Rely on Inner Confidence

March 1st, 2015 § 8 comments § permalink

“He who is plenteously provided for from within, needs but little from without.” —Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Do you trust yourself?

I believe confidence is the single most important ingredient to anyone’s success. Without at least a modest measure of confidence in your talents and skills you’ll find it difficult to take the action necessary to achieve your goals in life. Rather than simply sitting back and depending on other people to provide you direction, you need to believe in yourself and chart your own path.

One of the worst things you can to do is to seek personal validation from those around you. We all need to feel like we’re supported and it feels good to be praised by our managers, peers, friends and families. However, we won’t always receive the praise we seek. If you stake your sense of worth and accomplishment on the praise of others, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. You may also create a self-fulfilling prophecy in which you continue to place more emphasis on your desire to be praised only to be repeatedly disappointed.

Your best source of confidence comes from within. Start by becoming crystal clear about your personal talents and strengths. Everyone has talent and you’re not an exception. The problem is that you likely take your talents for granted and don’t think they’re very important. This simply isn’t true. Step back and think about the tasks, behaviors, and ways of thinking that come very naturally to you. These are indications of areas of talent for you. Also take stock of all the knowledge and skills you have acquired over your lifetime. You’ll be amazed at how much you truly know.

Next, identify all of your accomplishments. Think about all the different jobs you’ve had and identify the projects you worked on, the problems you helped solve, or the customers you helped. However, don’t limit yourself to professional accomplishments. Think about the sports teams or clubs you were on in school as well as any community groups you have participated in. Every one of these experiences is a ripe source of accomplishments, talents, knowledge, and skill.

Finally, once you’ve identified all of your personal talents, knowledge, skill, and accomplishments it’s important to capture it all on paper. This isn’t the time to be modest! Capture in as much detail as you can, what you did, how it made a difference, and what talents you brought to the table. Also, think about the feedback you’ve been given from others. What praise have you received? What talent did others acknowledge you for? Capture all of this in the same document.

Whenever you’re feeling a little discouraged, open this document and review all that you’ve accomplished in your life. Relive the moments in which you felt successful and remind yourself that you have more than enough ability to persevere through whatever challenge you are facing. Make it a practice to revisit this document once a month to add any new accomplishments or feedback you have received.

If you want to be successful in life, then you have to be prepared to follow the path that is right for you. No one can tell you what is right for you, so the decision is completely yours. You have to believe in yourself. Achieving success isn’t easy and you are bound to stumble along the way but when you possess a reservoir of inner confidence you’ll always be able to pick yourself up and get back on the path.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Create your personal “Inner Confidence” document.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leadership Isn’t About You

August 11th, 2013 § 1 comment § permalink

“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it.” —Andrew Carnegie

Do you empower your team or do you prefer to go it alone?

Your success as a leader is directly proportional to the level of trust you have in your team. Without a foundation of trust you’ll never let go of the need to control every task, which will ultimately prevent you from achieving your goals.

As a leader, you’re expected to deliver results. Whether you want to grow the business, improve efficiencies, or produce a new product or service, your success is based on your ability to accomplish these goals. However, it’s impossible for you to achieve these goals by yourself. You can’t be everywhere at once and attempting to do it all will set you up to fall on your face.

Success as a leader begins with the realization that it isn’t about you. Your most important task is to develop a team capable of achieving the goals you’ve set. One of the best ways to help your staff grow is to delegate tasks that stretch them out of their comfort zone.

Effective delegation is both an art and science. There’s no formula for determining which task should be delegated to each person. It’s important to consider the skill sets and interests of each person. You also need to take a chance on someone with less experience to provide an opportunity to grow. The worse thing you can do is to delegate to only one or two trusted people.

The second biggest mistake you can make is to simply tell the person what they need to do by when and then completely disengage. You need to take a disciplined approach to ensure the individual fully understands the parameters of the task. Don’t make the path too narrow but make sure the individual knows if any approaches are completely off limits. Finally, schedule regular check-ins to assess progress and address questions or barriers.

