Rick Burris


Leaders Fuel Blog

Occupy the Territory

This week we have been looking at Automatic Negative Thoughts (A.N.T.s). You can go back to the list in Monday’s email, but keep in mind that the point of identifying ANTS is to be an ANTeater by talking back to your negative thoughts. This is a practice of challenging your thinking. It is distrusting our […]

My Life of Crime

Here is a good ice-breaker game to find things people have in common. It is simple and not very physical. It’s called “Have you ever…?”. You think of something you have done to see if others in the room have done the same thing. You might ask, “Have you ever gone to Disney World?” Anyone […]

Fantasy v Imagination

The first time I went through the book the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership as a part of the John Maxwell team, it was led by one of the six members of the teaching team, Scott Fay. Scott has a great story of business and life success. He is a landscaper by trade but was […]

Quick Self-Check

Here is a quick self-check. (Tools like these should always be approached from the perspective of self-awareness, never for self-judgment.) When you look back on the past twelve months, can you identify and describe evidence of personal growth? Any life events and or milestones you have celebrated? What is your greatest accomplishment in the past […]

When Biases Bite

“This will be the topic of your next email.” Michael Barravecchio Those were the last words of my coach as we finished our call yesterday. He was right. I am sure you have heard of cognitive biases before. As Forest Gump might say, there are about a “gozillion” of them. Reading through the list of […]


Following up on my commitment from yesterday’s message, I would like to give voice to the topic of entitlement. I want to be careful in working through this message. It would be much more pleasant to write about an energy producer rather than the energy vampire that entitlement seems to be. This also feels like […]

Are You Above the Line

Are you living your life above the line? My wife is. In fact, she has been since I have known her, and it has paid off. It is the reason she was just hired for an administrative assistant position at a university that is within walking distance from our house. Among other reasons why she […]

Locating Yourself

As you are aware, my development as a leadership coach has recently taken me to the study and application of Conscious Leadership. Here is what I am learning. Conscious leaders continually ask themselves over and over, “Where am I?” Using the simple tool of a horizontal line, at any moment, all people and all leaders […]

Seriously Fun

In his book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and It’s All Small Stuff, Richard Carlson, PH.D. says, “We live our lives as if they were one big emergency! We often rush around looking busy, trying to solve problems, but in reality, we are often compounding them.” Our need to be right and our basic desire for approval, […]

Predicting Success

“William Glasser: “We learn 10 percent of what we read, 20 percent of what we hear, 30 percent of what we see, 50 percent of what we see and hear, 70 percent of what we discuss, 80 percent of what we experience, and 95 percent of what we teach others.” ― Bill Capodagli, The Disney […]

Save the Drama for Your Mama

Several weeks ago, I was asked to help lead a teaching session on the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. The audience was a group of bright young interns at Cisco Systems in Atlanta. I joined the meeting via a video link. In the room with the interns was fellow John Maxwell team member and Cisco […]

To Me or By Me

To Me or By Me – That is the question Whether I come to the keyboard locked and loaded, knowing exactly where the message is going; or agonized over what to say next, writing always offers me the chance of more personal growth. There is always more to learn and through this process, I trust […]

Fact v Story

Are You Sticking With That Story? Fact v Story As both a student and practitioner of leadership, I have to say that this has been one of the most paradigm-shifting books I have ever studied. The premise of the book is demonstrated by a single horizontal line. At any given moment, we are either living […]

Conscious Leadership Overview

The 15 Commitments of a Conscious Leader has been one of the most paradigm-shifting books I have ever studied. Perhaps, a more complete depiction is that it has been both paradigm-shifting and paradigm confirming. Among other reasons, the study of this book has added value to me is because it both reinforces my training and […]

Is Your Money Making You Stupid

Recently, I heard of a business owner who has a business that opened in the past six months. The product he sells has people lined up out the door during many of his operating hours. As I write this message his income is enviable, and he enjoys gong to and from in a big fancy […]

Mountain Bike Wisdom

If you live in the Seattle area, and someone asks you how you like living there, the socially acceptable response is to say that it is miserable because it rains all the time. The reason: it is an amazing place to live with endless cultural experiences and possibilities for outdoor enthusiasts and area residents are […]

Reading the Leaves

I have come to know the importance of acknowledging your strengths. I also believe in celebrating what is right. But I find it interesting how our culture has developed a keen disconnection to reality. If I was properly following the “Facebook Guide to Life”, I wouldn’t share this message. I wouldn’t tell you that I really blow […]

The Diagnosis is Not the Prognosis

When I consider all that has made my life purposeful, Sometimes I think it is ironic how things started. The diagnosis was pneumonia.  It appeared my life would be over not long after it began. I had pneumonia three times before the age of one, each occurrence worse than the one before it. On the […]

Shake It Off

Last week I made mention of the Drama Triangle that occurs in unconscious and toxic work environments. It is the relationship dynamic in which one person plays the role of Victim, another the Villain, and the third the Hero. Giving up your need to be right, authentically feeling and expressing your feelings, and separating facts […]

Don’t Think or Feel Alone

“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Do you know who wrote that line? How about this one? “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” The same guy wrote both, and not just any guy, but the one who was deemed […]

Twinkies or Pound Cake

“The kettle’s on the boil and we’re so easily called away.”   Hello Friend, I can still see Buford Makenzie “Chief Mac” sitting on the stool in the front of the room, all 6 foot 3 inches of him with his forearm crutches leaning against the stiff legs of his polyester pants and his custom-made black […]

I’m Going to Have Fun with This

The last thing my son, Jonah, said as I looked at him in the rearview mirror was, “I am going to have fun with this.” Then he shut the back hatch and walked into school sporting his black cape, white gloves and face half-painted white (a clever way to get around the no mask rule […]


Imagine this. You have a bank account. Every day $86,400 gets deposited. No balance is carried over from day to day. No cash balance is allowed. Every evening cancels whatever part of the money you have failed to use during the day. What would you do? Draw out every cent of course! Well, each one […]

Sympathy Kills the Spirit

One evening several years ago, my wife and I drove an hour to go visit a church and listen to a speaker named Nancy. Nancy had a miraculous story of having survived the July 17, 1981 collapse of a catwalk in the Hyatt Regency. To say the least, Nancy was a dynamic speaker. Just my opinion, […]

No. 2 Pencil

What memories get conjured up for you when you hear the phrase, “You must use a Number 2 pencil and darken in only one oval per question.” Yesterday I proctored for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). Administering the test is exact and rigid. The participants arrive carrying a clear plastic bag which is inspected […]


I was happy to get my new phone last week. After dealing with the previous phone’s waning ability to keep a charge, it was nice not to be tethered all day. The new phone worked just fine until about 1:30pm Saturday when the last thing I read on the wet screen was, “Your iPhone is […]

Rejection Happens

It is no fun being rejected. Is it? Alright, it downright sucks! None of us enjoy being rejected but perhaps, even as we are licking our wounds, there is something to be gained. Maybe we can lose the moment but still win the day. Here are a few thoughts I have on the subject that […]

Are You a Gremlin

Bugs Bunny is the best. I loved watching Looney Tunes growing up. Next to Popeye, Bugs Bunny was the coolest. He was the hero or antihero of every episode he was in save one -The Falling Hare (1943). In that episode, he was out foxed by a gremlin. The term “gremlin” denoting a mischievous creature […]

Feeling Groovy

My Aikido lead instructor, Shihan Beckham, always begins class with words of wisdom. They are applicable to each practice and they are applicable to life outside the dojo. The word for last night was “adagio”. We did an hour and forty-five minutes of last night’s two-hour class adagio. We slowed everything down to be certain […]

Wrestling with Pigs

George Bernard Shaw said, “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” When I read that quote, I think about politics, especially office politics. If we muse a bit on Shaw’s quote, we find these elements: Experience, Choice, Pig Pen, Motivation / Goals, and […]

