“Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.” ~ George Washington Carver
First paper of the term was due today. I collected some, but I actually collected more excuses than papers. Everyone who was unprepared had a reason. Finally I snapped out, “Losers make excuses.” That stopped them. But then we reviewed the situation and I explained a little bit about reality.
I actually tell my students on the first day of classes that after 25 years of teaching, having taught thousands and thousands of students, I can literally count using two hands the number of people who failed Eng 101 because they couldn’t write well enough. I could probably use one hand, but I’ll be generous. As Carver points out, most of the students who failed my class do so because they allow themselves to make excuses.
We give ourselves the habit of making excuses, and most of the time my students come into my classroom with that particular habit full blown. As a result, I don’t listen to excuses. If I did, no one would learn the good habits they need for a successful career. I’m not draconian, I don’t think. If they come to me ahead of time and explain a troubling situation, I’ll work with them. But to show up unprepared and then make excuses? Nope. That doesn’t fly.
Most people reading this blog are trying to improve themselves, and I’d guess this isn’t a big excuse-making crowd. But I know we all have areas in our lives where we allow the excuses. I know my area–finding time to write. I know I could carve out 20 minutes a day by cutting out facebook time. But then I use that other important crutch of modern life–rationalization. It’s a partner to excuse, and I am fully able to rationalize that the 20 minutes I spend on facebook is my downtime, allowing me to indulge in something trivial and enjoyable, giving my brain a much needed break.
More on that another day!
But in the meantime, think about the excuses we make every day. How many are actually something we couldn’t have overcome with a little grit and effort?