Ruth E. Plowden is a wise woman, and I didn’t even know she existed until I was introduced to her recently by Christopher Lee (C.L.) King.
In my latest Unbeatable podcast episode, C.L. described his brutal, unforgiving childhood of abuse in foster care. There are few challenges that C.L. didn’t have to go through growing up in multiple foster homes and suffering incredible hardships and tragedies before his 18th birthday.
Many times, C.L. was taken out of one abusive home and placed into another that ended up being even worse. If there was a guy who should have thrown in the towel and become a burden on society, it’s C.L. King. However, God, in his gracious plan, put C.L. in the home of Mrs. Plowden, and he was one of the scores of children influenced by this brilliant woman.
“Mom Plowden” recognized that C.L.’s life was headed in the wrong direction. Whenever she challenged him about his lifestyle, he had a quick reply or someone else to blame. That’s when Mom Plowden gave C.L. a piece of advice that has stuck with him and will for the rest of his life. She looked him square in the eyes and told said, “You can carry your baggage from your past as an excuse… or you can use it to change the world.”
Wow, that’s brilliant!
I also haven’t been able to get this brilliant woman’s advice out of my head since hearing it. -which made me think about how dangerous excuses are to our success in life. No excuse will satisfy an unfulfilled life.
If your life isn’t where you’d like it to be right now, you have two options: Come up with a lame excuse, or do something about it. To honor Mom Plowden, I want to dedicate the rest of this article to some excuses that are shortcuts to failure when facing challenges in life. Here are the four most dangerous excuses and why they destroy any chance you have of overcoming your challenges:
“It’s not my fault.”
Let’s start with the big one first. This is the most prominent excuse I’ve heard in my life. Ultimately, this excuse points the blame for your problem toward someone else. People have mastered the art of making someone else responsible for their problems. People blame their failures on the boss at work who’s being a jerk, a spouse who’s not loving enough, a parent’s mistake, or the system in general.
Let’s get honest with ourselves for a second; perhaps any of these excuses are valid. But none of those excuses will make your problems go away. Stop blaming your past, and do something about your challenges if you want to be unbeatable.
“It’s someone else’s job.”
When facing a big challenge, it’s easy to look at where someone else isn’t measuring up. Like all good excuses, it’s probably true that others around you don’t measure up to the big problems you might face.
However, focusing your attention on someone else’s failures won’t improve your future. If you want to be unbeatable in life, stop pointing the finger where others failed, and do something small to change your circumstances.
“1 person can’t fix the problem.”
I’ll admit, I sometimes think in these terms when facing an overwhelming problem. It’s easy to get lost in how big and complex a problem is. Pretty soon, I start to think about my inadequacy and wonder in my head if it’s possible for one person to make any difference in this massive problem.
That kind of small thinking is a perfect recipe for accomplishing nothing.
One person CAN make a difference when he or she tackles the same problem with many others. Stop your small thinking. Using the same logic from the opposite direction makes a world of difference. A big problem becomes manageable when many people start to work on it together.
“I don’t care enough even to try.”
This is the only excuse that matters, because it’s the only excuse that is true of your heart. The next time you’re lying there on the couch complaining about the direction the world is taking, why don’t you ask yourself what you have done today to change it?
This gets to the heart of the issue.
Don’t lie to yourself by using a lame excuse. Ultimately, all excuses boil down to an issue of the heart. When you care enough to make a difference, you will figure out what it takes to overcome your challenges. Next time you’re inclined to make a lame excuse about one of your problems, go to the mirror, look yourself square in the eyes, and remind yourself what Mom Plowden said…
You can allow your past to weigh you down like baggage through lame excuses, or you can do something to change the world. However, you can’t do both at the same time.