The 5 Minute Challenge…
John Page Burton is a life and business coach and the author of two books. to learn more visit http://www.jpburtongroup.com/
Many of us have been led to believe that working long hours is the key to achieving success. I held onto this belief for many years. In reality, studies routinely show that people who work sixty or more hours per week tend to be more unhealthy, careless and detached than people who work forty hours or less. Today’s message may not be popular with those who believe long hours guarantee success but I know it will be well received by spouses, children or friends of anyone who has become addicted to working long hours.
For years, I worked long hours, traveled for business, tied my self worth to being able to out perform others and I failed to nurture my personal relationships. Three years ago, I contracted Valley Fever (Google it). For the next two and a half years, I experienced a limited amount of physical energy and was only able to work an average of 20-25 hours a week. Because I was unable to predict how I would feel on any given day, I stopped facilitating live seminars, workshops and retreats which in turn caused a significant drop in my income. I became increasingly frustrated and angry that my energy level didn’t allow me to play the game I was accustomed to playing. In order to experience a sense of significance, I began to focus on accomplishing 3-5 income producing tasks each day, tasks that when completed would move my practice forward. Knowing I only had a 3-4 hour window to complete my 3-5 tasks forced me to develop stronger time management skills.
During the last three years, working an average of 20-25 hours per week, I have been able to create and launch several new seminars and coaching workshops that I now facilitate via teleconferencing. I created a business course that I sell on line, launched a blog and I have written and published two books. Looking back, I continue to be amazed at the amount of time I wasted (prior to my illness) on inconsequential tasks that I convinced myself were of immense value. Today, I am at 90% strength yet continue to employ the 3-5 task strategy 5 days a week. I am enjoying new levels of personal happiness and business prosperity. I make it a priority to set aside time each day to re charge my mental and emotional batteries. You may be thinking to yourself, how is it possible to work fewer hours and be more productive? The answer is… FOCUS. Determine what it is you desire to accomplish and then go after it with determination and laser FOCUS.
3 SUGGESTIONS FOR REDUCING WORK RELATED STRESS…
1. Stop trying to be the office hero! Overwhelming ourselves with “extra projects” or routinely volunteering to spearhead tasks that we simply don’t have the bandwidth for will eventually backfire on us! Over extending ourselves will predictably lead to carelessness and burn out. Focusing on our top 3-5 income producing tasks and delivering consistent results is the best way to receive the recognition we deserve.
2. Work 8 hours (or less) per day. Over the years, I have counseled numerous clients who deeply regret not making family and friends as important as their work. I recently spoke with a client who had just ended his third marriage on the heels of completing his second stint at a rehab facility. “I let work become my entire life. Over the last twenty five years, slowly but surely, I lost everything that truly mattered. I turned to drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with work stress and in the end it made it even worse”. As an entrepreneur, I understand that in any new career or start up venture long hours are the norm. With that being said, once we get established, it’s important to take control of our career or business rather than allowing it to control us. FOCUS is the key. The old saying…”work smarter not harder” is sage wisdom.
3. Take all the time off you can. I always encourage my friends and clients to use all of their vacation days, sick days, holidays and any other time that is afforded them. Far too many employees feel “guilty” for taking time off. In many cases, employees are afraid to use their “paid vacation time” because they fear it will hurt them in their quest for a promotion or could be a reason they are let go. If you work in an environment where you fear using your vacation time…FIND ANOTHER JOB! If you are an employer I encourage you to HONOR your employees by encouraging them to take time off. Rested, re charged employees are far more productive than their counterparts. This advice also holds true for the business owner. Our creativity is thwarted when we are mentally and emotionally taxed. FOCUS on your mental and emotional health, your worth the investment!
There you have it! As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.
The vast majority of us will serve in some type of leadership capacity. Many of us will lead companies or sales organizations, others will lead classrooms, community organizations, political groups or non profits. The most important leadership role we may ever experience is the role of parent and family leader. We must also focus on becoming a consistent leader of self. During a recent conversation with my friend Ross, he referred to me as a “CAREfrontational” business coach. I asked him what he meant and he replied “you are very direct in your communication, yet your compassion and understanding clearly shine through”. I liked his term CAREfrontational and promised Ross that I would incorporate it into my next article on leadership. Let’s take a closer look at two different leadership models…
CAREfrontational vs Confrontational Leadership.
