We all have stories we tell ourselves.
Some of these stories were started a long time ago when we were just children. Some of them came during our scholastic years and some have developed during our career and lifetime. These stories are how we make sense of the things that are happening around us and to us. Some of these stories can function as cover-ups we use to help us avoid pain or painful situations. Sometimes we use them to protect our ego and shield it from any criticism or scrutiny. The excuses you tell yourself (and others) is your way of justifying your behaviors or your results.
Let’s be honest with each other. We have all, at various points in our lives made excuses. Excuses for our behavior. Excuses for the situations we are experiencing. Excuses on why we can’t or won’t do something. We are uncomfortable saying no to an idea or even to an invitation. We even use the excuse of not wanting to hurt others when we know fully what we can say or do is actually in their best interest. George Washington Carver once said, “99% of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.”
Is it possible that you have been trying your best to convince yourself the mental story you have been telling yourself is actually true? Sure, it is. That’s why the emotional disruptions you feel regarding that subject are saying otherwise. This creates conflict within yourself. This conflict gnaws at you even though you try to avoid, ignore or suppress them. This happens because of the disconnect between your heart and mind. I wrote about this in my book The Big Idea: 52 Ways To Be A Better Leader Now with Big Idea #12, Your Heart & Your Head Can Have Competing Commitments.
If you want to ascend to a high level of responsibility and performance, you will need to put in the work of shattering those excuses you have been giving yourself or to those around you. You will need to make a quality decision that once and for all time, changing whatever situation or activity you have been using excuses for is important to you. If you want to resolve this painful conflict between your head and your heart, you will need a great application of courage and honesty with yourself.
Remember, courage can only be generated by your commitment. Excuses allow you to avoid committing, so it’s impossible for you to generate any courage around that item. People who place a very high value on their word do not have any problem generating the courage to keep their commitment. That doesn’t mean it’s fun or easy, but once they are committed, they will take action, no matter how scary it is or how painful it is, they act because of their commitment.
- Identify your excuses. What is your most used excuse? Write them down so you can see them in a tangible way.
- Set a date to overcome the excuse. Make sure you are firm in your commitment.
- Start practicing overcoming your excuse. Practicing the future behavior you want is a powerful way to habitualize your way into better performance. Know the decision points that occur when you have to decide to use the excuse or do the other thing you are avoiding.