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



Hire Wisely

March 15th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

“You’re only as good as the people you hire.”

—Ray Kroc

How do you select the right people for your team?

Deciding whom to hire is potentially the most important decision you will ever make as a leader. Your success is dependent upon the ability and commitment level of your team. Without a capable and enthusiastic team you won’t achieve your goals or the organization’s goals. You must take this decision seriously in order to make strategic hires for the future rather than settling for a “warm body.”

When looking to identify a new member for your team, you need to start by challenging yourself. Look for someone who is stronger than you in one area or another. It isn’t realistic for you to be good at everything nor is it necessary to be an effective leader. Identify someone who compliments your abilities as well as the abilities of the rest of the team.

Additionally, look for an individual you won’t have to micromanage. While you’re responsible for helping them adjust to your organization and their new role, in addition to providing guidance along the way, you need to be able to trust them to fulfill their role. If you constantly have to look over an individual’s shoulder, there will be two people on your team who aren’t producing at maximum effectiveness.

Although it’s important for your new team member to have the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to do the role it’s even more important that he or she is a good cultural fit with your team and the organization as a whole. Regardless of how good their technical skills are, if they don’t get along with the team or irritate others throughout the organization, nobody will want to work with them. As people attempt to work around this individual inefficiencies and critical points of failure will begin to emerge.

Finally, look for someone who is passionate about the work you do.  Whether they get excited about the product you’re creating, the service you provide, or the people you impact it’s critical that they have a sense of enthusiasm for what they are doing. Otherwise, you will likely discover that they’re simply showing up for the paycheck. Without a sense of passion the individual will never go beyond what is defined in the job description nor take the extra steps to develop innovative ideas and ensure a first rate customer experience.

Each time you’re faced with a hiring decision, approach it as a strategic decision that could affect your team and organization for several years. The worst thing you can do is rush the process. Although you are likely overwhelmed due to the vacant position, don’t allow yourself to become desperate. If you settle for too many “warm bodies” you just might find that you’re the one interviewing for a new job.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify the complimentary skills you need as well as the attributes that would make a potential candidate a good cultural fit.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Inspired Leadership

January 4th, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” —John Maxwell

What’s feeding your leadership?

Great leaders are driven by passion. A longing to make an impact in the world and for the individuals they serve. They aren’t in it for the power, prestige, and money.

The elements of successful leadership have changed in the 21st Century. Leadership is no longer about power and issuing directives. Having a sense of meaning in work is becoming increasingly important to employees. This is especially true for the Millennial generation which will account for 50% of the workforce in 4 years. Success is dependent upon an organizations’ ability to adjust their approach to leadership.

You’ve likely developed goals for the New Year, which you believe, will help your organization succeed. The question is whether your vision will inspire your team. You won’t be able to achieve your vision alone and without a team of inspired individuals, your organization will never fulfill it’s potential.

What impact is your team or department making? How does their work make a difference in the lives of others? Your ability to articulate this bigger picture for your team will make the difference in whether or not they are energized, excited, and engaged or simply going through the motions.

Finally, step back and ask yourself why you decided to become a leader. Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why, states “Inspired leaders think from the inside out.” Leadership is about making a positive difference in the lives of others. Whether it’s through the product or service your team delivers or through helping your team grow and develop, you need to remain focused on who you are there to serve. Once you are inspired, you will find it much easier to inspire your team.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Define whom you serve as a leader and the impact you want to make in their lives.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC



Don’t Let Life Pass You By

May 18th, 2014 § 2 comments § permalink


“Lots of people let life go by and never accomplish what they want. I wanted to see what I could do.” Edwin C. Moses

What action are you taking to accomplish your goals?

Life is short and you have a finite amount of time to make a difference. Your life is your responsibility. If you choose not to make an effort to achieve what you want out of life, you can’t make excuses or blame anyone else.

The older I get the faster it seems time slips away. It’s easy to allow yourself to be swept along by the currents of life while telling yourself that you have plenty of time to achieve your dreams. In reality, before you know it you’ll wake up one day and wonder how you arrived where you are. You’ll find it heartbreaking as you try to comprehend where the time went and the opportunities you have missed.

It’s never to late to choose to achieve your goals and design the life you want. However, the sooner you begin the quicker you can experience the fulfillment that comes from living a life of purpose. Don’t wait until you have all the answers before getting started or you’ll find your self permanently stuck in fear. Recognize that life is a journey and that your goals and dreams will evolve along the way. The most important part is to be an active participant in your life while remaining open to opportunities to learn and grow.