Far too many leaders in their quest for significance, employ a confrontational, authoritarian style of leadership. Most confrontational leaders believe their approach produces results and garners respect. In reality, this approach is extremely polarizing within an organization and over time it tends to contribute to higher turnover rates and a decrease in productivity due largely to the volatile nature of the work environment. Some of the words commonly used to describe confrontational leadership include; argumentative, combative, contrary, volatile, quarrelsome, contentious, scrappy, authoritarian, unfair and dictatorial. Some of the feelings this type of leadership creates within the rank and file of an organization include; mistrust, fear, doubt, drama, self protection, concern, trepidation, anxiety and security. Confrontational leaders create a culture of ME vs you and “I am always right”!
The “CAREfrontational” leadership approach is focused on the organization as a whole. The CAREfrontational leadership model seeks to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each team member, understand their primary communication style and focuses on exploiting the strength and leveraging the weakness of each member of the team. This leadership style encourages delegation and prioritizes time management. The communication style of a CAREfrontational leader is explicit yet respectful and is designed to instruct not degrade. Words used to describe this leadership style include; team, health, welfare, maintenance, concern, interest, importance, provision, responsibility, collaboration, growth and trust. Some of the feelings this leadership style creates within the organization include; pride, integrity, belief, autonomy, freedom, creativity, expression, fulfillment and personal responsibility. Doesn’t this seem like a more inspiring and empowering WORK environment?
Which type of leadership model do you believe fosters a true sense of team? Which business environment might have a lower turnover rate? Which model encourages vision and collaboration? Which business environment is more authentic to the human spirit? Which environment would you prefer to work in?
The myth surrounding the CAREfrontaional leadership approach is that it is to “liberal” and doesn’t create a big enough gap between “leadership” and the “employee”. I disagree. The confrontational leadership approach has proven to be highly effective in the United States military where breaking our soldiers down and building them back up is essential for survival and success on the battlefield, however, the confrontational leadership approach is very INEFFECTIVE in today’s competitive business environment where INNOVATION tends to trump intimidation. Unhappy, stifled employees, simply transfer their talent to an environment that is more conducive to their personal and professional growth. The CAREfrontational leader understands that TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK and they strive to create synergy as they grow and protect the financial interests or their organization.
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.
Why do some people thrive and live seemingly happy, fulfilling lives while countless others seem to struggle to get by? In my work as a peak performance strategist and mentor, I routinely find that it almost always comes down to the “voices in our head”. Some of the voices we listen to are empowering, others, not so much. Our capacity to manage negative mental chatter plays a key role in determining the overall quality of our lives. The voices we choose to listen to dictate whether we experience joy and success or frustration and pain. Many of us engage in negative self talk to such a degree that our primary emotions have become anger, guilt and shame. These voices encourage us to stay within our comfort zone and make our decisions based on whether something brings us pain or pleasure. Others listen to positive, empowering voices which encourage us to take risks and go after our dreams. I believe that the “voices in our head” do in fact dictate our level of success as well as our sense of personal fulfillment. The question becomes… how can we stop our negative chatter when it comes up? For the next 30 days I encourage you to make a commitment to pay close attention to your self talk and to follow these 6 steps to help break the old pattern and create a new one.
Conquering Our NEGATIVE Self Talk…
Validation. The first step toward conquering the “negative voices” is to question if what we are saying to ourselves is even true? For example, “I never get anything right” usually has nothing to do with our current reality. We are still listening and reacting to the condescending voice of a parent or teacher who repeatedly admonished us during our formative years. The truth is that we get a lot of things “right” and like everyone else we will make mistakes. Our goal is to monitor our language and speak a NEW truth over the lie each and every time it comes up.
Ownership. We must be willing to take ownership of our negative self talk. In other words, we must acknowledge that we are speaking negatively about our self to our self. Far too many of us attempt to justify our negative self talk which adds more fuel to the lie. The long term danger of negative self talk is that when we repeat a lie long enough we begin to believe it. Most of us wouldn’t take ownership for a crime we didn’t commit yet many of us consistently and consciously take ownership of a worn out childhood story. Our goal is to quit justifying and defending our NEGATIVE self talk. BULLSHIT is BULLSHIT no matter how you package it!
