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

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 





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



Life Requires Flexibility

October 27th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

“Your level of passion and aliveness is directly proportional to the amount of uncertainty you can live with.” —Tony Robbins


How flexible are you?

Life is full of twist and turns. The more you’re able to flex and adjust course when you hit life’s natural detours the more successful you will be.

Flexibility has never been one of my strengths.  While I’ve definitely gotten better over the years, I’m sure those closest to me would say I still have a long way to go. My natural personality leads me to focus a lot of energy on planning for the future. While there are some definite advantages to my inclination for planning, life rarely plays out just as I planned.

I believe that everything happens for a reason. Every moment presents you with an opportunity. Even when something doesn’t go as you had planned, there is something you can gain from that moment, if you stay open.  

The distractions and detours of life might be just what you need. If you stay open to making the most of the present moment you might find you have an opportunity to learn an important lesson or appreciate a new experience that you would have otherwise missed.

The key is to strike a balance between planning for the future and living in the moment. It’s important to identify what you want to accomplish and the steps you need to take to get there. At the same time you need to allow for adjustments along the way. If your focus is too narrow you won’t recognize when you are being tugged to consider a new approach, which just may be the key to your success.

Time for this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Each day this week, focus on allowing yourself to flex from your plan when necessary. You just might be surprised by the opportunities that present themselves.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

















Get Up & Hustle

July 14th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” – Abraham Lincoln 

Are you ready to move?

In order to achieve your dream you must be prepared to work hard. Whether you want to change careers, start a business, or get promoted to the next level the best opportunities won’t simply fall in your lap. You have to jump in the game and make things happen.

Ask yourself is, ‘Am I ready to move forward, or not?’ You can talk and daydream about what you want to do all day long but at the end of the day you’ll have nothing to show for your time. If you’re ready to make progress, back-up your talk with action. Begin following through on your ideas and see what you can create.

Maybe you’re sitting there thinking, ‘I agree, but I just can’t seem to move forward.’ If you’re feeling stuck, take a moment to evaluate what’s getting in your way. Maybe you’re afraid you won’t succeed. In my post Fear is Natural I encourage you to refocus on learning how to leverage fear to your advantage rather than trying to eliminate it completely. Fear is inevitable but allowing it to hold you back is a choice.

Closely related to the fear of failure is the desire to do everything perfectly. If you’re trying to devise the perfect plan for achieving your goal, you’re actually the trying to eliminate the potential for failure, which is impossible. A couple of weeks ago, in Get Started Now, I wrote that every action has risks and you need to move forward and embrace the learning opportunity you’ll be given along the way.

Finally, maybe you lack accountability. Achieving your dream isn’t easy. If it were, it wouldn’t be worth dreaming about. When the road gets challenging, most people aren’t able to hold themselves accountable. It’s all too easy to slip into a routine that is comfortable and safe. We all need someone in our life to hold us accountable. Someone that believes in us, embraces our dream as a possibility, and challenges us to push forward, all without making us feel guilty when we occasionally fall short.

If you’re finally ready to make your dream a reality, identify an accountability partner. It could be mentor, coach, colleague, friend or family member. Regardless of whom you choose make sure it is someone you trust. Your partner should believe in your abilities and remain optimistic while providing unbiased and candid feedback. When you have someone like that in your corner, you’ll have the extra push to get started on your journey.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify at least one person to be your accountability partner. Please let me know if you would like to explore how I can assist you in that way.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC


No Overnight Success

January 20th, 2013 § 4 comments § permalink

“One half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it.”  —Sidney Howard

What are you willing to give up?

I hate to break it to you, but you can’t have it all. This runs counter to popular belief but in reality success is a result of hard work, determination, focus, and choice. Bottom line; if you want to be successful in your career and life you’ll have to decide where to focus your energy and what to walk away from.

Success doesn’t happen overnight. We love to hear about businesses, musicians, or athletes who seem to burst on the scene out of nowhere. These stories create for great drama and instill hope that our big break is right around the corner. However, most of these so-called “overnight success” stories were preceded by years of hard work and non-glamorous moments.

In the book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000 Hour Rule, proposing it takes 10,000 hours of practice before one can master a task. Dedicating 40 hours a week to one particular task, which virtually nobody can do, it would take approximately 5 years to reach 10,000. For most of us, it’s more realistic to expect to spend 7-10 years achieving this level of mastery.

