Accept Your Imperfection

May 4th, 2014 § 6 comments § permalink

“Great leaders are not defined by absence of weakness, but rather by presence of clear strengths.” —John Zenger

Are you hindered by the myth of being well rounded?

Nobody is perfect. There’s no such thing as a “well rounded” individual or leader. We’ve all been conditioned to believe that we should strive to be well rounded. Although perpetuated by well-intended people in our lives, whether our parents, teachers, or managers, this mindset simply isn’t realistic.

We live in a world that increases in complexity every day. As the world’s knowledge base grows exponentially, today’s groundbreaking discovery may become obsolete in several months. Due to the speed of change it’s no longer realistic to rely on a few people at the top of the organization to have all the answers.

Success is based upon your ability to play to your individual strengths while leveraging the strengths of others. You must first become clear about what you do well and where you can make the most significant impact. Deliberately invest as much of your time and energy to master these areas so your team and organization can reap the benefits of what you have to offer.

As important as it is to be clear about your strengths, you also need to be clear about your weaknesses. No one is perfect at everything. Unless you acknowledge and accept your weaknesses, you’ll succumb to fear of appearing that you aren’t capable of doing your job and will attempt to cover-up your weaknesses.

Once you acknowledge your weaknesses, don’t spend an inordinate amount of time trying to fix them. Instead, identify people on your team, or add them to your team, that can compliment your weaknesses. When your team is well rounded it isn’t necessary for you to be.

In order to be successful as a leader or in any career, you need to be focused on the areas of your greatest strength. It takes a great deal of time and energy to master a task and there isn’t enough time to master every task in your role. Rather than needlessly spinning your wheels with your weaknesses make the choice to build a well-rounded team that compliments you.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify a key weakness and look for someone to compliment you in this area.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC  


The Open Door

April 1st, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink


“Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing that we see to late the one that is open.” —Alexander Graham Bell

Do you see the opportunities available to you right now?

Change can be hard, especially if it has been thrust upon you without a choice. Whether you have been laid off, your role was changed, or you have a new manager you don’t care for it is natural to become stuck in the past. You might desperately hold on to the way things were, even if you weren’t particularly happy in the in the previous situation. However, you can make the choice to look for the opportunities in your new situation.

If I asked you whether people resist change, you would probably say yes. I believe this is a myth. Change is a natural part of life and not something we resist. However, we do fear the unknown of a situation, which is what causes our resistance to manifest. Once we can acknowledge and address the unknowns that concern us, our resistance to change will begin to fade.

William Bridges defined three stages of change that we all experience, Endings, Transitions, and New Beginnings. During the Endings stage we will grieve the way things were. Even if we’re experiencing a positive change we chose, such as getting married or having kids, we still go through a period in which we grieve the loss of our old way of life. In order to move beyond this stage, we need to acknowledge what we are giving up and accept that it is normal to feel a sense of loss.

We then move on to Transitions stage where we begin to experiment with new ways of thinking, behaving, etc.  During this stage we are exploring this new situation and figuring out how to adjust. As we work through this stage it typically feels like we are taking two steps forward and one step back; however, with each experience we learn more about ourselves and how to be successful in our new reality.

Finally, we move on to the New Beginnings stage. This is where we openly accept and fully embrace our situation. We will feel a sense of energy and excitement about what is possible for our life. The key is to recognize that we will go through these stages with every change we experience, good or bad. In some cases we may work through the stages fairly quickly and other times we might find ourselves stuck in the Endings stage staring at a closed door.

Challenge yourself to understand and work through these stages deliberately. Acknowledge what you are losing and how it makes you feel. Don’t sweep it under the rug but try not to wallow in it either. Next, ask yourself what opportunities are presenting themselves. I believe everything happens for a reason. Maybe this situation will provide you with the opportunity to learn a new skill or find a role that is more fulfilling.

Change isn’t easy but it is a natural part of life. With every change you face you can choose to focus on the door that is closing or you can look for opportunities through the new door. I encourage you to embrace these opportunities and walk through the door courageously and confidently.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify the opportunities on the other side of the new doors opening in your life.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M. Ed., ACC

True Humility, True Confidence

November 20th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink


“True humility is intelligent self respect which keeps us from thinking too highly or to meanly of ourselves. It makes us modest by reminding us of how far we have come short of what we can be.”

— Ralph Sockman

Are you falsely humble? Does your humility weaken your confidence?

Many of us have been taught the virtue of humility.  No one likes to be around somebody that brags about themselves or thinks they are better than others.  In an effort not to come across this way, we have come to believe that it is bad to stand out and acknowledge what we are good at.  While I certainly agree that it is not appropriate to brag about yourself or believe that you are a better person than others, I believe this mentality leads to a crisis of confidence for most individuals. 

When you accept these beliefs, you don’t allow yourself to openly consider what your strengths are.  You probably down play anything that comes very naturally to you and may assume that everyone does this as well as you, or that it is just something you are supposed to do. This prevents you from being able to appreciate your natural talents that can potentially be turned into strengths.  Without an awareness of your strengths, and a willingness to embrace them, you will never achieve true confidence. 

Lack of confidence will continue to hold you back no matter what you are trying to achieve.  If you are looking for a new job, your lack of confidence will keep you from applying for the positions you really want and lead you instead to take the safe route.  During an interview, your lack of confidence will permeate the room and prevent you from being hired.  Maybe you are looking for new opportunities and challenges in your current organization.  If you don’t project an air of confidence in yourself, your organization will never trust you with additional responsibility. And finally, if you are attempting to sell a product or service, your prospect will pick-up on your lack of confidence and run the other way.