Imagination. Imagine what your life would look like if you removed negative self talk from your vocabulary? Imagine your intimate relationship, friendships and career rising to a whole new level? We must establish and hold a vision of how our new habit of positive self talk will enhance the quality of our life experience. Affirmations beginning with “I AM” can be an effective way of re-programming our self talk. “I AM more than capable of meeting life’s challenges”, “I AM intelligent and gifted” or “I AM willing to learn new things” are all examples of empowered statements that can “overwhelm” our negative self talk. Every time a negative voice creeps in we must counter it with a positive “I AM” statement. Practice will produce results.
Choice. We CHOOSE our thoughts and our self talk is a bi product of what we are CHOOSING to think about. If I believe that the world is an unsafe place, it stands to reason that my self talk will reflect fear, scarcity and lack. If on the other hand, I believe that I live in a world of unlimited opportunity and abundance, my self talk will be uplifting, hopeful and positive. When we change our thoughts our language changes.
Expression. We must create a new HABIT of speaking positively over everything and everyone. Speaking words of gratitude and repeating positive affirmations are proactive ways to solidify our new habit of positive self talk. When we notice that we are starting to head down our familiar path of self condemnation, we can counter the voices by expressing our new truth. This is what is meant by having a conscious awareness.
Simplify. Keep this process simple. It doesn’t have to be complex. Remember… Our NEW thoughts become our NEW words, our NEW words become our NEW actions, our NEW actions become our NEW habits, our NEW habits become our NEW way of being.
We get to CHOOSE what we focus on. From this day forward we are the master programmer. What we CHOOSE to tell ourselves is now totally up to us. I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.
No matter how honest we believe we are, most of us are guilty of lying. Many of us have created a habit of lying. Our lies cost us financially and emotionally. Our lies may keep us from rising through the company ranks, starting our own business or from enjoying a truly intimate relationship with our partner. In the world of dreams and opportunity the TRUTH can indeed set us free!
The 6 Lies…
*If he/she would just change, my life would be so much better! Not only is this a lie but it means that we are willing to give away our personal power. Many of us tell this lie as it relates to our relationship partners, employers, business partners and friends. In reality, the person who tells this lie is fearful of introspection and prefers to avoid taking the bottom line for their life experience. We can either go through life playing the role of “victim of circumstance” or we can take responsibility for the people and circumstances we have attracted into our life and make different decisions going forward. Choose to be proactive!
*I don’t have enough time. Most of us will make time for anything we deem important. We can easily “find time” to hang out with our friends, go fishing, watch TV or engage in any other activity that makes us “feel good”. The reality of this lie is that many of us consciously choose to use our “lack of time” as an on demand excuse to avoid anything that requires us to leave our comfort zone. Time is our most precious commodity, it is up to us to allocate it wisely.
*I am not educated/qualified enough. The reality of this lie is that some of the biggest companies in America were founded and built by people who never attended a day of college or in some cases didn’t make it past junior high. As I share in my book, Wisdom Through Failure, I am apt to hire a person with a high I WILL over a person with a high IQ. The person who possesses both is a bonus. Is it really our lack of education that is holding us back? In many cases a lack of motivation is the real culprit.
*I’m not attractive enough. Intelligence outweighs looks. We live in a society where first impressions do favor job candidates, however, in the end, it really doesn’t matter how “good looking” you are if you suck at what you do! Even the most aesthetically pleasing people will eventually become a liability and sent packing. Taking care of ourselves and presenting well should be a priority for all of us, however, the belief that we are somehow limited because of the way God created us is a fear based fallacy. We are better served to focus on developing our skills than hunting for a plastic surgeon.
*I don’t know the right people. It’s true that our “connections” can help us move through life and business at a faster pace but keep in mind our connections will take time to develop and nurture. The reality is that in order to attract the “right people” both personally and professionally we must become the person we desire to attract. Our job is to focus on becoming the best version of our self. To quote my favorite movie line…”If you build it they will come”.
*I don’t deserve to be successful/happy. This lie is based around the guilt we feel about something that occurred in our past. We have deemed our particular situation(s) to be so “heinous” that we have subconsciously determined that it is far better to be mediocre than strive for greatness! Each time we find ourselves moving forward, the voice in our head reminds us of what a “complete loser or imposter” we are. The reality of this lie is that we are much wiser because of the experiences from our past and we can use this wisdom to help us make better choices and decisions in the future. Our past doesn’t determine our future…we do!
When we make the decision to stop telling these lies we can move toward the compelling future awaiting each of us. One of the fastest ways we can change our lives is by changing the story we have been telling ourselves. Here’s to the TRUTH!
As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.