After the project, make time to learn from what worked and what didn’t work. Additionally, celebrate the accomplishments of your team and promote their success to Senior Leadership. This recognition will help your staff get noticed and likely lead to promotional opportunities, which is the ultimate measure of a leader’s success.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Delegate a task that will stretch one of the members of your team.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker M.Ed., PCC

Don’t Be Stingy with Recognition

March 24th, 2013 § 4 comments § permalink

“The greatest management principle in the world is: ‘the things that get rewarded and appreciated get done.”  —Michael LeBoeuf

How often do you recognize your staff?

Everyone wants to know they’re doing a good job at work and meeting the expectations of their manager. Unfortunately, many managers operate under the “no news is good news” philosophy. They don’t believe in providing recognition for simply doing what you were hired to do. Instead they reserve positive recognition for only those moments when an individual goes above and beyond the day-to-day expectations. This approach is both counterintuitive and short sighted.

Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, in their book “The Carrot Principle”, provide a great analogy that underscores the futility of this philosophy. Imagine you’re at a football game and the running back for your favorite team scores a touchdown. Would you simply sit on your hands and say, ‘well, he did what he was supposed to do’? Of course not!  You’d applaud, cheer, and probably high-five the person next to you. However, in your work environments you are surrounded by people who have successfully executed what they were hired to do while rarely receiving as much as a simple ‘thank you’.

Imagine that everyone in the stadium choose not to cheer the touchdown. How would that impact the running back and the rest of the team? They aren’t likely to have the same level of energy the next time they take the field. And after a game full of withheld praise, they would be pretty discouraged and possibly even bad mouth the fans in the post-game press conference. Is it any surprise that your team begins to become disengaged when they rarely receive praise?

Ironically it doesn’t take much energy to provide simple praise to your team. You don’t need to develop an elaborate program with financial rewards (although those can be beneficial as well). Simply focus on catching your staff doing something right and making a difference in some way. If you observe a team member skillfully diffuse an irate customer while staying calm himself, tell him you appreciate how he handled the situation. Or, when one of your staff develops a concise report that helps you prepare for a board meeting, let her know you appreciate her dependability and thoroughness. It is as simple as: “I saw what you did; this is why appreciate it, and thank you.”

Providing regular praise and recognition is one of the best strategies for building an energized and engaged team. Each time you recognize someone you can reinforce the vision, mission, and values of your organization and department. When you make recognition a regular practice your team will not only feel appreciated but they will also be clear about what is important to you and what it takes to make the organization successful.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Recognize one person on your team every day.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

What is Your Purpose?

January 6th, 2013 § 5 comments § permalink

“Lack of opportunity is often nothing more than lack of purpose or direction.” —Anonymous 

Do you know why are you here?

Too many people are simply sailing through life without a rudder. They allow themselves to be pushed along by the waves of life. While there will be times when the sea is calm and sun is out, without a sense of purpose you will likely find yourself simply floating along without any sense of direction.

Each of us is here for a specific reason. We are meant to make a specific impact; however, many of us don’t have any idea what that might be. Without clarity about who you are and want you want in life, fulfillment will be elusive. True success, what I call Authentic Excellence, isn’t about how much money you make or how much power you have. Rather, it comes from using the gifts you have been blessed with to be of service and make a positive impact in the world.

Consider the causes and issues you are passionate about. Maybe you get excited about working with children or animals. You might love to provide services or develop products that make people’s lives easier. Regardless of what you are passionate about, this is an indication of where you can make a meaningful impact.

Pay attention to the causes that tug at you and capture your attention.  Explore specifically what it is about the issues that excite you.  And, don’t assume everyone feels the same way you do because I can guarantee you they don’t!

Once you’ve identified what you are passionate about, it is time to pinpoint your core strengths. Don’t try to claim you don’t have any strengths because we all do.  A strength is an activity that comes naturally and automatically to you.  It will also leave you feeling energized and excited.

You might be the one that naturally remains calm under chaos and enjoys guiding others or possibly you have a great knack for being able to assess a situation and make solid decisions. Maybe you have found that you have an uncanny ability to relate to and influence people.  Regardless of what your strengths are, they represent what you have to offer and how you can make an impact in the areas of your passion.

