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

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  


Praise Generously

April 6th, 2014 § 4 comments § permalink

“When you lavish praise on people, they flourish. Criticize, and they shrivel up.” —Richard Branson


How often do you praise your staff?

Providing your staff positive feedback on a regular basis is one of the most important things you can do as a leader. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the importance of hiring people with passion. Several readers commented that they agreed while also mentioning the importance of creating the right environment for people to be engaged.  Acknowledging the strengths each of your staff bring to the team is a key element for creating an engaged workforce.

Everyone needs praise. It doesn’t matter how accomplished or confident you are, we all feel good when someone acknowledges and appreciates the impact we are making. We also need to receive feedback about how we can improve. However, we often hear significantly more criticism than praise. Research has shown that we need a ratio of 4 pieces of praise for every piece of negative feedback.

Unfortunately most leaders fall woefully short of this ratio. All to often we take for granted and don’t even notice when one of our team members has done something very well. Unless they do something “above and beyond” we will chalk it up to them simply doing what they are paid to do.  Typically we only offer praise when we believe an individual has gone “above and beyond”. However, this inadvertently sends the message that these routine tasks aren’t very important.

Additionally, most of us naturally focus on and look for what is wrong in a situation. We’re quick to notice when someone has made a mistake and are apt to address it quickly. Our 4-1 ratio becomes flipped in the wrong direction. Before long, anytime your employee sees you coming they immediately begin assuming the worse. This will put them in a defensive posture and eliminate any chance of them learning from genuine constructive feedback that will help them grow.

In order to develop a team of engaged individuals who are continually growing you have to make an intentional effort to provide more praise than criticism. Ken Blanchard refers to this as “catching people doing things right”. Keeping this phrase at the top of your mind will help you change your focus and you’ll begin to notice the little, and not so little, actions your team is taking that make a difference.

You need to discipline yourself to recognize at least one person each day. Focus on reinforcing how they’re using their strengths and skills to make an impact. Ensure your feedback is genuine and don’t withhold praise in one area just because they’re struggling in another area. If you aren’t acknowledging what they do well, then you’ll have no credibility with them when you give them feedback on how they need to improve.  To build a successful team and organization you must carve out time in your busy day to recognize your staff.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Create a recognition journal so you can begin tracking how often you praise each of your team members.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker M.Ed., PCC

The Art of Leadership

February 16th, 2014 § 2 comments § permalink

“Leadership: The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” —Dwight Eisenhower

Is your staff compliant or committed?

Leadership is a complicated endeavor. Success is dependent upon your ability to build a team that is committed to your vision as well as the aims of the organization. Leaders don’t simply give orders and enforce compliance; they inspire commitment within each member of the team.

Effective leaders understand that the key to influencing their staff is to make it personal. They recognize that each member of the team has a unique set of motivations and that money is not their highest priority. Additionally, they understand that each individual wants to master a task, which will enable them to make a positive contribution.

Your responsibility as a leader is to understand your employees’ values, passions and strengths. In order to foster commitment within them, it’s important to help them understand how they can utilize their unique talents and passions to make a difference for the team, organization, customers, and community as a whole.

Once your staff understands and appreciates the impact they can make, provide the autonomy they need to make it happen. Encourage them to collaborate with the rest of the team to identify strategies for utilizing their strengths, which they may not recognize. Finally, when they encounter challenges along the way help them consider various approaches to overcome the barriers they face.

There are no shortcuts to success as a leader. Simply giving orders won’t work. If you want to be successful as a leader, you must invest the time and energy necessary to build the commitment within your team. Once you do, you will have created a team full of enthusiastic and energetic individuals that are inspired to achieve the shared vision.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Make time to talk with each of your staff about their passions, values, and strengths.

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 





Don’t Follow the Crowd

January 26th, 2014 § 2 comments § permalink

“A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.”

      Max Lucado

Do you follow or do you lead?

Leadership is not a popularity contest and can often be lonely. If you want to be effective as a leader, you have to be prepared to take the path less traveled.

Effective leaders choose to focus forward. They don’t allow themselves to be bogged down by individuals focused on maintaining the status quo, or even worse, longing for they way things used to be. Leaders rise above these complaints and focus on the future they would like to create.

