I presented a Leadership Development session this week on Time Management and it reminded me of an article Jeff Haden titled “15 Excuses That Are Guaranteed to Waste Your Life Away.” He is right up into your face with the way he takes away the excesses we hear people use to keep them from being their best. Our CEO Peer Advisory Groups in Dallas provide the accountability we all need to stay focused and driven when we start to believe the lies. Read this and see if you ever thought any of these.
1. I can’t get anyone to listen.
People will listen to anything that is entertaining, interesting, heartfelt, amusing, shocking, informative, titillating, stupid, satirical, controversial, sad, silly, sexy…
If you can’t get anyone to listen, they aren’t the problem: You’re the problem.
What you want to say is irrelevant; change your message so it means something to the people you want to reach. Then they’ll listen.
2. I’m too scared.
Join the club. Everyone is scared. So you have a choice: Let your fears hold you back… or use those same fears as fuel to do whatever it takes to succeed. Complacency is the enemy of achievement; use your fear to drive complacency away.
3. I don’t have the money.
For most entrepreneurs, business is all about the art and science of accomplishing more with less: Less money, less people, less time, etc. Face it. You will never, ever have “enough” cash or capital or funding. Never. If you don’t have enough capital to launch your business the way you plan, change your plan. You can’t always control what you have, but you can control what you choose to do with what you have.
4. I don’t have the time.
Everyone has the same amount of time. The only difference is what you’re willing to do with your time. If you were trapped underground and only had 24 hours worth of oxygen you wouldn’t check your Twitter feed or chat with friends or spend a little “me time” in front of the TV. You’d dig and dig and dig the entire time.
Apply the same level of importance and urgency to what you want to accomplish and your schedule will instantly clear. Finding the time to do something is always a matter of how badly you want to do it.
5. I don’t have the skills.
No problem. Go get them. Go to school. Read a book. Read 10 books. Talk to friends. Get a part-time job at a small business. Get a part-time job in a completely different industry.
Find someone who has done what you want to do and volunteer to work for free in return for the opportunity to learn. Does that seem too hard? Like too big of a price to pay? Or simply not fair? Then accept you will never have the skills, and stop complaining. Skills and knowledge are earned, not given.
6. I don’t have the right connections.
Between company websites and LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and all the other social media platforms you can reach almost anyone besides the Pope and maybe Bono. In fact some people are surprisingly accessible (maybe that’s one of the secrets of their success?) Still, start small. Start feasible. Build a foundation. A great network is like a pyramid with a wide base, not a thin vertical line that goes straight to the top.
And never forget that the more influential the person, the more they tend to be inundated with requests. Have a good reason to connect, give before you expect to receive, and you will be surprised by the people who respond.
7. I’m too late.
Jobs beat you to the graphical interface and mouse… but Xerox beat him. Zuckerberg wasn’t first in social media. Buffett is hardly the first to buy and hold. The list goes on and on. Innovation is never one-and-done; some of the most successful companies – and careers – are based on refining earlier ideas and innovations. You’re only too late if you’re not willing to be better, faster, stronger, cheaper, or just ever so slightly different than whoever got there first.
8. I can’t think of a great idea.
Dreaming up something new is really, really hard. Reacting to something that already exists is really, really easy. Walk around and start complaining (to yourself.) You’ll see tons of problems that require solutions. Those solutions are ideas. Or walk around your workplace and start complaining (again, to yourself.) There are tons of problems you can address. “New” is hard to imagine. “Better” is much easier. Most careers and businesses are built on “better,” not on “new.”
9. I can’t take that risk.
Any risk you take today is a risk you can recover from tomorrow. Given time you can overcome almost any setback, stumble, or failure, and emerge stronger and smarter and better equipped to succeed the next time. If you never try, all you will be is regretful. When you’re old and grey and “done” you’ll have to look back on your life and think, “I wonder what might have happened if I had only…”
Having to look back with regret is one risk you should never take.
10. I’m better at planning than execution.
No you’re not. You’re just too lazy to do the grunt work. Or you think you’ve already paid your dues. Or you think you’re above it. Or – pick your excuse. Every successful person I know can and does, when necessary, roll up his or her sleeves and just plain outwork everyone else. (That’s one of the reasons they’re so successful.) You don’t need some undefined innate quality to be good at execution; all you need is discipline.
11. I can’t stop until it’s perfect.
Sure you can. You just don’t want to: Maybe you’re insecure, maybe you’re afraid, or maybe you fear rejection or criticism. Do this instead: Do your best. Then step back: If doing a little more work will result in a dramatically better outcome, go for it. If doing a little more work will not make a difference anyone but you will notice, let it go. Then make improvements based on feedback you get from the people whose opinions matter most: Your customers.
12. I’m not comfortable doing it that way.
I was raised to be humble and self-effacing, so I hate to say I’m good at anything. But sometimes I have no choice; taking advantage of certain opportunities requires confidently describing my skills, experience, and accomplishments. If you’re not comfortable doing something because it violates your principles or ethics, by all means don’t. But if you’re not comfortable doing something simply because it will take you outside your comfort zone, you’re just rationalizing. And you’ll never be more than you already are.
13. I can’t find anyone who “gets” it.
Oh, they get it. They just don’t want it. Truly great ideas can be described in a few words. Truly great products can be described in a few words. When no one seems to “get it,” the only person not getting it is probably you. Let go of your pride and agenda and “unique point of view” and figure out where you’ve gone wrong.
14. It’s too hard.
Long journeys are hard. No problem: Individual steps are easy. Say you’ve been sitting on your couch for years and suddenly decide to run a marathon. You’re right: That’s too hard. But you can go out and run a lap or two. Or you can walk a mile or two. You can take one small step towards a difficult goal. And then another. And then another. Or say you want to lose 50 pounds. That’s too hard. But you can eat one meal differently. Or you can take a walk at lunch. Or say you want to open a business. You can look at possible locations. Or work on your business plan. Or talk to a potential supplier. Or get advice from a mentor.
You can’t accomplish any difficult goal overnight, but you can accomplish one step, however small, towards that goal. Think about the end of a journey and every single step that will be required along the way and you’ll never start. Instead, just do one thing that will help get you there. Then build on that one thing. You can definitely do that.
15. I’ll be too embarrassed if I fail.
Failing in public can be humbling, especially since some people love to talk about the misfortunes of others. Of course those are the same people who never dare to try something themselves. So don’t worry about them.
A smaller (much smaller) group of people will respect you for taking your shot. They’ll recognize a kindred spirit. They’ll sympathize. They’ll encourage. They’ll pick you up. They know what it’s like to try and fail and try again. They’re people living their lives on their terms; like you.
I hope this inspires you to press on toward your dreams and don’t let anything get in your way.
by Robert Hunt
ABOUT ROBERT HUNT
I am a Forum Leader and Business Partner for Renaissance Executive Forums Dallas. My role is to find the best members for our CEO Peer Groups, and lead each meeting so that our members become Raving Fans. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, and Facebook. You can also email me at RobertH@REFDallas.com