Resolve to make 2013 your lucky year and become the person you were designed to be.  You are here for a reason and capable of great things.  Clarity about where you want to make a difference and how you can use your strengths to make an impact will become your rudder that guides you toward an array of opportunities to achieve Authentic Excellence.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify the cause or issue you would most like to impact.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

QUESTION EVERYTHING!

September 30th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

The following is a Guest Piece by Adrian Davis.

QUESTION EVERYTHING!

Be an inquisitive leader.

This may not be your standard bit of advice, but they are words to lead by.

That doesn’t mean I’m suggesting indecision, or straying from bold action, in fact far from it. By asking questions, a leader only places their self in a better position to understand their business. The inquisitive leader not only has a better understanding of what actions are best, but also understands both the capabilities of their employees, and the desires of their customers.

That puts them in the perfect position to lead boldly, and lead intelligently.

So what kind of questions should you be asking? What should the purpose of these questions be?

For Your Employees:

Ask Questions to Teach

Questions are an excellent way to teach, and to improve the progress of your employees. Instead of barking orders, ask them how they would go about accomplishing a task. Seek to guide through appropriately asked questions.

Make sure your questions are on the mark though. A broad question will lead to a broad answer.

Ask Questions to Promote Thinking (for them and you)

Strategically asking questions is a critical in promoting an intelligent, thinking staff. Often times, the thought of an employee could change the way you’re looking at a problem. Even if they aren’t providing you with the right answers, their fresh perspective could spark a new train of thought, or it could even revitalize your own perspective.

Ask opinions on specific matters, and don’t be judgmental if you don’t get the answer you want. 

Ask Questions to Inspire Leadership

In promoting thinking, you are promoting leadership in others. This is a critical quality to encourage. Asking promotes independence: independent thought and independent action. Asking encourages someone to tackle a situation on their own, with their own intellectual resources. This is the fire that brands a leader.

Keep it up, and you can create a super team.

Customers:

 Ask Questions to know what they want

 There’s no use in pretending you know exactly what your customer wants. You’ll end up with a product that you may think is awesome, but the customer may have no use for.

 Innovation is critical to a business’ success, but innovation has to be driven by the customer. The best way to do this is ask questions.

 What does your customer value most? What would increase value in their eyes? Have they valued their customer service experience with your business? What could you do to make it even more valuable?

 Your customer is a wealth of knowledge. Knowledge you need! Knowledge that will only help your business, not hinder it.

 So feel free to ask your customers questions, most will love a chance to guide a business. Just make sure you are listening to their answers.

 Ask Questions to promote collaboration

 Questions are a great way to destroy the massive barrier between you and your customer. Once you open up the lines of communication, they will keep active. This means that your customer will be providing you with trends and updates relevant to your business and to your customer base. This could be anything from what social media channels they use, to what products they hate. It’s all about knowing how to leverage the information at hand to your advantage.

 The more transparent communications are, the easier the knowledge will flow.

 BIO: Adrian Davis is a business strategist, keynote speaker and trusted advisor to business owners and chief executives. He is President and CEO of the Management Consulting firm Whetstone Inc. Visit his blog for more insights into leadership and customer service excellence: www.adriandavis.com

 

Fire in the Belly

October 16th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

 

“You get the best efforts from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within.” —Bob Nelson

How do you motivate your staff?  Do you rely on the ‘carrots and sticks’ method?

Many managers rely on extrinsic motivation to get their staff to complete their work.  The typical ‘carrots and sticks’ approach assumes your employees will do what you want because of the perceived reward or punishment associated with the task.  If you can design the right balance of both, the theory is you will be able to maximize your employee’s productivity. 

Stephen Covey refers to this approach as the “Jackass Theory” of motivation. While this may have been effective in the Industrial Age it is an unproductive strategy for the Informational Age.  In his book Drive, Daniel Pink discusses the impact of the ‘carrots and sticks’ approach.  According to Pink, research has shown that dangling the prospect of rewards or punishment in front of employees decreases their creativity, performance, and intrinsic motivation while potentially promoting unethical behaviors.  