The Wisdom of Emotions

If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” — Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence: Why it […]

Down in the Valley

In my therapeutic wilderness camping days, there was a song we often sang called, Down in the Valley, a traditional country-blues American folk song. Like most folk songs, the lyrics vary depending on the singer. In all the times, I sang it, I never knew it was also called the “Birmingham Jail” song since our version didn’t mention […]

Riding the Elephant

I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. – Apostle Paul Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. There may be an 800-pound gorilla on the coffee table too, but one metaphoric animal at a time will do. […]

Hesitation is Risky Business

When was the last time you took a risk? I mean a big risk. Is it possible that your life has become so safe and predictable (i.e. boring) that risk is sneaking its way out of your consciousness and vernacular? When I say risk, I’m not talking about the kind that comes from the “I’m […]


“…turn and face the strain.” Some days when I sit down to tap out the daily email I know exactly what I am going to say. Others I have no idea until I am at the keyboard. My favorite days are when I feel an idea moving through me. It is usually surprising. Sunday afternoons […]

What Makes You Cry

When was the last time you had a proper cry? If that sentence made you a little uncomfortable, you will be even more uncomfortable when I tell you that I once stood up in front of 200 people and cried so much I couldn’t speak. My family and I had the privilege of sharing with […]

Put a Word On It

I heard a quote that I had to track down. It led me to American artist, painter and photographer, Chuck Close. Finding Chuck followed a very difficult conversation between my wife and I. When I say conversation, I might be referring to an argument, at least that is how it started. One of our family […]

Emotional Cheat Sheet

Floods, wars, politics, earthquakes, hurricanes, financial pressures, tests, deadlines, poor health, sudden loss, expected loss! You and I are going to need some help sorting all of this out. Besides knowing we are loved and not alone, now more than ever, we need emotional intelligence to come along with us as we head out the […]

Be the Fighter Pilot

We loved living at our camp house in Oklahoma. Once you turned into the camp entrance, it was a two-mile drive back into the property to get to the house. It was a great place for company. This time it was Russ and his son Malachi visiting. As always, most of my time was occupied […]

My River Runaways Part 3 of 3

There I was standing at the end of the road wondering if an officer would ever show. It couldn’t have been much more than a minute later. I look down the gravel road and low and behold, there came Jimmy and Tommy walking right toward me. They were talking to each other and hadn’t noticed […]

My River Runaways Part 2 of 3

E-tool and toilet paper (a very quick 360 scan) but no boys in sight. I pulled the rest of of the group together, spoke with my co-chief briefly before informing the other boys what had just happened. They were genuinely surprised and none replied affirmatively when asked if they were aware of Jimmy and Tommy’s […]

My River Runaways Part 1 of 3

Even two people on a month-long river canoe trip, take a couple of days to get into a good routine. Doing the trip with ten troubled-teenage boys can add a day or two to that equation. Wake up. Get the fire going. A few minutes to pray before getting the boys out of their tents. […]

Why Hire a Coach Part 3 of 3

In some way, most of us love to learn even when we resist (hate) being taught. Experience tells me that we are designed to grow continually. Because of what I do for a living, I might be more inclined to seek examples of inspiration than many. But, isn’t it encouraging when we see examples of […]

Why Hire a Coach Part 2 of 3

Life doesn’t reward us for standing still, does it. Thankfully, we are not like some creatures who must learn to run shortly after birth to avoid being eaten. In fact, compared to any creature, humans get much more time being nurtured before being set lose “in the wild”. It’s hard to think of any creature […]

Why Hire a Coach Part 1 of 3

If you calculated the amount of time and money you have spent on training in your professional career, what would that add up to in terms of dollar amount and hours spent? You would need to include your formal education in that equation. Next question: From the last seminar that you attended, can you list […]

The Hawthorne Effect

How many times have you heard some derivative of the following sentence? “This call may be recorded for quality assurance.” This is done in order to ensure the proper execution and conduct of interviews. Now that calls can be digitized, compressed, and stored on a hard drive, it can even be used to search for […]

