One of the ways we play small and sell ourselves short, is we excuse ourselves from acting courageously. We stop ourselves by coming up with excuses that let us off the hook. Often this is an unconscious process, and so we buy into our own excuse-making and rationalize our way to holding ourselves back.
Yet as we learn the skills that help us to do things better with our current abilities, and develop the mindsets that help unleash our potentials, we will start to do more of what we know and develop new ways of applying our four personal powers, creating more empowering thinking, feeling, doing and speaking.
We can then tackle the barriers (like our own power to make excuses) that hold us back and prevent us from showing up fully and to the best of our ability.
As we strive to live courageously, we will do well to have the knowledge and ability to differentiate real constraints, conditions and true explanations, from pseudo-excuses.
Legitimate Reason vs. Excuse
For our purposes of learning about how we excuse ourselves from living more courageously, we need to understand the subtle yet powerful distinction between reason and excuse. It’s the difference that can make all the difference when it comes to what stops us from reaching our goals.
Is what is stopping me a legitimate reason or is it just an excuse?
This distinction is an important one and so we want to identify if (when we are explaining a circumstance, an event, some prevailing factors or unrecognized variables), we are offering a rational or reasonable explanation, or are we just attempting to excuse ourselves. And if it is a legitimate reason, what are the criteria or standards we are using that makes it so valid?
To help us understand the differences, we can look at the function of each.
An explanation is used to explain how something works, its source or the process involved, and any factors that might help us gain a fuller understanding.
Whereas an excuse explains away a flaw. It allows for blame and accusations to be made. It helps one to avoid responsibility or being held accountable and can even release us form a commitment we might have made.
“It’s easier on our egos to blame failure on external, uncontrollable factors such as lack of time, information, or resources. But as long as we use such excuses, we can never solve the underlying problems because those factors aren’t under our direct control. We need to invert our excuses and look beneath them to find the internal causes that we can control. What we can control, we can improve.”
– Steve Pavlina
This awareness, together with knowing how to blow-out excuses, can help us to play larger in our lives, and reinforce our intentionality and inner decisiveness that helps unlock our discipline for persisting, and our capacity for courage.
“Don’t make excuses – make good.”
Honestly evaluate the quality of your excuses. What is a valid reason to not do something, and what is just an excuse? Take anything valid and restructure your strategy to go forward, so there’s no excuse left.