We all know on some level that we are pointing our fingers in the wrong direction, but we just can't seem to help ourselves.
The No Excuse Guide to Success shows you how to abandon this unworkable routine and stop the destructive pattern of making excuses and blaming others--to stop whining and start winning.
The No Excuse Guide to Success gives you the tools and techniques you need to:
|Edition description:||First Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
A sought-after trainer and personal power speaker for the past 15 years, Jim "Mr. Energy" Smith, Jr. has delivered his message that we have the power to radically change the direction of our lives to thousands of individuals throughout the world. Jim spent 16 years working in corporate and consulting leadership positions for a wide variety of industries. He currently serves as a faculty member for Rutgers University and is president and CEO of JimPACT Enterprises. Jim's previous motivational books include: From Average to Awesome: Lessons for Living an Extraordinary Life and The Masters of Success (coauthored with Ken Blanchard, Jack Canfield, and others). Jim lives in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey with his wife, daughter, and two sons.
Read an Excerpt
Winning Way 1
Own Your Choices
People say to me, you were a roaring success.
How did you do it? I go back to what my parents taught me. Apply yourself. Get all the education you can, but then, by God, do something. Don't just stand there; make something happen.
— Lee Iacocca, president and CEO, Chrysler
The first principle of this book is so important that I'm going to let you in on a little secret right up front: If this principle describes your approach to life, then you don't need my book. If you are someone who already takes responsibility for the choices you make and the consequences that may follow, then you are clearly not a member of the Whine Club. You won't find much in the following pages you don't already know and practice. For everyone else, stick around to learn how you can catch up. Here's what you'll learn to get you back on track:
Why we enjoy blaming others so much.
The difference between mistakes and choices.
The 10 stops and starts of owning your choices.
How you can move from being a Whiner in Denial to a Winner in Demand.
Breaking the Whining Habit
Maybe you think that breaking the whining habit should be easy enough to do — certainly no more difficult than jettisoning other counterproductive, life-limiting behaviors from your life. You simply make up your mind to change and — voilá! — the next time a whining opportunity presents itself, you'll change course like a train switching its tracks, and head in a new and more productive direction.
Once you've accepted the rapid-switch fantasy, then it's very easy to imagine the new you out there taking responsibility and owning the consequences of all your decisions. "From this day forward," you say to yourself after you've internalized this new, liberating, life-changing epiphany, "I will no longer blame others, and I will take full responsibility for all my actions. When I mess up I will absolutely accept both the blame and consequences of my actions!" You feel lightheaded and giddy as you imagine your world up to now and then envision your new world from this moment on! In fact, you may feel so good about your decision that you call your best friend to share the news.
"What's up, BFF?" you say with excitement in your voice. "I've got awesome news!
"Oh, really? Tell me!" your friend says.
"You know that annoying tendency I have always had to never take responsibility for absolutely anything — you know, the habit that you say just drives you nuts?"
"Well, it's gone! Kaput! Not happening anymore. I'm done with that. From now on 'personal responsibility' will be my middle name! From now on, I'm going to be known as a doer, not a whiner. What do you think?
"Hey, buddy? You there?"
"Yes," your friend says. "Sorry, I was just noting this day on my calendar so that I can remind you of this conversation the next time you tell me that your boss is a half-wit who ignores all your ideas."
The Natural State of Blame
Blaming comes so naturally to us it's almost a knee-jerk reaction. Someone stops speaking to you for a minor misunderstanding — it's their problem, not yours. You get fired from your job — it's your manager's fault because he didn't appreciate your contributions. Your business or sales team loses customers or key clients — it's the economy's fault. You and your spouse or significant other don't get along — it's his or her fault.
Although it's true that friends are sometimes unreasonable, bosses are often unfair, the world economy can be cruel and heartless, or those closest to you may be in need of some one-on-one time with Dr. Phil, at the end of the day the only pertinent question worth asking is this: "What am I going to do about it?" Like my mom always said, "Life's not fair. Get used to it and get over it."
Here's a recent example of the blame game in action. I recently called the lost and found department of a car rental company to inform them that I had left my Day-Timer and laptop power cord in the car I had recently rented. After waiting on hold for close to 10 minutes, the sales agent who finally picked up the phone apologized and promised a return call within 20 minutes. Of course, I got no follow-up call, so I proactively called again, and got the same "we'll call you back in 20 minutes" answer. On my third call back to the car rental agency, I was promised an "end of the day" return call.
Finally, two days and several more phone calls (one with a manager) later, I talked with the same sale representative who had not called me back initially. She offered to help, but first blamed the company and her boss for not staffing the front desk properly during busy, peak times of the day. She never said she was sorry for my inconvenience or frustration. That was her story, and she was sticking to it.
