• Acknowledging my shortcomings and taking ownership in results, not blaming others
  • Accepting my responsibility to clients and colleagues and admitting my role in a situation
  • Seeking accountability, focusing on self-improvement, and providing solutions


Taking responsibility for our actions is one of the most important ways that Funds For Learning earns the trust and confidence of our customers. When we acknowledge our shortfalls and accept our role in a mistake, we let others know that their needs are valued and that we will do what we can to address an issue.

In offering no excuses, it is important to highlight the distinction between explanations and excuses. Explanations are part of commitment and accountability, and they can be useful for finding a solution to a problem. Excuses, on the other hand, are attempts to rationalize or self-justify shortcomings, and they don’t help our customers. In fact, excuses usually divert energy away from productive solutions.

For example, imagine you’ve just returned to pick up your car from having some maintenance work done. You walk up to the counter and hear one of the following statements from the cashier:

Excuse: “I just checked and your car isn’t ready yet. The dude that was fixing it had to leave early and he didn’t tell me. So, you’ll need to come back tomorrow. And next time you should just call before you come to pick up your car.”

Explanation: “Your car’s maintenance work isn’t finished. I know that you made arrangements to pick it up this afternoon and I am sorry for your inconvenience. I should have confirmed that it was ready and then let you know, but I didn’t and I apologize.”

Do you feel the difference? In both cases, the car is not ready, but imagine how your response might be different when you receive the explanation versus the excuse.


At FFL, whenever something doesn’t go quite as we’d hoped it would, we strive to acknowledge the role that we have played in the situation. It is not easy, or fun, but the best way to move past a mistake, and get back on the right track, is to offer no excuses.


Key Words and Phrases

Take ownership of outcomes; Agree to responsibility; Accept accountability; Provide solutions; Recognize failures; Acknowledge shortcomings; Focus on results, not excuses; Admit mistakes.

Opposite Terms

Rationalize inferior work; Deny or justify a fault; Offer a pretext for failure; Provide self-justification.


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