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Are “Acceptable” Excuses Killing Your Potential?

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

It’s easy to tell whether a person is giving an excuse. Whether you’re a teacher, a parent or a leader, we’ve all heard excuses from other people that don’t quite add up.

While determining the validity of someone else’s excuse is fairly black and white, it’s not so easy when it comes to the excuses we give ourselves. Oftentimes, we give ourselves a lot more slack with our own excuses. It’s taken me years to realize that the excuses I often find “acceptable” can possibly destroy the influence, leadership potential and personal growth I want to accomplish.

Here are three of the most common acceptable excuses I’ve found myself giving over the past few years. But I have recently realized the danger of using them:

1. I’m busy.

How often do we tell ourselves that “we’re too busy to start a new task” or even tell others how crazy life is right now when they ask. About a year ago, I realized that I had been using the excuse of busyness for too long. Here’s what I learned: Busyness is so relative. I know “busy” people who live at home, work 20 hours a week, and play 30 hours of Xbox.

If you’re truly busy making important things happen that is one thing. However, if you feel a little guilty after reading this one, you might not be as busy as you think you are.

2. I’ve always done it this way.

Over the past few years, I’ve realized that there were quite a few principles I’ve heard or even learned myself over the years that have likely hurt my ministry more than helped it. Just because we’ve always done church or ministry a certain way doesn’t mean that it is right. In fact, in this post, I shared how unlearning is essential for growth. If you want to grow into becoming a better leader, employee, husband, father or friend, you need to stop accepting the fact that you’ve always done something a certain way as an excuse.

3. I can’t learn anything from them.

Oftentimes, we don’t associate ourselves with certain people or don’t reach out to make new connections because we surround ourselves with people who are like-minded. We think we can’t learn anything from people who are different. Not true. This is especially true in the church. How often do we find ourselves disassociating with a person because he or she quotes a certain author too much? Or speaks of a certain topic too much? Or doesn’t like the music we prefer? Shying away from people who are different only kills your potential to gain influence and grow.

If we want to succeed, we must identify whether or not these excuses for our choices, decisions and preferences are actually acceptable.

How do you determine whether an excuse is acceptable or not? What are some other acceptable excuses we’re guilty of believing? 

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With over a dozen years of local church ministry Justin has spent the last several years starting business' and ministries that partner with pastors and churches to advance the Kingdom. He is the founder of Helpstaff.me (now Vanderbloemen Search), Oaks School of Leadership, and MinistryCoach.tv all while staying involved in the local church. Justin is obsessed with connecting people to people and lives his life daily to make the world a smaller place. He now serves as a consultant in the area of strategic relations predominately working with the Assemblies of God, helping to build bridges with people and ministries to more effectively reach more people. He blogs regularly about what he has learned from making connection at www.justinlathrop.com.