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

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

 

 

A Leader’s Top Responsibility

January 11th, 2015 § 6 comments § permalink

 

“The responsibility of leadership is not to come up with all the ideas but to create an environment in which great ideas can thrive.” – Simon Sinek

What type of environment have you created within your team?

Effective leadership isn’t about giving orders or having all the answers. Although this might have been acceptable 30 years ago, it’s a recipe for failure today. Success as a leader depends on your ability to maximize the talent of your team in order to achieve results.

The key to getting the most out of your team begins with the environment you create. An increasingly complex business world leads to increased specialization. It’s no longer realistic to expect to be able to stay current on the latest knowledge and skills all by yourself. You must develop a team of empowered individuals you can rely on to be the experts in their respective areas.

However, you can’t just tell your staff that they’re empowered. Effective delegation requires you to clearly outline the objectives and parameters (keeping them as wide as possible) while allowing your team to determine the best route to take. It’s also ineffective to take a “hands off” approach. I’ve seen many leaders attempt to avoid micro-management by moving to the other extreme, failing to provide their team the support they need. Make it a point to check-in with your staff along the way to see how they’re doing and help address any obstacles in their way.

In addition to delegating to your team, it’s critical to spend time coaching them. When they run into obstacles don’t simply tell them what to do, rather ask questions to help them identify their options. This will challenge them to slow down and improve their critical thinking. It’s also important to coach when a task you delegated doesn’t go well, which is inevitable. Use open-ended questions to help your team consider what didn’t work and what can be learned from the situation.

Finally, seek and offer feedback to your team to help them grow. When you’re facing a challenge, ask for their ideas. They’re the ones doing the work every day and likely have several ideas about how to make improvements or new innovations. Also be sure to provide them feedback about their performance. Recognize their accomplishments and how their strengths make a positive impact on the team. And when they are struggling, coach them to figure out how to improve.

Your most important role as a leader is to create the environment in which your team can fulfill it’s potential. In Simon Sinek’s TED Talk: Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe, Sinek comments that when leaders fail to create the right conditions we’re forced to spend time and energy protecting ourselves which weakens the organization. When you create an environment in which your team is acknowledged for their strengths and empowered to make a difference, trust and collaboration are a natural by-product.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one action you can take to create an environment that fosters trust and collaboration.

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

 

 

 

 

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

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 

 

 

 

 

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

Lead with Compassion

December 1st, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” —John Maxwell

 

How do you demonstrate that you care about your staff?

Leadership is about people and relationships. Your staff is the key to your success and not merely a means to an end. In order to be successful as a leader, you need to realize it isn’t about proving how smart you are but about facilitating your staff to fulfill the potential within them.

You must start with a positive belief in people. It’s part of our human nature to want to contribute to the world in a way that makes a meaningful difference. You possess this basic desire and so does your staff. Life circumstances may stifle this desire, but it exists all the same. Under the right conditions, you can tap into this natural drive within your employees and inspire them to seek and embrace greater responsibilities.

However, in order to unearth this desire, you must appreciate each of your staff members as unique individuals. Start by seeking to understand their natural strengths. Help them identify the activities that come naturally to them and provide opportunities for them to use their strengths on a daily basis. Likewise, don’t expect your staff to be perfect or force them to spend too much time trying to be someone they aren’t.

If you find it challenging to believe the majority of your staff wants to do their best to make a contribution, I encourage you to consider whether being a leader is the right fit for you. Your team members won’t always demonstrate an eagerness to take on responsibility but if you see your employees as inherently lazy then all you’ll observe are examples to confirm your bias. You’ll feel like a babysitter and will be miserable in your role.

You need to accept that you have a responsibility to help your staff bring the best they have to offer to work every day. It doesn’t mean you’re soft or ignore areas in which they need to improve. Yet you treat them as adults and challenge them in a dignified way to live up to their potential. Don’t simply dictate what they need to do differently but coach them to take ownership for their own growth and development.

Once you demonstrate to your team that you aren’t just around to point out faults or criticize they will begin to recognize that you care about them as an individual. Only then will you have developed the level of trust that will encourage them to commit to your vision and do whatever they can to ensure the success of your team and the organization.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify three strengths in each of your team members and discuss with them how to use their strengths more frequently.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC