Valorie Burton - 2021: How to Be Better Not Bitter

Valorie Burton
January 05, 2021

Valorie Burton

Bestselling author, speaker, and life coach
Stress Management Virtual Presentation Personal Growth Personal Development Author

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Transcript

Intro:

Welcome to Beyond Speaking with Brian Lord, a podcast featuring deeper conversations with the world's top speakers.

Brian Lord:

Hi, I'm Brian Lord. Your host of the Beyond Speaking podcast today, we're excited to have Valorie Burton. So Valorie Burton is the author of 13 different books. She's the founder of Coaching and Positive Psychology Institute. She has served clients in over 40 States and 10 countries. She's a frequent guest on shows like The Today Show CNN, Dr. Oz, Oprah Magazine, NPR, Essence, many others. And now, of course, she's on the Beyond Speaking podcast, which, you know, how do you get better than that?

Valorie Burton:

[Laughing].

Brian Lord:

[Laughing] Might be able to we think very highly of ourselves here. So today we'd asked around our different agents here at Premiere and National Speakers: Who would you want to have kickoff 2021? And the answer came back, Valorie Burton. So Valorie, thank you so much for joining us.

Valorie Burton:

Well, I am absolutely honored. Thank you.

Brian Lord:

So the big goal for this one, we'll talk a lot about a lot of different things, but the big goal for this one is we're starting off kicking off 2021. And we want to do it in the right way. So I know you've been asked, you know, in years past in January- you're a perfect speaker for this- you know, "How should people start off their new year in the right way?" But 2021's question is very different from 2020. So what is your advice? What're the biggest things you're, you're changing from what you used to tell people to kick off a new year until now?

Valorie Burton:

You know, I, I wouldn't say it's completely changed. I'm just emphasizing a couple of things a bit differently. So first of all, I think it's important for us to take good things out of 2020. For example, ask yourself, "What am I most proud of about how I showed up in 2020?" Because we all had to practice a level of resilience to just get through this year intact. But also what wisdom did you gain? Like what was the biggest lesson for you? What did you learn that you can take into 2021 that actually makes you wiser and handle things better? And then the other piece in 2021, I think is so important is the self-care. I think that we obviously have had to use a lot more energy over the last year for just about everything from, you know, all the changes just in how we live in everyday life. If you have kids, how they are going to school, if you are, we're working in an office now working from home with kids and also virtual schooling or whatever you're doing, we've all had different experiences. It has taken a lot more. And if you don't have a family in your home it's been very isolating. It's been a lot of adjusting, a lot of loneliness and disconnection. So this means we've got to take a bit better care of ourselves and have more self-compassion. Like just be as kind to yourself as you are to your best friend. Don't be hard on yourself, but also don't give up on having a vision of where you're going this year.

Brian Lord:

How do you rate that? I guess, you know when you have that vision for yourself and balance with other things, how do you sort of adjust that vision?

Valorie Burton:

Well, I'll give you an example. Two ways we adjusted last year. Well, there were multiple ways, but two that come up specifically in business. So one, you mentioned the (CaPP) Institute, so we train personal executive coaches all over the world, but our, our main training is, has typically been in person, and then the certification is online. We had the first one of the year in April, and obviously, that wasn't going to happen. That was a really big decision to take a big part of what we do online. I was, I was so afraid that that was going to flop, that people were going to be upset, and the opposite happened. We had our biggest year in coach training and we had people from more countries than ever participate in saying, thank you for bringing it online. That was very, very unexpected. And then of course, with speaking, you know, at first in the spring, most everything was was just canceled or, or put off as the year went on, I think organizations just began to adjust and suddenly it was "Okay, what can we do virtually?" and all of these creative ways of doing things virtually and so that's been really fun. It's been, [we've spent a lot of time] down here that we actually finished our basement. We had finished it for a new office the same week that school closed down. So I never imagined, "Oh, I'll be speaking from down here." I am so glad that it just lined up in such a way that the studio we created became the virtual studio. I mean so for me there was wisdom in being willing to pivot and being willing to realize that just because you've always done things one way doesn't mean it's the only way. And it doesn't mean that you couldn't succeed even more doing it differently. That that's a message. I don't think we've heard it a lot because there has been so much devastation, but there've also been some opportunities that have come in the midst of our challenges. And I think some of those opportunities, we will see more in the coming years. Like, I don't think virtual events are going away. I don't think that training online or people working from home in these great numbers- I don't think it's going away. So I think we have to just look for the good, look for the opportunity, and make the most of it.

