Sunday, September 18, 2005

Curiosity about Excuses: Are You Plagued by Excusitis?

“People spend too much time finding other people to blame, too much energy finding excuses for not being what they are capable of being, and not enough energy putting themselves on the line, growing out of the past, and getting on with their lives.” - J. Michael Straczynski

I just returned from a terrific conference - loaded with ideas, information and action steps to take.

Unfortunately, I know, as many other speakers, trainers, writers and gurus know, that very few of the recipients of these useful messages will ever put them into practice. Why is it that we feel motivated, but don’t follow through? Why is it that we know we have a great idea, but never move to execute it? Why is it that we buy and/or download books, but never open them?

Instead we make excuses (and don’t think that I am not guilty of this too!). Bo Bennett said it so well, “Not managing your time and making excuses are two bad habits. Don't put them both together by claiming you ‘don't have the time.’” But isn’t that the excuse we make so often?

When I find myself making excuses for not pursuing a certain project, I need to ask “Why are you putting this off? What are you afraid of?” You see, I feel that it all comes down to fear. We don’t like to admit it, but we all make excuses rather than facing the fear of failure, of criticism, of poverty, of success, and of looking foolish - to name just a few of the big ones.

When I teach my class called, “How to Discover Your Core Passion,” I tell the participants that I feel we already know what our core passion is. But, if we admit to it, we have to pursue it and that is the scary part.

Of course, I have some great quotes to get you in the mood to stop making excuses:

  • George Washington Carver said that, “Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.”
  • Melvyn Douglas advises, “Don't make excuses and Don't talk about it. Do it.”
  • Doug Hall agrees, “Don't make excuses. Make things happen. Make changes. Then make history.”
  • The successful James Cash Penney expressed strong feelings, “I do not believe in excuses. I believe in hard work as the prime solvent of life's problems.”
  • Even O. J. Simpson feels that, “The day you take complete responsibility for yourself, the day you stop making any excuses, that's the day you start to the top.”

So, how do we deal with the fear and forget the excuses and “excusitis” that keeps so many of us from fulfilling our dreams and goals?

First of all, realize and believe there is always a net to catch us. In her enlightening and beautifully written autobiography, Blood Memory, Martha Graham wrote, “Ben Belitt’s poetry more than once animated me to work on a ballet. There is that wonderful phrase of his, ‘Acrobats of God.” What is an Acrobat of God? I feel it is a person, not necessarily a dancer, who lives fully and completely. It is taking your chances whether you fall or not.”

Secondly, know that the more times we fail and make mistakes, the more we learn and even faster than we can imagine.

And when you find yourself making an excuse: “I don’t have the time.” “I can’t resist chocolate.” “That computer stuff is too technical for me.” “I am too _____ (fill in the blank).” “I don’t have the ______ (fill in the blank).” “My metabolism is too slow.” Just stop yourself before you come up with another excuse. You get the idea.

G. M. Trevelyan is right, “The best job goes to the person who can get it done without passing the buck or coming back with excuses.”

And Goran Ivanisevic has the perfect attitude, “As soon as I step on the court I just try to play tennis and don't find excuses. You know, I just lost because I lost, not because my arm was sore.”

So, let’s all of us work together to STOP the excuses and excusitis. Yes, Henry Ward Beecher was correct when he wrote, “The real man is one who always finds excuses for others, but never excuses himself.”