Stop Using Excuses to Handicap Yourself

Dave Meltzer discusses the power and drawbacks of excuses.
No Excuses Allowed

Every Monday morning, our team at Sports 1 Marketing holds a contest. Each employee shares with the office their biggest mistake they made of the previous week and which of the four core principles we teach at Sports 1 Marketing apply to that mistake. Whether their error was related to gratitude, empathy, accountability, or effective communication, we want everybody in our organization to take responsibility for the mistakes they make.  We even reward the biggest mistake each week with a bonus!

We do this exercise because the number one problem that most people have is accountability. They are living below the line and use excuses to shift blame and justify their actions.

Detrimental for Your Mental

Excuses masquerade as truth but only serve to separate us from reality. One study found as many as 20% of all American adults actually overuse excuses to a point that it may be detrimental to their emotional health. People use white lies as a way to make daily life operate more smoothly, without realizing the detrimental effects that are caused by living without accountability.

Excuses Take Many Forms

At their worst, excuses are chronic evasions of responsibility, born out of some irrational fear. In the case of many of my employees, their common desire is to please me or my business partner, Warren Moon, and they’re afraid that they’ll disappoint us. In the end, of all of the mistakes that are made, no matter how much money, energy, time, or resources they cost, the most aggravating mistakes in our business involve employees who make mistakes and try to justify their misguided actions.

Chronic Excuses

We want to try and eliminate all the mistakes in our business. In order to do this, we want to know why we attracted them into our business in the first place and what we are supposed to learn from them. We can’t learn anything from mistakes if we are not accountable. Chronic excuse makers are people whose default setting is to avert any admission of fault. They want to avoid being accountable at all costs. They are people that sell themselves short, trying to shield themselves from their fear of disappointing others. Pointing out when employees use excuses is an apt way to call attention to how people handicap themselves in a business environment.

Excuse My Ego

Some people stake their whole identity on their acts. In business, these type of people take the attitude that if you criticize anything that they do, you criticize them. Their egocentricity means that they can’t risk a failure because it’s a devastating blow to their ego or it causes extreme disappointment because they want to please those around them.

Blame The Parents?

The best method for identifying those who are either most or least prone to excuse making is a person’s “locus of control”.  Understanding whether they see the events in their lives as controlled by themselves or outside forces gives us insight into their views on responsibility. People who have an internal locus of control believe in personal accountability and do not see a need to make excuses. Individuals with an external locus of control tend to blame outside forces for their issues and try to justify their shortcomings with excuses. According to one theory of accountability, people owe much of their excuse making talents to their parents. In teaching them such essential social skills as politeness and consideration of others, parents inadvertently teach their elements of dishonesty and excuse-making. When these parents utilize excuses to explain away their own mistakes, they model a behavior for their kids to follow as they grow up.

Vacation and Justification

As I came back from a two-week vacation, it’s amazing how much my frustration grew while I was away. This wasn’t because of a lack of hard work, everybody in the office was productive while I was gone. But the frustrating thing that happened was that while I was away, almost every employee at one time or another used blame, shame, and justification to avoid some modicum of responsibility. That is why I am writing a blog on this topic, I want to encourage everyone to live with accountability. Not only will this make your bosses happier, but living in truth enables you to live a happier life, too.

By: Dave Meltzer

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