Arrival Syndrome

I know that I am not alone in saying that driving through Atlanta, Georgia, USA can be a real pain in the backside. But living two hours away, means that mapping software frequently routes you through Atlanta when traveling. Such was the case in July 2017. As our country prepared for celebrations if independence, my […]

Four Circles of Evil

For 12 weeks, I “co-led” a Sunday school class with Steve Whigham. I put co-led in quotes since Steve did 95% of the work and presenting. The class was entitled Man’s Chief End which comes from the Westminster Catechism stating that man’s chief end is to love God and enjoy Him always. Each week had […]

Get on the Bus

The past year has been a dry one in our neck of the woods but one Sunday the rain started and it didn’t let up as I wrote this on a Monday morning. Along with the downpour came substantial winds. The saturated ground combined with the winds to topple a tree onto the power lines […]

Slow Down to Catch Up – 10 Ways

My Aikido lead instructor, Shihan Beckham, always begins class with words of wisdom. They are applicable to each practice and they are applicable to life outside the dojo. The word for last night was “adagio”. We did an hour and forty-five minutes of one class adagio. We slowed everything down to be certain we were […]

Where Are You Pitching Your Tent

Imagine if, this morning, you learned that for the next 30 days, sleeping indoors would not be an option available to you – anywhere. Do you own a tent? Well, in this scenario you do. No place to sleep inside. However, you could take your tent to sleep outside in one of the following options. […]


Is music important to you? Checkout this excerpt from Dr. Daniel G Amen’s email.   Science has shown that your brain loves music. Your brain actually lights up like the night sky on the 4th of July when you listen to music.  It is one of the easiest activities that you can do to stimulate […]


Have you ever paddled a canoe? Ever tipped one over? In a river? The first summer Kate and I were married, I was the adventure trip director at the YMCA camp where we met. I led three trips that summer, one to Colorado for backpacking and whitewater rafting, another to Minnesota, and one river canoe […]

Letting Go

Did you hear about Andrew Honnold? He accomplished one of the most amazing displays of human potential that will happen in our lifetime. He wasn’t the first to climb the sheer 3,000-foot face of Yosemite’s El Capitan, but he was the fastest, and by the way, he did it without ropes. See the video HERE. There […]

Who Loves You, Baby

I am borrowing a question for you to think into this week from one of my childhood hereos, Kojak. “Who loves you, baby?” Read it one more time. Who loves you?  Notice. I did not ask, “How many people love you?”   I am asking “who”. I want you to stop for 30 seconds right now […]

I Do Declare

Today is a new day. It is new and there is nothing old about it. I want you to be encouraged today as I also want to be encouraged. Today, I am speaking into desperation and regret and talking back to it with you. I have some belief to loan you. This is what I […]

What’s the Use

Not all weekends are created equally. This one happened to be especially enjoyable. The weather was gorgeous and we actively took advantage of it. Friday night Kate and I had a long overdue date. The band of some friends of ours was playing at a local bakery and sandwich shop. We found some comfortable chairs […]

Move Over Historian

“That’s the way it’s always been done.” Have you ever experienced a work situation where the people who were there the longest were the worst employees? I certainly have, and God forbid, those same employees be seen as irreplaceable, or worse yet, be very popular. There is nothing more spirit-numbing than to be in an […]


“So, when you call up that shrink in Beverly Hills You know the one, Dr. Everything’ll Be Alright Instead of asking him how much of your time is left Ask him how much of your mind, baby.” Prince and the Revolution 1984 Prince had it right. Sooner or later we’re all going to die. Between now […]

Rudyard and James

Learning from Rudyard and James Here is what I know. You and I can grow from our circumstances…if we pay the price required. Let’s borrow a success formula from two masters from the early 20th century, Rudyard Kipling and James Allen. Here is an excerpt from a short poem in Rudyard Kipling’s Elephant Child story […]

