What is the difference between a reason and an excuse? A reason is objective, rational, and generally truthful – an excuse is subjective, emotional, and usually deceptive. A reason can transform into an excuse when its purpose is to shift blame, to reassign responsibility, and/or to justify giving up. Excuses are conveniently used in place of the truth usually because the truth is embarrassing.
“It is easier to find an excuse than to find a reason.” — Doug Brown
My father did not tolerate excuses. To this day I can still here him say, “That’s a phony excuse.” To him, all excuses were “phony excuses” as if the two words were inseparable.
“He who excuses himself, accuses himself.” — Gabriel Meurier
When the first excuse failed, I usually followed up with my back-up excuse. It took me years to learn that just made things worse. To my dad, a second phony excuse was like telling a second lie to cover up the first one.
“Several excuses are always less convincing than one.” — Aldous Huxley
As a result of his fatherly intolerance, I probably made fewer excuses than I might otherwise have. Although, I must admit that I also learned to invent better excuses.
How can someone break the excuse habit? First, eliminate “Yah, but …” from their vocabulary. “Yah but, he started it.” “Yah but, I was tired.” “Yah but, it’s not my fault.” Instead, begin with, “My weak excuse is.” Imagine starting an excuse with these words and keeping a straight face. The second solution was inspired by my friend Andre. He further suggests making excuses irrelevant by focusing on something more important.
“My dream is bigger than my excuses.” — Andre Maronian
There are also words used to disguise an excuse. Words like “hard” and “impossible” were once part of my bag of tricks.
“Nothing is impossible; there are ways that lead to everything, and if we had sufficient will we should always have sufficient means. It is often merely for an excuse that we say things are impossible.” — Francois De La Rochefoucauld
“Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.” — Edward R. Murrow
“Destiny: A tyrant’s authority for crime and a fool’s excuse for failure.” — Ambrose Bierce
That’s enough of my personal history. Here are some instructional quotes about excuses.
“I attribute my success to this — I never gave or took any excuse.” — Florence Nightingale
“Excuses are tools of the incompetent, and those who specialize in them seldom go far.” — Unknown
“One of the lamest excuses for doing something wrong is: ‘I was just doing my job.’ A hit man is just doing his job. A prostitute is just doing her job.” — Thomas Sowell
“Every vice has its excuse ready.” — Publilius Syrus
“If you don’t want to do something, one excuse is as good as another.” — Yiddish Proverb
“For many people, an excuse is better than an achievement because an achievement, no matter how great, leaves you having to prove yourself again in the future; but an excuse can last for life.” — Eric Hoffer
“The trick is not how much pain you feel but how much joy you feel. Any idiot can feel pain. Life is full of excuses to feel pain, excuses not to live; excuses, excuses, excuses.” — Erica Jong
“There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstance permit. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results.” — Art Turock
“Don’t look for excuses to lose. Look for excuses to win.” — Chi Chi Rodriguez
“Love will find a way. Indifference will find an excuse.” — Unknown
“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” — Benjamin Franklin
“Ninety-nine percent of failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.” — George Washington Carver
© Copyright June 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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