Excellence vs. Perfection

May 17th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

“Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.”—Harriet Braiker

What are you striving for?

I like to say that I’m a “reforming” perfectionist. I have learned over the years to let go of some of my perfectionist tendencies but I still have plenty of room for improvement.

The idea of striving for perfection is very alluring. When you set perfection as your standard of success it drives you to work hard and may enable you to achieve significant accomplishments. However, it will often leads to a standard of unrealistic expectations, which lead to impatience, increased anxiety, or a general reluctance to take risks.

Excellence is a healthier target. Each of us will define excellence differently. What matters is that you are continually taking steps to fulfill your personal potential and make a positive contribution to the world. Rather than expecting to complete any task perfectly and free of mistakes, challenge yourself to make progress each day. As long as you are continuing to improve and developing new skills, approaches, and mindsets you will be taking a step closer to achieving your personal definition of excellence.

Replace the idea of being a perfectionist with the concept of being an optimalist. In the book: In the Pursuit of Perfect, Tal Ben-Sharar talks about how our desire for perfection is the number one obstacle to our ability to find happiness. Ben-Sharar states that perfectionists reject failure and expect life to be an endless stream of positive emotions, which means they also reject reality. On the other hand, an optimalist recognizes that failure and negative emotions are an inevitable fact of life and uses those experiences as learning opportunities to improve.

Choose to give yourself a break. When you recognize that the route to success isn’t a straight and flat path you’re able to accept and weather the inevitable peaks, valleys, twists and turns that life throws your way. While it’s important to continually challenge yourself to improve, choose to focus on excellence rather than perfection and accept that even when things don’t go as you planned there is an opportunity to learn and grow.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one area of your life where you need to replace perfection with excellence.

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

You Always Have a Choice

August 24th, 2014 § 4 comments § permalink

“We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” —Carlos Casteneda

What kind of life do you want?

It’s within your power to choose how you want to live your life. You can choose to approach life with a pessimistic attitude and walk around as if the sky is falling. Maybe things are going pretty well but you find yourself waiting for the other shoe to drop on your head. Or, you can decide to have a more positive and optimistic outlook. While you recognize that life is not without challenges, you trust in your ability to persevere and emerge in a better condition.

Life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes it can even feel like quite an emotional roller coaster. One minute you are excited about a new opportunity and a few hours or days later you are drained by a significant challenge. These high and low moments are unavoidable. However, you can decide how high or low you want to allow yourself to become.

It’s all about where you focus your energy. Some people choose to spend their time and energy complaining about their situation. They spend countless hours looking for people or reasons to blame for their predicament. Additionally, they are on an endless quest to find people who will listen to them weave their tales of woe in an effort to convince everyone that it simply isn’t their fault. Individuals like this have a knack for sucking the energy out of a room.

In order to be happy and successful in life, you need to focus your energy on learning from every situation. Begin by identifying your part in the problem. If you can’t determine what part you play, you have little chance of resolving the situation or learning from it. Maybe you inadvertently did something to lead to the situation. You might have made a decision that you knew in your gut wasn’t right. Even when thrown into a difficult situation that wasn’t of your making, your part in the problem is determined by how you respond to the situation.

Next, find someone you trust to share your problem with. It needs to be someone who won’t judge you but will also challenge you to consider your part in the problem. They won’t allow you to wallow in self-pity and victim hood rather they push you to determine what you can do differently in order to make a change. The focus of this conversation is learning, not commiserating.

Life isn’t always easy. With every situation you face you have the power to choose how you want to live. You can choose to stay stuck in anger and negativity or you can decide to focus on the positive and look for opportunities to learn regardless of the situation. Approaching life with a positive attitude will provide a sense of relief and make life easier, especially during the difficult times.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Look for at least one positive in every situation you encounter this week.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Pick Yourself Up!

