“Excuses are the tools with which persons with no purpose in view build for themselves great monuments of nothing.” ~ Steven Grayhm

Name one person, including yourself, who hasn’t made an excuse. You’re still thinking aren’t you? Chances are we know few, if any, who haven’t offered an excuse at some time. Excuses can be counter-productive, damaging, and leave people wondering about your dependability or integrity. Excuses may seem like rational reasons for us not to do something, but if we’re not careful we can allow them to keep us from reaching our goals. Too often we accept our excuses as reasons why we cannot accomplish what we set out to do, and instead of finding alternatives we give up. You’ve been there, right? But if we can be honest with ourselves and take responsibility for our choices, we will begin to notice that we no longer give excuses.

When we keep our minds focused on our goals, we find that excuses fade away in the light of our priorities, and issues become challenges that can help us become wiser and stronger.

Sometimes we may give others excuses rather than be fully honest. We may think it is too kind to tell someone we are willing to so something with them, but then keep putting them off. This diverts our energy into keeping the truth at a distance while continuing a falsehood. But when we can take responsibility for our feelings and express them honestly, yet gently, the other person is free to find someone who is better suited to accompany them while we are free to pursue things we like. When we do this, our efforts can be invested in building better lives and relationships.

There’s another way in which excuses rob us and that is in the power of our thoughts and words. If we find ourselves in a situation, for example, where we are being asked for a financial contribution but we use the excuse that we can’t afford it (see this post about money), we create and attract lack and limitation into our lives. The same goes for seemingly simple things like pretending not to feel well or make any other false statements. We may think that excuses make things easier, but they complicate matters. When we can commit to our priorities, take responsibility for our choices, and communicate them honestly to others, there will be no need to make excuses and you’ll be free to focus on things that really matter.

If you tend toward excuses: 1) Face the fact that you’re making or using them; 2) See them as antidotes for inaction and; 3) Shift your priorities and act in integrity. Here are three common excuses and ways in which you can view them differently.

  • I’m not inspired.
    Inspiration comes from action, not the other way around. John Maxwell says, “The whole idea of motivation is a trap. Forget motivation. Just do it. Exercise, lose weight, test your blood sugar, or whatever. Do it without motivation. And then, guess what? After you start doing the thing, that’s when the motivation comes and makes it easy for you to keep on doing it.”
  • The production is taking too long.
    Nobody ever said creative execution was sexy. In fact, it’s grueling. Author Junot Diaz battled writers block for five years before finishing his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Inventor James Dyson built over 5,000 prototypes before he found the right design for his vacuum. And the list goes on. We must find joy in the process of execution, not just the end product.
  • I’ve got to pay the bills.
    Going with the status quo, we tend to give high priority to things like wealth and stability. And once we have them, it’s extremely difficult to imagine life without them. But should these things come at the expense of pursuing big, bold ideas? Paying the bills won’t necessarily earn you a legacy. 🙂

19 thoughts on “Excuses

  1. Great post! I know I make excuses because I don’t want to be “not liked”…but I would hope that I am slowly improving from that!
    There is also (as always) a factor of having the right to change our minds, of learning to know when to push and when to pull back; and other things…which aren’t excuses but allowing things to happen and letting life take over certain aspects of it.
    You know, the greatest (and sometimes I feel the ONLY) lesson that humans as a race may need to learn is to learn the act of balancing. Because in the end, even discerning when some thing is an excuse or not takes is a sort of balancing act…isn’t it?

    • In the context that your pose your question, Shree, I am in agreement with you. Balance is helpful is assessing and considering many situations. And most of us know what can happen when people, events, and decisions become measurably imbalanced. At the same time, I hear and appreciate those who believe that in order to effect significant change or meaningful breakthroughs, one needs to take bold action, which to some, may seem extreme. Perhaps balance is specific to each situation. 🙂

  2. The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. The gift of life is yours. It is an amazing journey and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. ~ Dan Zadra

  3. Oh, integrity. Such a beautiful and undervalued characteristic. It’s easy to let excuses slip, but—as you said—they debilitate us as people. They steal self-confidence and sabotage our reputation. To be open and honest with ourselves is difficult, but Infinitely valuable.

    Thanks for this great post!

  4. This is very similar to my post “Despite What You Know, It’s Always Perception That Matters” (http://wp.me/pWyO1-hl) from some time ago. It’s interesting that so many of us (myself included) are usually unwilling to take responsibility for our own actions. And no matter how we may view a particular issue, the true result is how others may perceive it, not necessarily what we perceive – and that’s what really matters in the end. If people disagree with us, we have that human tendency to make those excuses for what went wrong, or why things happened the way they did, or why we didn’t act the way we should have. But if we simply take responsibility for our actions, things will be very different in our lives, and stress will be aleviated, and eventually, things will be set right. Making excuses doesn’t take away the culpability in our lives. It merely shines the light on it. As always, a wonderful post. 🙂

    • Your comment is eye-opening and I believe, rings true for many, CB. They may not see and appreciate your perspective but it is true. Thank you for adding valuable feedback; it augments the post – and for linking your related post. Your relevant and candid contributions are much appreciated.

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