I sat there on the phone listening for just short of an hour. Not conversing, not discussing… just listening as the person on the other end rattled off a litany of reasons why they could not possibly succeed.
Not only did I not get a chance to speak – but if I had been given the opportunity, I’m pretty sure I’d have been speechless anyway. And that, my friends, is a rare occurrence.
I listened as this person blamed everything from other people to the economy to the world in general for their lack of momentum. It was mind-boggling. Excuse after excuse flowed but not once did I hear, “I must be doing something wrong. How can I fix this?”
It reminded me of this scene from a classic 1980 movie, The Blues Brothers:
Except to hear a real-life adult do that for almost an hour wasn’t funny like when John Belushi did it. It was more like a mixture of sad and rage-inducing.
When my turn to speak finally came, I kept it short and shared my belief that if someone is spending that much time and making that much of an effort to find external reasons for their lack of success, then they’re looking for answers in the wrong place. The right place they should be looking is in the mirror.
Most of the time when we’re guilty of using lame excuses, we’re not even aware that we’re doing it. Blaming external factors instead of taking responsibility is the rule rather than the exception, so we subconsciously rationalize it as acceptable behavior.
Of course there are real obstacles we encounter along the way, but running into a legitimate barrier here and there doesn’t mean you’re beaten – and it doesn’t mean the situation is hopeless. Most of the time it’s just a good indicator that you need to take a new approach to the situation.
Winner or Whiner?
Winners encounter obstacles, too. They screw up and they fail just like everyone else. The difference is that winners are always working on their next run at the problem. They pick apart negatives and focus on solutions that will allow them to go around or through obstacles. They act. They attack. They are in motion.
Whiners, on the other hand, focus on reasons for not proceeding solutions. They wallow and waste time in the mire of all the “reasons” they don’t stand a chance in the first place.
Knowing When To Call The Wahmbulance
How are you supposed to know if you’re a winner who’s gearing up to attack an obstacle or a whiner who needs a ride in a wahmbulance?
It’s pretty easy, really. Winners discuss attacking problems and obstacles. They don’t hunt for reasons not to act. Their discussion of obstacles comes from a place of, “Here’s how we’re going to own that situation next time.”
If you find yourself just stating problems and discussing how impossible to overcome they are, you may be a whiner.
30 Ways To Be A Whiner
Here are 30 ways to stifle your momentum, assure your stagnation, and just plain old bum yourself out. If you have ever used any of these as a way of keeping yourself from taking action, it may be time to do some serious self-assessment.
1: I’ve never done it that way before.
2: I tried that once before and it didn’t work.
3: I’ve tried several times and it didn’t work.
4: (Insert expert’s name) says I need a (certain tool or service) to make it happen.
5: No one wants to hear what I think.
6: It’s too hard.
7. There’s no way in this economy.
8: I need to spend more time thinking and planning this out more.
9: I just don’t have the extra time for a new project.
10: That’s pretty risky. I’m scared.
11: So-and-so says it won’t work.
12: I’ll wait until conditions are more favorable and the timing is better.
13: If I just had more money.
14: I’m not as talented as other people.
15: If I try that, people will criticize or mock me.
16: I can’t find the motivation.
17: I just need a lucky break.
18: I didn’t get in (to the mix) soon enough.
19: My plan isn’t that original.
20: The competition is too big for me to compete against.
21: I inherited the problem. It’s not my fault.
22: I don’t have enough experience.
23: I’m afraid of what would happen if I failed.
24: I’m afraid of what would happen if I succeeded.
25: I don’t have the right connections.
26: I wouldn’t know where to begin.
27: I’m too old.
28: I’m too young.
29: I don’t have a big enough audience/client base.
30: I’ll start on it tomorrow.
Time and Opportunity Are Precious
You only get so many days on this earth. Unless you believe in reincarnation – in which case you only get so many days before you start all over again. Either way, you need to make the most of the time you have.
Next to my desk where I’m sitting and typing right now is an old, tattered hand-written sign that I’ve tacked to the wall. I can’t tell you how old it is, but it seems like it’s been there forever.
There is nothing as disappointing as looking back in time and having to admit that you have let yourself down. It is a much better feeling to be able to look back with pride, win or lose, and know deep down that you have given it your all.
“We must all suffer from one of two pains: The pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” – Jim Rohn
Your time is too valuable for excuses.
Act. Move. Execute.
Share your stories and insights about excuses and obstacles in the comments section.
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