The key to developing a committed employee or team is to help them build the “fire of passion” within. You will be amazed at what individuals are capable of when they are passionate about their work and the positive impact they make every day. While I believe all individuals have this natural desire inside of them; however, life’s challenges have often reduced their fire to a flickering flame.  It is your job is to stoke that flame.

Start by helping your staff recognize and appreciate the importance of their role and the impact they make. Don’t assume they already know why their role is important.  They may not understand the big picture of what they do or may have simply become consumed by day-to-day challenges.  Next, help them identify and articulate their strengths and values.  Once they are able to see how their work supports their values and enables them to leverage their strengths, they will find a renewed sense of energy.

Finally, recognize that each of your employees is an individual.  If you have 10 employees in the same role, they will each possess a different internal motivator for what they are doing.  They also have a unique combination of strengths and values. You need to discover the unique motivators for each of them.  If you try to apply the same approach to all of them it will feel as manipulative as the ‘carrots and sticks’ approach. Customizing your motivation will take more time but it is well worth the investment.

Time for this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Have a conversation with each of your employees to start building their fire.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., ACC

Risk to Blossom

January 23rd, 2011 § 4 comments § permalink

“And the day came, when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

—Anais Nin

Are you blossoming in your career?  Does it feel risky to move in a direction that is more authentic to who you really are?

We have all been blessed with natural passions and strengths.  It is my belief that true success (what I call Authentic Excellence) is a result of our ability to leverage our strengths to make an impact in those areas where we are most passionate. 

The challenge is that most people struggle to define their strengths and therefore don’t appreciate what they have to offer the world.  We tend to take our strengths for granted.  Since they come so naturally to us, we assume that they come that naturally to others and therefore aren’t that valuable.  In reality the strengths that come naturally to you don’t come naturally to others at all!

I’m willing to bet that deep down inside you yearn to make a significant impact in some way.  You want to work with disadvantaged children or start a business.  You’re considering going back to school or taking what is now merely a hobby and playing on a bigger stage. 

It is risky to venture out and fulfill your dream.  I would be lying if I told you otherwise.  However, it is also risky to deny your dreams.  When you deny your dreams, in essence you are denying who you are as a person.  It is at this point that the risk to stay tight in the bud has become more painful than the risk to blossom. 

So, here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

What is one thing you can do this week to step towards your dreams?

 I look forward to hearing from you and make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., ACC

Potential Withers and Dies

January 22nd, 2011 § 4 comments § permalink

“Like a seed that doesn’t get water or sunlight, most human potential withers and dies.”

—Tal Ben-Shahar

Is your potential withering or flourishing? Within each of us there exists a seed of potential. With the proper care and attention, this potential can be developed into strengths and provide a foundation for our contribution to the world. We may have been blessed with family, friends, teachers and mentors that have helped to foster our potential over the years but it is ultimately our responsibility to make it blossom.

For the past 12 years my personal mission has been to “Inspire and foster the potential in others”. I believe that everyone has been blessed with some natural passions and strengths. Additionally, it is my belief that true success, what I call Authentic Excellence, comes from utilizing our strengths in service to our passions. Each of us is a unique individual with a specific purpose to fulfill. If you are ready to discover a career that fulfills your potential, then I am ready to assist you. Feel free to browse around my website to learn more about me and the services I have to offer.

Thank you for reading my inaugural post on the Authentic Excellence blog. All my life I have loved inspirational quotes. Each week I will post a new quote with a summary of what it means to me. My intention is to provide some inspirational thoughts that will carry you through your week and help you to achieve your goals.

Each post will end with an Authentic Excellence Action Step, where I will encourage you to think about one thing you can do to apply what I have discussed. Taking action is critical to achieving your goals. However, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the sense of enormity of what we want to accomplish. That is why I will encourage you to focus on just one thing. Regardless of how good you might think you are at multi-tasking, the reality is that when making changes we need to have a laser focus. Once you have the first action under your belt, you can move on to the next one on the list.

So, here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

What action can you take this week to water your potential?

I hope you enjoy the Authentic Excellence blog and I welcome you to share how each quote resonates with you. If you like quotes as much as I do, subscribe to my blog so you won’t miss a post. Please forward this post to your friends and colleagues as well.

I look forward to hearing from you and make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., ACC