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5 Common Excuses That Will Strangle Your Unique Potential

“It can’t be done.”

I hate that response to a question or problem. Really…I hate it. That, coupled with an excuse to not do things right the first time, is unconscionable. There’s nothing that parades mediocrity and shuts down your unique potential louder than those four words. And that’s a parade I want nothing to do with.

I’m not pretending to be blind to the fact that really difficult circumstances occur, but in surveying my young life through the example of many great people, I’ve discovered that there’s always a way to the other side. It may not be the most desired way, the quickest way, or even the easiest way, but there’s always a way.

Powerful Life Lessons from Puzzles

When I was younger, my family would complete 500-piece puzzles together and play various board games like Memory. I remember instances where I was so frustrated by my inability to find the correct puzzle piece that in my exasperation, I was tempted to grab scissors and cut the stupid thing into place (that makes sense, right?). My mom would sit back and smile at my insistence, but always encourage me to slow down, think clearly, and see the big picture. After all, seeing the big picture renewed my commitment to the fact that there indeed was a solution, even if I couldn’t see it or believe it at the time.

Throughout my life, my parents were dedicated, hard working, passionate, generous, and intentional in their example to me. One of the most memorable (and inspirational) aspects of my childhood and teenage years was the consistency in their perseverance and “can-do” attitude towards life. When faced with difficulty (even to the magnitude of my mom’s 18 year battle with cancer), I never witnessed them make excuses or give-up. Were there times when the waves of crisis appeared to be insurmountable? Definitely. But as it was with those enormous puzzles, they persevered without making excuses and without living in defeat.

Self-Defeating Excuses

You and I cannot afford to make shortsighted excuses in life. Despite circumstantial limitations, lack of experience, lack of resources, or even lack of motivation, please don’t hijack your unique potential by jumping ship. One of my best friends says, “The road to mediocrity is paved by good intentions and logical excuses.” He’s absolutely right.

Out of my passion for leadership, I have recently been studying the life of Moses. In the process, I discovered five unfortunate excuses; five common excuses that will strangle your unique potential.

Excuse #1: “I’m not the right person for the job.”

But you’re available, teachable, and willing, right? In Exodus 3:11, Moses asks, “Who am I?” How many times have you been confronted with feelings of inadequacy? I have, and it sucks. If you don’t feel like you measure up to the task at hand, don’t run away; keep running toward the target. As it was with Moses, God says, “I will be with you.” If God placed you, He’ll provide for you.

Excuse #2: “I am not ready yet.”

That might be true, but you’re more ready today than you were yesterday. In Exodus 3:13 (NLT), Moses asks, “What shall I tell them?” How many times have you felt ill prepared in life? As is often the case with us, Moses did not think he had the natural skills to complete the task. He thought he would have nothing to say, but God said, “Say this to the people…” (Exodus 3:14). You might not feel ready to tackle the challenge before you, but God will provide the solution at just the right time.

Excuse #3: “I might fail.”

Or you might succeed. But you’ll never know unless you step-out and find out. In Exodus 4:1 (NLT), Moses continues his fear-based hypotheses, “They won’t trust me. They won’t listen to a word I say. They’re going to say, ‘God? Appear to him? Hardly!’” The fear of failure is often worse than any actual failure because fear cripples you into a life of inactivity and ultimately, regret. Even if you fail, you are not a failure. In life, not many mistakes are irreparable. There’s an opportunity to learn in every circumstance if you position yourself to look for it. John Maxwell affirms, “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.”

Excuse #4: “I do not have the skills.”

You might feel ill equipped, but often, a teachable, open-minded, hard-working person has the in-built tenacity to stay in the game and learn new skills along the way. In fact, you’ll be surprised by what you’re actually able to do when the situation demands a response. The only thing you have to do is get going. It’s all about your perspective. In Exodus 4:10-12 (MSG), Moses raised another objection to God: “Master, please, I don’t talk well. I’ve never been good with words, neither before nor after you spoke to me. I stutter and stammer.” God said, “And who do you think made the human mouth? And who makes some mute, some deaf, some sighted, some blind? Isn’t it I, God? So, get going. I’ll be right there with you—with your mouth! I’ll be right there to teach you what to say.”

Excuse #5: “Someone else will do it.”

Don’t pass-off an opportunity or responsibility because of fear of failure or inadequacy. In Exodus 4:13 (MSG), Moses insists, “Please send somebody else!” It certainly is easier to think someone else will do it better than I will do it. God was not pleased with Moses’ response because He is looking for people who live from faith, and without faith, it’s impossible to please Him (See Hebrews 11:6). Whenever God calls you to perform a task, He’ll equip you.

I believe that there is more tenacity, more perseverance, and more integrity within you than you realize. Whether you’re facing crisis in your marriage, your finances, with a child, or in your career, step back and gain perspective from the big picture.

You got this.