by Dr. John J. Franey, CEO/Founder of Developing Difference Makers
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Excuses can be found in every walk of life, every profession, every endeavor, and every person. Excuses come in every shape and size. Excuses are a fabric of negativity. Excuses are the detour on our path to success. Excuses are the prison bars confining our future. Excuses are the rattlesnakes that lie in our path. Excuses are the blinders that stop us from seeing the future. Excuses offer refuge to the beleaguered individual facing negativity and failure. Excuses enable disempowerment, support failure, and restrict the possibility of success. Excuses are the security blanket for our fear of failure.
We wear our excuses like Chewbacca wears his bandoleer of bowcaster slugs around his neck. When we face failure or have not achieved success, we are quick to revert to excuses. We are ready to arm ourselves with ready-made excuses that help us feel better in the face of failure: “I didn’t have enough resources;” “I didn’t have enough time;” “They must have cheated to beat us;” “My customers don’t want us to change;” “My team didn’t help me;” “The boss said I had to do it this way;” “I’ve never done this before;” “I’ve got too many other things to do.” The excuses roll off our tongue like poetic words flowed from Shakespeare. It is just too easy to find and use that excuse rather than face the reality that we weren’t successful.
Success doesn’t happen in the moment. It takes long hours, long days, long years to achieve. The path is never straight as an arrow. There are bumps and dips, u-turns and detours, accidents and breakdowns. At each of these spots along our road to success, we are faced with a decision. We can choose the excuse, give up, start a new road, retreat to the safe space of the status quo. We can wrap ourselves in the excuse safety blanket and tell ourselves hundreds of mini-stories that start with the phrase: “If only I…”
Successful winners do not make this choice. They push on, ready for the small failures that will add up to ultimate success. They are not deterred by bumps in the road. They are not afraid of what others will think of them. Bill Gates first business Traf-O-Data was a bomb. Colonel Sanders’ fried chicken recipe was rejected 1,009 times. Walt Disney was fired from his newspaper job for lacking imagination. Thomas Edison took 1,000 attempts before a light bulb that worked. Dr. Seuss’ first book was turned down by 27 publishers. Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson struck out more than any other player in baseball history. Sidney Poitier was told at an early audition that he should stop wasting his time as an actor. Sigmund Freud was booed off the stage when he first presented his ideas.
Imagine the world if any of the most successful people had stopped working and pushing and relied instead on a litany of excuses. Stopping our excuse making ways is never easy, because it is a common part of our modern society. But if we want to achieve, if we want to succeed, if we want to win, we have to change our mindset. We have to imagine excuses in the likeness of Glass Joe from Nintendo’s Mike Tyson’s Punchout. Then we have to swing out with a ferocious Mike Tyson uppercut, and knock those excuses out cold. If we continue to knock out excuses we can begin to achieve, to not fear failure, and to accept that with every failure we are getting one step closer to success. So lace up those boxing gloves, put in the mouth piece, drop into that stance, and get ready for the Glass Joe excuse to come waltzing in for another big knockout!