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The Problem with Excuses

12/16/2020
Problem with excuses

We are experiencing fatigue.   Fatigue is physical or mental weariness resulting from effort or activity.  You are tired of Covid-19, isolation from others, and the fear of catching a virus in the middle of a global pandemic.  Adapting to changes in routine proves to be problematic over time. It's called "pandemic fatigue," and it could be affecting you.

Another fatigue is also taking place in the minds of many business leaders.  You are sick (and tired) of people using the Covid-19 excuse for not performing in 2020.  We would have had a good year if it weren't for Covid-19.  I would have achieved my goals if it weren't for Covid-19.  Sound familiar?

Too many people have allowed this virus to become a crutch.  It is easy to blame or make excuses.  We all do it from time to time.  When you make excuses (no matter how legitimate), you get stuck.  You lose ownership of current reality, and you reach a roadblock on the path to whatever you define as success.  You become seduced by rationalization.  When the rational mind acknowledges and meets the truth in an excuse, a rationalization is born.  

You can rationalize anything.  You are too tired to go to the gym or are too afraid to try something new.  You are not good at networking.  I cannot grow my business during a pandemic.  Merriam-Webster defines rationalization as a way of describing, interpreting, or explaining something (such as destructive behavior) that makes it seem proper, more attractive, etc.

Rationalization allows you to avoid ownership of your current situation.  Ironically, you can want something very much and still rationalize reasons not to work for it.  You want to lose some weight, but you are too busy to exercise.  You want to make more money, but you don't have time to take classes online.

Your business lost money in 2020.  Good, get better!  It is your chance to pivot, reinvent, or start over.  You are smarter for the experience.  You are healthier for failing.  Taking ownership rather than making excuses is liberating.  Excuses and blame are weights you carry each day.  The more excuses you make, the more emotional and physical burden you move into each new day.  Your success, or lack of success, is your responsibility.  Things will not get better by dwelling on Covid-19.  Accept what has happened and move forward.

Your ego can be the worst enemy.  When it gets in your way, you look to other people and circumstances to blame.  Ego is how you see yourself in contrast to someone else or the world.  You blame someone or something for the current reality.  I don't believe that it is my fault.  Sound familiar?

Blaming a virus is simplistic.  Taking ownership and moving forward is difficult.  In the military, we called it embracing the suck.  Sometimes things suck.  Ok, let's move on.  Instead of wallowing in the misery of Covid-19, develop a plan of attack.  If you lost your job because of the pandemic, start a new career or look for a better company.  Or create your own business.

When I was young, I enjoyed shooting free throws in sequence.  I wanted to set a personal record for the number of free throws made in a row.  Whatever number I achieved, I would eventually fail and start over.  Yes, it sucked for a moment.  However, starting again put the failure in the past.  You can look back at 2020 and complain or look forward to 2021 with excitement and energy.

Starting over is a gift.  The past no longer constrains you.  You have the experience that you lacked the first time.  Taking ownership of your present reality means you get to choose the steps you take in the future.  I work with a CEO that had to let people go during the pandemic when customer orders disappeared.  It was the first time in the company's history.  She is now rebuilding her team stronger and leaner with energy and optimism for the future.  She is not dwelling on the misery of 2020.  She is determined to make her company more potent in the future.

You cannot control what happens to you in life.  You can manage your response.  When I was young, I thought there was a lot of quicksand in the world.  Movies and television showed many people being consumed by quicksand in an awful death.  As it turns out, quicksand is rare and not near as deadly as portrayed by Hollywood.  Excuses and blame are real quicksand in the world.  Once excuses catch you, you get pulled down by the heavy burden of blaming yourself or others.

Attitude is one thing we can control as humans.  You can look forward to 2021 with a future positive mindset or look back to 2020 with a past negative perspective.  It is your choice.  Surround yourself with people who challenge you and make you better.  Listen to these words by Amy Vetter.

[Have you ever found yourself feeding off of someone else's negative energy? Or, have you found yourself avoiding a person because of the negativity they bring into every conversation.  As humans, we often hold on to negative thoughts and experiences more than positive ones. Why is that?

Our energy is contagious. It vibrates through our bodies and gets shared with the surrounding people. Often, the negative state can be a patterned behavior that we have become used to and feels comfortable. Like our family before us, we have never known differently. However, it is something that, over time, we can unlearn. It starts first by identifying if we are typically more negative than positive and choose to make a concerted effort to shift it. It takes work and daily practice.]

I use the particle analogy.  Each day, we get to choose our particles.  Choosing the neutron particle means you take each day as it comes.  You are neutral.  Choosing the electron particle means you take each day with negativity, blame, resentment, and excuses.  My particle of choice is the proton.  I attempt to leave positive energy on everyone I contact.

Stop making or accepting the pandemic excuse.  It happened.  It sucks.  Move forward with positivity and optimism.  As a leader, you get what you tolerate.  You train what you accept, and you deserve what you tolerate.  Take ownership of your current reality and start over.  It is day one of your future.