Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Fill in the blanks

Please fill in the blanks with the most convenient, appropriate and legitimate sounding excuse of your choice. It must be something you believe in something that you feel justifies the status quo. Something that you feel is unfair and justifies you lack of progress. It must be a legitimate excuse.

Here we go let’s try it. I can’t achieve my goals because________, I can’t do _________ because_________. I will never be 100% happy until__________. How can they expect me to succeed when___________. Sometimes I get discouraged by_________. Now is not the right time to start because_________.

There are a million and one excuses out there why you should stay where you are, why you should not venture out. Not only are there excuses but there are idioms and wise sounding expressions to justify your lack of initiative and drive.

Some of them may sound legitimate, justified and of course very valid. I want you to please note that if at the end of the day you still haven’t achieved what you set out to achieve at the beginning of the day the bottom line is that you still haven’t achieved it. You may have gotten closer but you still haven’t achieved it. Do you know why success eludes most people? Because first and foremost they don’t have it clearly defined as to what it is.

And because it is not clearly defined the means and ways of achieving that so called success are even less clear.

Of course as human beings we are designed to be smart, to reason and to rationalize, to come up with beliefs and attitudes we choose to adopt. But it is not automatic that these beliefs and attitudes are in harmony with what we yearn to be. That is why part of your duty as a success conscious individual is to identify and rid yourself of beliefs, attitudes and excuses that don’t serve you anymore. Make them irrelevant to your life.

I often tell a story of two young men who graduate from the same high school with similar results. They also happened to share the same academic, family and economic background. They even went to work for the same company upon graduation and they all started at the same level.
Twenty years after graduating they turn up for their high school reunion.

The first young man happens to have risen to the top of the company and is now the CEO and chairman of that company and is happily married with two children. The other young man has had painfully slow progress, he is still where he started but he is only an entry level manager.

Upon further investigation as to how this has happened the first young man talks about hard work, discipline, a positive attitude, fortitude and personal development. He talks about how he makes time to put in the extra hours required to get positive results and the need for ongoing personal development. He talks about how his company has never sponsored him for anything but about how he has consistently sponsored himself for his first certificate in accounting to his Diploma and his Degree and how he is currently sponsoring himself for his MBA in Strategic Management.

The other young man when quizzed bemoans the lack of opportunity for promotion, for personal growth, the lack of money. He simply blames his friend for being lucky and concludes by saying that may be one day he will be lucky too. When asked if he is happily married, he admits that he has a rocky relationship with his wife and children. But then gets defensive and asks, “How can a man be happily married when this is all they pay, do they know how expensive life is?” How can they expect me to be successful when I work long hours and don’t even have time for myself?

He sounds ridiculous but he doesn’t know that he is sounding ridiculous because he sees it as legitimate reason that justifies his status quo. Until you start seeing your excuses as nothing but pathetic you are going to make very little progress, at one point you are going to have to stand up for yourself and I want to submit to you that now is the time.

Who amongst us doesn’t feel that life has been unfair to them or doesn’t wish that things could have been easier if only this and that could have happened? Of course we are all dealt a seemingly bad hand every now and then but ultimately you are responsible for bouncing back and making your own way. Nobody owes you anything, so rise above your excuse and refuse the temptation to legitimize the status quo.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.