One of my favorite personal trainers thinks most people are full of excuses. “I’ve seen every excuse in the book,” she insists. Call it an occupational hazard – she’s watched countless people invest in their fitness only to fall short by not showing up to do the work. But what she may not realize is that there’s a difference between excuses, obstacles and choices. And what sounds like an excuse is often an obstacle or a choice.
So how can you tell the difference? Well, if we’re still talking about the gym, let’s take a look:
You don’t show up for a workout because one of your kids got sick = obstacle.
You don’t up for a workout because your husband came home from work early and you realized it would be the only day that week you could eat dinner as a family = choice.
You don’t show up for a workout because you overslept = excuse. (Unless, of course you were up all night with a colicky baby, which caused you to oversleep. Then, I’d call it an obstacle. Maybe even a choice!)
Regardless of WHY you skipped the workout, the next day, when you show up at the gym, you’re likely to catch some flak for your so-called excuse. The intention is to motivate you, but it doesn’t always work. Who wants to face all that humiliation the next day?
Leaving Room for Grace
Like fitness experts, many business professionals find it motivational to take a “no excuses” approach to their goals and success. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve been to those conferences that are more like pep rallies for struggling business professionals. Where everyone gets “fired up” to make a commitment and meet a goal. And they all agree to make it happen. No. Matter. What.
Well, there’s a fine line between motivating people and setting them up for failure. And for me, the “no excuses” approach crosses the line. Why? Because when you accept the “no excuses” approach, there’s no room for grace.
When you’re filled with excuses, faced with challenges and making difficult choices, you don’t need a reprimand. You don’t need to feel shame or guilt or hopelessness. The one thing you need is grace.
The moms I know and work with need grace. I mean, we REALLY need grace. We have good intentions. We have goals and strategies and skills and creative ideas out the wazoo! But we also have kids and laundry and teacher meetings and church festivals and bake sales and soccer practice. Just to name a few of our “excuses.” [Read more...]