Your Response is Everything

August 30th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

“Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you.” —Aldous Huxley

How are you responding in life?

We all know that life is full of high and low moments. One moment you’re feeling on top of the world and a few days, or minutes, later something happens and you feel like you’ve taken three steps backwards. Charles Swindoll famously said “Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react.” Your response in these moments is critical to your success and happiness in life.

Responding to challenging situations is a choice. When faced with something difficult, most of us simply fall back on an instinctual reaction driven by the fight or flight part of our brain. In that moment we often feel threatened which triggers our ingrained behaviors to take over. This rarely produces a good outcome.

The first step is to remain calm, which is a lot easier said than done. Research has shown that under stress our field of vision shrinks to 30 degrees. We are literally stuck in “tunnel vision” which prevents us from seeing the situation clearly. However, if we can take a few deep breaths and remain calm, we give ourselves a chance to step back and objectively assess the situation. We can distinguish the facts of the situation vs. the assumptions we might be reacting too.

Once we have slowed ourselves down, we can determine how we want to respond. Our focus needs to be on what we can influence in the situation. It’s quite likely that there are many factors we can’t influence. Rather than wasting time complaining about those factors, choose to take action on what you can influence. While you can’t control what other people will or will not do, you can choose the tone and words you want to use when you respond to them.

It can be difficult to deal with challenging situations that aren’t unfolding the way we want them to. You can choose to react in a way that attempts to control the situation and the people involved or you could decide to complain about how powerless you are. Neither of these responses is helpful.

When you choose to remain calm in order to step back and assess the situation, you can take action in the areas you can influence and you won’t feel powerless. Although the outcomes may not play out the way you want, your approach will create the confidence and resilience you need to weather the inevitable peaks and valleys that life brings. Then, even during the challenging moments, you can honestly say that you are happy.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one strategy you will use to help you respond more effectively.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Light Leadership

May 31st, 2015 § 4 comments § permalink

“He who has great power should use it lightly.” —Seneca

How do you wield power?

It’s critical to you use your power responsibly as a leader. You can choose to throw your weight around while issuing directives and barking orders. Or you can rely on attraction, where you inspire others and invite them to join you. How you choose to leverage your power will impact your long-term success as a leader.

Autocratic leadership styles aren’t effective over the long-term. If you attempt to rule through fear and intimidation, you’ll end up with two negative outcomes. First, you will run off the most talented people on your team. Individuals who are confident in their abilities know they don’t have to put up with this behavior. They trust in their ability to find a more suitable role and won’t hesitate to leave.

Those who don’t leave will retreat and become a shell of themselves. Your behavior will create a culture of fear where everyone is afraid to take risks. They’ll do the minimum necessary to get by and fly under the radar. Although it may initially appear that your autocratic style is the key to getting people to do what you want, the positive results will be short lived and it won’t take long before your results begin to suffer.

A better alternative is to employ a coaching and collaborative leadership style. Rather than dictating to others what they must do, help them understand why certain tasks and directives are important. When faced with a difficult challenge, seek their input. Make a point to tap into their knowledge and get them to help identify potential solutions.

Finally, help each member of your team understand their strengths and how they can use those strengths to impact the mission and vision of your organization. The more opportunity they are given to play to their strengths each day, the more engaged they will become. They’ll be excited to come to work and will continually look ahead to identify potential problems or opportunities before they even crop up.

Successful leaders understand that they don’t have to exert their power in order to be effective. Rather, they work hard to earn respect by showing respect to each member of the team. True leaders know that once they’ve cultivated a relationship of mutual respect they’ll have built a team that is committed to the organization and willingly step-ups to any challenge presented to them.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one challenge to seek your team’s input on.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Embrace Abnormal

April 19th, 2015 § 6 comments § permalink

“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” —Maya Angelou

Are you hiding behind normality?

You have a choice to make. Either you can decide to play it safe and follow the crowd. Or, you can choose to embrace what makes you unique and the gifts you have to offer. Normality is a myth and success depends upon your willingness to affirm who you are and what you have to offer.

It takes courage to be true to yourself. As you step out and let the real you shine through, there’s always a risk that others aren’t going to like you. Even those closest to you might not agree with your beliefs or approach. However, no matter what you do there will always be someone that doesn’t care for you. The greater risk is living a life of mediocrity.