Brian Lord:

One of the big things that you talk about too, that you've talked about for a long time, but it has never been more important than this year is resilience.

Valorie Burton:

Yes.

Brian Lord:

So can you share maybe some of your stories of resilience and then how people can apply that in their own lives?

Valorie Burton:

Yeah. I first started, you know, I've been speaking for about 20 years. Yes. Yes! Will be 20 years this year, 2021! Officially full-time like I left out of PR and just went for it, which I always laugh and tell people, I thought my schedule would be booked within six months like this, this was my game plan. It took, it took several years to get to where I wanted to be. But gosh, I just lost track of the question.

Brian Lord:

Um oh, resilience. Yes.

Valorie Burton:

Yes. So it wasn't until around 2009 that I really began speaking on resilience and here's how it happened. I I went back to grad school a second time in my mid thirties to study applied positive psychology. I promise I did not make up that subject. It's not just positive thinking. I went to the University of Pennsylvania. I had been coaching and speaking and motivating. But my Master's is in journalism. I just am a communicator. And I wanted, I wanted to know, is there a research foundation for coaching and for what I'm teaching on stage? And when I discovered positive psychology, I was like, this is... It's like the study of what goes right with us. Right? We think that traditional psychology is the study of what goes wrong. And of course, you know, some of us have issues. You have issues, Brian, any issues?

Brian Lord:

Never. I'm perfect. Sorry, bad question. [Laughing]

Valorie Burton:

Yes. Yeah. So we need traditional psychology, but positive psychology is what, what happens when things go, right? What causes it? And one of the areas of positive psychology is resilience. I had the opportunity to work with the University of Pennsylvania on their resilience training programs. And I realized this is so relevant in the, especially in the corporate, even government space and every space, but it was during the recession. So it was really, it became kind of a hot topic that took off. But what I realized is even after the recession, that became what I was requested to speak about more than ever. And then 2020 hit. And this has been not even more relevant, but just so needed. So for myself, I happened to start teaching resilience simultaneously as I was going through a divorce, which seemed a little ironic. I was doing a lot of resilience training for the U.S. Military. Obviously we'd been in at that time in two wars for several years. And I would, I would teach and I'd come back. I would be in my hotel room and I would think, "Wow, I've got to apply this to myself." and one of the most pivotal moments happened for me right at the time when I realized what I was going to be going through. And I just remember the tears just streaming. I was in my kitchen. I was alone. I was I was crying and my crying turned to wailing, which I had heard of, but thought it was an exaggeration, like until I was doing it. And I literally felt like I was going crazy. Like it was life was over. I was 36. I was telling myself life was over. And I also had these professional thoughts of you can't write, you can't coach. You can't speak... You're, you know, as though your life has to be perfect in order to do these things. But when we feel like we've failed or something awful has happened, we can tell ourselves some things that are truly lies that can get us stuck. And in that moment, as I was, I started wailing and having these crazy thoughts, I called my mother and she knew what I was going through, but she'd not heard me like this before. And I started sputtering all of this nonsense and she just stopped me mid sentence. And what she actually said was "You sound like you look pretty ugly right now." [Laughing] Not what I was looking for. And she said, "Go in the bathroom, wash your face, take a walk for 10 minutes or so and call me back." In other words, I was just not in a state that she could even have a reasonable conversation and she needed to interrupt what I was saying and the emotional state I was in. And I did what she said, and I came back and you know, one of the lessons was, if you want a pity party, you know, don't invite a resilient woman because she's not gonna have it. [Laughing] But, also, that day, we talked and it wasn't that I never cried again, of course, but I've never cried again from that woe is me place. At that point, I made a decision that I would walk through this fire, but it would not consume me. And I started saying to myself, I will be better and not bitter. It became my mantra. The idea that somehow on the other side of it was a force that I could be better was it was audacious, but it gave me a lot of hope. And it gave me really the audacity to have the vision that I had always had, which was for happy marriage and family. I just felt deep down that I was a wife and a mom. And even though I was 36 and getting divorced and had no children, I decided to keep that vision in front of me, which was very hard at times. Um but in doing so you know, there was some healing to do and so on and so forth. But within a few years wone day I moved to Atlanta, my family down South, and so I decided I would move to Atlanta and I was on Facebook and a an acquaintance, not even a friend acquaintance from high school, saw my book, Successful Women Think Differently in the airport and tagged me in a post that said, "Should I get this book?" So we had all these high school friends are like, "Sure, Jeff, you know, if you try hard enough, I guess you could be a successful woman, too." [Laughing] He got the book. And I grew up in, mostly in Denver, Colorado. I was an Air Force BRAT. So I was born in Florida, lived in Germany, but grew up in Colorado and just turned out. He's a pilot. And he was living in Atlanta and we had lunch and you know, where this story is going.

