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A wolf in sheep’s clothing

One of the most dangerous tools that we use far too regularly is generally learnt when we are very young. I’m talking about excuses. We’ve all used them thousands of times, and from childhood we’ve learnt that they can save us from unwanted tasks, from punishment, from explanations, and from the truth… The years pass and we continue giving excuses, excuses to our partners, our bosses, our children, the public in general, and the worse type of all – excuses to ourselves.

Not a single one of us is clean in this respect, children, adults, teachers, politicians, athletes, journalists, and parents – the list is endless. “I did it because I couldn’t…” “ I didn’t reach my goal because…” “It’s not so easy for me because…” “ I can’t risk it because…” etc.

The excuse is a wolf in sheep’s clothing as far as tools are concerned. We think it will bring us a positive outcome, but in reality it does the opposite.  It’s a dangerous tool. When we employ it we think that it’ll help us get out of a tricky situation, of an unwanted obligation, or out of something that frightens us or we’re nervous about – we don’t realise that we are hindering our personal and professional development.

We can always use excuses to avoid doing new things, avoid obligations, or excuse us from things we have failed to do, and when we do this, we think that this will help us. The truth is that it does the contrary. The use of excuses holds us back from being honest with others and with ourselves, and if we can’t even be honest with ourselves, then how can we evaluate ourselves - our values, our strengths, and our weaknesses? This use of excuses is never positive. Instead of being honest, taking responsibility for things we have failed to do, or have done badly, we are showing ourselves how to trick others and ourselves, and in doing so, we are weakening ourselves as individuals.

But there’s another type of excuse we use all too often, one which holds us back from advancing in our professional and personal lives – it stops our internal growth. These excuses, which are used by the majority of people, are the excuses we use to avoid new projects, new paths in life, and new experiences, all of which give us some degree of insecurity or fear. By facing new and uncertain paths with excuses, we are limiting our possibilities of growth; we are shrinking our horizons.

Of course we can never be sure about where new paths will lead us, or of the outcome of new projects, or experiences, so it’s normal to feel a certain amount of insecurity, but me mustn’t forget that security will never lead us to any important goal or to any truly enriching experience. Security will never lead us to grow and develop as individuals. The sure path, the one paved with comfort, only leads to a mediocre future, one without strong emotions or without inner growth. It’s true also that this path, the sure one, won’t lead us to unpleasant surprises, but neither will it lead us to all the marvellous surprises, which will certainly also await us on the unknown path. When we set out along a new road we will certainly find unexpected obstacles – but why try to avoid them when they are simply part of a rich and challenging life?

When you find yourself facing a challenging new project, or a possible major new challenge, instead of finding excuses to avoid it, look for reasons to launch yourself at it head on. The worst that can happen is to not achieve your goal, and so what happens if you don’t? Nothing. But if you dare to take it on, then you have every possibility of reaching your target, of becoming ,who you aspire to be.

Next time you find yourself about to launch yourself into an excuse for not doing something new, stop for a moment. Be totally honest and ask yourself why you are looking for excuses. Ask yourself what is the worst that can happen, and if necessary, make a list of all the pros and cons that might be involved in that, which you are trying to avoid. If you see that the project/path is insecure, but that it may lead you to grow, to achieve important professional or personal goals, then leave your comfortable, cosy spot – leave all excuses behind, and take the first step towards a richer and brighter future!

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