What is hiding behind your excuses? Sure there are legitimate reasons why you didn’t meet a commitment to yourself or others. I personally think they are few and far between.
Yes, you were late due to an accident; legit excuse. On the other hand, you were late due to traffic is not really legit. You could have planned for the traffic, left with extra time, checked the traffic report or even used your GPS app to see what was happening to minimize or avoid being late.
The difference between a legitimate excuse and not is your level of control. Often, an excuse made when you had control is hiding something beyond your words. When we find a reason outside of ourselves to justify not meeting an expectation, commitment or responsibility we are avoiding something; visible or not visible to our own awareness. We lack personal responsibility, a key contributor to our success in life.
I have had potential clients tell me how excited and committed they are to start working with me and then start to come up with reason to delay. I know it is not about me. A client has to want to work with me or we will not be successful. So by saying you want to work with me and finding an excuse to not get started, what are you really saying? I can’t know for sure. It may be the financial or time commitment that is making them hesitate or it may be they are not sure they are ready to actively change something in their lives on purpose.
My experience is only one of many. What are you projecting in your professional and personal life when you make excuses? What are other’s hearing? I realize that often we don’t even recognize how frequently we find an excuse. To our own ears it may sound like an explanation: pure fact, I have no control, this is happening to me.
“Sorry, the client didn’t sign the contract today because the director was out of the office.”
“I will be checking back with the client next week after I found out today the director was out of the office today and could not sign the contract.”
I am kidding right! I don’t know what it is like to be in a high pressure, “don’t take no for an answer” environment. Sorry, I have been there and I more than get it. For me, I failed to see that my words meant something when I was working in those environments. My management didn’t care if the client was out of the office. I could have checked when the client was in the office to have a chance of getting that contract signed. The bottom line, is that my management heard an excuse rather than my ability to manage my situation.
What is the real issue here? Are you setting yourself up for success? How do you change the way you communicate? First step is listen more closely to your words. If one or more of these are true, you are making an excuse that others can clearly hear:
Your statement is about someone other than yourself
You had another choice which could have changed the results
You could do more regardless of the situation
I have said this before; words matter. The solution is to be reasonable about your commitments and be able to take ownership of the results. People will respect you more, rely on you more and you will have become the example for others to do the same. In the end you may even change the culture of those you deal with on a regular basis.
We can lie down and let our situations control us, or we can purposely make choices to manage our situations. Let’s all stop making excuses and be better versions of ourselves. I included!