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

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



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




One Day at a Time

January 5th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

“The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.” —Abraham Lincoln

What steps are you taking each day to create the future of your dreams?

We’re almost a week into the New Year and if you’re like most people you’ve probably fallen off track already with your resolutions. Frankly this is normal. The key is not to give up and to reset your expectations of making a perfect transition.

Bottom line: making a personal change is hard. Recent research has determined our brain is actually very elastic. So the popular adage, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, simply isn’t true. Although we’re very capable of learning new things and making changes in our life, it doesn’t happen easily.

Significant change whether starting an exercise routine, eating better, starting a business, or changing jobs contains inevitable ups and downs. Successful navigation of these challenges is dependent upon your ability to maintain a high level of energy and focus. This level of enthusiasm can only be sustained if the change is important enough to you. Focus on the areas that are truly meaningful for you and create a compelling image of what it will look like when you achieve your change.  This vision will keep you moving forward when the road gets tough.

Once you have a meaningful purpose and clear vision of what success looks like, approach the change one day at a time. Identify steps you can take each day to move forward and don’t get discouraged when you fall short or step backwards. You’re human and every path to change is full of twists and turns. Simply pick yourself up and make progress the next day.

One very true cliché is, “It’s about the journey, not the destination”.  Making the decision to take action and move forward will have a positive impact on your life, regardless of whether you ultimately reach your goal. It’s never too late to begin taking positive steps toward living the life of your dreams and you’re worth it! Make 2014 a year you look back on as a turning point in your life. Contact me if I can assist you in achieving your dreams. I’d be happy to partner with you on your journey.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one step you can take each day to move forward with your goals for the year.

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

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

Happiness is a Choice

March 17th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

“The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions, and not on our circumstances.” —Martha Washington 

How happy have you chosen to be?

Happiness is very important to all of us. We’re all driven, either consciously or unconsciously, by the desire to be happy. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize how much control they actually have over their happiness.

Life can be quite a roller coaster ride. One moment you’re humming along and feel on top of the world and a day, or even 5 minutes, later something knocks you to the bottom of the hill. It can be quite frustrating these moments sneak up on us. It’s also very tempting to complain about the situation and commiserate about what it was like to be at the top of the hill.

I used to think the goal of life was to find a way to stay on top of the hill at all times. That simply isn’t reality! I now realize that my peace and serenity is a byproduct of my ability to navigate the natural peaks and valleys of life. And, when I take the right approach the peaks aren’t quite as high and the valleys aren’t so low.

Your happiness in life is dependent upon the two things you have complete control of in your life, your attitude and response to situations.  Any time you’re confronted with a trying situation you can either choose to play the victim and blame others or you can choose to take ownership of the situation and look for the positives. Only the later response will increase your overall happiness.

Once you decide not to be a victim, implementing the following three strategies will help you respond effectively to any situation. First, accept the situation for what it is. You don’t have to like or agree with what happened, but you do need to accept it.  Lack of acceptance will only cause you to spin your wheels in the mud of victimhood.

The next step is to take ownership for the situation. One of the best principles I’ve learned is: “If I’m not part of the problem there is no solution”. This doesn’t mean you’re completely to blame, but you need to consider if you consciously or unconsciously did something to bring the situation about. Or, possibly your reaction to the situation has actually made things worse. Get clear about what you can do differently and take ownership for that piece of the situation.

Finally, view the situation as a learning process. If you’ve identified your part in the problem you can now begin to consider how you would handle things differently in the future. When you’re able to proactively learn from a challenging situation, you might actually look back at the situation with gratitude because it helped you grow in some way.

Life isn’t always easy, but you can choose to be happy regardless of what situation you’re dealing with. When you’re able to embrace life with an attitude of acceptance and ownership you’ll find the highs of life aren’t so high but the lows aren’t so low either. Choosing to live a more even keeled life will lead to a greater sense of peace, serenity, and happiness.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Make the decision to accept a challenging situation in your life.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Stretch Yourself

December 9th, 2012 § 2 comments § permalink

“The major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes of you to accomplish it. What it makes of you will always be the far greater value than what you get.” —Jim Rohn

What are you going to accomplish in 2013?

