Living A NOW O’CLOCK Mindset…John Page Burton

Life is not a dress rehearsal, this is it, one trip through. The purpose of a dress rehearsal is to work out the kinks in a performance. If something in a script or musical arrangement isn’t flowing properly, the director or composer simply requests “do overs” until it is right. If it still isn’t flowing properly, it can be written out completely and replaced with something that works much better. I can’t speak for you, but there have been numerous times in my life that I would have enjoyed tapping into my data base of hindsight and “done something over”.

In real life we don’t get an opportunity for “do overs”. We do however, have an opportunity to change or modify our future behavior based on the intelligence we have gained through our past experiences. This process is often referred to as “the school of hard knocks”. It is currently NOW O’ CLOCK and none of us know the date and time when we will experience our final curtain call. How do we intend to make the most of today? How do we choose to be in relationship with others? Are we living in the present or somewhere in the past or future? Here are a few considerations for living in a NOW O’ CLOCK  mindset.

Be present. Many of us spend so much time “doing” that we never get around to “BEING”. As my friend Crystal Horton so eloquently stated in a recent blog post…”we get so caught up in the details of the moment, that we miss the essence of that same moment”. How many of us get so caught up in making sure that everything is perfect at “the party” that we end up missing out on the opportunity to interact with our guests? The “party” metaphor provides a good example of how many of us have chosen to play the game of life. When we live in a NOW O’ CLOCK mindset we recognize the value of creating the time and space that permits us to interact on an emotional level with those we love and care about.

Bucket list. “When I retire I am going to take a trip around the world”. “Someday I am going to take up fly fishing”. “After I get all of the kids through college I am going to buy a 67′ Corvette and cruise the open roads”. Tomorrow may never come, NOW is the time to accomplish the things we desire to do. For many of us it isn’t about the money, it is about giving ourselves permission to reward ourselves as we move through life. Establishing and going after our “bucket list” activities while we are healthy enough to enjoy them, is a great way to honor ourselves and our efforts.

Expand the mind. “An expanded mind never returns to it’s original size”. Upon graduation from high school or college many of us left our learning habits behind. I am a firm believer that a person’s quality of life is greatly enhanced by their thirst for knowledge. Learning keeps our mind sharp and it opens doors of communication and friendship with other like minded people. Mastermind groups, book clubs, travel clubs and industry associations are great resources for expanding our mind. NOW is the time to keep learning and growing!

Taking risks. Playing it safe will never allow us to create a legacy. “He played it safe and never failed” is not what I desire to be written on my tombstone. “He played hard, took risks and made a difference” is what I desire mine to read. I am not an advocate of reckless behavior but I am a firm believer in the personal power that comes from leaving our comfort zone. When we live in a NOW O’ CLOCK mindset we are empowered to go after our goals and dreams in a focused, committed manner because we recognize that time is of the essence.

Prioritize. Many of us have such a long “to do” list that we never get anything done. Here is a helpful tip. Each day, make a list of the top 3-5 things that you must accomplish in your business or career and don’t add anything else until these tasks have been completed. Make another list of the top 3-5 things that you need to accomplish in your personal life. Again, don’t add anything else until these tasks have been completed. Some of us are so concerned with meeting everyone else’s needs that we fail to meet our own. Many of us have spent far too much of our hard earned money helping “wayward” friends and family members and as a consequence we fell short on meeting our financial obligations. We must learn to put OUR obligations first and quit apologizing! I truly believe that givers gain, however, we must remember to pay ourselves first.

When we live in a NOW O’ CLOCK mindset we are aware that every day counts and that it is our responsibility to make the most of it! We are not putting off until tomorrow (or next year) what we can accomplish NOW. Our time is valuable, our interactions with friends and family are precious, we are eager to soak up as much knowledge as possible and we have a burning desire to take full advantage of all of the amazing sights and opportunities our creator has provided for us to experience. There truly is no time quite like the NOW.