As Stephen Covey stated in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, it’s important to “begin with the end in mind”. Imagine you’re retiring and are being given an award. What do you hope people say about you? How do you want them to remember you? What difference do you hope to have made in the lives of others? How will your community, industry, and the world be better off because of you?

You are the captain of your own life. It’s up to you to decide what you want to accomplish with the life you have been given. The rest of the world is waiting for you to share your gifts and strengths. Don’t deprive yourself of the fulfillment you deserve!

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one step you can take to begin achieving your dreams.

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

Hire for Passion

March 16th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

“If you hire people because they can do a job, they will work for your money. If you hire people because they believe what you believe, they will work with blood, sweat, and tears.” —Simon Sinek

What do your employees work for?

Employees who are only concerned about money are draining. They aren’t engaged and typically not overly concerned about how well they serve your customers. No matter what you do for them, it seems they’re never happy and always want more. The best way to avoid getting caught in this trap is to hire individuals that demonstrate passion for the work of your organization or team and is energized by the opportunity to make a contribution through their talents.

I personally believe most people don’t work purely for money. Although we all have to pay our bills and/or provide for our families, for most of us work is about so much more. We spend a significant amount of time at work and many people want a career not just a job. They want an opportunity to utilize their knowledge, skills, and talents to make a difference. As a leader it’s up to you to spot the individuals who posses the type of passion you need to make your organization successful.

When interviewing a prospective candidate, don’t settle with reviewing their resume and asking about their experience. While this is important information to cover, also ask what interests them about the position. Answers like “I think it’s a good fit for my skills”, “I’m looking for more flexibility”, or “I want to get my foot in the door” don’t speak to the person’s passion for the role. While these may be legitimate criteria for a candidate considering a job, if I heard this as a hiring manager I would run the other way.

You want to hear the candidate talk about why they enjoy the type of work you are hiring for and what excites them about making an impact in your organization. Additionally, ask them what they liked most about their past roles. Pay close attention to how they talk about their past positions and the opportunities with your position. You’ll be able to tell if they are genuinely excited or simply reciting a rehearsed answer.

As the business world becomes more complex the need for engaged and passionate employees becomes ever greater. Success is dependent upon your ability to build a team of empowered, accountable, and passionate professionals. Hiring the right people is one of your most important decisions as a leader. The biggest mistake you can make is to rush the process and succumb to the “warm body” syndrome.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify three questions to assess the passion of potential candidates.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC


Process Over Outcomes

March 2nd, 2014 § 2 comments § permalink

“Glory lies in the attempt to reach one’s goal and not in reaching it.”

—Mahatma Gandhi

Is your goal helping or hurting you?

Possessing a goal for yourself can sometimes be a double edged sword. While a goal can often provide motivation and keep you moving forward you have to be careful not to become consumed by the desire to achieve a specific outcome. The challenge is to leverage the benefits goals have to offer without becoming too rigid in the process.

The best goals are built on a foundation of purpose and passion. Rather than concentrating on simply starting a business or going back to school, you need to maintain your focus on the greater purpose behind your goal. Remind yourself daily about the service or product you want to offer and the difference you hope to make.  Maintaining your perspective about why you want to be in business, or go back to school, will motivate you to persevere through the ups and downs as well as remain open to opportunities to fulfill your purpose you might otherwise miss.

Start by creating a personal vision for how life will look and feel like when you accomplish your goal. What does a perfect day in your business or new career look like? Who are you helping? What are you doing for them? Take a few moments at the beginning of each day to think about your vision and visualize your perfect day. As you go throughout your day, watch for moments in which you feel the same sense of fulfillment you get when thinking about your perfect day. Notice what you’re doing and whom you’re doing it with.

Finally, at the end of each day reflect on those moments in which you felt fulfillment and identify potential themes. As you consider the ways in which you are already living your vision you may discover that your desired outcomes have changed. By choosing to consciously consider the purpose of your goal each day you will find yourself motivated and fulfilled on a daily basis. You’ll also remain flexible to new opportunities for fulfilling your goal that present themselves.

Goals are wonderful motivational tools that keep us from becoming complacent. Without a meaningful goal in life, your chance of realizing fulfillment is significantly decreased. However, it’s important to keep your goals in proper perspective. Rather than becoming consumed by the outcome you believe you should achieve, staying focused on the deeper purpose of your goal will ensure that the journey is rewarding regardless of the outcome.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify the deeper purpose behind a personal goal and pay attention to how you’re fulfilling that purpose each day.

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

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