My Own Blame Game Story
I shake my head in dismay when I think about my early years in the corporate setting. Believe it or not, I learned to play the blame game very well. I began to look to others as the root cause of negative outcomes or failures. It was a predictable routine: I'd spend time thinking the situation through, clearly considering my role in the outcome. Once I was sure that I'd left no stone unturned as to my own culpability, the finger-pointing and denial began. I didn't own my stuff, and I made excuses. It was my story, and I stuck to it!
We all know at some level that this blame game behavior is a road to nowhere. But like a lot of others who have made a radical shift in their approach to life or experienced a profound attitude change, it took a singularly awful and painful experience to convince me that I needed to take my life in a different direction.
Eighteen years ago I was a novice, but highly motivated management development training consultant for the Vanguard Group. Although I liked my job, what I really wanted to be was an internationally known motivational speaker and a successful professional development consultant and trainer. So when a seasoned motivational trainer (with a big reputation) showed up to conduct a one-day diversity-awareness session at my company, I took this as a sign from above that this was the right time to make my move.
I introduced myself, and within three months I was traveling around the country presenting my own brand of diversity training as a subcontract employee of the training firm known as Tim Golden and Associates; it didn't take long for Tim to become my mentor and trusted friend. One day a client who had taken a particular interest in my diversity training style and approach, confided that they were going to end Tim's training contract. I was asked to continue providing training as an independent contractor until a new training firm was found.
When I approached Tim about taking the offer from the client company after his contract was terminated, he got angry, even though I was an independent subcontractor and not technically his employee. In spite of his ire, I stayed on with the client and continued training. I reasoned that if he was doing a credible job they would not have ended the contract — at least, that's what they told me.
That decision ended a valued relationship and, instead of facing the possibility that my own ethical compass was askew, I shifted the blame away from me through rationalization and blame shifting. The truth is that I made a horrible choice, and it's a choice I regret to this day. I just couldn't admit that my friend was absolutely right.
For me, this incident was the beginning of a blame game metamorphosis. The incident made crystal clear for me the huge difference between choices and mistakes. I realized with shocking clarity that I had made an awful choice in the situation — not a mistake. I could have chosen a much better path, but I didn't. I now take responsibility for that choice.
Choices and Mistakes: What's the Difference?
Andy Andrews nailed the difference between choices and mistakes with unrivaled clarity in his classic book, The Noticer. I was simply captivated by the following description. Andrews writes:
If one makes a mistake, then an apology is usually sufficient to get things back on an even keel. However — and this is a big however — most people do not ever know why their apology did not seem to have any effect. It is simply that they did not make a mistake; they made a choice ... and never understood the difference between the two.
... If you are lost, wandering through a forest in the dark, unable to see, unaware that a cliff is nearby, and you stumble off the cliff and break your neck that is a mistake. ... But let's say it's broad daylight. You are meandering about in a forest you've been told never to enter. There are No Trespassing signs everywhere, but you think you can slip in and slip out and not get caught. Now, again let's say you fall off a cliff and break your neck ... that, my friend, was not a mistake. It was a conscious choice.
When one simply makes a mistake, an apology — an "I'm sorry" — will usually handle the situation. But when a choice has been identified, the only way to repair a relationship is by exhibiting true remorse and seeking forgiveness. Now in some cases, where money or property might have been involved, you should offer restitution, but showing real remorse and actually asking the question "Will you please forgive me?" is the only pathway to a new beginning in your business or personal life.
The Big Reg Story
Here's another example of this important concept about the difference between choices and mistakes, and the power of taking responsibility for both.
I met Reggie Hines in 1979 during my freshman year at Widener University. Big Reg and I were members of the football team, and he was probably one of the best and most gifted athletes I ever knew. He was 6'4" and carried around 235 pounds of muscle that he could translate into bursts of amazing speed and gridiron agility. Whereas many freshmen were happy to just make the varsity team, Reg played and started every game at tight end his freshman season, winning several offensive awards for his efforts.
Unfortunately, Big Reg transferred from Widener after only one year and enrolled at West Chester University (Pennsylvania). He earned All-Conference honors and went on to set a number of school records over the next couple of years, earning tryouts with the Dallas Cowboys and other NFL teams. It was a time of great possibility for Big Reg. He was living his dream and the hopes and dreams of his entire family — always a big weight to carry.
Then the Cowboys and other teams took a pass on the opportunity to sign Big Reg to a long-term contract. This was a big disappointment to the normally positive, cando athlete, and he wasn't equipped to handle it in the end.
He gave up his dreams and moved on with his life — or so he thought. He got married, and started a family and a successful family auto-detailing business. But his failure to make a life as a professional football player constantly nagged and taunted him. Like many others who've had big disappointments in life, Reg turned to drugs for relief, which led inevitably to the loss of everything he once valued, including his family.
