Excuses! Excuses!

One of the greatest hindrances in making any progress in life,
business or personal, is our lamentable habit of making excuses
for ourselves!

Whether it’s a pain in the head, a pain in your heart, or that
eternal pain in the butt (!), we almost always have a good reason
– and probably several – for why we did not live up to our
potential, or achieve the success that we felt we deserved.


However, the sorry fact of the matter is this. Excuses are just
excuses, and what was left unachieved remains unachieved. Maybe
the excuses make you feel better for a while, and they help you
save face in front of other people. However, in the depths of the
night, when you are all by yourself and have time to ponder at
leisure about all that might have been… what about then?

Life is a contact sport. If you intend to achieve anything
worthwhile, you are going to encounter opposition, challenge and
frustration. Often, it will be from events and circumstances.
Sometimes, it will be from other people. Much of the time, it
will seem absolutely insurmountable.

That is the norm in life. The greater and more worthwhile the
goal, the greater the level of opposition you will have to
overcome. Even a kid playing the latest X-box game knows that!

However, the worst thing you can do in this situation is to make
excuses. In doing so, you are giving yourself permission to fail.
You are saying that it is okay not to succeed, and here is the
good reason why.

Certainly, you can have your excuses if you really cherish them.
However, that is all you will have. You cannot achieve the
success you wish for AND simultaneously hold onto all those good
reasons why you cannot have it.

If you try, you are setting your brain up to go in two opposite
directions at once. It simply cannot do that. Yet, people DO try
to do that all the time. They insist on secretly (or overtly)
creating a safety net for themselves, “just in case”. Yet, it is
often that very safety net that assures failure, whereas the
absence of it would so often bring a heightened chance of

The world-class copywriter John Carlton describes a superb
technique he uses upon himself to write great sales copy. He
calls it “the gun to the head” approach. He imagines that
somebody is literally holding a pistol to his head and will use
it unless he produces a killer sales letter. FAST! If that
doesn’t work for you, imagine the gun being held to the head of
your wife, of children, or mother.

Now, would THAT motivate you to succeed? Would THAT make you drop
all your excuses and just go flat out to PERFORM? If your answer
is no, you are probably already 6 feet underground… or should

Anybody who knows their history knows how the Spanish
Conquistador, Cortez, landed in Mexico with just a tiny army of a
few hundred Spaniards. What was the first thing he did? He burned
the boats! So now there was no way back. The only direction was
forward. And that is where they went… up against a nation of
hundreds of thousands of souls. The rest, as they say, is

Couldn’t there have been a few good excuses there, don’t you

I am reminded of the story from Napoleon Hill’s “Think & Grow
Rich”, where he describes a farmer who suffered an enormous
injury that left him permanently paralyzed from the neck down.
All he could do was lie in bed all day long. He could no longer
run the farm anymore. Instead, from his bed, he eventually
organized the creation of a meat packing plant. That fledgling
company, which would never have begun if the man had not been
paralyzed, went on to become the largest meat packing company in

Yet, wouldn’t HE have had the perfect excuse to fail, if he had
wanted it? Of course.

The question is, do you want to live with your success, or with
your excuses? If you try to have both, you will only end up with
your excuses, because that is the nature of the way the brain,
and life itself, works.

When you have pre-created excuses, you make it okay to fail. You
cannot go flat out, because you don’t have to. Your excuses will
always bear you up if anything goes wrong, or so you would like
to think.

It is far better to decide to take personal responsibility for
your results, no matter how they turn out. When you are
self-empowered in this fashion, you also give yourself the power
to change your circumstances, as and when you choose to do so.

When you act in this fashion, the focus is upon YOU and what you
are going to do. When you focus upon your excuses, your focus is
upon other people, events, circumstances, and all sorts of other
things you cannot change. When the brain focuses on all THAT,
instead of the goal you want and the shortest way to it, all it
will see are reasons to give up and be dispirited. That is
precisely what happens to so many people.

After a few years of living this way, it becomes a way of life.
You literally cannot think differently. The brain is very
malleable, at least to begin with, and you can shape and form it
in the way you wish it to habitually respond. However, after
a while it will tend to set that way, either for good or ill.
So, the manner in which it becomes set is entirely up to you.

However, when you focus on seeking the solution, the brain goes
to work on that instead. It selectively chooses from the whole
range of data out there, and brings your attention to those parts
of the whole that will further your cause. It also attracts to
you the people and circumstances you need to make it happen.

You can train it to always find the easy way out, to moan and
grumble, to make excuses. Alternatively, you can train it to find
solutions, to take responsibility, and to find the shortest way
to your goals and dreams.

The question simply boils down to this. What do you prefer to do?
Do you wish to train your brain to succeed and always look for
the best and quickest way to your target. Or do you wish to not
even bother to try to hit the target in the first place, and
wallow in the mire of all the great reasons why you were
outgunned from the start.

The choice is really yours.

Copyright 2006. Asoka Selvarajah. All Roghts Reserved.

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About Asoka Selvarajah

Dr. Asoka Selvarajah is a writer and teacher of personal growth and spirituality, and the author of numerous books and courses. His work helps people achieve their full potential, deepen their understanding of mystical truth, and discover their soul’s purpose. Subscribe to the Aspire To Wisdom list to receive more articles and resources to your inbox.

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  1. That was just what I needed to hear. I have been struggling with getting my business started in a new location and it seem lately I could have accomplished more by staying in bed all day. I started making excuses for why this just isn’t the time or place in space. The universe is sending me a message to stop throwing pearls before swine. Let this go, your beating a dead horse. I even started makeing deals with myself to let go of this business if it doesn’t take off in the next 30 days. You put me back on the inside track again. John

  2. Hi John,

    That’s great to know. Thank you. I think we all need to be more action-oriented, and less cerebral at times.

    As Woody Allen once said, 50% of success is just showing up every day. You’ve got to put yourself out there.

    If you put yourself in the arena, you’re going to experience some results. Take what you wanted to experience as encouragement. Take the results (often called “failure”) you don’t desire and see them as feedback on how to improve what you are doing, and to do it better next time.


  3. I just wanted to thank you for these monthly articles. They always happen to come at the right time and say the right things.

    Thanks again!

  4. Hey Asoka,
    Definately an awesome article coming at the perfect time for me as well. This is information that I’ve had for some time and it’s nice to be reminded just as my “built in forgetter” was kicking into high gear!
    Beauty of it all is that it is applicable to all areas of life. Great quote as well. Truly…nothing to fear but fear itself.

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