The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant.
No government is perfect. One of the chief virtues of democracy, however, is that its defects are always visible and under democratic processes can be pointed out and corrected.
—Harry S. Truman, 1947
No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man’s permission when we ask him to obey it.
—Theordore Roosevelt, 1904
It’s a New Year. What’s Your Excuse?
According to the Oxford dictionary, an excuse is “a reason put forward to lessen the blame on a person; it is an attempt to apologize without taking responsibility.”
Excuses are given for the purpose of mitigating and justifying an offense, for example, “it is not my fault,” “the bus was late,” “traffic was heavy,” etc. Excuses are a way of requesting that a neglect or inaction be overlooked, that an indulgence is pardoned and a failure ignored. Excuses are meant to serve as cause for exemptions to the rules, expectations, policies, and procedures. It is a polite way of saying, “don’t blame me, I am a victim of circumstances,” such as “my car broke down.” Excuses are an inadequate effort to use a situation to absolve guilt and gain permission to be pardoned for failure to perform or conform.
I am besieged daily with excuses by my staff, students and romantic partners, that can range from “my babysitter didn’t show up” to “the train didn’t run today!” My boyfriend once stood me up because his teen daughter and ex-wife showed up at his door unexpectedly, requesting that he join them for a parade. What is even more cowardly is when the excuse is sent via text or third party!
In life and especially in the workplace, there are only two things that count: either you did the job or you did not. WHY is beside the point! No one cares about another’s excuses, regardless of validity or extremity of the crisis. After all, we all have hardships and crises to overcome! One of my work-study students missed two weeks of work because her baby had pink eye. The boss’s baby, ironically, also had pink eye but she had never missed a day of work.
40 years ago, when my son was suspected of having spinal meningitis as a baby, I never missed teaching my classes, as my students could not graduate without the credits. I stayed up all night at the hospital by my child’s bed, showered in the hospital bathing facilities in the morning, then went to work and returned to his bedside every night until he had totally healed. Despite the struggle, I did not use my hardship as an excuse, because I didn’t want to risk losing my job.
A diabetic patient in a popular TV commercial used the weather as an excuse to continue eating cinnamon rolls, which was basically giving himself permission to ignore his doctor’s instructions for eating better. Furthermore, when the nurse responded “you’re only human,” it validated his excuse. I would have advised, “you’re smarter than your cravings and appetite.” You have a brain and the power to summon the discipline to use your head rather than instinct.
Here are some tips to help overcome excuse making:
Always remember: you are better than your circumstances. Never let a car or cold take you down. Don’t succumb to hardship. Defy the odds. Beat the system and triumph! Anticipate upsets and plan ahead. If you have a baby, plan for days that you’ll require childcare.
Take responsibility for your predicament. The moment you blame your problems on something that you cannot change, you abdicate your power to adapt and overcome. For example, your poor health is a result of your diet, not your genetics. Your job failure is not due to your race, but your attitude – and lack of favor is what you get when you didn’t earn it. Learn to play the hand that life deals you. This is the way to plot your escape from the circumstances.
Be prepared to pay the price for your career goals. Stop dreaming and get real! If you can’t follow, you will never be able to lead. If you can’t get to work on time, you don’t have the discipline to work for yourself. Cease the fantasy of entrepreneurship if you can’t manage time. If you can’t work for someone else effectively, you’ll never be your own boss.
Leave personal problems at the door and your cell phone in the car. Use the company’s phone for emergencies instead. Don’t check your personal emails at work. Keep your personal business to yourself and don’t expect sympathy. I expected sympathy when I had foreclosure issues, only to find that my co-workers were jealous that I even owned rental properties. They did not care about my plight and I should not have revealed my personal issues, which are between myself and the Lord.
Triumph is in your future, if you are willing to stop making excuses and accept that your medical conditions are a consequence of your lifestyle. Your financial problems are a result of your choices to live outside your means and your career is at a standstill because your priorities are out of order. Rewards come to you from wherever you direct your energy and priorities. You can’t expect to gain on the job when you are distracted by your personal life and hobbies.
Born victim of a triple whammy (black, poor, and female) in Alabama at the height of “Jim Crow-ism,” I knew that I would have to work twice as hard as my white counterparts for the same benefits and rewards and I thank God that he empowered me to exceed expectations and achieve my goals. It means I have to sacrifice what I want for what I need. My car would never be larger than my house, and I would never have a car note before I had a mortgage! I struggle to control food addictions instead of blaming genetics. Genetics is the gun, but lifestyle is the trigger.
Hardships come with life. We were never promised a rose garden. But we were given the power to solve the puzzle of life. “Tough times never last, but tough people do.” We must embrace the challenges, overcome the difficulties, and know that nothing justifies an excuse. Excuses rob us of our clout to change and transcend! A quote from “Lyons’ Guide to the Career Jungle,” my best-selling book, states it aptly: “Whatever your mind can conceive, you can achieve.”
Dr. Laura Lyons
Dr. Lyons is a Career Coach/Resume Reviewer, Health Warrior, Author, Entrepreneur, CEO, Human Relations Consultant and Motivational Speaker.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.- -That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
—From the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
When one door closes, another opens. But we often look so long and so regretfully at the closed door that we cannot see the one that has opened for us.
—Alexander Graham Bell, inventor
"Inactivity strikes us as intelligent behavior. Neither we nor most business managers would dream of feverishly trading highly profitable subsidiaries because a small move in the Federal Reserve's discount rate was predicted or because some Wall Street pundit had reversed his views on the market."
— Warren Buffett 1996
“A politician thinks about the next election, a statesman thinks about the next generation.”
— Winston Churchill
“If all that Americans want is security, they can go to prison. They’ll have enough to eat, a bed and a roof over their heads. But if an American wants to preserve his dignity and his equality as a human being, he must not bow his neck to any dictatorial government.”
— Dwight D. Eisenhower
“The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunities.”
— Ernest Hemingway,
“Notes on the Next War,” Esquire, Sep. 1935
“Once in a while you stumble upon the truth, but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing happened.”
— Winston Churchill
“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”
“Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”
— Winston Churchill
“The problem with with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money [to spend].”
— Margaret Thatcher
“Any fool can make things bigger, more complex and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction.”
— Albert Einstein
Einstein on Judgment
“Ask nothing that is not clearly right and submit to nothing that is wrong.”
— Andrew Jackson
7th President of the United States
“The thing that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich quick theory of life.”
— Teddy Roosevelt
26th President of the United States
“The more corrupt the state the more it legislates.”