Excuses won’t help you, reasons will.

“Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.” George Washington Carver

Excuses won’t help you, reasons will. Why? Those who hired you and look to you don’t care how rough the water is, they expect you to bring the boat in.

Yes, you.

Leadership is a problem solving proposition which requires a fairly comprehensive set of skills. Effective leaders need insight, understanding, courage, honesty, and more to be able to negotiate the rough waters of business and organizational leadership.

When things are going well, anyone can “lead.”


No leading happens, no leadership is exercised unless and until there are challenges to face, problems to solve, decisions to make, and consequences to endure. Something has to be at stake. Risk has to be faced. Leadership does not and cannot occur absent either risk. To lead means to take someone else from one place to another, negotiating the challenges along the way.

That is why effective and superlative leaders are three dimensional. They contain depth of character, deep reserves of knowledge, and verified evidence of courage under fire, as it were. These days we tend to be impressed by two-dimensional leaders, those whose skills of oratory and charisma cause them to standout.

But it is depth of character that causes a leader to stand up. He or she rises to a challenge and tackles it. If they don’t…or can’t…then frankly they are not leading.

One key indicator is the response of the person in charge. If they make excuses –“it was the previous leader’s fault”, “no one will cooperate with me”, “the dog ate my briefing on the subject”, or anything even remotely resembling answers like those, they are not leading.

  1. Leaders accept responsibility; they do not excuse themselves from it by blame-shifting.
  2. Making excuses is one thing, explaining reasons is another.
  3. Blame-shifting and excuse-making do more than just sound weak, they signal weakness in the one trying to shift blame and make excuses. Nobody, and I mean nobody, likes a whiner.
  4. Those we lead do not care how rough the water is, they expect us to bring the boat to its destination.

Effective leaders know there will be challenges. They know they will have to build alliances, win over opponents, and overcome obstacles. They may explain what we’re up against and even help us understand how we got there, but they offer courage and inspire confidence by their ability to get us moving ahead. Explaining reasons helps others know that you understand just what is going on. Making excuses assures others you don’t.

It was Benjamin Franklin who said “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”

Don’t engage in blame-shifting or excuse-making…ever.



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