People who do not take accountability for their results have excuses. The mistakes are often not theirs. Someone else made a mistake. Or something is lacking. Or that the stars were misaligned. [mfn] Our job is either to improve or to evolve. Find more tips on self-improvement. [/mfn]
You cannot argue with people who have limitless excuses. They can cook up reasons why something cannot be done.
But if you pursue self-development, you have to start throwing excuses out of the window. You’ve got to say goodbye to excuses — and start asking yourself the right questions.
Allow me to show you how to say goodbye to excuses.
How about a work situation for a demonstration?
The other day I was talking to a government employee. Let us call her Edzy. She told me that she did not get the promotion she was expecting. I asked her what she was going to do next. But she did not answer my question. She gave me excuses.
First, her boss has favoritism. Mavic, the other candidate, was always praised and recognized for good work. Her boss and Mavic came from the same school too.
Second, Mavic is a show-off. Though she’s new to the company, she always volunteers for new projects and assignments. She frequently recommends work improvements.
Third, Edzy did not get the job because her boss hated her. She could not explain why, but she was very sure that her boss did not like her to get the promotion. It might be because she came from another school.
I’ll stop here.
Edzy has more excuses in her arsenal. I am not sure if having excuses makes her feel good, but I am certain it is not helping her in moving up the career ladder.
I am not saying that all of the excuses Edzy gave me were not valid. But a hundred excuses won’t replace results.
Results, Not Excuses
I value results, not excuses.
I had employees who told me why something could not be done. And they were often right. Anyone who thinks that something is impossible to do is likely to make something impossible to do. Excuses are not just false reasons, they make unbreakable walls.
A fixed mindset and excuses will make us walk around in circles.
Pay attention to results. You get good results if you take action. To do that, you need to change your questions.
I have the following questions for Edzy. I told her to write her answers.
- How can I get promoted in six months?
- What can I do today (and every day) to make myself the best candidate for promotion?
She was hesitant at first. I encouraged her to try and come up with as many answers in ten minutes.
She wrote the following answers to the first question:
- I will accept new assignments.
- I will enroll myself to leadership training programs.
- I will be sipsip too. [mfn] Sipsip is a suck up to bosses.[/mfn]
- I will improve my leadership skills.
- I will improve my public speaking skills.
- I will smile more often. (She was told that she was too serious.)
- I will look for another job.
- I will recomment process improvements.
- I will accept leadership roles.
- I will submit reports on time.
- I will make more friends.
- I will ask my boss what I need to improve.
- I will look for a mentor.
Can you see the difference?
The person with many excuses is a mouse on a wheel. [mfn] A mouse on a wheel is active but does not get anywhere. [/mfn] He wants you to know that things are not his fault. Or that it is his fault, but there is nothing that can be done.
The person with excuses blames the rock for tripping over.
On the other hand, someone who is accountable asks questions that compel him to act. To stumble is temporary. What’s important is the next move. Taking action, no matter how small, is better than a big excuse. Someone who continues moving creates momentum.
Replace each excuse with positive action to create momentum.