A few years back, I decided to build a software product by teaming up with a friend. After months of effort, the product was ready, and we went all guns blazing to sell it to our target users. We had a hard time selling it because another major player had grabbed more than half the users of the market.
After struggling for a year, we gave up and closed the business. I kicked my luck, thinking, “If we had started this a year earlier, the story would have been so different.”
So what just happened when I thought that? Using an excuse, I convinced myself that I had done my best and success was out of my control. But that was far from the truth.
Why do we make excuses?
If you look at yourself carefully, you will realize that you often give reasons for failure and mistakes. Sometimes the reasons are to convince others of why things went wrong. But more often, our excuses serve a different purpose without our knowledge.
Here are the top reasons why we make excuses:
1 Excuses make you feel good
Giving an excuse is the easiest way to point the blame elsewhere. When you have another person or circumstance to blame, you feel relieved about yourself. Your ego stays intact because you believe the excuse was the real reason why you made a mistake.
2 Excuses make you believe you tried
The internet is full of articles that adore hard work, irrespective of the results. When you have an excuse, you fool yourself into believing you put in all the effort and tried your best.
3 Excuses help you hide your mistakes
Every time you make a mistake, your ego takes a dent, and your self-esteem takes a hit. To avoid making yourself seem inferior in your own eyes, you make a reason behind why you failed.
The moment you have a reason, you sweep your mistakes under the rug, thinking, “Well, it wasn’t really my mistake after all. I was just being hard on myself.” In a flash, you forget your mistake forever.
Most Common Examples of Excuses
Excuses come up in various shapes and forms. You and I have different excuses based on the scenarios. Here are the most common reasons you come across.
1 Blaming traffic for coming late
“I left an hour ago, but due to the damn traffic, I only reached now.” I am sure you have either heard that or said it yourself. Blaming traffic is the easiest way to cover up our mistake of leaving late or incorrectly anticipating the time required to reach the location.
The others who showed up on time drove through the same traffic. The only difference was that they had the discipline to leave earlier than you did.
2 Blaming the management for lack of growth
“I do a lot of work, but my manager never promotes me.” Many employees across different organizations have this complaint often. The truth is employees do not sit down to talk to their manager about what they need to do for their growth. Even if they do, they disagree with what the manager suggests.
In some cases, bad managers are the reason. But the employee often prefers to continue to work like he always has without stepping out of his comfort zone. When no growth ensues, he blames the manager for not doing enough.
3 Blaming luck
“The dude who won the event got really lucky. If only I had the luck today.” Such excuses are common after a competition.
Blaming luck is your way of convincing yourself that you are the best, even if you did not win. You do not want to accept that the other competitor put in more hard work and showed more talent than you.
Instead of accepting your shortcomings, you prefer devaluing the performance of others to make yourself feel better.
How to stop making excuses
The sooner you stop making excuses, the faster you will grow in all aspects of life. Here are some tips on saying no to reasons and excuses.
1 Relook your ifs and buts
“I worked hard, but ...”
“If I had two more weeks to prepare, I would have ...”
“I did everything right, but luck...”
After you fail, watch your words and thoughts. When you use words like “if”, “but” you are almost certainly making a reason. Ask yourself whether the reason is valid or not. In most cases, it isn’t.
2 Look at what you could have done better
Develop a culture of no blame. No matter what went wrong, you must only look at what you could have done better.
Soichiro Honda, the founder of Honda Motors, went through gargantuan setbacks in the early years of his venture. He faced issues with supplies of petrol and raw materials due to the world war. Planes bombed his factory twice during the same war. After the war, an earthquake reduced his factory to rubble.
Soichiro could have blamed all these circumstances, but he chose not to. If he did, none of us would know about Honda Motors today.
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3 Realize that making excuses is useless
When you make a reason, you convince somebody else or yourself that the reason behind the mistake wasn’t you. Such a mindset does little for your improvement. An excuse is a darkness in which you hide instead of having the audacity to face your flaws in broad daylight.
We all make mistakes. They’re inevitable because no one is perfect. What is important is how you react after your mistake.
Every time you make a mistake, you face a choice. You can either find a reason to justify the mistake or peek into your soul to find what you could have done better. The mediocre person chooses to make an excuse, and the successful gentleman notes down what he would change the next time. Which one among the two will you be?
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