Is it my imagination, or is the excuse-o-meter registering all-time highs? The headlines are full of easy targets, such as Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers whining about player injuries as he tried to explain his team's failure to close out the NBA championship after taking a 3-2 lead over the Los Angeles Lakers. Could it be that the Lakers are just the better team, Doc?
No, I'll leave that alone and focus on the excuses I've been hearing for not getting essential things done at work.
Excuses, excuses, excuses
I worked with someone a few weeks ago who was interviewing me for a podcast to promote one of my speaking engagements. She was ill-prepared for the interview and didn't get the podcast created in time. Here were just a few of the many excuses she gave:
Tired. Sick. Family member was sick. Flight delay. Equipment failure. Bad cell phone reception. Had to be in New York City. (??) Paid for wi-fi access, but it was spotty. Distracted by noise at the convention center. Distracted by noise at the airport. Sick again. Different family member sick. Unexpected family gathering. Got busy on another project.
Really?!!! I wish I was making all this up, but that was an actual list of excuses I heard from this person. I might add one more: too busy making up new excuses!
If I could re-write her story, here's how it would go:
"I knew I had six weeks to complete a two hour task, but I immediatly scheduled the interview to get it on the calendar. After the interview, I gave myself plenty of time to produce a podcast and submit it well before the deadline."
Nobody wants to volunteer
I was recently asked to chair a committee for a local professional organization I work with. The committee reports to a Board member who was very relieved to have me help out. "I just haven't been able to get any volunteers," she told me.
A week later I had filled all of the positions on the committee with a group of talented and passionate volunteers. So much for nobody's interested!
My big secret?
I spent more time on action than excuse concocting or hand-wringing. First, I outlined a simple recruiting plan that identified the types of volunteers that would do well on the committee. Next, I created a list of benefits volunteers could gain in return for their participation. Finally, I called and emailed a handful of colleagues I thought would be great members of the team and made my pitch. My success rate was 75% and the people that declined did so only because of scheduling conflicts.
I didn't do the pre-work. You shoulda given us pre-work!
I like to give pre-work whenever I facilitate employee training. It helps participants come to class better prepared and it also allows me to tailor the program to their specific needs.
This week, I had a few participants that didn't complete the pre-work for classes they attended. In each case, they came to the workshop unprepared to exercise their brains. One person actually said she didn't bother to do the pre-work. A few minutes later, the same person complained that the exercises we were doing would be easier if there had been some pre-work. Huh? Was that the pre-work you said you couldn't be bothered doing? If you didn't get a chance to do it, fine, but accept responsibility and make the most of it.
Am I whining?
I didn't write this blog post to suggest that none of us should ever whine. Just don't let it get in the way of accomplishing what needs to be done. My email inbox is empty (thanks to David Allen's Getting Things Done) and I've accomplished all my priority items for the day.