A seed of potential exists within every one of us.  Unless we’re willing to take the necessary steps to cultivate our potential it will never blossom. The first step is to become clear about who you are.  Discover your passions, values, and strengths so you understand the impact you want to make.

Once you have this foundation of self-awareness in place you can begin to develop your potential. Actively look for opportunities to use your strengths. Start sharing your desires with close family, friends, and colleagues to see what ideas they might offer for practicing your strengths. The more you experiment the more clarity you will have about what is a best fit for you. Additionally, you will continue to refine your strengths.

Accept that it’s okay not to be normal. The concept of being normal is a myth and only exists when people continue to feed the belief that we have to fit in to some popularly accepted norm. No body is normal. We are each unique with our own set of strengths, challenges, desires, and fears. Recognize that these are the things that make you amazing and embrace who you truly are. Then you can begin the path to happiness, success, and fulfillment.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify three strengths you possess and share one of them with someone.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC



Rely on Inner Confidence

March 1st, 2015 § 8 comments § permalink

“He who is plenteously provided for from within, needs but little from without.” —Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Do you trust yourself?

I believe confidence is the single most important ingredient to anyone’s success. Without at least a modest measure of confidence in your talents and skills you’ll find it difficult to take the action necessary to achieve your goals in life. Rather than simply sitting back and depending on other people to provide you direction, you need to believe in yourself and chart your own path.

One of the worst things you can to do is to seek personal validation from those around you. We all need to feel like we’re supported and it feels good to be praised by our managers, peers, friends and families. However, we won’t always receive the praise we seek. If you stake your sense of worth and accomplishment on the praise of others, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. You may also create a self-fulfilling prophecy in which you continue to place more emphasis on your desire to be praised only to be repeatedly disappointed.

Your best source of confidence comes from within. Start by becoming crystal clear about your personal talents and strengths. Everyone has talent and you’re not an exception. The problem is that you likely take your talents for granted and don’t think they’re very important. This simply isn’t true. Step back and think about the tasks, behaviors, and ways of thinking that come very naturally to you. These are indications of areas of talent for you. Also take stock of all the knowledge and skills you have acquired over your lifetime. You’ll be amazed at how much you truly know.

Next, identify all of your accomplishments. Think about all the different jobs you’ve had and identify the projects you worked on, the problems you helped solve, or the customers you helped. However, don’t limit yourself to professional accomplishments. Think about the sports teams or clubs you were on in school as well as any community groups you have participated in. Every one of these experiences is a ripe source of accomplishments, talents, knowledge, and skill.

Finally, once you’ve identified all of your personal talents, knowledge, skill, and accomplishments it’s important to capture it all on paper. This isn’t the time to be modest! Capture in as much detail as you can, what you did, how it made a difference, and what talents you brought to the table. Also, think about the feedback you’ve been given from others. What praise have you received? What talent did others acknowledge you for? Capture all of this in the same document.

Whenever you’re feeling a little discouraged, open this document and review all that you’ve accomplished in your life. Relive the moments in which you felt successful and remind yourself that you have more than enough ability to persevere through whatever challenge you are facing. Make it a practice to revisit this document once a month to add any new accomplishments or feedback you have received.

If you want to be successful in life, then you have to be prepared to follow the path that is right for you. No one can tell you what is right for you, so the decision is completely yours. You have to believe in yourself. Achieving success isn’t easy and you are bound to stumble along the way but when you possess a reservoir of inner confidence you’ll always be able to pick yourself up and get back on the path.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Create your personal “Inner Confidence” document.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Life is an Adventure

January 25th, 2015 § 4 comments § permalink

“An original life is unexplored territory. You don’t get there by taking a taxi, you get there by carrying a canoe.”  —Alan Alda

Are you charting your own course?

Life isn’t a guided tour. You can’t sit back and wait for someone to point out the direction you need to take. You’re the captain of your life and it’s up to you decide who you want to be, what you want to do, and take action to achieve the life of your dreams.

Your path is unique. There’s value in listening to others share about their experience and lessons learned. Although you can likely learn a lot from those who have gone before you, they can’t speak to what is right for you. Only you can determine what is right for you.

You have a responsibility to design a life that is right for you. You’re unique and here for a reason. Make time to get clear about your strengths and define the impact you want to make with your life. Once you have this clarity, you need to take action and use your strengths to be of service to others.