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

The Unfortunate Death of “Sandbox Bobby”…John Page Burton

I grew up in a small town where just about everyone eventually ended up with a nickname. My personal moniker was “Burtbutt”. Forty years later I can still recall many of the nicknames. There was HoHo, (aptly named for his love of Hostess products) Punky, Scooter, Chico, Blackey (the only African American kid in our town) Porkchop and finally Sandbox Bobby. Over time, I have lost track of all of these colorful characters with the exception of one, Sandbox Bobby.

Sandbox Bobby died when he was nineteen years old. The coroner determined his cause of death was alcohol poisoning. Today, from my perspective as a peak performance coach, I believe that his death was a bi-product of his mothers insatiable need to protect him from failure. Shortly after Bobby graduated from high school, he found a job, bought his first car, moved into his own apartment and immediately began making up for all the things he had failed to participate in as a young adult. Less than a year later he was gone.

The story of Sandbox Bobby dramatizes a dilemma that faces parents everywhere. How do we find and maintain a healthy balance between keeping our children safe and still allowing them to navigate their way through normal, albeit often painful life experiences? Bobby’s mother chose to relive her own childhood drama by projecting her fears onto her son.  During high school, Bobby’s mom drove him to and from school, enforced an “in by dark” curfew, didn’t allow him to attend dances, go to parties or even have a girlfriend. She made his bed, did his laundry, cooked his meals, packed his lunch and discouraged him from securing after school employment. Granted, this is an extreme example, yet many parents are doing a similiar injustice to their children by always playing the role of the “great protector”. KIDS NEED TO HAVE THE FREEDOM TO FAIL & EXPERIENCE DISCOMFORT!!!

Transference…

Many of us relive our past trauma by projecting our hurts, fears and concerns onto our children. I recently engaged in a conversation with a client who shared that she was not willing to put her daughter through the same “name calling and bullying” that she had endured as a child. Her daughter, on one occasion, had complained that a classmate had called her a name. Because of this one incident and much to the dismay and objections of her husband, she made a decision to “home school” her children. She has admitted that she isn’t qualified to teach anything more than the most basic academic subjects however, in her mind “it is better than the alternative”. Her life changing decision is a direct result of her perception that her daughter will continue to be made fun of by her classmates in the same manner she had been. By “saving her daughter” she is actually crippling her daughter.

Another client is a single mom who up until recently was engaged in a power struggle with her 14 year old son. Her son loves football and wanted to try out for his high school team. My client had determined that it was “simply too dangerous” for him to be playing football. She sited her concern about “concussions” as the main reason. I pressed her further and finally was able to get to the root of her concern.  She admitted that because he is small for his age she was concerned that he would be “crushed” when he didn’t make the team. I had an opportunity to speak with her son and brought up the possibility that he might not make the team. “If that’s the case, I will try out for the golf team, I actually like golf better than football anyway but she should at least let me try out”. Mom later admitted that she had been “crushed” when she had been cut from her high school cheerleading squad and later the debate team. She carried this feeling of rejection for years and simply did not want her son to experience those same feelings. *It can be noted that as of this writing her son not only made the team but may have a chance to get significant playing time as a freshman.

In both of these cases the parent is projecting their fears onto the child. It is important that we look back on our childhood objectively and be willing to release our past fears and insecurities. We must acknowledge that kids can be cruel, accept that failure is a part of our children’s growth process and understand that sheltering our kids from the natural flow of life may produce significant long term consequences.

Some thoughts on finding and maintaining a healthy balance…

*Create an authentic environment where your children can communicate their true feelings. When our children feel comfortable communicating with us from an authentic place, they are more likely to open up to us in times of confusion, adversity and even despair.

*Make a clear distinction between criticism and concern. When we have a concern it is wise to address it right away however, we must do so in a manner that doesn’t make us right and our children wrong. It is up to us to provide reasonable boundaries for our children without extinguishing their spirit.

*Spend quality time together. I believe that the family that plays together stays together. Engaging in healthy, outdoor activities provides us with an opportunity to bond and get to know each other on a deeper level.

*Encourage our kids to think outside of the box. We must challenge our children to look for solutions rather than dwell on problems. Remember, we are grooming the next generation for success not co-dependency.

