September 19. “There aren’t nearly enough crutches in the world for all the lame excuses.” (Marcus Stroup)
I do not believe in excuses in life. There are reasons why things happen, and there are factors that contribute to decisions – good and bad – but there are no excuses. I have done my best to live my life by this simple fact – whatever I do, I own. Good, bad or indifferent, the decisions I make are mine and mine alone.
Sadly, I think that there aren’t enough people who live by this simple fact. I see too often that people try to explain away their mistakes, they look to find ways to minimize their own accountability. Perhaps that’s what they need to do to sleep at night, and if so, I wish them well. But I don’t work that way. If I lose sleep at night because of a bad decision I made, then that’s a natural consequence of the action, and I spend that period of insomnia looking for ways to do better next time.
When I started my journey toward better health, I spent time trying to understand how I got myself into the situation. I wanted to know why I went from 218 pounds in 2001 to 345 pounds in 2014. I did this not because I wanted to excuse the gain, but so I would know how to prevent it from happening in the future. I fully own the decisions I made along the way, from the over eating at meals, to the fast food lunches, to the multiple kit kat rides home. All of those were my decisions alone. No one forced me, no one coerced me into that.
And, I owned the years of decisions to not work out. I owned the fact that I paid for a weight watchers membership as well as a gym membership that went unused for the better part of a decade. The bottom line is I didn’t make excuses.
I don’t make excuses at work either. Sometimes I am called upon to find the reasons why things happen. We look to find the causes of problems as a means to prevent them in the future. That root cause analysis never includes excuses. Reasons yes, excuses no.
The reason I stay so far from excuses is that I think they add no value to my life. If I allowed myself to say that I was morbidly obese because of some excuse, then I relieve myself of ownership of my own fate, and that, to me, is the ultimate in giving up. If I blame McDonalds or Wendy’s for my weight, then I am not being honest with myself. If I blame bureaucracy for poor performance at work, then I give up on the progress of my career. If I blame my childhood for my actions of today, then I give up my own free will to do things better. And, I don’t give up.
Today my reflection is on my never-ending fight against excuses, and on my ever-widening plea for personal accountability.