Brian Lord:

[Laughing].

Valorie Burton:

It was amazing how things unfolded, but for me, they really unfolded a few years in when I literally just decided I would stop holding my happiness hostage to my circumstances. I was just like, be happy now. Like if, wherever things are like, if you never get the vision, you want, be happy. Cause what are you going to do? Go through life upset and not enjoying the opportunities in front of you? And it was like when I decided that everything kind of seemed to just transform, I literally imagined myself 10 or 15 years down the road. If I didn't get it, what would I do? And so that was huge because it wasn't that I was giving up. It was that I was deciding that if it didn't unfold the way I was hoping I was still going to choose to have a happy, purposeful life. So I kind of had an inkling when we had lunch and he kept talking about his girls and they actually had the names I had written in my journal if I had daughters, [Inadubile] Grace and Olivia is the other name. And, and so Addy's middle name is Olivia. And now we have a son Alexander as well. So I'm a bonus mom. They call me B Mom and a six-year-old. So this has been quite a journey. But for me, that was one of the biggest ways I, I put my resilience to work. I've done it many times, but it works. I think teaching it and then using everything I'm like literally using everything. I was teaching every bit of research,ueven running Brian. I do not like running. I ran track in high school and hated the one mile warm-up. But I knew that movement was a happiness trigger that would help shift my mindset while I was going through this. So,um, I live what I teach. I can't say "perfectly" I don't think anyone does it perfectly, but I believe in it, which I think helps me, to teach it in a way that resonates.

Brian Lord:

Now, I love one of the things you said. "Better, Not bitter." so what is kind of the approach that people can have and how can people apply that for themselves?

Valorie Burton:

Well, I think it goes back to something I said about 2020, like what's the lesson learned? Everything we go through it some way. It's not that right when you're going through it, you know, you don't want to hear somebody who isn't, what's the lesson right now. [Laughing] Um but at some point we have to stop and self-reflect and say, "Okay, what, what is this teaching me? What message is my life sending me right now?" you know, you might have something going on at work that's repeatedly frustrating. Well, there's a message in that frustration. Frustration can actually fuel our turnaround. When we get frustrated enough, we have the energy to actually do something different. And so my decision to be better and not bitter? One? I didn't want to be a bitter woman. I didn't want to be bitter. I knew that would ruin the core of who I am as a person. And I wasn't going to allow that to happen. And I think it's so easy for us when we don't get the things we want, whether it's in a career or relationship or financially, or even in our health to be bitter. And I think I probably, you know, I mentioned my mom. I think I probably learned that from my mother. You know, my mother had a massive brain aneurysm at 49 while we were talking on the phone.

Brian Lord:

Wow.

Valorie Burton:

And lost just about all of her physical abilities. She was in the hospital for two months. She had emergency brain surgery. Couldn't, you know, couldn't, couldn't speak at first. They told me it was 90% chance. She would never swallow, never walk. They had, we had to feed her through a tube in her stomach. I mean, it was so many things. Her vision was so impaired that every time she opened her eyes, things were triple and spinning. And that was the most frustrating thing she said because people would look at her and "Oh, Leigh you look great." But she couldn't really see what was going on. And I watched her do, even though at this time, I didn't fully understand all the implications. I watched her use gratitude as a way to pull her forward. The gratitude that she was still alive because I mean the vast majority of people that have a brain aneurysm like she did, don't make it. So she would sit there and watch her doing all of these different therapies. And she'd say, "Well, I'm just grateful I get a chance to try to recover. Many people have a disability and they're never going to get better if I work hard, I can get better." that was just amazing to me. So I think I learned some of that from my- both my parents really being realistic, but very positive, optimistic people, you know. And we know even from the research, that optimism is a predictor of success and resilience, but it's being optimistic most of the time. It's being able to see the reality of the challenge in front of you, but to be optimistic about your ability to muster the resources, to work through it or work around it. And so this is huge. We even know for leaders, optimism is a predictor of effective leadership. Obviously no one really wants to follow somebody that's pessimistic about the future. "Yeah. I don't know if this is going to work." So that optimism, I think is a really important factor. And, and when I said better and not bitter, what was that but being optimistic? That this doesn't, this, this feels devastating, but it's, it's temporary devastation. I will move through it. It's actually an opportunity to start over. I'm probably at this point more grateful for just about anything, right? So at some point we have to self-reflect and say, what are the lessons? What's the message for me here. And one of my favorite coaching questions around resilience is, and I think it's really relevant right now with everything we've been going through. But looking back five or 10 years from now, what will you wish you had done? How will you wish you'd shown up? Because so many people will show up just complaining and why do things have to be this way? But there are there's opportunity in this. So your, your future self probably would wish you would see the opportunity. Probably would wish that you would be kinder to yourself that you'd get some extra rest. That you would, and you fill in the blank that you would use some of the extra time to, to really spend quality time with people that you love. So we can coach ourselves to be more resilient, but we do have to stop and ask some of those powerful questions.

Brian Lord:

One of the things I think a lot of people are dealing with this year especially is they've been used to this certain level of, I don't know if you'd say success in their business life and their personal life and these sorts of things, and they aren't hitting what they used to hit, despite you know, all the different things happening. And there's a lot of guilt because of that. You know, how should people deal with guilt under those circumstances or, or whatever might be facing them?

Valorie Burton:

Yeah. So my last book, which just came out a couple of months ago, Let Go of the Guilt: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Take Back your Joy is, I didn't know we would, when I was writing it, of course, didn't know what we'd be going through. And a lot of what I've been doing media about lately has been guilt because of changes during the pandemic. So there's, there's authentic guilt when we actually have done something wrong and we need to apologize atone, make up for it any way we can. But most of what I'm talking about is false guilt, which is not that you've done something wrong, but that you feel like you've done something wrong, which is completely different. So that feeling is often tied to expectations. And there are different types of expectations that lead to guilt. One is outdated expectations, right? So 2019 expectations applied to 2020, or even as we go into 2021, as we're not through the pandemic yet will set you up for false guilt because you're expecting to do something that given the current circumstances simply may not be attainable. So we have to be willing to adjust our expectations appropriately. But there are also vague expectations, which I think a lot of us had, and we don't even realize it's guilt. So this is the feeling that you should always do more, that you've never done enough, that you should be better. And that can be any way. I mean, if you feel like [you] never exercise enough, well, what is enough? At some point, you have to define it is three times a week for 30 minutes enough or is it six times a week for an hour, right? Because if you haven't defined it, you can always say more if you're working out six times a week for an hour and you haven't defined it and all that seventh day, you're not working out, "I should be working out more," right? So we've got these specific about our goals and our expectations, or we do set ourselves up for that sense of false guilt. And I think in this environment where, you know, the educational opportunity is not quite the same. If you've been virtual teaching, you might feel some guilt there. I know, especially when that started in the spring, I was like, "Oh my gosh, are we ruining our children?" [Laughing] but realizing just across the board, people are in a very similar boat is helpful. So if you're feeling false guilt, one of the quickest ways to figure that out as number one, identify your guilt-trigger, pinpoint it. What's causing me... For me, it used to be traveling for speaking engagements because I would tell myself- even though it would just be overnight most of the time. "Well, You're away from your kids." And you know, it was more of this thought of somehow I was harming them. Like it was, it was a series of thoughts that I never sat down and really examined. And one time I was asked to do a breakout session that was around working parenting. And I just mentioned it. And the whole audience, it was like this collective, "Oh, wow, what am I not guilty about?" And when I first realized that I was onto something with the guilt, you've got to pinpoint it. And then you've got to say, is it true? Like whatever you're telling yourself that you're wrong for traveling, that you're an awful parent, that you haven't done enough to meet whatever that goal was. Ask, "Is it true?" Because if it's not actually true, that's false guilt. Sometimes we've got it redefined. We've got to get tuned into our own values. And even as an organization, you have to do that. What do we value? What are the expectations? And then lastly, I'd say there's a trait. There's a personality trait, conscientiousness, which is a tremendous predictor of success. It also is the most common trait among guilt-prone people.

Brian Lord:

[Laughing]

Valorie Burton:

You know, there's, there's an upside to guilt because it keeps us from doing bad things. It makes us stop and go, "Oh, you really shouldn't do that." But we know that those people that are guilt prone, they tend to be better employees. They're better people to be in a relationship with. Why? Because they're always thinking about their impact on other people. So if you're one of those guilt-prone people and you're feeling bad, let me just tell you, it's not a bad trait to have. You just don't want to overuse it. That's when you get in trouble.

Brian Lord:

Yes, absolutely. So wrapping up here, what is one thing, if you're fine sharing it, what's one thing that you are doing. What's your- what's a resolution that you have for this year for 2021?

Valorie Burton:

Oh, wow. That's really good. I wrote something down the other day and I don't remember what it was.

Brian Lord:

[Laughing]

Valorie Burton:

No, really actually. And this, this is going to sound very much like something a coach would say, but I think it's important for everyone to have a personal growth plan. You know, we tend to think that success is about steps and you're all about what did they do to, to achieve whatever it was, but really it's along the way when they're faced with obstacles, what is it that you do differently? What are you thinking and what are you saying to yourself about those things? So for me, one of the most important that I, I started working on this and in the spring of 2020, and it's gone very well. So I'm amping it up. So there's a strength called Activator on the Gallup StrengthsFinder. I'm always jealous of people with Activator because Futuristic is one of mine. I'm visionary. I'm always, you know, big picture, you get down to the details and like executing and I'm still thinking and planning and so on and so forth. So that's the area of my personal growth. I'm continuing to work on this year. And one of the ways, and I really had breakthroughs in 2020 around it has been to see action as learning. Like I learn by taking action because love of learning is a strength of mine that has really pulled me forward. So I'm excited to see how I activate my Activator strength in 2021.

Brian Lord:

Great, great. Well, Valorie, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for sharing all this great wisdom. I know it'll help a lot of people as they kick off 2021. For those listening make sure to check out Valorie's page on our website, premierespeakers.com/valorie_burton. And then also make sure to subscribe to the Beyond Speaking podcast. Valorie, thank you so much again for coming on and we wish everybody a great start to 2021.

Valorie Burton:

Thank you so much.

Outro:

Thank you for joining us for the beyond speaking podcast, to learn more about today's guests, go to BeyondSpeak.com. Make sure to leave a review and subscribe wherever you listen.

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Valorie Burton - 2021: How to Be Better Not Bitter
Valorie Burton
Valorie Burton
January 05, 2021
Listen Transcript Intro: Welcome to Beyond Speaking with Brian Lord, a podcast ...
Valorie Burton - 2021: How to Be Better Not Bitter
Listen Transcript Intro: Welcome to Beyond Speaking with Brian Lord, a podcast featuring deeper conversations with the world's top speakers. Brian Lord: Hi, I'm Brian Lord. Your host of the Beyond Speaking podcast today, we're excited to have Valorie Burton. So Valorie Burton is the author of 13 different books. She's the founder ...
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