People who are good at making excuses are seldom good at anything else.
If a coach is to build a winning team, excuses must be eliminated – PERIOD. It’s the first and foundational step to building personal accountability. Excuses are born of FAILURE. Failure is the opposite of success. If we’re going to move toward success, there can be no excuse for excuses.
Let’s look at the anatomy of excuses.
We’ve established that failure is the incubator of excuses. Failure is undesirable, so we must rationalize – that is, tell ourselves rational lies – it away. Otherwise the failure is attributed to us and our self esteem is diminished. Excuses are more than a method of avoiding the consequences of our choices, they are a defense mechanism to preserve our self esteem.
Excuses form a bridge between the practical and the hypothetical. They obfuscate the observed factual evidence and introduce doubt by venturing into the theoretical. For example – the observed fact is that you ran a red light. The theoretical is that the sun was in your eyes. The argument attempts to transition from practical observed fact that can be proven, to what it may have been like to be behind the wheel at the time. Since we can’t go back in time, it’s not possible to replicate.
Excuses are the vehicles we use in the journey from the world of fact to the world of fiction and fantasy. Perhaps this is a little too abstract so let me give you some examples from my experience playing football.
Player: “I couldn’t catch the ball because the pass was over (or under) thrown”
Coach: “If you can touch it, you can catch it”
Our coach had two big mounds of saw dust piled up on the practice field. The drill was to run to the top of the first mound and leap to the second mound. The coach would then throw the ball midway between the mounds and the receiver was to make the impossible catch. Over and over, the receivers would fail and fall to the second mound in a splat. It was miserable. But eventually a receiver finally caught it. AMAZING! No – possible! Hour after hour, day after day, the drill continued. An interesting thing happened. More and more, receivers were making spectacular “stabs”.
Player: “I can’t throw an accurate pass in the rain. The football is wet”
Coach: “Learn to throw a wet football”
Our coach filled a 55 gallon drum with water. He would dunk the football in the water and give it to the quarterback to throw a pass to a receiver. At first the coach told the quarterback and the receivers to literally go in slow motion. eventually a pass actually made it to the receiver and he caught it! Hour after hour, day after day, the drill continued. Once the skill was mastered, the pace was accelerated and the routes were lengthened. Eventually the quarterback was able to throw, and the receiver was able to catch, a wet football at full speed.
Player: “I’m tired. This is beyond the limits of human endurance”
Coach: “You’re not tired. You’re just not inspired”
Our coach would set orange traffic cones at the four corners of the football field. When we ran laps, woe be it unto anybody who cut inside the cones. The entire team would be punished by starting the laps over. So we cleverly would kinda kick the cones to slide them infeild as we passed around them. It worked! Soon the cones were at least a yard infield of the corner!
I remember one hot August day. We were running laps. We kinda grouped together so that when we slid the cones inward it wouldn’t be so obvious. Except one guy, he was on his hands and knees throwing up. We were exhausted – running at a pace that of walking. A funny thing happened. As a player attempted to slide the cone in, he actually kicked it over! Beneath the cone was a rattlesnake! We ran away from that rattlesnake!
Our coach calmly meandered to the area as we stood well to the rear. “See coach? There’s a snake!” He calmly picked up the fake snake and held it up to us. “You were too tired to run until you saw the rattlesnake” he proclaimed. He then went on to give us a lecture and told us that he knew we were sliding the cones in and had been putting that fake snake under the cones for days.
I could go on and on with examples like that. Our coach wasn’t just preparing us to win on the football field – he was preparing us for life.
The history of excuses goes way back – all the way to the beginning. The first recorded excuses were stupid then and it they’re stupid now. Remember Adam and Eve in the garden when they were confronted by God for eating the forbidden fruit?
Adam: “I hid because I was naked.”
Adam: “The woman you put here with me gave me the fruit and I ate it.”
Eve: “The serpent deceived me.”
Paraphrased, but pretty much accurate.
What’s your excuse for making excuses?
That’s what I think. I’m interested in your thoughts. There’s lots of ways to hit me up so let me hear from you.
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