Excuses Derail Success

Nothing derails success more than excuses.  You've probably heard me say on more than one occasion that people are committed to their results.  People who succeed are people committed to success.  People who fail, for the most part, are committed to failure.  And one of the leading enablers to failure is excuse-making.  

"Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses." - George Washington Carver

"He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else." - Benjamin Franklin

Excuses are rationalizations we make to ourselves about people, events and circumstances. They are invented reasons we create to defend our behavior, to neglect taking a particular kind of action, or simply as a means of negating responsibility. Excuses are in essence a means of placing blame OF an internal problem ON an external condition.  

Here are some keys to avoid making excuses:

  • Avoid dwelling on the past: If you begin today by focusing on the present moment rather than on the past, then this will help you throw all your excuses out the door. Yes, by all means learn from your mistakes and failures, but do not use them as a platform for your encyclopedia of excuses.
  • Begin by asking questions:  The moment you catch yourself making excuses, immediately ask yourself the following set of questions: 
    • How badly do I really want this?
    • Why don’t I have what I want?
    • Wh at excuses are getting in the way?

These questions will essentially help you to identify the GAP between your current and desired reality. This likewise will help you to get a better understanding of the circumstances that are holding you back from getting what you want most out of life.  

  • The moment you identify these excuses, examine what you are lacking (as we did in the previous section), question the validity of your excuses, and take immediate action to fill these areas with everything required to keep moving you forward towards your goals and objectives.  Ask yourself: 
    • Is this a genuine REASON, or is it simply an excuse? 
    • If this is an excuse, then what is it that I’m currently lacking? 
    • What do I need specifically that will help me move beyond this excuse? 
    • W hat’s the  next step I need to take right now that will move me closer to my goals?
  • Focus on solutions and opportunities:  When making excuses we often focus on problems, regrets and on things that just didn’t work. Therefore to eradicate excuses from our lives we must instead begin focusing on solutions, opportunities and on the things that did work. It’s a simple shift, but if we keep this principle at the forefront of our mind when making excuses, it will immediately transform our perspective of the situation at hand.
  • Seek Alternate Perspectives: Often the excuses we make are a result of a lack of perspective. We simply don’t have or know about the bigger picture. It’s like looking through a keyhole - you will never see the entire room, but only a small section of that room.  Seek alternate perspectives by asking other people for their opinions, comments, and feedback. Get an understanding of how they see the situation before you commit to making your excuses.  Have successful, action/result-oriented people on speed dial!
  • Accept Full Responsibility for Failures and Mistakes:  This is a big one and is often times the pivot point between being a victim of circumstances and excuses or being an over-comer and success.  Excuses are often made because we simply don’t want to take responsibility for our shortcomings.  When we take full responsibility for all failures and mistakes we begin to gain confidence in ourselves and our own abilities. Moreover, we begin to feel empowered because life is no longer built upon luck or good fortune, but rather on our ability to successfully adapt to the changing conditions that life throws our way.  Responsibility is simply being one who is able to respond!
  • Learn from Past Experience: Instead of making excuses, commit to learning from this experience in order to better yourself for the future. Ask yourself:
    • What can I learn from this experience?
    • What has this experience taught me about myself, life and others?
    • How can I use this experience to do better in the future?
    • What action could I take right now that would help me take a step in this direction?
  • Focus on Your Strengths:  When making excuses we often focus on how inadequate and incapable we are. This limits our focus and brings to light all of our weaknesses. To counter this we should instead focus on our strengths and how we can use them to make the best of every situation.
  • Cultivate Four Critical Qualities: Finally, to overcome your excuses always cultivate patience, optimism, confidence and persistence. And if you must make excuses, then at least keep them private. Nobody likes people who can’t take responsibility for their decisions and actions.

TAKE AWAY: If you didn't read anything above, remember this when faced with excuses: Successful people take responsibility for their success by not making excuses.  They don't dwell on the past, instead they focus on achieving results today.  They seek others for advice and motivation, apply what they've learned from past experience, focus on their strengths, and practice these four disciplines: patience, optimism, confidence, and persistence.

(Source: Are You Living A Life of Endless Excuses?  Here's how to stop by Adam Sicinski)