Your success is inversely related to the number of excuses you’ve made in your life.
Let’s face it, we all make excuses. Excuses are a part of life. But do they really help?
Of course not.
There is a fundamental imbalance in the economy of excuses: everyone likes to make excuses. Nobody likes to listen to them. You can fashion them into “reasons.” You can try to justify them to everyone and anyone all day long. The first excuse might gain you a little leeway, but each subsequent excuse will quickly dismantle your reputation. People simply begin to tune you out after a while.
At the end of the day, your reliance on excuses will hold you back more than the “excuses” themselves.
The difference between taking your life to the next level and wallowing in mediocrity is simply the ability to identify and kill your excuses when they arise.
If you disagree, flip it around and ask yourself:
- How much patience do you have for people who overpromise and underdeliver?
- How much money have you given to businesses that continually fall short of expectations? How much sympathy do you have for their excuses?
- How successful is the kid in school who always claims his dog ate his homework?
- If you’ve ever run a business, how many opportunities would you give an employee who gave you an earful of excuses every single time they were late?
Need I say more?
There’s Always Two Sides to the Coin
I used to be a huge manufacturer of excuses. In school, especially in my underachieving college days, I would come up with every excuse in the book as to why I didn’t get an assignment in on time. “I wasn’t feeling well,” “I didn’t get that email,” “I had two other tests to study for,” etc. I felt that my excuses were always enough to let me off the hook. But they were really just keeping me from achieving my full potential.
When I began managing restaurants, I soon came to understand how my professors must have felt years earlier. One restaurant I managed was near a college campus. 75% of the employees were college students. You can imagine the list of excuses I received. The funny thing is, when a student/employee gives an excuse, they think they are the only one with that particular excuse. But when you become the recipient of excuses, you begin to develop a sixth sense for which ones are legit and which ones are not. Needless to say, the best opportunities and the best shifts went to those who made the least excuses.
Excuses given to others are enough to close off a world of opportunities to you. But the most harmful are the ones you tell yourself. This is because the recipient—YOU—will almost always accept them. “I’m too tired to exercise,” “I don’t have time to mow the lawn,” “I’m too broke for a gym membership,” “Okay, just this one time,” “I can’t because…” Excuses become habits. Habits become destiny.
My point is simple. If you want to enjoy more success, if you want to get that raise or promotion at work, if you want to take on more responsibility, if you want more authority, hold yourself to a higher standard and kill your excuses.
Here are seven strategies I’ve used to kill my excuses:
- Take ownership. Face it, your excuses are used to get out of taking responsibility for something. Most employees make excuses and they wonder why they were passed up for promotion. Set yourself apart from the crowd. Take ownership of your shortcomings and own the solutions. Every position of leadership I’ve attained resulted from a consistent ownership habit. No excuses–doing what it takes to get the job done. It sounds easy. It’s even easier in practice. Act like the owner, think like the owner, and soon you will be an owner.
- Create solutions. Instead of waiting for others to solve a problem, instead of waiting for a problem to magically solve itself, instead of hoping for sympathy from someone depending on you, find the solution. Don’t have an hour to devote to writing? Wake up earlier or stay up later. Don’t have the energy to work out? Start by putting on your running shoes. Running late? Prioritize and get back on schedule. There is always a solution for every problem.
- Commit to a process. If the excuses are a recurring event, like why you aren’t hitting the gym, or why you can’t seem to get into a meditation habit, develop a system. For me, I write down the three MITs I want to accomplish the night before, so when I wake up I can hit the ground running. To develop consistency, I’ve used the Jerry Seinfeld Strategy of marking each day on a calendar with an X for when I performed a particular habit. Jerry’s habit was writing jokes. The idea is simply to not break the chain of X’s.
- Cultivate a mindset of positivity. Our excuses usually originate from negativity, or things we don’t want to do. Begin to look at that “chore” in a positive light, or else you’ll always have an excuse for not doing it. For example, instead of putting off mowing the lawn because you’re tired, look at it as a way to get outside, get some fresh air, and get a little workout in.
- Think about WHY. When you identify your reasons behind doing something, you suddenly eliminate the need for excuses. You’ll be more likely to follow through on what you need to do when you understand the true meaning behind it.
- Do more of what you genuinely enjoy. I had no excuses regarding taking a road trip. I don’t have to make excuses regarding my daily writing habit. I don’t make excuses regarding kettlebell exercises and pull-ups. The more you can steer your life towards more of what you enjoy and less of what you don’t, the more likely you will find success on that path.
- Read about someone you admire and how they handle failure. What was their philosophy on excuses? For me, in the last several years it had been (and still is) Kobe Bryant and his work ethic. Some people will make you want to run through a brick wall. He was one of them. And if that’s not enough, when you think something is impossible for you to do, look up Kyle Maynard.
- Bonus: Make excuses. Then do it anyway.
Hold yourself to a higher standard. Kill your excuses.