Albert Ellis, was an American psychologist, who in 1955 developed Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) once said,
“The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny”.
Each of us, at one time or another, have made an excuse about a deadline we missed; work not done; or some other task that fell short of what we promised we would do. Some of us are so good at making excuses that it happens almost automatically or unconsciously as we attempt to avoid any responsibility for why something did not go well.
Maybe we do it because we don’t want to get in trouble or we don’t want to look bad in front of our co-workers; friends; family; boss or pet. We just don’t want anyone to think less about us. I guess it’s a part (a misguided part) of our emotional and psychological approach to how we try to defend or protect ourselves. We even go as far as to justify our excuse when we say –”But I have a good excuse”. From my perspective, there is no such thing as a good excuse. All excuses are bad. What an excuse means is that for whatever reason, you have made the decision to not step up and take ownership or responsibility for your actions or lack thereof. You are in essence saying – “It isn’t my fault, don’t hold me accountable”. Well, that’s just old fashioned “you know what”.
It’s amazing and scary just how much effort people put into coming up with what they think is a “good excuse”. If they directed half of that effort into doing what they did not, there would be no cause for alarm.One of the reasons, I think, people make an excuse is that they fear making a mistake. I read once that the greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearful that you will make one. An excuse is their misguided attempt to get others to sympathize with them and “cut them a break”. They are trying to portray themselves as the victim and not the cause.
But what really happens when you get into the habit of making excuses?
First, the very people who you are trying to gain sympathy and understanding from begin to see you as someone who just cannot be depended upon. They know that you always have a reason (oops! I meant to say excuse) why something didn’t get done.
Next, you are seen as being lazy and defensive.
Your constant self victimization becomes old and eventually others will not want to work with you or even be around you. In fact, the only people you will attract are other self-made victims, like you.
You become so good at making excuses, that your reality becomes distorted and you start to immediately identify why “you can’t” do something even before you fully understand what needs to be done. You run the risk of diminishing your self-respect.
Finally, your life becomes an ever decreasing circle of lost personal and professional growth and opportunities.
Some of the most important keys to your success are not your technical knowledge or how you apply it to your role. Rather, your perseverance to see something through to a successful end; your “no fear” attitude towards failure and your commitment to learn you’re your mistakes will help you develop the level of responsibility and maturity needed to make you a “no excuse” player.The best way that I know it move is this direction is best captured in the phrase – “Fake It ‘Till You Make It”.Now I am not suggesting that you be dishonest or deliberately mislead others. Rather, to me this approach means that you are willing to try something and in the process take a reasonable risk and that you have faith and confidence in your abilities to essentially “learn on the job”.
The next time you are faced with making the choice of offering an excuse or stepping up and taking responsibility and ownership for your actions, take a “time out” before you act. Consider for a minute if you are willing to put your courage, confidence, self respect and reputation at risk. Remember that others will judge you based on your actions. Do you want to be seen as the person who has the courage to take responsibility for their actions or the person who “always has an excuse”. Choose wisely.
Chris Ruisi is an experienced executive/business coach as well as accomplished leadership/business motivational speaker. Through this work, he has created a community of entrepreneurs, executives, and business leaders who understand the importance of Being Fearless; Stepping Up, and Playing Big. To learn more about Chris visit www.TheCoachszone.com or email Chris at Chris@TheCoachsZone.com.