February 9th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink


“One of the secrets of success is to refuse to let temporary setbacks defeat us.” – Mary Kay Ash

How many times have you fallen down? More importantly, how many times have you picked yourself up?

Life isn’t perfect and a straight path to success does not exist! You will inevitably stumble along the way. What’s important is how you respond to the natural roadblocks and setbacks you encounter. The steps you take to pick yourself up when you encounter challenges make all the difference in achieving success.

We all want to believe that if we prepare long enough and work hard enough we will predictably find success. Unfortunately, this just isn’t realistic. While hard work is essential, it’s impossible to predict exactly how life will play out. Flexibility and perseverance are essential to your ability to respond effectively to the setbacks you encounter.

When in doubt, move forward. If you find yourself paralyzed by analysis and the desire to identify the perfect strategy, push yourself to take action. Utilize the information at hand to make the best decision you can and prepare for potential adjustments.

The more you can anticipate the curve balls you might be thrown the easier it will be for you to adjust along the way. When you expect the setbacks, you’ll see them as a learning opportunity and won’t become discouraged.

No matter how many times you have fallen down, keep picking yourself up! Regardless of what setbacks you experience, as long as you continue to learn from your experiences, you have not failed. If you want to achieve success in your life and career, continue to pick yourself up and push through the obstacles you encounter.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Make a plan to pick yourself up and push through an obstacle in your life.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC 





Embrace Your Dream!

December 15th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

“In each of us there is a private hope and dream, which fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone.” —John F. Kennedy


What dream do you hold inside?

We all have a dream. Each of us has something we long to accomplish. Unfortunately most of us keep our dream hidden deep inside. Whether we’re afraid of failure or embarrassed about what others might think, we never give our dreams a chance to become reality.

The world needs you to embrace your dream. You have something unique to offer. You’re meant to make an impact in a way that only you can.  However, if you never let your dream shine you’ll never know how successful you could be. You’ll never fully comprehend the positive impact you could make on the world.

Life is too short not to follow your dreams. Don’t allow your dream to wither and die within you. This will only lead to a life of regrets. Challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone and give your dream a chance. Although you can’t know for sure if you will ultimately be successful, I can assure you that failure isn’t as demoralizing as regret.

Make the decision today to make 2014 your year! Choose to take your dream seriously and allow it to see the light of day. All that is required is a commitment to take a few simple steps to explore the possibilities of your dream and see what you might uncover.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify 3 steps you can take in 2014 to embrace your dream.

Make it an excellent week!

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


Get Started Now

June 30th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

“Don’t wait; the time will never be ‘just right’. Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.” —Napoleon Hill

What are you waiting for? Are you expecting the perfect opportunity to drop in your lap?

I bet you’ve been contemplating a change in your life but you’re holding yourself back because while you wait for the “right” moment. Whether you’re looking to change jobs, start a business, go back to school, get involved in your community, or take your team in a new direction there is no such thing as the perfect time.

In my experience many people struggle with the desire to do everything perfectly, as have I, which is a damaging mindset. Positive psychologist Tal Ben-Sharar distinguishes between the perfectionist and optimalist in his book In The Pursuit of Perfect. Perfectionists believe the path from point A to point B should be a direct and smooth path. When they experience the inevitable bumps in the road they become defeated.

On the other hand, the optimalist realizes that life is a journey that is full of twists and turns. She understands there will be many ups and downs along the path and that each detour provides an opportunity to learn. Rather than getting frustrated the optimalist enjoys the moment and what it has to offer. She trusts in her ability to adjust to the situation and keep moving forward.

In reality now is the perfect time. If you struggle with perfectionism, I challenge you to embrace the attitude of the optimalist. Any action you take will present opportunities and risks. While it’s important to understand what these are don’t get caught in analysis paralysis. The key is to get into action. Simply identify the first thing you need to do and begin moving forward.

You just may surprise yourself about the impact you’re capable of making. More importantly, not matter what happens you won’t regret having not taken a chance.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one simple step to move your idea forward. Contact me today if you want a support partner for your journey.