I believe you’ll experience fulfillment from being the authentic you. Once you begin to live your unique life, and make your unique contribution to the world, you’ll be filled with a sense of satisfaction and contentment.

That’s not to say your life will be nothing but smooth water from that point forward. You’ll inevitably experience some rough rapids, demanding courage and the willingness to make course corrections along the way.  Rely on your strengths and authentic self to guide you back on track.

The world needs what you have to offer. Everyone benefits when you are able use your strengths to be of service. Are you ready to pick-up your canoe and chart your own course?

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one action you can take to become the captain of your life.

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Don’t Fear Failure

November 17th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink


“You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.” – Beverly Sills

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

We all have a tendency to create barriers that hold us back from achieving our potential. You might worry about failing in a new endeavor or simply spend so much time trying to figure out how to do it perfectly that you never get started. Or maybe you’re worried about being embarrassed if things don’t turn out like you had hoped.

The bottom line is that you’ll never know what the outcome could be if you don’t take a chance. By stepping out of your comfort zone you might discover that success is right around the corner. Your new venture, whatever it is, could potentially open the door to a more fulfilling career or life.

Of course it’s also possible that you could fall short of your dream. However, this doesn’t mean you’ve made a bad decision. By choosing to take a chance you’ve given yourself an opportunity to learn more about yourself and what you’re capable of. You’ll likely discover abilities you didn’t realize you had which may become your foundation for future success.

A fulfilling career and life requires risk. You can’t sit back in your comfort zone and play it safe if you want to be successful. If you’re ready to experience genuine fulfillment in your life, you need to let go of your fear of failure and step into the new experiences waiting for you. Embrace the possibilities of what you could create in your life and throw yourself into new experiences.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Take one action this week to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC


Be True to Yourself

September 15th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

“I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure which is: try to please everyone.” – Herbert Swope


Whose life are you living?

Life is short and you only get one chance to make it count. Choosing not to live your best life simply wastes the gift you’ve been given. In order to look back on your life with satisfaction, you need to blaze your own trail and not allow yourself to be influenced by the desires others have for you.

You’re here in this moment in history for a specific reason. Success will be yours once you gain clarity about, and embrace, your purpose. When you embrace who you are and what you have to offer you’ll be an inspiration to others. Not only will you make an impact in the way only you can, you’ll also demonstrate to others the fulfillment that comes from being true to who you are.

This doesn’t mean everyone is going to like you. You will come across plenty of people in your life that disagree with your choices. They may be strangers, co-workers, friends, or even family members. Sometimes it’s simply a difference of opinion and you won’t agree with their choices either. In other instances, they may actually be jealous and threatened by your confidence.

Regardless of why people disagree with you, don’t let this deter you from following the path that is right for you. There is only one you! If you don’t live the life you were designed to live, nobody will. Not only will you miss out on a fulfilling life, the world will never have the opportunity to benefit from what you have to offer.

One of my favorite movies is “It’s a Wonderful Life”. While some may find it cheesy, I believe the story does a wonderful job of showcasing how important every one of our lives are. Don’t waste any more time living someone else’s life. For the benefit of yourself, and all of us, embrace everything you have to offer and start living your best life.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one change you want to make to embrace the life that is right for you.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Got Confidence?

August 4th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

“Your chances of success in any undertaking can always be measured by your belief in yourself.” —Robert Collier

How confident are you?

I’ve noticed that many people lack confidence. I haven’t always been the most confident person myself and I can tell you from personal experience that it’s one of the biggest barriers to success. In my opinion two critical factors drive lack of confidence, perfectionism and lack of awareness about your strengths.

Where does your lack of confidence come from? Trying to figure out the answer can be like determining which came first, the chicken or the egg. Regardless of why you struggle with confidence, if you aren’t careful you’ll find yourself trapped in a vicious cycle. When you’re unsure of yourself, fear of failure will lead you to approach life and situations apprehensively. As a result you’re more likely to fall short, which will only decrease your confidence even more.

Only you can choose to break the cycle. First, you need to realize that everyone makes mistakes. When you embrace that perfection is a myth you won’t be devastated when things don’t go as planned. Rather than beating yourself up for not being good enough, you’ll be able to pick yourself up, apply what you learned, and move forward.

It’s also essential to understand that success doesn’t happen overnight. In No Overnight Success I talked about what appears to be sudden stardom is actually the culmination of years of hard work and dedication. There are no shortcuts to success and you can’t bypass the bumps in the road.