One popular example cited by Gladwell is the Beatles. The Beatles spent four years playing over 1,200 sessions in Hamburg, Germany before they burst onto the American music scene in 1964.  Playing in front of a live audience virtually every day helped them hone the style and sound that would later take the world by storm.

A more current example is Rovio Studios, which created the game Angry Birds. Angry Birds has become one of the greatest selling iOS games of all time and without a doubt a huge success. But, did you know that Rovio developed several other games for 8 years before they hit it big with Angry Birds.

The question is; are you ready to dedicate yourself to a particular task or role for a minimum of 20 hours a week for the next 10 years. That is the price of success and this level of focus can be quite challenging to achieve in a world filled with an infinite number of distractions. Unfortunately, many of the options vying for our attention are good opportunities, forcing us to choose between multiple attractive possibilities.

Finally, it’s important to focus on a task or role that ignites your passion. When you’re honing your craft in something you enjoy it doesn’t feel like work. You may get physically exhausted but you aren’t likely to get bored or burn out. I’m passionate about coaching and it never feels like work to me, even after a full day of 6 or 7 sessions.  Without passion, it’s unlikely you’ll be willing to put in the work required to reach 10,000 hours.

Don’t waste any more time getting started on your 10,000 hours.  Get clear about what you enjoy doing and are willing to dedicate yourself to over the next 10 years.  And if you focus on your passion, you probably find you have several hundred hours of practice already under your belt.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify the task or role you’re prepared to dedicate yourself to over the next 10 years.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC




Invest in Yourself

October 14th, 2012 § 4 comments § permalink

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

—Benjamin Franklin

How are you investing in yourself?

There are many ways you can choose to invest in yourself by adding to your knowledge base. Whether you attend a seminar to develop a new skill, challenge yourself to read a new book every month, attend a course at your local community college, or go back to school to earn a degree, you are making the decision to invest time, energy, and money in order to reap the benefits of a better future.

In life you are either moving forward or moving backward. Every day you can make the choice to learn and challenge yourself to get a little better than the day before. You don’t have to be working towards a big and lofty goal; you simply need to be striving to be a better version of yourself in some way. 

The alternative is to sit back and become complacent with the status quo. I’m not talking about being content (more on that in a future article) rather I’m referring to the belief that everything is perfect the way it is which causes you to resist any attempt for things to change. When you fall into this mindset and struggle to maintain your current reality, you actually begin to slip backwards. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize it is happening until it is too late.

Choosing to spend time developing your knowledge and skills is an investment that can never be taken away from you.  Once you’ve earned that degree, gained new knowledge, or acquired a new skill, it will always be with you.  A former client recently shared with me that she had just graduated from college. She made the decision to invest in herself by going back to school while working full-time and raising two children.  It wasn’t easy and she considered postponing her schooling on more than one occasion but she persevered none the less.

No matter what happens to her career, she will always have her degree and the experience of accomplishing her goal. While the degree is extremely valuable, equally important is the life lesson she learned along the way. She has showcased her ability to work through challenging times and come out on the other side. Regardless of what happens in her career nothing can take away either her degree or the confidence she has gained.

A new year is right around the corner and it is a great time to be thinking about what you want to accomplish in 2013.  I encourage you to set a learning goal for yourself.  What topic do you want to learn more about or what skill would you like to acquire?  Maybe this is the year you finally take the big step and go back to school.  Regardless of what your goal is, make sure 2013 is a year in which you are moving forward instead of backward!

Time for this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one thing you would like to learn in 2013.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., ACC

Fear is Natural

July 22nd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink


“Courage is fear that has said its prayers.” —Dorothy Bernard

How do you respond to fear?

We all have to deal with fear every now and then. It’s a natural part of life. What’s important is how you respond in those moments when fear creeps up on you. Do you freeze up and become stuck in the quicksand of self-doubt or do you push and persevere? 

Fear is inevitable. Any time you encounter a major change such as a new job, starting a business, going back to school, or becoming a parent for the first time you are bound to experience moments of fear. Don’t delude yourself into believing that you can live a life free of fear. The goal isn’t to eliminate fear, rather to learn how to work through your fear and use it to your advantage.

When you sense fear building within there are a range of options for how you can respond.  You could choose to stuff your fear and pretend it doesn’t exist.  On the other hand, you might become consumed by your fear and be unable to take action.  Neither approach is effective. 

