Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Excuses are like ____, everybody has one….

Have you ever heard that before? If you haven’t, I’m glad you heard it here first.
I think one of the most undiagnosed medical conditions in the world is ‘excuses-preventus’. (I don’t normally speak Latin, but that’s what 3 cups of coffee in short order will do to you). It is a chronic condition. A 2 phase affliction that begins with some rationalized reason for not doing something presents goals from being met and achievements going undone.
Let’s briefly break this condition down into plain English. Excuses Prevent Us.
So, you are probably getting on my wavelength now: excuses prevent us from our goals and dreams and ultimately lead to an unfulfilled life and disappointment.
In the business world, excuses-preventus is prevalent. Here is how the condition commonly presents itself:
  • “I can’t get any new customers on account of the recession that’s going on,” moans the entrepreneur
  • “I would have done (fill in the blank) except (fill in the blank)” cries the operations manager
  • “You don’t understand, my shop is just in a tough location,” yells the store owner
  • American Idol was on last night,” whines the service professional
I’m sure you have seen these symptoms before. Maybe you are feeling the onset of excuses-preventus. If you are, I suggest reading this months issue of Inc Magazine. There is a great piece in this issue about entrepreneurs that started businesses in “rough” times. These companies made no excuses and forged ahead despite the winds of ‘conventional wisdom’ blowing against them. Here is an excerpt about what Method founders Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan were up against:
—-When they look back on the early days of their start-up, Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan remember that a lot of potential investors laughed at them. The Bay Area, where they were living, was awash in Internet start-ups. Each week in 2000 brought another glitzy launch party or news that the scantest of business plans had attracted venture capital. Even office landlords were demanding equity from their dot-com tenants. Lowry and Ryan, who wanted to start a company to make — of all things — humdrum household products, were decidedly out of step with the times. “You had the sense that there was this real historical thing going on in the region, even if it was not going to end well,” says Ryan. —–
Talk about being immune to excuses-preventus! If you have a hard time not making excuses for being a vegetable in front of the TV, just imagine having sophisticated and wealthy investors laugh at your business plan at the same time you were sailing into the eye of an economic storm.
Anytime I think about excuses-preventus, I remember a great line from the movie The Edge, starring Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin, that I believe sums up how to cure excuses-preventus in short order.
In this movie, Hopkins and Baldwin’s characters are stranded in the Alaskan wilderness and they are being pursued by a hungry grizzly bear. They come to the realization that they won’t be able to outrun or outmaneuver the bear on their journey to safety. They decide that they must kill the bear in order to survive.
Alec Baldwins character (Bob) seriously doubts their ability to kill the bear and survive. To ensure survival, Hopkins’ character (Charles) must motivate Bob.
Charles: “Did you know, in many African tribes, 11 year old boys must kill a lion with a spear in order to prove their manhood.”
Bob: “What’s that got to do with us?”
Charles: “What one man can do, Bob, another man can do.”
Bob: “What?!”
Charles: “Repeat after me: what one man can do, another man can do”
Bob: “What?!”
Charles: “Repeat after me, Bob: what one man can do another man can do!”
Bob (getting the picture now): “What one man can do, another man can do!”
And there it is: what one man (or woman) can do, another man (or woman) can do. Take a dose of that the next time you feel yourself coming down with excuses-preventus. Somebody else is getting things done - so why aren’t you?

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