The Weekly Dream: Excuses & Ownership
“Excuses build bridges to nowhere and monuments of nothingness”
“Do or do not-there is no try”
-Yoda, “Star Wars”
Lately, it has been raining heavily in Milwaukee. Not light rain, but that hard, mad rain. During a break in the weather, my mother decided this would be a good time to cut the grass. So, my brothers and I are in the yard, doing our thing and my mother tells me that the grass is uneven. Mind you, the grass is still very wet, making it impossible to cut the grass well. She then tells me I need to start putting my glasses on.
This whole incident got me to thinking: What is the difference between an explanation and an excuse? In this results oriented world, the line is often blurred. There have been times when I had a valid explanation, but the receiver, who only cared about results, did not want to hear it. My dad always said “excuses are the tools of the incompetent.” However, are there ever times when an explanation is justified?
Well, I went to my good friend Webster and looked up the word and found that it meant “to try to exonerate from blame.” This did not help increase my knowledge. So, I synthesized my own rule. It all has to do with scope of control. If there was an unforeseeable event that you had no control of and was not the result of negligence, then it is a valid explanation. If the failure to perform was due to poor planning, lack of foresight, or general inattentiveness, then your justification is bogus.
“Man Up”: Ownership 101
You can always recognize a lame excuse when there is a lack of honesty and initiative. And who is the favorite victim of these tales? Ourselves. Self-delusion is a favorite past-time of a lot of people and procrastination soon follows. What excuse have you heard or perhaps told yourself for not exercising, keeping your New Year’s Resolution, or taking control of your financial life? People have far more excuses than they have answers. I am not immune to this. I find I make excuses when I think the other party is being unreasonable and unrealistic, but I do not want to tell them the truth. Lord help me, I am working on it (if I have done it to you, sorry, but now you know).
However, the hallmark of maturity is taking ownership of the situation. We are the root of a lot of the good and bad in our lives, and it normally stems from the areas we have not been honest with ourselves and others about. Until you can look in the mirror and own whatever that area is, then you will never be able to perform and grow. Don’t back down; do not make allowances- just do it.
I watched to very good movies this week: “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and “Mission Impossible III.” These movies drilled into me the importance of execution. The characters in these situations had no room for error and less room for excuses. In times when no amount of justification can change the facts, all you can do is apologize and start working on a remedy.
Even on our best day, when we our most careful, most attentive, most conscientious, we still may not achieve the desired result. Does that mean that the justification is not valid? No, but in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter? What’s past is past and all we have is the present and the problem still looking us in the face. So, resist the urge to treat your wounds with excuses and hit the drawing board for a solution to the problem. It isn’t easy and it will not happen overnight. It will take tireless diligence to eradicate excuses from your vocabulary. Yet, when you do, you will be far more effective and reliable. I will probably be eating these words later, but hey, you gotta start at home. Hopefully, someone appreciates my honesty. Here’s to growth!
If someone asks you for a reason, give it to them, or else, just keep it to yourself.
If you did not get it done, you did not get it done. Simple and plain.
Find an incentive to get it done. Whatever the “it” may be.
Truth and Peace,
Steven M. DeVougas
Question of the Week: What is the lamest excuse you have ever heard and from who? When do you make excuses?