excuses

I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking about excuses. 

Excuses are everywhere. 

People make excuses for missing the mark in life all the time. Personal commitments, professional responsibilities, academic expectations - all of these things are subject to excuses. Our complex, busy, 21st century lives are replete with possible excuses for falling short of other's expectations. 

I know this because I make a lot of excuses. I don’t know if everyone else picks up on it, but it’s true. 

That's probably one of the most damning things that I could write about myself. Can you imagine answering a question in a job interview about your greatest weakness and admitting that you make a lot of excuses? 

In high school most of my excuses were based on my social and economic status. 

I would have done better on that test if I had more time to prepare, or if I had taken harder math earlier. I would have more friends if I just had more money, or more free time, or if I cared about sports more. I would have gotten into that college that rejected me if I was from a rich family with better connections. Sure, my SAT score was lower than it should be but that's just because I'm a "bad test taker". That would have been fixed if I had been told about all of this earlier. 

In college being an engineering student gave me ample ammunition for excuses. 

I can't be that involved with my church -  I'm in a harder major than those other people. I might not have many friends, but that's just because I'm more responsible and a harder worker. I don't have the time to invest in other people right now. I’m too busy to really investigate every graduate program out there, so I’ll just focus on the ones that are able to fly me out for in person visits.  

In graduate school I made my divided attention an excuse. 

I'm not going to be a first author on a paper before I finish my thesis, but that's not my fault! I'm working on too many things at once to publish any of them. My advisor, my collaborators, or my equipment are all to blame for me not finishing this research fast enough. Besides, I can't focus on research right now - I'm running this company! 

My excuses hit an all time high when I was running my company. 

It isn’t my fault we haven’t shipped yet. That’s someone else’s fault for not checking on ___ before now. The people we are pitching aren’t able to see the amazing potential for this product. No one in the midwest invests in hardware. My co-founders are all part time. I don’t have enough money to properly market this product. Other people should reach out to me if they want to know what is going on in side the company.  This is the first time I’ve ever done this, I can’t be expected to have all the answers! 

Excuses. Some of them are true and some of them I blew out of proportion, but they are all excuses for why I missed the mark in one area or another. But you know what? None of that matters. I’m the person who is responsible for not getting a higher SAT score (not that it matter now, obviously). I’m the reason that I didn’t have more friends in high school or college. It is my fault that the research I was doing during my masters didn’t get published on time for my graduation. Every problem in my business can ultimately be traced back to me. I’m the one to blame for those failures - not anyone or anything else.  

As I enter the next phase of my career at the end of this month I’m going to try something different. I’m not going to make any more excuses to myself. If my company doesn’t sell it won’t be anyone else’s fault. If I have a hard time landing a new job - well, that’s going to be on me too. 

I’ve learned a lot in the past three years running a company. But in the end, If I can take one thing away from this whole ordeal I hope it will be the lesson that excuses don’t get me any closer to the mark. 

I’m looking forward to having less excuses in my life. 

How about you?