One of the most critical elements of being a leader is having a clear vision for where you’re going. Without a compelling picture of how you want to move your team, department, or organization forward, you’re merely managing the status quo.  Your vision needs to clearly articulate what you aim to accomplish and why it’s important.

Your vision must also be inspiring. The best visions create a sense of excitement and anticipation within your team. Help your staff to visualize the difference they can make for your organization, your customers, the community, and even the world.

Finally, help each of your team members see how they can personally make the vision a reality. Point out what role they play, why it is critical, and how their strengths are uniquely suited for the situation. Encourage them to consider how fulfilling the vision is congruent with their own purpose and personal values, ultimately leading to personal fulfillment.

Leadership is a choice. Leaders choose to look forward rather than backwards. Leaders don’t allow themselves to get trapped by the negativity of those that complain about current circumstances. So, the important question is; which way are you looking?

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one step to focus your attention forward rather than backward.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Define Yourself

January 19th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

“We must not allow other people’s limited perceptions to define us.”

—Virginia Satir

Are you proactively defining yourself?

Everyone’s perception is limited. We all believe our perception is reality, but it’s actually only one piece of a bigger puzzle. Each of our individual perceptions are based upon our unique set of experiences and are therefore biased.

You’re the best judge of what’s right for you. Nobody else, your family, friends, or manager are in a better position to accurately assess what you need to do. Others have a valid perspective to offer and you may benefit from learning from their vantage point. However, you need to recognize the limitations of these various perspectives. Ultimately what is right for one person may not be what is best for you.

In any given situation, you’re the one that must decide which route to take. Take time to consider how the various options align with your strengths and values. Also consider which option excites or energizes you. Although having a steady job with an established company may be the best approach for a close friend or family member, maybe starting your own business or going back to school to change careers is what is most consistent with the real you.

You only have one life to live! It’s your life and you’re responsible for making the most of it. Fulfillment comes from refusing to live a second rate version of your ideal life. Make the decision to take your dreams seriously. Start today to define and claim the life you want to live.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Write about how your dream day would look if you made the decision to embrace the life that is right for you.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker M.Ed., LLC




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


Step Into Leadership

November 3rd, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” – Peter Drucker

Are you leading or managing?

This is a classic quote by one of the 20th century’s experts on leadership, the late Peter Drucker. I’m willing to bet that you’ve heard it many times. Although it’s quite a popular quote, for a long time I couldn’t appreciate Peter’s message. I’ve now recognize it’s a critical distinction for anyone in a leadership position to understand.

Management is about processes. As a manager you’re responsible for allocating work and securing all the necessary resources for your staff to complete their work. It’s your responsibility to monitor the processes and ensure the proper outcomes are achieved in order to meet the organization’s goals. The functions of management are important but they aren’t nearly sufficient to be successful.

Leadership is about people. Leaders recognize that even with the most efficient processes nothing can be accomplished without an inspired team. They dream big about what is possible and encourage those that follow them to dream big as well. Leaders set a vision for their organization and team and put energy into developing their staff to be able to achieve the vision.

The world needs more leaders. Unfortunately, too many individuals in a leadership position settle for managing processes rather than leading people. As our world becomes increasingly complex it’s impossible for one person to manage effectively by himself or herself. You must cultivate a team of subject matter experts you can rely on. With a team of highly skilled and knowledgeable individuals you won’t have to worry about managing the day-to-day operations and can focus more energy on your vision for the future.

Leadership in the 21st Century requires a coaching and collaborative style. Although a command and control approach may have gained employee compliance 20 years ago, it will no longer work in today’s business environment. In 2020 the millennial generation will be 50% of the workforce and they wont tolerate “command and control” leadership.  Any leader and organization that doesn’t adjust to a coaching and collaborative style of leadership will be unable to retain the best employees.

Your future success as a leader is dependent upon your willingness and ability to step beyond simply being a manager. It may not always be an easy transition, but the sooner you begin the quicker you’ll experience success. Don’t wait any longer. Decide today that you are ready to step up into leadership.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one action you can take this week to act more like a leader than a manager.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker M.Ed., PCC