After several near-death scrapes, Big Reg did eventually decide to take responsibility for his life and decisions, and charted a new path for his life. Here's what he told me about his transformational experience as we sat at the famed Palestra watching the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University go at it for 40 spirited minutes on the basketball court:
I blamed the Dallas Cowboys for not giving me a fair shot. I blamed the New York Giants for bringing me to camp and building up my hope after they had just won the Super Bowl with the two great tight ends they already had. I blamed my ex-wife for not being more understanding and supportive. I blamed my agent for not getting me more tryouts. I blamed everybody. But over the years I've had time to reflect on everything and I now realize it was my fault. I'm just blessed to still be living and to have the wonderful children, friends, and career that I have.
Big Reg's story is a great example of how owning your choices and outcomes is so liberating. He made a conscious choice to change his mindset and choose a different way of interacting with the world. He said he made changes across the board, from strengthening his religious faith, to his dress and choice of associates, to his physical health and his connection to, and involvement in, his community. As my own mentor and friend, Mike Jones routinely points out to me during our coaching calls:
Life is not what you've been taught; it's what you believe. It's not what you've experienced; it's the choices you've made as a result. It's not about what happened to you, it's about how you've remembered it. It's not what challenges have come your way; it's what you've seen as challenging. It's not what has appeared on your path; it is what you have accepted. When we accept personal responsibility for our lives, everything is possible.
10 Stops and Starts to Owning Your Choices
So, how do you get started on owning your choices? It's not really that hard. It's not rocket science or brain surgery or even as hard as driving through a thunderstorm with bad windshield wipers. You just have to decide to get started. But be forewarned: If you want to own your choices and take personal responsibility for your actions, you'll need to make a significant mindset shift away from your old habits, especially if you want your new attitude to stick and become a way of life. But it can be done.
The following are the steps I share with leaders, managers, individuals, and students around the world as I encourage them to embrace their personal power and to own their choices. It's a message that crosses cultures and customs. It's the first step in a process that sets in motion the cycle of taking responsibility that empowers and leads to the achievement of your goals in life. These 10 points are easy to read and visualize accomplishing, and all it takes to accomplish them are your personal dedication, strength of character, and patience. So, what do you have to lose except your old practices that are guaranteed to fail you?
10 Stops and Starts to Owning Your Choices
1. Stop being defensive when you're held accountable for your poor choices.
2. Stop being irritable and angry when you don't get your way.
3. Stop looking for what's wrong with the other person.
4. Stop being a victim.
5. Stop thinking negatively (and masking it by saying you're just keeping it real).
6. Start saying "I got this!" when the going gets tough.
7. Start asking for specific, clear feedback for improvement.
8. Start listening without judging.
9. Start focusing on the possibility and not the problem.
10. Start following through on your promises. Period.
1. Stop being defensive when you're held accountable for your poor choices. The next time your boss or manager confronts you with a mistake or poor choice you've made, don't start with a denial and put up an impenetrable defensive wall. If you keep doing this, you'll soon start to believe your excuses. Take time to focus on why you resort to this tactic. Embrace feedback. Consider it a gift. Learn from your choices and move on. Put down the boxing gloves. If someone is helping you with a character-building moment, just say, "Thank you," and make the necessary adjustments.
2. Stop becoming irritable and angry when you don't get your way. I know people with a 0-to-60 temper that's faster than an Indianapolis 500 race car. You can see it in their eyes as all their energy and body language coalesce around the disappointment of not getting their way. I'm going to keep it real here: Grow up! Stop being selfish and self-centered. The world doesn't revolve around you! There are always two sides to every situation. Lean into your discomfort. Seek alternatives. Grow and learn from the no's. It's easy to get mad. It's what most people do. Winners are always looking for ways to grow, not just go through adversity.
3. Stop looking for what's wrong with the other person. Come on. You can do it. Tilt the mirror your way. Even the late entertainer Michael Jackson has some advice for you here in the famous 1987 song "Man in the Mirror": "I'm looking at the man in the mirror; I'm asking him to change his ways." Until you accept the possibility that you may be wrong, you will be stuck permanently blaming others. Mike Jones, my mentor, hit the sweet spot when he explained to me that we all have maps created through our upbringing and experiences. Unfortunately, we get in trouble when we think our map should be standardized across all humanity. Simply look in before you look out to blame others; check for your own responsibility.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The No Excuse Guide to Success"
Copyright © 2012 Jim "Mr. Energy" Smith, Jr..
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction: No More Excuses! 29
Winning Way 1 Own Your Choices 45
Winning Way 2 Focus on Positive Outcomes and Expect Success 73
Winning Way 3 Embrace the Uncertainty 87
Winning Way 4 Do More With Your Best 103
Winning Way 5 Listen With Three Ears 119
Winning Way 6 Remove Self-Created Barriers 133
Winning Way 7 Pursue Your Passion, Not a Paycheck 147
Winning Way 8 Give Up "Right-Fighting" 167
Winning Way 9 Avoid the "Taking Credit" Trap 187
Winning Way 10 Live With Urgency and Purpose 207
Conclusion: Your Next Steps 223
Appendix: Give to Live Journal Pages 227
Additional Resources 245
About the Author 253
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