During your schooling (and your life) you will be constantly faced with two choices: action and excuses. To achieve every last drop of knowledge out of your schooling, you must make the choice to take action at every opportunity, and in doing so, become fully accountable for every result and outcome you achieve. In a nutshell, being accountable just means you take full responsibility for what happens to you and what you achieve (or don’t achieve).
When most people find themselves under pressure to complete work, and danger signals begin to flash (danger, danger, work due in 1 hour, work not completed, hmm, work not even started, commencing total freak out, freak out in 3, 2, 1…BLAST OFF…freak out successfully launched…great work mission control…) the tendency is to look for ‘reasons’ (aka to lay blame) that are external to the individual. For example, you may tell yourself things like ‘It’s not my fault I had to go to football/basketball/tennis/netball/pole vaulting practise last night, it’s not my fault the teacher gave me so much work (does teacher hate me?…sob…), it’s not my fault I had to babysit my baby sibling, it’s not my fault I had a shift at Starbucks, it’s not my fault…’
Unfortunately this reasoning is actually fatally flawed and is really just total BS (sorry to be harsh – we know you have obligations but that’s not the point). When you make a statement like this, you are looking to let yourself off the hook. What you should really say is ‘hey, I don’t want to make any effort on this because it’s boring me, I don’t understand its importance and I really don’t know why I’m doing it anyway. Economics, fractions, social studies, how does this help me become a [insert ideal career here] anyway?’
Sound about right? (if not…yay!) You shouldn’t worry or feel bad if this does sound like you. We all make excuses and simply being aware of when you’re making excuses is half the battle. The second half of the battle (the more complex part) is overcoming the desire to make excuses in the first place…and choosing action instead and thus over time making action a habit.
I Just Bought The Latest Excuse Figure!
Have you ever heard of an ‘Excuse Figure’? No!? Well that’s because they’re called Action Figures aren’t they!? They’re called that for a reason. Action figures are heroes. They fight for what’s good and just and right. There’s no ‘excuse figure’ that you buy that comes with a couch it sits on eating potato chips and watching baseball all day (although that does sound mildly amusing).
The two choices, action and excuses, come from two very different approaches to education, and to life. But the good (and bad) news is that only one of them has any chance of leading to success in your education. Bet you can’t guess which one!?
The first approach, action, is a reflection of being someone who is driven by performance and believes in accepting responsibility for both their successes and failures. They know that if they are unhappy (or happy) with their results, they need only look in the mirror to stare the culprit (or champion) in the eye. They never consider blaming external factors when they fail; nor do they attribute personal success to external factors. This doesn’t mean that life is easy for an action taker, it’s just that they take the hand they are dealt in life and they play it out to the best of their ability.
Excuse makers, the second approach, refuse to accept the responsibility for their position in school and in life and hide behind ‘reasons’. Excuse makers constantly blame some made up external factor (I couldn’t find my text books), condition (the cold weather made me tired) or other people (my study partner didn’t do any work) for their personal failures. Excuse makers like to think they can ‘get by’ as is, but they never prosper. Excuse makers are victims. Victims of circumstances and victims of factors beyond their control. It’s a powerless and weak position to be in. As a victim, an excuse maker believes that others should be sympathetic to them and because of that they won’t be held responsible for what happens. This method can actually be effective in making others feel sorry for you or agreeing with you, but it never (never ever) leads to success, it only leads to failure. Consistent and predictable failure.
So the only question remaining is, are you an action taker or an excuse maker?
Excuse makers say:
“Seriously, I’d be successful, if it weren’t for my sister/brother/girlfriend/boyfriend/mother/father (take your pick).”
“Let me tell you, I’d be doing so well in school, if it weren’t for my teacher.”
“You know, I would have got my work done, if it weren’t for this, that, or that other thing.”
“I just didn’t have the time…”
Action takers say:
“My sister/brother/girlfriend/boyfriend/mother/father was bugging me, but I talked it over with them (and/or “got rid” of them) and got the work done.”
“Let me tell you, my teacher seems like he/she doesn’t care, but I approached him/her and talked about it and got some great help.”
“You know, this, that or the other thing was really getting me down, but I chose to get over it and I got my work done.”
“I make the time…”
The Failure Equation
Newsflash!!! People fail in direct proportion to their willingness to make ‘socially acceptable’ excuses for failure. What does this mean? Well, it means that the more excuses you are willing to make the more chance there is that you are failing. More excuses = more failure. It’s simple Math really. Ewww, Math. We can predict (and now so can you) the amount of failure a person will experience simply by looking at how willing they are to make excuses.
I Choo Choo Choose You
During your education you will be constantly faced with two choices: action and excuses. Which way you go is really up to you. No-one can force you to choose action. Not even your parents (although they try hard to!) It simply comes back to a simple matter of what you are willing to accept from yourself. Do you think it’s OK to give 50% effort? Do you think it’s OK to never realize your potential? Do you think it’s OK to hang around people that bring you down and make you feel bad about yourself? Do you think its OK for your parents to invest in your schooling and for you to make little effort in return? If you do think these things, why do you think them? Do you not believe you are capable of action? Well we believe you are capable. You took action just to become part of this program. That shows you are an action taker. And the reality is that your future self relies on you taking action today, tomorrow and the next day. In fact, several times a day, every day. Your future self can be someone amazing (not to suggest you aren’t already amazing!) – but it all starts with what you do today, tomorrow and the next day.