“The superior man blames himself. The inferior man blames others.” Don Shula
“Excuses are the tools of the incompetent.” Mike Tomlin
I was emptying out our dishwasher a few nights back. My wife had pulled some Christmas plates out of storage and cleaned them to help us enter into the season. As I was unloading the dozen plates, my 4 year old wanted to help. She can be hard to refuse at times…not necessarily because she is super cute, although she is, but because she can be tremendously stubborn. I hesitated. I had visions of bad things happening when a four-year old and fragile plates needed to be stacked were combined. Thankfully, we made it through with only one small chip. Of course as soon as the plate was chipped, I envisioned the explanation to my lovely wife: “well Cecilia insisted on helping and it was her fault”. I quickly realized that was a trite excuse, and I needed to take ownership. After all, I was the adult in that situation, not my 4 year old.
I like excuses. I hate that I like excuses. They tempt me. They sing to me “use me” all the time. It’s a joke. It’s sad. I should never again make an excuse. It attacks me at the core. I am made to bear responsibility, not to dismiss it. You very well might be like me. You are tempted to make excuses, but that is not what you were made to do. Former Navy SEAL, Eric Greitens, describes the power of an excuse:
“Excellence is beautiful and, like all beautiful things, temporary. One moment we are victorious. The next moment we were victorious. An excuse, however, endures. An excuse promises permanence…An excuse starts as a protective measure. It shields us from pain, saves our pride, keeps our ego from being punctured, allows us to obscure the brutal truth. That feels like a relief at first. We avoided the pain…Excuses protect you, but they exact a heavy cost. You can’t live a full life while you wear them.”
As men, ownership is a profound necessity. In the workplace, we have to grasp ownership at every level of our work. If we want fruitful marriages, we need to be all in with no excuses. If we want to be a good father, we need to be all in with no excuses. With Christ our Lord, we have to be all in with no excuses. It really is that simple. Or as another former SEAL, Jocko Willink, put it: “Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame.”
We must take ownership in the areas/relationships of our life our Lord has entrusted to us. No more excuses. No more shuffling off responsibility. Kick the alluring calls of the excuse to the curb. Own your actions, thoughts and words. If we as Christian men do this, imagine the repercussions. Picture the culture change that will happen if we once again live responsible lives…and the lesson that will teach to our children.