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

Quit Daydreaming

September 23rd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink


“It takes just as much time and energy to wish as it does to plan.”

—Eleanor Roosevelt

How are you spending your time?  Are you daydreaming endlessly or creating a new reality?

Daydreaming can serve as a nice distraction. We’ve all had moments during a particularly stressful and frustrating day at work in which we have wistfully imagined the career of our dreams. However, once we return to reality we don’t have anything to show for our time. Sure, we might feel better temporarily but choosing to spend our time creating a new reality for ourselves will lead to more tangible benefits.

Many people never move beyond mere daydreaming. They imagine a wonderful career and life for themselves but never take the first step towards making it a reality. This inaction will likely leave them filled with regret as they wonder if they could have actually fulfilled their dream. Don’t allow yourself to stop with daydreaming.

When pondering a big dream, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the situation. You may begin to convince yourself it will take too much work or you don’t have what it takes to be successful. When you find yourself falling into this trap, challenge yourself to explore the possibilities and focus on getting into action one step at a time. Research your idea to see how others are approaching the situation and identify who can benefit from what you have to offer. Finally, identify the resources, skills, and support network you will need to successfully achieve your dream. You can take each of these items one at a time, or break them into several smaller steps, in order to generate momentum for yourself.

I hope you live a life free of regrets. You don’t want to look back on your life and wonder whether you should have taken a shot at your dream. It isn’t necessary to jump into the deep end without a life jacket. Rather, simply take yourself and your idea seriously.  Believe that you have something to offer and begin exploring the possibilities.  The more you explore the more confident you will become in your decision about whether to take the final plunge to make your dream a reality. Regardless of which decision you make, you won’t experience the life of regret that results from becoming stuck in your daydreams.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Research one aspect of your dream and explore the possibilities.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., ACC

Claim Your Genius

August 5th, 2012 § 2 comments § permalink

“Everybody is a genius.  But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” —Albert Einstein

Do you believe in your genius?

Everyone has been blessed with unique gifts and talents.  We each have the ability to do something or perceive situations in a way that isn’t natural to many people.  Success in life is dependent upon our ability to identify and embrace our talents. Unfortunately, most people spend more time comparing themselves to others and trying to be someone they aren’t which makes true success elusive.

The first hurdle you need to overcome is identifying your strengths.  Since our strengths are ways of thinking and behaving that are second nature for us, most people take them for granted.  We assume a task that comes easily to us must be easy for others as well. Coupled with this assumption is the belief that a task that is easy for everyone must not be that important.  Both of these assumptions are incorrect. While you surely aren’t the only one in the world that possesses your strength, you are likely stronger in that area than 10 randomly selected people.

Another challenge to identifying our strengths is the tendency to compare ourselves to others. When it comes to the concept of talent and strengths, most of us think about athletes, musicians, artists, or actors.  It’s easy to look at these individuals and see their talent.  However, these aren’t the only talents that exist in the world.  You might be gifted in your ability to relate to people.  Your talent for being able to listen to their concerns and understand their perspective helps others feel comfortable and open to challenging themselves.  Or, maybe you are a natural strategic thinker who can instantly visualize a plan to achieve your goals in any given situation. 

Once you have identified your strengths, it is time to embrace them.  Quit comparing yourself to others and trying to be someone that you aren’t.  Comparison will lead to expending most of your energy on fixing your weaknesses.  Not only is it draining to spend all of your time trying to fix a weakness, it frankly isn’t that effective.  It is impossible to be good at everything and when you finally accept your strengths your ability to fulfill your potential increases significantly.

Success, or what I call Authentic Excellence, comes from claiming your genius.  Your individual potential will be fulfilled once you’re clear about your strengths, determine how you want to use them to make an impact in the world, and possess the courage to follow that path. 

Time for this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one talent you possess and one step to embrace it more fully.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., ACC