Treasure 3 of 3

For the past two days, we have given thought to treasure and what gives it it’s value. We have looked at three of five things that make treasure valuable: origin, scarcity, and cost of discovery. Today we will complete the three-day series with a look at the role of brilliance and the audience play in […]

Treasure 2 of 3

Have you ever gone treasure hunting? If looking for arrowheads (Native American artifacts) in the Flint Hills of Kansas, hunting for geodes on the banks of the Missouri River, and “gem mining” in the North Carolina mountains counts, then I have been treasure hunting. Oh, and there is also river fodder in the Current River […]

Treasure 1 of 3

I began to muse on a topic and quickly realized that in my unfolding thoughts were more than I dare share in one day. However, for the remainder of this week, I will be sharing on the topic of“treasure.” These thoughts stemmed from something I wrote about recently. I didn’t name it at the time but, […]

Galvanized v Polarized

My friend Brian was sharing about a relationship he has with a gentleman whose life is very different from his own. They grew up in different countries and have been raised with lifestyles and faith practices that are quite dissimilar. Brian owns a motorcycle shop and explained that another gentleman comes in his shop who […]

Slow is Confident

“Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.” Here is what happened. Kate was working Saturday, so the boys and I decided to head out for a drive through the mountains in North Carolina. We made the drive up Highway 276 and stopped in the mountain town of Brevard for a walk around. Then lunch at our […]

Sleeping In a Storm

Waking up to a thunderstorm reminded me of a devotional story told by Rabbi Albert Lewis called “I Can Sleep Through a Storm”. You can get a copy in the resource tab if you want to use it, but it is about a handyman named Bill Jeffers who makes an inquiry to a farmer about […]

Stop Being Shelfish

Today’s post is short to make a point. While I didn’t express it in these words exactly, in a previous message I wrote how the circumstances surrounding the timing of me becoming an executive director of Camp Classen showed me the importance of making data-driven decisions. Let’s look at the other end of the decision-making […]


“A life isn’t significant except for its impact on others.” Jackie Robinson   Hello Friend, Quick! What is the significance of April 15? Nope. Not U.S. Tax Day. It is the day Jackie Robinson made his major league debut in 1947 and since 2004 Major League Baseball has celebrated Jackie Robinson Day on that day each year. […]

Do You See the Art

Since February of 2016, my two sons and I have practiced Nihon Goshin Aikido at Beckham Martial Arts and Fitness. NGA is a movement based, close-quarters martial art that can be learned by anyone of any size or age. It is a combination of aikido, aiki-jujitsu, jujitsu, judo, karate, and iaido. We learn street effective […]

The Big Mo

If you placed a small block of wood under the front wheel of a stationary train, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for that train to move forward. But let that train get up to speed and it could crash through an entire building. The difference is momentum. One of the most interesting […]

Growth Hurts

If we are serious about personal and professional growth, we must be willing to challenge our presuppositions – our convenient beliefs. That is uncomfortable. My former mentor, Buford Makenzie, used to say, “Growth hurts.” I wonder sometimes if fatalism serves as a convenient excuse for avoiding the distasteful medicine of reality. When something about our […]

Are You Experienced

John Dewey, American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer, who is considered the father of experiential education said, “Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.” In the past 35 years, I have had several opportunities to pause and evaluate my circumstances. With the value of hindsight, I usually see how specific events or […]

The Secret Formula

What do you believe about success? Is it an art? Are some people just born to be successful and others are not? Now I can hear my friend Henry saying, “That depends how you define success.” Perhaps he would be right, but for the sake of today’s message (which, I will remind you is my gift […]

Where is Your Compass Pointing

Is personal growth important to you? Viktor E Frankl, Holocaust survivor and author of Man’s Search for Meaning wrote, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” The past several days I have taken time off writing to focus on my own personal growth. It has included […]