Instead, choose to embrace your fear as an opportunity to learn. You are afraid for a reason and your fear is trying to clue you into which aspects of your situation or yourself you need to pay attention to. Treat it as a guide post to help you determine where you need to focus. Identify which of your strengths will help you to overcome your fear and develop the necessary strategies to neutralize it.

To manage fear effectively you need to have faith.  A good friend of mine once told me that fear is the absence of faith.  To begin with, it is important to have faith in yourself.  Once you understand what is driving your fear and have identified strategies to address it, you have created a foundation of faith rooted in your abilities to handle the situation.  Without faith in yourself you are bound to become consumed by your fear. 

Finally, if you believe in a higher power, whether it is God or the Universe, then ensure your faith in that higher power is strong.  Trust that everything will work out in the way it is supposed to and that regardless of what happens you will be okay.  This sense of faith doesn’t guarantee success but it does guarantee that with the right mindset you will learn from the situation and become a stronger person.

Life is short!  Don’t hang back because you are afraid of failure.  Recognize that the fear you are experiencing is normal and push beyond your fear to achieve your dreams.

Time for this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Develop at least one strategy for addressing one fear that is currently holding you back.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., ACC

Inspirational Leadership

July 8th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink


“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”  —John Quincy Adams

What are you inspiring in others?

We all need some inspiration every now and then. Life can be hard at times and we need someone who can lift our spirits and give us hope. Someone who will challenge and push us beyond our comfort zone in order to produce the best we have to offer. As a leader, you have a great opportunity to provide the inspiration your staff needs.

Each of us has countless opportunities to inspire others. With the right focus and intention you can inspire virtually anyone you interact with, whether it is your employees, your children, or the cashier at the supermarket. Always be on the lookout for opportunities to encourage others by helping them see possibilities they may have overlooked. Challenge them to push beyond the status quo in order to fulfill their potential. You may be one of the few people in their life that believes in them and we all benefit when someone is living up to their potential.

We just celebrated the 4th of July and that always makes me think about our founding fathers and how they were inspired by the promise of freedom. They dreamed of a better life for themselves, their families, and the country as a whole and were willing to make sacrifices to achieve their dreams. At many points during the war it looked like the cause was lost and several of the troops in the continental army threatened mutiny.  However, the leaders of the revolution continued to challenge each other and the troops to persevere for a better future.

We are such a blessed country. Of course we are facing some challenging times at the moment, but we still live in a country that offers endless possibilities and opportunities. Success isn’t guaranteed; however, neither was winning the revolutionary war but the founding fathers forged ahead anyway. It takes hard work and sacrifice to achieve a dream or create a successful team or organization. There will inevitably be high points and low points along the path to success.  As a leader it is your responsibility to lift the spirits of your team and keep the vision alive during the low points.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Develop an inspirational vision statement that describes what success will look like and talk about it every day with your team.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., ACC

Stick with the Winners!

August 14th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink


“Encouragement is oxygen to the soul.”

—George Adams

Do you receive the encouragement you need? Are the people around you supportive of your dreams?

Everyone needs encouragement in their life. This is especially true when you are striving to achieve a big dream. In order to make your dream a reality, you will have to take risks, and sometimes big risks. The only way you will have the courage to take those risks is if you have a good support network around you.

Whatever you do, you need to avoid negative people at all costs.  As you set out to make your dream a reality there will be people in your life that will be jealous of you.  They will be envious of your courage and will seek to pull you down.  By discouraging you from achieving your dreams they can avoid taking a hard look at themselves and their own unhappiness.  If you choose to give up on your dream, you will reinforce their comfort zone and will end up as unhappy as they are.

What you need is a supportive thought partner. I’m not talking about a business partner but someone who will provide the encouragement you need to persevere through the challenges you will face.  This individual should be someone that believes in you and what you can accomplish but isn’t afraid to challenge you when you are getting in your own way.  They should be an unbiased and objective person that will help you recognize various perspectives and possibilities that you aren’t able to see because you are too close to the situation. 

If you don’t have a supportive thought partner, then find one now.  Whatever you do, don’t try to achieve your dream alone.  Nobody is capable of achieving great things by themselves. If you don’t feel like there is anyone in your life that can be truly objective and unbiased, then I suggest you consider hiring a coach. By hiring a coach you will be investing in the support and accountability you need to help you achieve your dreams.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify two people that could serve as supportive thought partners for your dreams.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., ACC