Making excuses for yourself and others is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In this discussion, I covered some quick tips to keep us moving forward.

The adage “you get what you expect” is true in many circumstances. But often times we are on automatic pilot, such that we are not aware that we’re making excuses for ourselves. We don’t realize that we are creating imaginary dependencies or that we’re even limiting ourselves by our practiced thoughts or beliefs.

These examples help illustrate this better:
Flawed Premise: It’s important to have a social aspect to meeting. It’s a way to build long-lasting networking and business relationship.

Because of this expectations our meetings cascade into other topics and take longer than originally planned.  We rarely achieve the actual purpose of the gathering.  The gathering actually turns into a “social event”.

This expectation is just an excuse to continue to have long-winded, ineffectual meetings.   Next time you are in a meeting, consider the following:

  • Have a specific purpose and goal to your meetings
  • If social interaction is an important aspect and purpose for the meeting, then explicitly place that on the Agenda with a time limit (time box it). OR announce/schedule a “15 minute networking” prior to the actually meeting starts.
  • Have explicit agenda items that only support the specific purpose of this meeting
  • If agenda items take longer than planned – place it on Parking Lot List and schedule it for a separate meeting
  • If new items arise – place it on the parking lot list for separate meeting
  • Do not cascade meeting from original purpose and follow your meeting ground rules.

Tip: Read my next blog on “Effective meeting management skills are not just for the board room”.  And let me know what you think of those tips.

Flawed Premise: I’ve been in this role for so long, that I’m only good in this one position.

Avoid (or maybe just realize when you are) “arguing for your limitations”. A more specific example would be:   Although I have some technical background, I’m not very technically deep. I don’t have a support background. I’m good at project management but that’s about it. I guess this is my niche.

You’re only limited by your imagination. In this example, this young lady is arguing for her own limitations. She only saw her current position as her only available option.
After some collaboration with her, she realized that (as a project manager) she has great management and communication skills. She can “read” people. She’s a good networker. She sees innovative and creative opportunities that others miss. She always wanted to move into a more strategic and design position. Because of her previous work with clients, she has the insight and background to design better client-performing products. In her previous client advocacy job, she networked with marketing, sells, clients, product managers and various product executives.  She is great at presenting the big picture to various backgrounds and levels. Even though her technical background isn’t of the level of a developer or coder, she has the product know-how and technical background to easily discuss technical issues at the business executives level and in a language that they understand. She has the perfect combination to be the liaison among the business executive (people sponsoring the endeavor), the sells force (people selling the product) and the developers (people coding the product).

The above description led to positions like “executive client manager”, “product manager that designs and defines product requirements”, “marketing manager”, and “operations manager to the VP of Development”. etc.  Once she focused on the essence of her skilled (instead of the title or role), she was able to better appreciate and articular her value to her company.   She was able to obtain a skip-level operational manager position for the VP of the international based company.

Tip: Having someone to discuss your career goals helps cut through some of the self-sabotaging talk we all deal with helps.

Flaw Premise: I can’t do this because I haven’t done that.

We often build our own traps via Imaginary Dependencies. An easy example, I need to go to bed early to get up early.  I want to get up early but I need 6 hours of sleep.

You can always get up early – independent of what time you go to bed. You may be a little tired during the day, but it will be easier to go to bed early that evening. This is an imaginary dependency.
If you go to sleep thinking that you will have a deep, relaxing, regenerating, surrendering, luxurious, long nap (regardless of the amount of sleep- ie quality versus quantity) and you are excited about what lays ahead in the next day – you will awake energized, refresh and ready for anything.

The above is a simple example, and many other excuses fall into this category.    Although we don’t want to intentionally create excuses, we sometimes can’t see them as such.

Tip: Get into the habit of asking yourself “Is this excuse REAL?” Be your own devil’s advocate (or find a friend that will).

Let me know if any of these ideas hit a cord with you.


1 thought on “Making excuses for yourself and others is a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

  1. User Avatar

    Thanks for the post, Laura! Yes, we all need to be very careful when we start making excuses for ourselves. As Richard Bach said “Argue for your limitations and, sure enough, they’re yours!” Making excuses moves us toward a victim’s mindset, which further erodes our power. Where the mind goes our reality usually follows. Great advice to avoid that slide into helplessness!

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