Breath of Fresh Air

A Breath oh Fresh Air

Get Growing: What’s Your Excuse?

on July 21, 2017

Why are our own excuses called reasons, and someone else’s just called bullshit?

In order to answer my question, I first had to define the difference between an excuse and a reason. Since no one named Alexa lives with me, I had to go old fashioned and just Google it. Google introduced me to a leadership expert named Dave Anderson, and his article called “The Difference Between An Excuse and A Reason”. Anderson’s take-away is this: “Reasons become excuses when they are used to avoid responsibility. That is the key difference between reasons and excuses.”

In my words then, an excuse is a type of reason that averts our accountability. So any statement that starts “It’s not my fault because _______________” counts. Anderson accounts for circumstances, but reminds us that our “behaviors and my decisions are also part of the equation.”  So when you engage his model, “I was late because of the weather” becomes “I was late because I didn’t leave early enough.” This means that how we choose to deal with the circumstance is always a choice that belongs to us.

Okay. So with respect to my initial inquiry – how come we hold others accountable for their “why-nots” and “I can’ts”, but not always ourselves? Shouldn’t we want to see and be the other way around? I know I do.

Anyone who has talked to me knows I have a “no excuses” mentality. That makes me a good coach, and, I would like to think, a good (but sometimes annoying…) friend and partner. I have no tolerance for inaction. I will question the stand out of your stance and sit on your excuse if I see any softness in your reasoning. I am trained to hear your excuses, but not my own. And this is a problem.


Because on my path to be better than my day before, excuses are (wo)man-made obstacles in between me and my success. They are piles of poop on my path, and even if I manage to walk around them once, sooner or later, my shoe (I) will be full of shit.

I work hard to do what I say I am going to do. But I don’t work as hard to question the things I don’t do. I am quick to accept my own excuses as right reasons. But usually time tells, and eventually I start to hear my story differently. If I could retrain my brain to automatically challenge my subconscious constraints (my ego!), then my changes (my growth!) could be quicker to come. And if we all did this… the world would win, because our strengths would be quicker to surface.

This calls us to action to be more accountable. We live in a world where we (should still) strive to “do unto others”… but in this instance, we need to do to ourselves what we do to others. We need to judge… our justifications. So, how do we make this happen?

My example is to start here, by calling myself out on it. Now. In front of all of you. Because I really, really don’t want to live a life that has room for excuses; I want to create a life that is limitless. So the next time we are talking, and I tell you I haven’t started the Life Coach certification process because I am sick of school or the money or my whatever … call my crap and see what I say. Help me retain my brain by bringing up my better. Because my subconscious is silently screaming an old song – the “why (would they want) me” single:  the closer I get to fine, to my puzzle pieces all being in place, the more I employ excuses to step off the starting line. Which is a step back. And sometimes even a step in another direction (really, really good at that one!) But this all leads to more stop, less start, and I get farther from any finish. And that SUCKS! finishing

I changed my conversation to “why not me?” a long time ago, but it is clear I am living only half of that high life, and that is not living limitless. I need to commit to can, to will, and to when – and then do it. But if I choose not to do it (and it is all a choice if your live by reasons), I need to own why I am not doing it by rallying reasons instead of excuses. It’s time to follow through to (one of my) finish(es). My path might sometimes be on pause, but at least it stays clear and I stay aware. My take-away is this:  the second I step anywhere but forward, I need to check my stand before I wreck my shoes.


So – what about you? What could you do if you stopping stepping in (your own) shit?


Anderson, Dave. (March 23, 2017). The Difference Between An Excuse and A Reason. Retrieved from on 7.17.2017.

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