Picture a balance scale (i.e. “scale of justice”).  On one side is over confidence, or what we would call arrogance, and on the other side is false humility.  In order to be successful, you need to have these two ends in balance.  If the scale is tipped in the direction of being overly confident, you will come across as though you have all the answers and will drive people away.  However, if the scale tips more towards false humility then you will beat yourself up and project to everyone that you aren’t worthy of new opportunities.

Start by gaining clarity about your strengths and what you have to offer.  Recognize what it is that you can do more naturally than most other people and how it is beneficial to others.  Experiment with how you can acknowledge your strengths to others without sounding like a braggart.  Next, identify those areas in which you are weak.  Acknowledge them and give yourself permission to be weak in those areas.  Look for ways to limit the amount of time you have to call on these weaknesses. Don’t set out to make yourself better in these areas or you will begin to tip the false humility side of the scale.

Keeping these two sides of the scale in balance is a life-long process.  There will inevitably be times when you get a little over confident and lose sight of the fact that you still have things to learn.  Likewise you will undoubtedly hit some rough patches where you will begin to beat yourself up.  However, the more you work on balancing the scale the easier it will be for you to recognize when things are out of balance and you will know how to make the necessary adjustments.

Time for this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify at least three activities or ways of thinking that come effortlessly to you and consider how you can leverage them into strengths.

If you are ready to take the next step to develop true confidence in yourself, I welcome the opportunity to support you on your journey.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., ACC


Everyone Struggles

August 28th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink


“When you’re struggling with something, look at all the people around you and realize that every single person you see is struggling with something, and to them, it’s just as hard as what you’re going through.” —Nicholas Sparks

What are you struggling with? Are you letting it consume you?

One thing I have learned is that everyone has struggles, concerns, and insecurities. It doesn’t matter how successful, smart, and confident you are there is always something that you will find yourself worrying about. Once I was able to accept this reality and realize that life is never perfect, it became much easier to deal with these situations.

Unfortunately most of us succumb to the habit of comparing ourselves to others. This is a very dangerous habit because we typically compare how we feel inside to how others look on the outside. We look at others that appear successful and happy and think they have it made. This assumption is then compared to our own feelings of insecurity and unhappiness which causes us to feel even worse.

I have a cousin who once said that if you gathered a group of 20 people in a circle and asked everyone to toss their problems in the center; you would grab yours and get out of there as fast as you can! This analogy illustrates the fallacy of comparing ourselves to others. If we continue to compare and allow ourselves to dwell on our problems, then we will begin to feel sorry for ourselves and become a victim.

If you find yourself struggling with a problem you are having, the most important step you can take is to be grateful. Whether you are frustrated with your job or grappling with a family issue there is always something to be grateful for. While you may not be working in your ideal job right now, be grateful that you have a means to provide for yourself and your family. When you are challenged by an issue within your family, remind yourself how blessed you are to be surrounded by people who love you. In every situation there is always another perspective, you just have to be willing to take the time and look.

Once you have refocused yourself with an attitude of gratitude, begin to ask yourself what you can learn from the situation. What influence do you have over the situation? It may be largely out of your hands and something you have to accept at this time. That doesn’t mean that you will be stuck with the situation the way it is forever, but at the moment your best course of action may be to accept it for what it is. You also need to ask yourself if you can respond to the situation in a different way. Is there an action you can take to make the situation better? If so, then commit yourself to taking responsibility for what is in your control and let go of the rest.

Time for this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify three things you are grateful for regarding the situation you are struggling with.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., ACC

Improve Yourself

May 22nd, 2011 § 6 comments § permalink


“Let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you don’t have time to criticize others.”  — H. Jackson Brown

Do you need to let go of judgment and criticism?  How can you improve your life?   

Critically evaluating situations and people comes very naturally to most of us.  It is human nature to instinctively look for what is wrong in a given situation so that we can jump into problem solving mode.  This tendency becomes even more ingrained through our schooling and work experiences.  Although there are situations in which it is appropriate to exercise these skills, their overuse can interfere with our happiness.

We are all guilty of comparing ourselves to others and assessing whether they are better or worse than we are.  Focusing on what is wrong with someone else makes you feel better about yourself temporarily.  In that moment you don’t have to take an honest look at yourself and admit what you need to work on.  However, this behavior is not only unhealthy but also a complete waste of time and energy. 

You can’t change another individual.  Only they can decide if they want to change and are willing to take the necessary action.  While it is easy to get caught up thinking about what someone else should do to change, there is a slim chance they will ever change due to your influence.  The only person you have control over is yourself and if you want to truly influence change you must begin there.

One way to begin making positive change in yourself is to focus on your strengths.  The strengths concept, originally proposed by Marcus Buckingham and Don Clifton in the book “Now, Discover Your Strengths”, asserts that we each have natural strengths and that true success comes from focusing our time an energy on their development and use.  This is in direct conflict with the notion that we should spend most of our time fixing our weaknesses so that we can become “well rounded” (i.e. good at everything).    

There is great freedom that comes from accepting the fact that you don’t have to be well rounded.  Once you realize that you don’t have to be perfect, you will be energized by the sense of possibilities for yourself.   Additionally, you will realize that others aren’t perfect as well.  You will begin to focus on their strengths and no longer find it necessary to critique them.

So, start focusing on yourself!  Take some time to discover and develop your strengths.  You will be pleasantly surprised by the optimism and serenity you will experience. 

Time for this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

What activity can you complete to develop your strengths?

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed. ACC