclear as to what actually constitutes “something important”.

Some of the people we received these messages from included, parents, siblings, teachers, clergy, coaches, friends and relatives. Many of us have internalized these messages to such a degree that we might as well declare¬† “I am nothing more than a fat, stupid loser who never gets anything right and I am obviously going directly to hell because of the errors in my ways. I should have just kept my mouth shut and been more like my brother Earl”.

In order to live a truly rich, rewarding life, it is imperative that we stop identifying with false, unhealthy labels and begin telling ourselves a new, empowering truth. It is not up to other people to write our life story…IT IS UP TO US!

Some things to consider regarding LABELS…

Limiting. Labels are limiting. Living up to our “assigned” labels will never allow us to expand and grow. The Ego knows that a “mind expanded will never return to it’s original size” and therefore it will fight hard to keep us trapped in our comfort zone.

Adversarial. Labels feature two opposing sides. There is the truth and there is the Ego. The Ego wants to hold us hostage to our negative labels and the truth wants to set us free. Which side will prevail? The one we feed!

Belief. Labels represent an outdated belief system. The labels that most of us carry around were “assigned” to us during our formative years. As adults we know our truth and it is crucial that we adopt a new set of beliefs. For example, when I look in the mirror I am more than capable of determining whether I am at a healthy weight, to skinny or morbidly obese. I do not choose to allow someones “opinion” from 30 years ago shape my current reality or my true self image.

Excuse. A label can become an excuse for not taking the action necessary for us to reach our true potential. When we encounter a challenge do we seek a breakthrough or do we revert to an outdated label that will allow us to conveniently justify our lack of courage?

Lies. When we attempt to live up to a negative label we are consciously choosing to live a lie. Yesterday’s label does not define who we are today. For example, I was labeled an average student with below average communication skills. If I had lived up to this label you would not be reading this article. I knew that my “assigned” label was false and so I set out to develop a new belief system that was congruent with my inner truth.

Story from the past. Do we desire to live in a world of make believe or in a world of truth? Labels keep us stuck in our stories from the past. Living our truth finds us alive and well in the present moment. Living up to our labels means that we are choosing to let someone else determine the rules of OUR GAME. The truth means that we have made a conscious decision to take authorship of our own life.

What negative labels are you hanging onto that are costing you happiness, prosperity and a true sense of self? We all get to choose what labels serve us and which ones don’t. If during your formative years you were encouraged to use your voice, run your own race, love your body, embrace your God given intelligence and always speak your truth, you owe the influential people in your life a HUGE debt of gratitude. If like many of us you feature a few scars, now may be the time to begin embracing a new belief system, one that offers a more honest representation of who your really are.

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