Once you let go of the need to be perfect, begin building your confidence by focusing on your talents. Don’t try to tell me you aren’t talented because everyone has talent. You might have an instinctual ability to organize complex tasks and projects into smaller steps to ensure completion. Or, maybe you have an uncanny ability to sense what the future will bring while preparing yourself and others to take advantage of the opportunities.

As you become more aware of your strengths you can watch for opportunities to use them more fully and frequently. The more you play to your strengths the more energized, confident, and successful you will be. Along with this confidence you’ll begin to accept that you don’t have to be good at everything. When confronted with the decision on how to spend your time you’ll choose to play to your strengths rather than become drained trying to fix a weakness.

Nobody is perfect or strong in every area. You will experience true confidence once you’re clear about your strengths and deliberately choose to spend your time and energy developing them. Embrace your imperfectness and let your strengths shine!

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one strength to focus on and one weakness to accept and let go.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC



Embrace Your Authentic Excellence

April 7th, 2013 § 4 comments § permalink

“Our business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves – to break our own records, to outstrip our yesterday by our today.”  — Stewart B. Johnson

How are you capitalizing on the attributes that make you unique?

It’s a popular cliché to say that life is a journey. Although the metaphor may be a tad overused, it’s quite accurate. Each of us has a path we must travel and like any path it’s full of twists and turns. The important question is which path have you chosen. Are you following the path that is right for you or have you become beholden to the expectations of somebody else?

Deep down we all know it’s important to follow our own path rather than trying to live up to the expectations others have for us. Unfortunately, we are continually confronted with subtle pressures, which often prevent clarity about what is best for us. Even when we have chose to follow the best path these same pressures may cause us to become distracted and stumble.

We are constantly bombarded with messages that reinforce the societal definition of success, which is based on the amount of money we make, the size of our house, and the number of cars we drive. Coupled with this unconscious pressure many people also experience the subtle push from family and friends encouraging them to follow a path that is deemed most lucrative and/or stable.

Fortunately you don’t have to accept society’s definition of success. I encourage you to reject the stereotypical view of success and embrace your Authentic Excellence instead. You’ve been put on this earth for a reason. Likewise, you possess a unique combination of talents, knowledge, and skills that the world is waiting for you to share. Your ability to fulfill your potential and achieve your Authentic Excellence, depends upon your willingness and courage to follow the path designed for you.

When you choose to embrace your Authentic Excellence and follow your path you’ll experience a great sense of freedom. I’m not suggesting the path won’t be full of ups and downs. However, once you’re confident about who you are and what is right for you, the need to compete or compare yourself to others will begin to diminish. Rather than worrying about the need to prove yourself to others, you’ll challenge yourself to stay focused, put one foot in front of the other, and fulfill the potential that lies within you.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Take an hour to reflect on the path you’re currently traveling and determine if a course correction is needed.

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Dare to Fail

February 24th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”

— Robert F. Kennedy

Are you afraid of failing?

You might be thinking to yourself, “Well that is a stupid question.” No one likes to fail and we’ll typically do whatever we can to avoid that fate. However, failure is inevitable. It’s impossible to succeed in everything you attempt in life, but true success in life requires risk and occasionally choosing to bypass the safe path.

The important question is: “how do you react to failure?”  It’s natural to be disappointed when you fail to achieve something important to you. You shouldn’t try to stuff this feeling; however, this moment also represents a significant juncture in your life. You can choose to beat yourself up about your failure, which will only decrease your confidence and likely cause you to retreat to safety.  Or you can choose to embrace the situation as an opportunity to learn.

Challenge yourself to step back and take a “big picture” view of the situation. As you look from afar, what do you notice about what went well or wrong? What did this experience teach you about yourself? How are you wiser today and what would you do differently next time?

When you answer these questions with an objective frame of mind, you’ll be amazed at how much you can learn from the situation. Of course you made some mistakes along the way, but once you’ve analyzed them to fully understand what happened, you’re unlikely to repeat them. You are now prepared to use these lessons to increase your chance of success the next time around.

Quit playing it safe if you want to be successful in life. Challenge yourself to venture out of your comfort zone. While you may not achieve your goal, if you remain open and apply the lessons to be learned in any situation you are bound to find your path to success.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Take one step in order to risk failure in some area of life.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC