“If it’s important we make time. If it’s not we make excuses.”
With those twelve words Dale summed up the philosophy that enabled him to move from “slug to athlete and from non-performer to superstar.”
The turning point came several years ago, during a performance review, when his boss pointed out that in his entire career he had never met anyone as good as Dale at rationalizing why he was not meeting productivity goals.
Dale went home from that meeting feeling angry, defensive and defiant.
How dare his boss talk to him that way? He couldn’t possibly know all the challenges Dale faces every day; all the hardships, all the challenges. Didn’t his boss realize how poor the economy was? Couldn’t he understand how tough the market was?
It wasn’t his fault.
He was doing the best he could, wasn’t he? It’s just that all these external forces seem to be conspiring against him.
As these thoughts were swimming around in his head, Dale glanced into his bathroom mirror and caught a glimpse of an unexpected reflection.
The image was of himself. But it was unlike anything he had seen before. It was as if he was seeing himself for the very first time through what he called “the mirror of truth.”
The image staring back at him was of a sorry looking soul. What he saw was an overweight, pudgy, uninspired, unaccomplished, unproductive, depressed, pitiful, lost Dale.
And as he stared into the mirror he realized he was looking at a self-made man.
He described a strange feeling that came over him as he realized that he had created this person over many, many years, one excuse at a time.
He spent that entire evening sitting on his couch, ignoring his family and thinking about how he had spent many years of his life growing his strongest skill – making excuses.
There was always a valid reason to rationalize why:
- He allowed himself to get so overweight and out of shape.
- He quit going to the gym 18 years ago and never went back.
- He snacked on junk food instead of carrots.
- Lunch had to be a burger and fries and not a salad.
- It was necessary to drive three blocks to the store and not walk.
- It was never the right time to go back to school and finish that degree.
- Why he would quit smoking next year, not now.
- He always chose the easy way – which is its only reward.
- He had been unjustly fired from his last two jobs.
- His boss was wrong about his performance.
Dale describes that evening as the most important night of his life. He found a pad of yellow stickies in a drawer and wrote, in large capitals, the words NO MORE EXCUSES on every one of them and then strategically placed them around his house and in his car. He saved a few for his office.
He went to bed and set his alarm for 4:30 AM.
When the alarm went off he reached over to turn it off and go back to sleep. (First excuse of the day – too tired).
As his hand reached for the Alarm Off button it touched something unexpected and he opened his eyes to see the words NO MORE EXCUSES glaring at him.
He dragged himself out of bed and thought about what to do next. His intention had been to go for a walk but his back was hurting, really hurting. (Second excuse of the day – back hurts).
He forced himself out of the door and walked at a brisk (for him) pace for 40 minutes. At some point during that time – to his surprise – he realized his back no longer hurt.
He showered, dressed and headed for his car planning to continue his daily habit of picking up a couple of breakfast items at the local McDonald’s drive-through. (Third excuse of the day – don’t have time for a healthy breakfast at home).
He turned around, went back into the house and ate a few pieces of fruit while spending some time with his wife.
And so he set the tone for the rest of his day which he filled by “making progress, not excuses.”
And he never looked back. He began making a daily list of everything to be done and did not allow his day to be over until every item was checked off the list.
The list included what he would eat, what activities he would undertake – yoga classes, gym, outdoor running in the spring and summer, treadmill in the winter, how many sales calls he would make, how much uninterrupted time he would spend with his family.
And his life changed in every way imaginable.
One hundred and twenty pounds disappeared from his frame, his energy level soared, he became the top producer in the office, then in his region and is presently the fourth top producer in his company.
And he is closer to his wife and kids than ever before.
He explained it to me this way, “My life had become a litany of sorry excuses for why I couldn’t, why I didn’t and why I wouldn’t.
“Excuses are simply a reason for why we do or why we don’t. It’s how we justify things to ourselves.
“I still make excuses for everything. My excuse for getting up early in the morning is because I want to work out before I go to work.
“My excuse for eating healthy foods is because I want to look and feel good and because I really enjoy having boundless energy.
“My excuse for working hard and doing all those things that are essential to success is because I am really loving all the things that success brings.
“So really not much has changed other than the content of my excuses.”
I love Dale’s idea of making excuses for doing the things we should be doing. After all, when you meet Dale and learn what doing this has done for him, it’s pretty hard not to agree that his strategy is a brilliant one.
Try it – you just might get the life you’ve always wanted.
Till we read again.
P.S.My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at www.lifesinksorsoars.com and let me know what you think.
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