A while back I wrote an article called “Reasons vs Excuses.” In it, I posted the “No Excuses Mom” picture along with my confusion as to why it was considered aggressive.
One thing I love about the folks who post on this blog, and those who respond to my articles on Facebook, is that they often help me clarify my thinking. Someone will make an offhanded comment that will sit with me, and very often it will expand my thinking, help me define it, or sometimes even change it.
Here is what I wrote:
I personally didn’t find the photo aggressive or feel like she was calling me out. I felt like it was a great response to the “I have no time” Excuse that I sometimes have, more of a “Well, if she can do it with 3 kids, sure, I can do it with no kids.”
I’ve changed my thinking on this, and it was a random photo and comment I saw on Reddit. It was a picture of a one-legged man doing a jiu jitsu tournament. The person titled it “What’s your excuse?”
“I have too many legs.”
“Throwing up just a pic without even his name & saying ‘What’s your excuse?’ just kind of treats him like nothing more than a prop for motivating the able bodied.”
Original Poster: “He’s only practicing Jiu Jitsu since 2012, but has already won 3 championships. Watching him fight is something that renders your excuses invalid.”
Reply: “Excuses for what? Impressive that he’s accomplished so much already, but I don’t see the purpose of this vague finger wagging over “excuses” we’re all apparently making.”
The big thing I see is that when you say “What’s your excuse” it immediately implies you have an excuse for not doing as much X as Y person believes you should. It’s coming from a generally hostile place of finger pointing and stink eyes.
Consider this: What if the same image were entitled “What’s keeping you from succeeding?” or “What’s stopping YOU?” or even “If I can do it, you can too.”
And yes, it might be splitting hairs. One could easily argue “ERRMERRRGERRRD ERTS THER SRMMM THRRNG” (omg it’s the same thing), but words matter. Kindness matters. Words are the difference between motivating and demotivating someone.
Consider this ad – it’s in the same camp as “What’s Your Excuse,” but for me it reads differently. I’ve posted this before, and it DEFINITELY makes me reassess my own reasons for not doing something:
But why is it so different? Is it because he doesn’t actually SAY “What’s your damn excuse” but instead just uses lame excuses people uses? Is it because the things he says sound ridiculous based on what he’s overcome? Does it come across as aggressive? Maybe it’s because it encouraged me to introspect – am I really letting an excuse stand in the way of what I really want. Then again, I loved this to get my butt in gear a while back:
So I am officially anti-“What’s your excuse” now. Thanks everyone for helping turn around and clarify that thinking. Instead, now I’m a “You can do it” person. I’m a “Are you standing in the way of achieving your dreams?” person. I think it’s true that all people are capable of (and often are victims of) self sabotage, and for me, it’s a heartfelt question to ask “Why” and to encourage that introspection.
Jiu Jiu’s Question: Have your thoughts on the “What’s Your Excuse” movement changed at all? What do you think about the Nike ad – does it feel different? Why or why not? What messages do you tend to find motivating and enlightening?