I was watching Julie & Julialast night with my husband and I heard the quote, “No Excuses, No Explanations” used at one point. Sadly, I’ve already forgotten who said it and in what scene. I had heard mixed reviews on the movie, but I found it rather interesting. I imagine I had a more personal connection to it since half of the story is about a woman starting her own blog, as I have here.
The quote got me thinking of the concept of not giving excuses nor explanations in life. I am a woman who will gladly offer up both. I’m particularly fond of explanations. I attribute my love for them due to my long-winded nature. Surely you don’t just want to know that I cannot attend a movie with you this coming weekend, you must know WHY I can’t join you.
My husband is quite the opposite. Anytime that he has ever called off for work, he always says, “I will not be able to make it in today.” He never gives an explanation. As a result, he’s never lied when calling off from work.
COMMERCIAL BREAK: I was once discussing the virtue of honesty with a group of women. One woman commented how she had called off of work with the reasoning that she was having trouble with her eyes. Her boss asked her what was wrong with her eyes. Her response, “I just can’t SEE myself coming in today.” Honesty at it’s finest. BACK TO YOUR REGULAR PROGRAMMING.
It doesn’t matter if my husband has been throwing up all night or if he has plans to play with his family all day, he will not be making it in to work that day. In his eyes, there is no more to tell. Personally, it drives me mad that he doesn’t explain the situation, especially when it’s a legitimate reason. I imagine it aggravates the boss as well. My husband and I could debate the pros and cons of explanations all day long, I’m sure.
However, I would like to believe that all might agree that there really is no good excuse for using an excuse. Florence Nightingale, a pioneer in Nursing and author of Notes On Nursing, was quoted as saying, “I attribute my success to this – I never gave or took any excuse.”
I’m reminded of my first year of marriage. Marriage requires a lot of patience, compassion, and forgiveness, amongst other things. That first year though seemed to require a lot of forgiveness on both of our parts. It’s tough trying to make two become one. I suppose this is why I find explanations helpful. However, my husband brought something to my attention during one of my apologies. I always coupled my apology with an excuse.
I’m sorry I yelled, but you yelled first. I’m sorry I hurt your feelings, but I am about to start my period. I’m sorry I didn’t (fill in the blanks), but I didn’t know you had (fill in the blanks). The excuses were always there. He patiently asked me if I could just apologize. He didn’t need to hear my reasoning or excuses. All he wanted to know was that I was sorry.
Take the first excuse I wrote. We discussed that it didn’t matter who raised their voice first, the point was that we shouldn’t raise our voices at each other. If he raises his, it doesn’t make it okay for me to do so, and vice versa. As it pertains to my moodiness and impatience before I start menstruating (is this TMI?), his belief is that there should never be an excuse to treat someone poorly. I believe he’s right. As crazy as I feel at the time, it doesn’t automatically justify being mean to anyone.
“Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them and your foes won’t believe them.” – John Wooden in his book Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court
Perfectly put, Mr. Wooden. Honestly, I’ve improved quite a bit in omitting excuses to my friends or my foes. It’s the excuses I give myself that are really starting to tick me off.
Take this blog for example. I’ve had a desire to write about more personal topics for quite some time now. Thankfully, I had a friend encourage me to do so, even after I had offered up every excuse under the sun. One of my excuses being that nobody wants to read another blog. It’s all been written already. What can I possibly write that hasn’t already been written and, frankly, been written better? The excuse sounds so true in my head, but really it’s quite comical.
If every writer let that ridiculous excuse stand in their way, not one fresh idea would be written. Who cares anyway, right? I don’t have to do this perfectly for it to be enjoyable or fulfilling. Unfortunately, I have this notion that I have to be perfect at something or it’s really not worth doing. Why try at all if someone else already does it better? What a sad way of thinking, huh? This is one of the many ways that my distorted thinking gets me every time. I create these lame excuses to convince myself that it’s okay not to try at all. But it’s not okay. I’m tired of standing in my own way with a myriad of empty excuses.
Let’s learn to drop the excuses and, if we’re feeling really bold, the explanations. Let’s take some accountability for our actions. Let’s offer up sincere apologies. Let’s try a little harder each day so that excuses aren’t even necessary in the first place. Let’s try to be understanding about the fact that others are struggling with their own internal excuses. Let’s believe in our abilities to meet our goals instead of excusing ourselves as to why they’re unachievable.