I spend a significant amount of time giving advice, counseling people, answering questions on things related to business, social work, and values, and walking other business people on how to think through their endeavors. Helping others bring out and maximize the value of their lives and organizations is something I love doing. I’m privileged that despite my own limitations I can somehow contribute and give back to others the incredible kindness I’ve been shown by people who were busy, or didn’t have to, or who had their own needs, but overflowed with love.
But the reality of consultancy or advice or help is that it’s only worth something if the receiver takes it and applies it faithfully until results are achieved. I don’t know how many times people have told me that they’ve “already tried” a solution, that it didn’t work, that it was bad advice, only to find out they never really persevered, that they gave up too soon, or that they didn’t follow the wisdom at all. This saddens me because I’ve realized that many of us miss out on the success, achievement, joy, and fulfilment available to us simply because of a dangerous idea called Your Best Excuse.
Your best excuse is your self-accepted reason for failure.
It is the traffic jam that made you late.
It’s your dad that was too harsh, so you rebel against authority.
It’s your teacher that embarrassed you, so you have stopped learning.
It’s the inheritance you never received but others did because you were born to a poor family, so you cheat to catch up.
It’s your stupid boyfriend’s fault that your heart’s broken.
It’s your boss’s favoritism, so you’re never promoted.
It’s your constant bad luck, so you’ve stopped trying.
It’s that person who stole from you, or mistreated you, or molested you, so you’ve stopped trusting.
It’s the unjust system we live in, so we might as well give in.
There are many more examples, many more valid reasons to be discouraged, to miss excellence, to stop fighting, to stop trying, to be mediocre, or even to surrender. These realities help us feel a little better about ourselves, even as we yearn for something better because deep inside us our hearts we know THERE IS something greater planned for us. That is the eternity God placed in our hearts – limitless, endless eternity. We can’t completely comprehend it but we feel it calling us.
But instead of focusing our mind on the greatness prepared for us and preparing ourselves body, soul, and spirit to achieve, we use that same mind, and condition the same body, soul, spirit to live limited under Our Best Excuse, as we rationalize our cowardice and laziness – and that’s exactly what it is. We don’t want to be vulnerable because we’ve failed, or have been hurt, or have been frustrated and disappointed, so we cower and get fat in our false comforts, even as we entrench ourselves more and more in the mud of our excuses.
There’s a better life for us, and it involves letting go of Your Best Excuse, letting go of our best reasons, whatever it is, even valid reasons, for living a limited lie and moving against it.
If you’ve been hurt, comfort others.
If you’ve been stolen from, give generously even if it’s your life that gives others hope.
If you’ve been sick, take steps to being healthy.
If you’ve been lazy, work.
If your heart’s been broken, love, and love unconditionally.
If you’ve gone bankrupt, try something else.
Whatever Your Best Excuse is, let go. The lie is not that your excuse is invalid, it is valid, but no matter how valid it is, the lie is that it can contain you – it can’t. You’re called to be greater than that. Your life is more valuable. Your life is worth more than Your Best Excuse.