Listen to your excuses

Preparing for an upcoming speech in a few days, I met with my coach and friend Quinn. He helped me evaluate and made helpful recommendations on how to improve the delivery of my message and to clarify the structure and main points of my speech. When Quinn was constructively criticizing my rehearsal speech video, I went into defensive mode and came up with excuses for every one of the points he noticed needed improvement.

Your potential is only limited by the number of excuses you have.

Quinn is a very good communicator and every time I spoke in argument with what he was saying, he just kept quiet and listened. His silence and facial expression made me realize I was making excuses for not having performed better. We have a good laugh when that came to my awareness. Driving on my way back home, these are the lessons I took away from the evening.

Listen to your excuses

  • Gracefully accept constructive criticism. You have probably witnesses a situation where someone was receiving feedback and that person went into defensive mode because the feedback was not what he wanted to hear. The essence of feedback is to help us improve. If you only learn about what you did well and not what you can improve, you will not fully benefit from the experiences you go through.
  • Do not justify poor performance. When you realize you could have done better in a particular situation, your first reaction will be to justify why you did not do better. Humans are very skilled at justifying poor performance. Listen to yourself before you speak and realize that the more excuses you have, the lesser your chances of growth from the experience.
  • Laugh at your excuses if they do come out. Ideally you would stop your excuses from going through your mind to your spoken word, but because that’s not always the case, learn to laugh at your excuses when they still manage to come out. For example, “I did not get the promotion because the boss likes the other employee more”. Even though that might be the reason why you did not get the promotion, if you did not hear that from your boss, it is just an excuse. Become aware of that, laugh at the excuse and get busy working to increase your chances of getting the next promotion.

Until you learn how to recognize your excuses for poor or low performance and turn them off before they are expressed in your spoken word, you will be limited in what you can achieve. Listen to your excuses, laugh at them, and focus your thoughts and energy on using the feedback improving yourself.

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