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!