Excuses are as old as humanity. Everyone is using them in one area or another. You’ve used them and chances are tomorrow you may use a couple without even realizing. They have become a normal part of our lives. Either we hear them, accommodate or use them. In all cases we interact with them. Here are some of my (random) thoughts on excuses:
Significance: they never built anything significant: Simply put, excuses are the reason something was either not done or could not be done. They can be very logical and valid. Excuses make it easy for people to get hung up on why something cannot be done instead of why we cannot afford to do it.
Nowhere: It takes as much energy to think of some excuses as it is to think of solutions. They are not always easy to conjure and often burn up energy that could be used for progress. Using and entertaining them keeps you from moving forward. Your biggest obstacle at the moment is that you’re paying too much attention to excuses. Only when you start looking beyond the why-it-cannot-be-done excuses do you get on track to significant achievements. Excuses are the main reason why things stay the same or deteriorate. They will take you nowhere worth going!
Keep from: Excuses are what people use to keep themselves from God. It gets worse, by so doing they rob themselves of a life or purpose and significance. They have also kept people from dreaming and achieving with God. Another sad fact: some of the excuses people conjure sound very ‘spiritual’ that others start buying into them. What excuses have you bought into that are keeping you from God and or achieving with Him?
Creativity: Excuses are wasted imagination and creativity. Like I’ve said it’s not always easy to come up with excuses. Fabricating them is often not seen as time and energy wasters but more as the means of not using energy, creativity and time. On the contrary, it is.
I actually had more random thoughts but thought that I’d leave this open to give you room to add yours… What are some of the common excuses people use? What’s your take on excuses?
It is generally accepted wisdom not to rush into anything. It is also important take time to understand the options and implications before committing to any course of action. I actually encourage people not to rush into anything because it seems a great idea at first glance. Then there are the instances where the longer you take to act, the more you lose or the worse things get.
Once you’ve established that there is a niche, or great opportunity, the longer you can the more it gets out of reach. Innovation and ideas have a life span. The longer you take to ‘attack’ an available share of the market, the harder it will be to fight competition later. If you’ve assessed and realized the opportunity, act now!
In relationships, it is the longer you take to apologize and own up for your part in a stalemate, the harder it will get. In fact, this perpetuates more conflict and complications. Things tend to escalate and you knock heads. You deal with things but fail to get to the bottom of them all because you took too long to address the initial seed. The longer you take, to address issues the unhealthier the relationship will be. The longer you take, the more vulnerable your relationship will be and the more toxic the smallest of issues can be. Act now.
The longer you take to address the slack employee or teammate, the longer the vision suffers. The more the people you ought to be serving suffer. Leaving the slackers to be may be the sure guarantee of the death of your purpose. Leader, there will be a time you will have to guard your vision from your team. When the team threatens the vision by being slack or otherwise do not wait any longer.
The longer the leader takes to address his own slackness and complacency, the longer the organization or team will faces its demise. The longer you maintain the status quo the higher the chances are you will be irrelevant very soon. Constant innovation and challenging yourself as an individual and team is a must if you are to stay relevant. Maintaining where you are is not progress and may be the start of your demise.
The longer it takes you to start on the new project while you’re still motivated, the harder it will be for you to build momentum later…
There are instances it is prudent to tread carefully. Then there are instances you have to act swiftly. Consider some of the things highlighted… Don’t live in ‘I will do’ but ‘I am doing!’
I’ve attended so many conferences I’ve lost count. I don’t even want to count the number of notebooks I’ve accumulated over the years. A couple of days ago I attended a three-day conference. I admit with every conference I attend, there’s a subconscious me that thinks through the theme and actual content delivered.
I contemplate the relevance of the conference to my felt needs or the felt needs of my team. There really is no point, besides bad time-wasting, to attending something that will not benefit you in the future or present! As a result, I’ve drawn up a personal “conference attendance manifesto”:
i’m way over the pressure to be at every conference and you should be too
Relevance to Progress
I will not attend a conference unless it is relevant to my progression, as an individual and on behalf of the organization I serve. It is pointless for me to attend a conference or workshops on problems in the mining industry, for example (funny but you get the picture).
The fact that a conference is accessible to you doesn’t mean you have to attend. I will make sure that my intentions for attending are clear to myself. Nothing worse than getting there and asking yourself, “why am I here?”… The reason I’ll attend a conference is so that I can learn in order to grow.
Related to my first point… I will find out as much as I can about the content in terms of the programming as I can. If there are going to be labs or smaller group workshops I can already start contemplating which to attend well in advance and not on the spur of the moment.
Doing my homework before the conference means I’ll be better equipped to draw from the conference as much as I can. If I know that someone with particular expertise will be facilitating any sessions, I’ll be able to prepare my questions more intelligently and pitch them appropriately.
Because I attend conferences to learn and grow, I will shut up and listen more. Some people are not growing and are not any better because they’re not intentional about it! I will only speak up if it is going to help my learning. I will not speak just for the sake of it.
I’m sure you’ve met that guy who just has to “say something” to be heard and by so doing wastes time! (And yes, it is irritating). Another reason not to have unnecessary interjections.
There is no conference I go to without visiting the resource area. I find that with good conference planners give careful thought to specialized resources in relation to their conference.
Hence, I’ve discovered that there are resources that I may have been aware of, or not come across online or in the resource centers I frequent. These resources centers also prove to have the latest resources, some of which could be books that are about to be launched etc.
In the past I’ve tried to take as much notes as I can and attend as many electives as possible. I’ve changed my approach. I will only attend as many electives as i deem relevant. Also, even if an elective is relevant I will not go to if it constitutes “biting more than I can chew”.
I’ve resolved to get ‘doses’ of information in smaller amounts. Instead of looking to walk away with twenty things which, I may feel overwhelmed with, I’ve resorted to condensing my conference take-away to not more than five things. This makes it less overwhelming. Imagine your growth if you applied 10% of what you’ve learnt from the last three conferences you attended!
I started using Evernote after learning of it from Jon Acuff on a Backstage Leadership session with him. Jon highlighted the power of Evernote as being ‘indexable’. With notebooks or moleskins you cannot always easily go back to search for a specific thing in your notes.
Since then I’ve been capturing my notes and ideas from conferences or workshops (and other areas) in a way you can index. (Evernote is a great app!). Whatever ideas I capture, I want to capture them in a way that will be easy to access and locate. The first step to using your great idea is to protect it by capturing it in a way you’ll easily recall it!
Telling people about great conferences is one of the things I also do. I see no point in keeping it to myself; I want to help people however I can and see them succeed.
Interacting with people on the conference is also something that I think is important. I’ve had experiences where my learning was enhanced by interacting with fellow attendees… Don’t underestimate the importance of introductions.
Here ends my conference attendance manifesto.
Do you have a manifesto of your own. How do you decide which conference to attend?
There are some projects I’ve been trying to move forward and have been trying to think about “fresher ideas” to help me do that… I came across this TED talk by Steven Johnson on “Where Good Ideas Come From”… I learned a couple of things and got “reminders”… Check it out…
The talk made me decide to revisit my “ideas journal”, mindmaps and other places I’ve captured my “brain storms” to see if there is a “common thread” building up to a “core idea / strategy” among other things…