Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lose the Excuses!

There is a reason that my website and my blog are called lose the excuses. The concept is a simple one: stop coming up with excuses why you can’t, haven’t or won’t do something and do it. No one is perfect. We all come from dysfunction, we all have shortcomings, we all have failures and we all have hindrances, but so what? Successful people, happy people aren’t perfect people; they have as much going against them as the rest of us. They made a decision to lose the excuses and do it anyway.

Poverty is not an excuse. Race is not an excuse. Sexual orientation and gender aren’t excuses. Coming from a poor school district or a single parent family is not an excuse. I can point to any number of successful people who have started the race with those same handicaps and still managed to win.

With the compassion of a loving parent, we have to hold one another to a higher standard. We have to expect more. Over the weekend, I worked with a group of young people (ages 13-15). My focus was to talk to them about consequences. I gave them a number of situations and asked what they would do – if they saw someone drop a wallet, if a friend wanted them to shoplift or if a younger sibling was blamed for something they did. To make a very long story very short, the majority of them consistently chose the path with the negative consequence – taking the wallet, shoplifting and even letting the little brother or sister take the blame.

When pressed for answers as to why they made those choices, I heard a lot of excuses. And, the scary part is that I also heard a lot of resignation. These were poor African-American kids and they told me that since they were poor and African-American, not a lot was expected of them. In fact, some told me that a few teachers and even parents expected them to do what most would call the wrong thing.

One boy recounted a teacher as saying that he’d “never amount to anything.” These kids were being taught from an early age to embrace the excuses. They were being taught to define themselves by the excuses and to identify with the excuses.

Tragically, the cycle continues.

If we want to break the cycle, we can’t do the same thing. Business as usual will not suffice. We need to hold people to a higher standard regardless of their race, income level, personal situation or any other artificial limitation.

Losing the excuses is the first step in creating a life based on your terms, your goals and your dreams.

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