What Do I Do With My Hands

Part 5 of 5 – The Hands Let’s jump right into benefits of proper use of hand gestures that have been demonstrated by various studies.   Holler and Beatie found that gestures increase the value of our message by 60% Researchers have found that infants who use more hand gestures at 18-months old have greater language […]

Voice Power

If you have been following the Body Language this week, you have already gotten 2 important tips on facial expressions, 5 categories of reminders on head movements, and key information on how to position and move your lower body for establishing better connections with others. The messages are short (as promised) with techniques that can […]

Shake a Leg

One morning in the Volunteer Team House at Orphanage Emanuel in Honduras, my friend Charlie got my boys out of bed by saying, “Out of the sheets and into the streets!” It has been my favorite morning idiom ever since. Before that my favorite was, “Shake a leg!” Of course, now they are old enough […]

Use Your Head

As I scour the internet collecting information on body language, I haven’t found a better introduction than this excerpt from businessballs.com. “It is safe to say that body language represents a very significant proportion of meaning that is conveyed and interpreted between people. Many body language experts and sources seem to agree that that between […]

Own Your Face

This week I will be sharing a series of short emails on body language. I’ve been self-educating on the topic and trying to be more mindful of how I “carry” myself, especially since I have had ample opportunities for interacting with people I don’t yet know. I’m not promising to offer anything Earth-shattering, but I […]

The Big 6

How much bandwidth do you have today? We all have seasons of feeling overwhelmed and overloaded with responsibility. I remember the first time I heard a co-worker refer to that as running out of bandwidth. It was one of those sayings that instantly made its way into my vocabulary. We have an allotment of time […]

Law of the Lid

I have a leadership coaching exercise for you to ponder this weekend. It is based around Law #1 – The Law of the Lid which states that your leadership determines your effectiveness. As you have noticed, I don’t typically use graphics in my emails, but I will make an exception today with the graphics below. […]

Burden of Proof

How long has it been since you read a review of a product before you purchased it? Ever thought about why we do that? We need proof. We think, “I’m not going to be the first fool or the next sucker who is duped into letting go of my hard-earned cash. I need proof this will […]


“A man walks down the street He says, why am I short of attention Got a short little span of attention And oh my nights are so long Where’s my wife and family What if I die here Who’ll be my role-model Now that my role-model is Gone, gone” Now that you have Paul Simon […]

Mind the Gap

Albert Einstein said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” When you understand some of the differences between the conscious (rational) mind and the subconscious (intuitive) mind, it is easy to see why […]

Don’t Trust Your Gut, Investigate It

I am so grateful to have had a father who is also one of my heroes. You would have loved him. Everyone did. Those involved in the Life Leaders GPS get to learn a bit of his story as an “uphill person”. You want to know one of the best things about him? He kissed […]

Did You Say Banana

There is a fun camp skit that depicts two people having a phone conversation. Person #1 is instructing Person #2 over the phone, how to fold a bandanna and to properly use it as a head covering. Person #2 listens very intently and follows the directions to a tee except for their misunderstanding of one […]

SHIFT: Love is Good Business

Love is Good Business 

SHIFT: Learn Unlearn Relearn

SHIFT: Learn Unlearn Relearn

Stop Trying to Appear Perfect

Stop Trying to Appear Perfect

Wrestling with Pigs

Wrestling with Pigs

My Birthday Gift to You

My Birthday Gift to You

Faith or Fear Pick One

Faith or Fear? Pick One.

Is This The Real Life

Is This The Real Life…Or Is This Just Fantasy?

Here Is Why

Here is Why

Try This. I Will Tell You Why Tomorrow

Try This. I Will Tell You Why Tomorrow.

Let Me Be Clear

Let Me Be Clear

Marco Polo


In Your Face!

In Your Face!

Climb the Tree

Climb the Tree

Building Trust

Building Trust

Everything Rises and Falls on Leadership

Click to Listen

Vibrations Part Two

Vibrations Part One

Drop the Non-Essentials

Keep the Essentials


Lessons From the Back of the Bike

Move Forward

What’s In a Name