I’m willing to bet I got your attention with this question. As 2012 comes to a close it’s natural to begin considering what next year will bring. However, I urge you to consider a more important question, who do you want to become in 2013?

A popular adage states that “change is inevitable but growth is optional”. I’ve always liked this statement as I believe change is the only constant in life. However, I contend that in order to be happy and successful in life, growth is not optional. Goals give you something to shoot for and provide the extra boost of motivation to help you fight through the inevitable valleys of change. However, I would encourage you to take a different approach to setting your goals for 2013.

I’m willing to bet that you have been taught to write SMART goals. I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand SMART goals! Goals written in this format (Lose 20 pounds in 3 months) are not only boring, limiting, and may leave you disappointed. What if you only lose 15 pounds or it takes 6 months? Sure you’re grateful for the lost weight but it is likely that you will feel a little let down as well. Instead, consider replacing the SMART goal format with the following four step process.

First, gain clarity about your Intentions.  Why are you setting a goal?  What is important about this change for you?  Rather than focusing on losing 20 pounds or increasing revenue by 25% it’s more meaningful to focus on your desire to run around the yard with your kids or to expand your business and serve a new market.  These intentions tap into the higher purpose of what you are looking to accomplish and generate enthusiasm.

Once you are clear about your intentions and have identified a host of options, it is time to define what Success will look like for you.  Create a mental image of what you will be doing once you have achieved your goal.  Who are you with? How are you feeling?  What will be the first indication to you that you have achieved your goal?

The third step is to consider all of your Options and possibilities.  Don’t limit yourself to one strategy.  What strategies could you implement that will get you closer to running around the yard or expanding the business?  Come up with as many ideas as you can and resist the urge to judge what will or won’t work.

Finally, decide how you will hold yourself Accountable. Based upon the picture of success you defined and the options you identified, what strategies are you going to implement? When do you plan to implement your strategies? How will you hold yourself accountable and who else will you ask to hold you accountable?

Now is the time to begin thinking about 2013 and how you want to grow. Imagine it is December 31st 2013 and you are recapping the year, what do you hope to see in your life or career?

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Get a jump on 2013 with a clear intention of what you want, picture of success, and a set of strategies to hold yourself accountable.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

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

Your Inner Drive

May 28th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink


“To achieve happiness, we should make certain that we are never without an important goal.” —Earl Nightingale

What goal makes you want to jump out of bed?

Each of us has a burning desire deep inside to make a positive impact on the world.  When we lose sight of this desire, or blatantly choose to ignore it, true happiness is elusive. In order to achieve a life that is fulfilling and happy, we must become clear about the impact we are meant to make on the world.

One potential strategy is to consider how you want to make an impact within the various roles you play. You fulfill several different roles in your life whether as a parent, teacher, leader, business owner, community leader, spouse, etc. Ask yourself how you want to be remembered in each of these roles and which ones are most important to you.  Additionally, consider what you can bring to each role that will set you apart. In other words, how can you approach parenting or being a leader that will provide your own unique stamp and make a significant impact?

After you have reviewed all of the roles in your life see if any themes have emerged.  Consider what these themes say about how you naturally approach life and how you can make an impact in all aspects of your life.  For example, my personal mission is to inspire and foster the potential in others.  I can strive to achieve this purpose in all of my roles and with all of the people in my life. Once you define your purpose, commit to taking action daily.  No matter what I’m doing throughout the day, if I can identify at least one thing I have done to fulfill my mission, then it has been a successful day.  Continuously taking steps toward reaching your goal will get you excited to face each new day.

Living a purpose driven life is congruent with human nature.  While you’ll still experience challenging moments, having a sense of who you are and what is important will help you to navigate those situations and make good decisions. Rather than feeling like a leaf blowing in the wind, your purpose will serve as your internal compass that always points to true north during the journey of life. 

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify how you want to be remembered in each of your life roles and look for themes that point to your overall purpose.

Make it an excellent week:

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., ACC