Every project or program in our life has challenges like limited resources, short timelines, unforeseen schedule conflicts, ill-defined expectations, or unforeseen conditions.  They’re par for the course and quite frankly, the reason we have work that requires us to be a leader.  One challenge, however, that you do not want to let creep into the picture is the excuse.

Excuses are nasty and guerrilla-like.  They sneak into our language when we say things like “would have”, “should have”, or “but”.  They infiltrate our minds when looking at a tough challenge, like juggling home life with children and working towards a P.E. or masters degree.  They percolate through an organization when an attitude of “good enough” is allowed to take root.  In short, excuses are evil.

There’s no surer way to torpedo progress towards getting things done or achieving success than to allow an excuse to enter the picture.  One has to be on the look out for excuse-creep in their attitude and work.

The best ways to eliminate excuses include:

Standing sentry and not allowing excuses to control thoughts.  Easier said than done.  However, if you have a hard project facing you or you’re preparing to start one, be conscious of your thoughts.  Doing this allows you to catch when self-defeating thoughts of procrastination and doubt begin to knock at the gates.

“Not shoulding on themselves or anyone else.”   A great saying that’s a perfect indicator of an excuse that’s about ready to enter the picture.  I first heard the saying in a piece by Tony Robbins and immediately put it to work for a week by monitoring what came out of my mouth.  Amazing how much “should” I was spreading around…both on myself and on others.  Now the word doesn’t exist in my vocabulary.

Sucking-it up and pressing on.  My time in the military gave me the discipline to know when something sucks, accepting it, and pressing on towards completion.  In military-speak, sometimes you have to suck-it up and press-on.  In kinder, gentler terminology this is known as “perseverance”.  One mark of a successful person is one that accepts the challenge and has the intestinal fortitude to persevere to the end.

Starting small, growing big.  If you’re a chronic proliferator of excuses there’s no way you’re going to just stop.  This isn’t an excuse…it’s reality.  Start small and build a habit of identifying and eradicating excuses.  Pick one area in your life or at work where you know you’re using excuses and stop.  Focus on this one element consistently.  Soon, you’ll begin catching your excuse use in other areas.

The key to eradicating excuses is to simply be aware of your excuse indicators.  Mine are thoughts of doubt (will this work?) or thoughts of burden (I’ve got too much on the plate….).

What are your indicators?   Identify them and you will be on the path to getting things done without self-imposed hurdles.

“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”  Benjamin Franklin



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