Saturday, December 22, 2012

There is one universal excuse - Use it frequently

One thing that people who are in need of Life Coaching, usually more than other members of society, is to be more effective in their use of excuses. So this is going to be an exercise for you. Take a sheet of paper and enumerate a list of the situations where you have had to offer an excuse. On a corresponding page of paper write the circumstances, event or factors that precipitated the situation. Finally, on a third sheet of paper, identify as precisely as possible the excuse you used or would use. Then continue reading.

What I have for you today is a universal excuse that is validly applied in all situations. Before I hand this one-size-fits-all convenience to you it would first be prudent to examine the underlying motivations of excuses. Excuses are a manner in which information is relayed as to cause or fault of a failure to meet an expectation. The expectation can be organic from yourself for yourself, imposed, assumed or stipulated.

The self expectations are the most critical to your personal development and success. Your self expectation may be a macro lifestyle goal such as to lose weight, get out of debt, or devote more time to your children. They can also be a micro event such as getting the small pile of unopened mail on the kitchen counter examined. Think of the excuses that you have offered to yourself and the emotions attached to your failure to achieve these goals as established. You may want to write some of these down and ruminate about them momentarily. This is where my Life Coaching partners and I concentrate our efforts first. If you can't satisfy yourself then it is going to be difficult to satisfy others and ultimately achieve greater successes for yourself. There is a universal excuse that can be applied to failure to meet your self expectations.

Imposed expectations are important in that they generally involve some type of sanction. These may include making payments by a particular date, completing a task for your employer, and various laws in place to control behaviour. For anyone who has faced the failure to meet an imposed expectation and offered an excuse there is often little sympathy to be found nor acquiescence. The simple fact of the matter is an obligation was not met which may have ancillary consequences. This is any area where my Life Coaching partners and I devote little effort as the motivation to obviate the failure to meet these expectations is generally quite pronounced – financial penalty, loss of or demotion/suspension in employment, or government imposed fines, loss of privilege or incarceration. If you don't satisfy these expectations you will likely find yourself in a perpetual downtrodden existence. There is a universal excuse that can be applied to failure to meet imposed expectations.

Assumed expectations are those that we encounter in the course of everyday life and are generally associated with morals or manners. While not discarding your individuality it is still important to adhere to most of the assumed expectations. Failure to do so rarely has a direct consequence similar to those that result from the neglect of self or imposed expectations. Lacking compliance with assumed expectations may leave you perceived as being selfish, immoral, unconcerned or rude. This is not something that my Life Coaching partners and I focus our attention directly on but, rather, we let these become self-fulfilling behaviours resulting from concentration on modifications elsewhere. Some of these expectations range from providing care, nurturing and support to your children down to not letting a door slam in someone's face and a very subjective humane treatment of animals which can vary widely amongst cultures. Think Michael Vik who receive intense public scorn as well as criminal charges and temporary loss of employment. Although he offered apology more than excuse there is a universal excuse that can be applied to failure to meet assumed expectations.

Finally there are the stipulated expectations which carry great weight because of the element of trust. The first to come to the fore of my mind is the marriage contract. Violate this one and you can feel the broad range of consequences which can be from the subtle but stinging curtness in tone of voice all the way to a high conflict divorce where custody of the children is used as a means of obtaining revenge. More often you will encounter numerous stipulated expectations throughout your daily existence. The time you plan to meet someone at a restaurant, business contracts, a promise to the children to facilitate an activity after homework is completed or who is going to grab some milk on the way home from work. Lacking fulfillment of stipulated expectations derails your credibility. You will be perceiving as lacking trustworthiness. This is also a realm of behaviour where my Life Coaching partners and I focus our attention. The resolution to this problem is generally found in improving organizational skills. There is a universal excuse that can be applied to failure to meet stipulated expectations.

It should be obvious but likely isn't because society has conditioned you to believe that excuses are situational rather than universal. That's the beauty of this excuse, it's universality. Practice it. Look in the mirror. Make sure you can do it with conviction and pride. Next time you fail to meet an expectation simply stand high and boldly proclaim “I did not care to make that my priority!”

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©2008, 2012 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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