Espresso 8 – Excusitis—The Failure disease

Excusitis—The Failure disease


We recently came across an article that talked about excuses, and how excuses are the “DNA of underachievers.” And you know, come to think of it, it’s pretty true. It’s so easy to make excuses for why we can’t do something, and sometimes they’re seemingly legit reasons—”Our Home is too big,” “I don’t have the time,” “I’m not experienced enough.” Excuses are comfortable; they protect us from having to own up to the fact that we could be doing better or trying harder. An excuse makes you feel better about yourself as you squirm out from under the conviction you feel inside—that small voice telling you that you could go further.

But if you’re humble and honest with yourself, willing to see circumstances for what they truly are and refuse to make excuses; if you eliminate the excuses you make for yourself—whether in your Home, or spiritual, or professional life—then this puts you in a much better position to succeed. And that’s the kind of mentality that we all need if we are to be successful in the Offensive: No excuses!

Do you suffer from “excusitis”? Do you short-change yourself and the Lord? Are you an underachiever? If so, then it’s time for a change.

Cure Yourself of Excusitis, the Failure Disease

Excusitis explains the difference between the person who is going places and the fellow who is barely holding his own. You will find that the more successful the individual, the less inclined he is to make excuses.

But the fellow who has gone nowhere and has no plans for getting anywhere always has a bookful of reasons to explain why. Persons with mediocre accomplishments are quick to explain why they haven’t, why they don’t, why they can’t, and why they aren’t.

Study the lives of successful people and you’ll discover this: All the excuses made by the mediocre fellow could be but aren’t made by the successful person.

I have never met nor heard of a highly successful business executive, military officer, salesman, professional person or leader in any field who could not have found one or more major excuses to hide behind. Roosevelt could have hidden behind his lifeless legs; Truman could have used “no college education”; Kennedy could have said “I’m too young to be president”; Johnson and Eisenhower could have ducked behind heart attacks.

And each time the victim makes the excuse, the excuse becomes imbedded deeper within his subconsciousness. Thoughts, positive or negative, grow stronger when fertilized with constant repetition. At first the victim of excusitis knows his alibi is more or less a lie. But the more frequently he repeats it, the more convinced he becomes that it is completely true, that the alibi is the real reason for his not being the success he should be.

The Past Is Not the Future.

It’s tempting to simplify things. “The game is rigged. Some people have all the advantages, and they succeed. Some people have all the disadvantages, and they fail.”

It is also, however, terribly misleading.

Your success is far more dependent on your behavior now than it is based upon where you grew up, where you went to school, or whether your path so far has been easy or difficult.

Opportunity lies ahead; it is a matter of whether or not you choose to pursue it.

Procedure One, then, in your individual program of thinking yourself to success, must be to vaccinate yourself against excusitis, the disease of failure.

Excusitis appears in a wide variety of forms, but two of the worst types of this disease are intelligence excusitis and age excusitis. Now let’s see just how we can protect ourselves from these two ailments.

“I don’t have the brains for it.” Intelligence excusitis or “I lack brains” is common. In fact, it’s so common that perhaps as many as 95 percent of the people around us have it in varying degrees.

Most of us make two basic errors with respect to intelligence:

We underestimate our own brain power, and

We overestimate the other fellow’s brain power.

Because of these errors many people sell themselves short. They fail to tackle challenging situations because it “takes a brain.” But along comes the fellow who isn’t concerned about intelligence, and he gets the job.

What really matters is not how much intelligence you have but how you use what you do have. The thinking that guides your intelligence is much more important than the quantity of your brain power.

With a positive, optimistic, and cooperative attitude a person with an IQ of 100 will earn more money, win more respect, and achieve more success than a negative, pessimistic, uncooperative individual with an IQ of 120.

Just enough sense to stick with something—a chore, task, project—until it’s completed, pays off much better than idle intelligence, even if idle intelligence be of genius caliber.

Stickability is 95 percent of ability.

Several years ago I became a close friend of Phil F., one of the senior officers of a major advertising agency. Phil was director of marketing research for the agency, and he was doing a bang-up job.

Was Phil a “brain”? Far from it. Phil knew next to nothing about research technique. He knew next to nothing about statistics. He was not a college graduate (though all the people working for him were). And Phil did not pretend to know the technical side of research. What then, enabled Phil to command [a much higher salary than his subordinates]?

This Phil was a “human” engineer. Phil was 100 percent positive. Phil could inspire others when they felt low. Phil was enthusiastic. He generated enthusiasm; Phil understood people, and because he could really see what made them tick, he liked them.

Not Phil’s brains, but how he managed those brains, made him three times more valuable to his company than men who rated higher on the IQ scale.

“It’s No Use. I’m Too Young.” Age excusitis, the failure disease of never being the right age, comes in two easily identifiable forms: The “I’m too old” variety and the “I’m too young” brand.

You’ve heard hundreds of people of all ages explain their mediocre performance in life something like this: “I’m too young (or too old) to break in now. I can’t do what I want to do or am capable of doing because of my age handicap.”

Really, it’s surprising how few people feel they are “just right” age-wise. And it’s unfortunate. This excuse has closed the door of real opportunity to thousands of individuals. They think their age is wrong, so they don’t even bother to try.

When is a person too young? The “I’m too young” variety of age excusitis does a lot of damage. About a year ago, a 23-year-old fellow named Jerry came to me with a problem. Jerry was a fine young man. He had been a paratrooper in the service and then had gone to college. While going to college, Jerry supported his wife and son by selling for a large transfer-and-storage company. He had done a terrific job, both in college and for his company.

But today Jerry was worried. “Dr. Schwartz,” he said, “I’ve got a problem. My company has offered me the job of sales manager. This would make me supervisor over eight salesmen.”

“Congratulations, that’s wonderful news!” I said, “But you seem worried.”

“Well,” he continued, “all eight men I’m to supervise are from seven to 21 years older than I. What do you think I should do? Can I handle it?”

“Jerry,” I said, “the general manager of your company obviously thinks you’re old enough or he wouldn’t have offered you this job. Just remember these three points and everything will work out just fine:

“First, don’t be age-conscious. When you prove you are able to handle the job of sales manager, you’re automatically old enough.

“Second, don’t take advantage of your new ‘gold bars.’ Show respect for the salesmen. Ask them for their suggestions. Make them feel they are working for a team captain, not a dictator. Do this and the men will work with you, not against you.

“Third, get used to having older persons working for you. Leaders in all fields soon find they are younger than many of the people they supervise. So get used to it. It will help you a lot in the coming years when even bigger opportunities develop.

“And remember, Jerry, your age won’t be a handicap unless you make it one.”

Today Jerry’s doing fine. He loves the transportation business and now he’s planning to organize his own company in a few years.


Dad: It is so easy to make excuses, legitimate, logical, reasonable, acceptable excuses why you couldn’t make it—why you shouldn’t be expected to make it, and in most cases most people will accept your excuses, because most people don’t have faith either, and in excusing you they’re excusing themselves. But is God going to excuse you?

Sam Smith
Sam Smith is an independent Missionary, that has spent 7 years of his life in Africa, trying to spread Jesus' message of love in any way possible. He has been involved with non profit companies distributing educational material, youth counseling, IT education and humanitarian aid work in medical camps. He believes in Jesus in the simple way that the Bible speaks about, without going so far as to "belong" to a denomination, but just wants to do his best with likeminded people to make the world a better place.