Two Questions that Crackdown on Excuse Making

“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” Benjamin Franklin

An excuse is the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.


Excuse-makers beguile naive leaders into expressing sympathy. 

Leaders who tolerate blame-throwing excuse-makers:

  1. Allow low performers to luxuriate and stagnate in mediocrity.
  2. Validate helplessness.
  3. Hold the wrong people accountable.
  4. De-energize high performers.
  5. Increase stress and frustration.

Excuse-makers promote, prolong, and propagate poor performance. Every sentence that begins with an excuse is an invitation to affirm weakness and validate poor performance.

Excuse-makers wallow in:

  1. Past failure. History repeats itself until you own it.
  2. Escalating mediocrity. All excuse-makers under-value imperfect action.
  3. Expanding blame.  Everyone who plays the blame game habitually relies on it, until someone confronts them.

Excuses are the reason careers get stuck, life is on hold, and relationships grow dissatisfying.

Excuse or explanation:

Eliminate excuse-making by knowing the difference between excuses and explanations.

Excuse: “I was waiting for you to tell me what to do.” This means the failure is your fault. Sentences that begin with, “I was waiting,” always end with a reason why lack of performance was some else’s responsibility.

Explanation: “I felt uncomfortable seeking direction.” Explanations express ownership and enable course correction.

Two questions that maximize an explanation.

  • What might I do to provide clarity next time?
  • What might you do to seek clarity next time?

Two question that crackdown on excuse-making.

  • What decisons did you make that led to this failure? (Sit quietly after asking this question.)
  • What will you do differently next time? (Seek behaviors not ideas.)

Never make excuses for excuse-makers.

Responsible failure:

An excuse is the reason someone didn’t try. Confront failures of neglect, apathy, and inaction. 

Curb excuse-making by honoring failures of energy, initiative, and effort. 

What is the difference between an excuse and an explanation?

How might leaders model the way when it comes to accountability?

CFE Banner