excuses

why we don’t get the results we want

i have my reasonsResults matter. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a business leader, executive, entrepreneur, or employee; whether you’re in sales, HR, finance, marketing, or IT; whether at work or in your personal life. Results are important. Yet, we don’t always create the results we want. Then the reasons and excuses come out.

Excuses or Reasons?

What’s the difference between an excuse and a reason? Simple, other people have excuses for failing, but I have legitimate reasons I didn’t accomplish the results I needed. They failed, while I tried hard. They’re whining and playing the victim about their failures, but I’m rationally explaining why it didn’t work out as planned. Right?

Actually, I am just having a bit of fun with the human tendency to justify outcomes, even if only to ourselves. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what we call it or how we describe it.

Reasons or excuses, circumstance or a lack of effort, whatever. Either way we didn’t get the results.

Reasons or Results?

The truth is, there are only two things in life, reasons and results, and reasons simply don’t count.” ~ Robert Anthony

We either have reasons or we have results. These words pulse through my mind whenever I come up short on my goals. We either accomplish what we needed to or we have a list of explanations as to why we didn’t. Yes, sometimes things happen that are completely beyond our control. More often we simply didn’t plan well, stay focused, make good use of time, truly give full effort, track and evaluate actions and progress, have the right people involved, have a suitable contingency plan, or persist, persist, persist. The #1 reason we don’t get our results? We accept our reasons in place of our results.

Put it another way: Getting results means giving up your reasons. And those reasons are often so compelling, comfortable, and familiar. I know what I want to accomplish. I know what I need to accomplish. Am I willing to give up my reasons to get those results?

Are you?

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what’s stopping you?

Ironman Kona was this weekend. This is the big daddy of triathlon. There are several Ironman length races held around the world, but this is the one with all the street cred. It’s a 2.4 mile swim in the ocean, 112 mile bicycle ride, and a full marathon distance 26.2 mile run at the end. Throw in wind and heat and that’s more fun than 99+% of the world can endure.

This year the course record was broken by Craig Alexander. He finished the sufferfest in the 8 hour, 3 minute range. Reflect on the distance and the time. Yeah, I can’t get my head around it either. And as impressive as that finish is, it’s not the most impressive finish.

I’m told that three of the finishers are over 80 years old! Plus, another one of the finishers, Rajesh Durbal, is a triple amputee. My brain goes all slack jawed when I try to think about those four people. I need to go rethink my life.

It reminds me of the scene in “Dodgeball” (easily one of the greatest comedy movies ever made) where Joe (Vince Vaughn’s character) has quit the dodgeball tournament. He’s sitting in the airport bar when Lance Armstrong steps beside him and orders a bottle of water. Lance says that he’s a big fan and tells Joe that he once felt like quitting when he was diagnosed with brain, lung, and testicular cancer all at the same time, before he overcame it to win the Tour de France five times. Then he says: “But I’m sure you have a good reason for quitting. What are you dying from that’s keeping you from the finals?” Joe responds: “Right now it feels a little bit like… shame.”

We’re not all Lance Armstrong and I’m comfortable using that as an excuse. But when I think of those four finishers, I have no more excuses. It’s not about finishing a premier triathlon, it’s about becoming the person I want to be and doing the things I need to do before dying.

What was it you wanted to accomplish again? What was the “reason” (read as: lame excuse) you tell yourself you can’t? Now that all excuses have been removed by those finishers, what’s stopping you?