Do you borrow excuses?


Man with excuse written on a cardboard signWe all know the the economy stinks. So, does that mean we should all quit working, stop selling, stop buying, forget learning, and give up? After all, it’s hopeless right? Okay, so maybe it’s not that bad. At least most of us see ways we can keep trying and even some are finding new opportunities and new appreciation for their work.

At the same time, I am amazed at the number of people that still use selective reasons to accept their failures or to justify their lack of effort. In many instances, I hear them borrow excuses from the news or family.

For instance, I’ve heard real estate agents that have gotten out of the business because of the economy. Many exclusively blame the bad housing market in our current economy. While this problem is real, does this mean that  before the housing bubble popped, the good economy got all the credit for their success? After all, if the economy is totally to blame, doesn’t it get credit when due?

I contend that in a bad economy, this is the opportunity for the true professional to show value. The real estate market did slow. But it did not stop. Property is bought and sold every day. Someone is making money on these transactions. I contend that to blame the economy alone is to accept that you are powerless and unprofessional.

Everyone can easily collect water when it is raining. Who is experienced enough to find water in a drought? Or find business in a slow economy? The professionals and the hard working learners and innovators, the type of people we probably prefer to do business within any economy.

So, do you use headlines about the economy, the weather, the job market, or crime to justify (or create) a less-than-stellar attitude?

What about those around you? Do you hear them say something negative and then borrow it? Perhaps something about the mean boss, the bad cafeteria food, or the difficult customer?

Most of us are spoiled. We have confused luxuries and necessities, wants and needs, desires and requirements. When our wishes and desires are not fulfilled, we choose to be unhappy and we make excuses. Then others borrow our excuses as their excuses. And we borrow theirs.

Many excuses are not even really good ones. A bad economy is a problem. Yet, many of the most successful businesses were born during hard economic times.

The job market is ALWAYS a problem, at least for someone, but does that make it a good excuse? Either there are too many unemployed or there are too few good candidates for open jobs. There is a never a perfect balance in this supply and demand equation. Still, even in hard times, there are still some available jobs and in easy times, everyone willing to work is able to find some type of employment. It is a matter of choices, not lack of options.

Individual industries have cycles of good times and bad. Excuses simply delay action. Making excuses or using the excuses of others simply delays your ability to make your own life, relationship, or career better.

There will always be problems, but don’t borrow excuses. It comes off as lazy and unprofessional, especially to those that are making the effort to find ways to create success.


Glenn S. Phillips is the author of Nerd-to-English: Your Everyday Guide to Translating Your Business, Your Messages, and Yourself. His website,, will lead you to more information about effective communication training, risk assessments and genuinely helpful tips. You can email Glenn directly at

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About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.