*Encourage our kids to take risks and teach them that failure is an integral part of the success process. Protecting our kids from “potential” failure is not preparing them for the real world. When our children fail it is our job to let them know that we are proud of them for their willingness to take risks and for getting out of their comfort zone. As adults, how we react when our children experience failure will leave an indelible impression on them. Make sure it is empowering!

In short, Sandbox Bobby did what most of us would do if we had spent a lifetime on the outside looking in. Bobby made a conscious decision to make up for some lost time. At the time of his unfortunate death, Bobby was socially stunted, curious, easily influenced and he took everything to the extreme. I believe that if Bobby’s mother had been equipped with the information I have shared with you, Bobby would have been able to leave the sandbox at the appropriate time and never look back. God had other plans for Bobby. My hope is that by hearing his story another life may be saved.

As always, I appreciate your thoughts and feedback.

Learning to Manage Our “Destructive” Emotions…John Page Burton

“This too shall pass” is one of the most powerful beliefs that a person can maintain. When we adopt and speak this truth, we are communicating from a place of undeniable faith. Whether we choose to view our life experiences as good or bad, we are mindfully acknowledging that they are needed for our growth. Ultimately, how we choose to interpret our life experiences will determine our emotional relationship with the world around us.  It is relatively easy to exhibit confidence when things are “going our way” and much more difficult when we are confronted with challenges and adversity. Learning to manage our “destructive emotions” is critical to attracting success, happiness and abundance. Let’s take a look at what I consider to be our 5 most “destructive emotions” and how we can effectively manage them and begin living a happier, more rewarding life.

*Frustration. When we function from a place of frustration we are effectively blocking our creativity and intuition, limiting our ability to solve problems. Frustration is a bi-product of fear, mainly a fear of failure. Frustrated people are prone to making excuses, blaming others and personalizing every adverse experience. Our breakthrough will occur when we learn to release our attachment to the outcome. In other words, we must set our intentions and then focus exclusively on the process that will lead us to our desired end result.

*Anger. Anger is a control based emotion. For many of us, anger is triggered when we feel that we have lost control over our intimate relationships, our family, our work environment, our health or even recreational activities such as sports. Another trigger for our anger is our need to be heard and to be right. Often, we become angry when people disagree with or oppose our beliefs. For others, anger can be triggered when we perceive a loss, betrayal or violation of our subconscious rules. Our breakthrough will occur when we learn to minimize our expectations and become more flexible in our approach to life. We must learn to become more respectful and tolerant of other people and their differing points of view.

*Inferiority. This emotion is characterized by a low sense of self worth. When a person struggles with feelings of inferiority, it is not uncommon for them to live in a world of “make believe” where they project a larger than life image of themselves. Living in this fantasy world allows them to deny their actual feelings of inadequacy. Their constant fear of rejection is complimented by their long standing belief that they will never be good enough, smart enough, educated enough, affluent enough, attractive enough, or a multitude of other “not enough” feelings. They fear “looking stupid”, saying “something dumb” or doing “something wrong”. Our breakthrough will occur when we learn to accept ourselves for who we are and make the conscious decision to live in the present moment.

*Envy. This emotion is rooted in a profound sense of insecurity. Envy is a perception based emotion.  A person who is grounded in envy will never be satisfied and nothing will ever be good enough for them. Envy is a very competitive emotion. Envious people can be very manipulative and are more than capable of flying into fits of anger and rage toward those they perceive to have what they desire. Envious people can be very disingenuous, often saying one thing to someone’s face while saying something entirely different behind their back. Our breakthrough will occur when we realize that there is more than enough for everyone and that it is our job to focus on running our own unique race.

*Guilt. Guilt is a very crafty, fear based emotion. Guilt can be used to manipulate another person or it can be used to draw attention to ourselves. We may verbalize our “guilt tactics” or we may use the “silent treatment” to get our point across. Guilt can be used to validate our long standing “victim stories” or allow us to justify “being right” about our current circumstances. Guilt is often used to deflect responsibility for our actions. Our breakthrough will occur when we make the conscious decision to take full responsibility for our lives, circumstances and actions. We now recognize that playing the “victim role” no longer serves us.

Which of these emotions are you carrying around with you? How are these destructive emotions serving you? What would your life be like if you replaced them with empowering emotions?

I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.